I have quite a few Android smartphones that have built-in thermal cameras (such as the Blackview BV8900 or the Ulefone Power Armor 18T), and I find them really useful. But my daily driver is an iPhone, and while Apple is never going to add a thermal camera to its flagship smartphone, you can do the same yourself.
One of the best ways to do this is with the Topdon TC002 thermal imaging camera. And currently, you can get 20% off the retail price.
Topdon TC002 thermal imaging camera
The Topdon TC002 can turn your iPhone into an infrared thermal camera, enabling accurate temperature measurements from a safe distance up to 16.4 ft/5m.
Topdon TC002 tech specs
- Ultra-high 256 x 192 resolution
- 25Hz refresh rate
- Enhanced testing range of -4°F to 1022°F (-20°C to 550°C) with high level of accuracy 0.1°F/0.1°C
- Maximum error of ±2°C or 2%
- Measures 2.8 x 1.65 x 0.55 inches and weighs one ounce
- Comes with case, cleaning cloth, user guide, and 20-inch Lightning extension cable
In the kit, you get the thermal camera, a case, a cleaning cloth, and a 20-inch Lightning extension cable — which means you don’t have to plug the camera directly into the iPhone, giving you greater flexibility.
That Lightning extension cable is a nice touch, and particularly useful if your iPhone is in a case that’s too thick to properly accommodate the camera.
As for the usability of the thermal camera, the TC002 is brilliant at capturing stills and video. Accuracy is such that you can see the thermal echos of fingerprints on a surface.
The software is very smooth and easy to use. What’s more, it isn’t laggy — a problem I see with some of the software needed for thermal cameras.
Video capture is also incredible: Look at the detail in this flame (which has been converted from a video file into a GIF file).
Why do you need a thermal imaging camera? I could rattle off dozens of good reasons, but here are a few uses I’ve found for mine recently:
- Find overheating electrical components. (Faulty components usually run hotter.)
- Diagnose all sorts of HVAC problems, from windows that leak heat, to radiators that aren’t warming up properly, to AC units that aren’t cooling.
- Uncover dangerously overheating rechargeable batteries.
- Find radiator pipes underneath floorboards.
- Spot problems with cooling systems on desktop and laptop computers.
- Spot binding brakes on cars.
The Topdon TC002 is a solid thermal imaging camera. It has a good temperature range, it’s very accurate, the image is smooth thanks to the 25Hz refresh rate, and the software isn’t laggy or crashy.
This is an industrial-grade thermal camera. At $240, you can pick it up for a fraction of the cost of dedicated thermal imaging cameras. This is a fantastic addition to any repair toolkit.