Energy-loss detection system monitors UK homes

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A mobile, energy-loss detection system has been developed to determine the insulation needs of many of the UK's 24 million homes. The HeatSeekers system, designed by Thermascan and based on a Flir SC620 thermal imaging camera, will be used to scan houses, 40 per cent of which will be eligible for free or subsidised insulation.

The system comprises a specially adapted estate car that houses the navigation, thermal imaging and analysis systems. Each vehicle, travelling at between 10–15mph, has the ability to assess the insulation condition of more than 1,000 properties an hour. Operating at night and during the heating season, the vehicle produces an energy efficiency verdict for each address, which is attached to a thermal image.

'Vital to this application is the camera's FireWire digital output enabling us to conduct real-time analysis of the property images,' explained system designer, Dave Blain. 'It also has a 640 x 480 detector that provides the high resolution we need to capture as much detail as possible.'

The Flir camera is fitted with a wide-angle lens to take full advantage of the high-resolution focal plane array sensor. It has an integral ultrasonic motor focussing mechanism, which enables the operator to employ either electronic or manual focussing to achieve the desired effect.

Once the location data has been received in the HeatSeeker vehicle the system automatically plots a survey route. All the software products are overlaid so that the Flir SC620 camera is activated by a grid reference and the energy loss data is embedded against the correct address details. 'We can survey up to 5,000 properties in a single evening shift,' Dave Blain continued. 'And at the end of it the system automatically categorises the results according to the insulation need.'

The HeatSeeker programme has already received wide acclaim and will be launched on mainland Europe later this year.

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