Today Corbett talks with Peter Troast of Energy Circle, who was just awarded the 2015 BPI Tony Woods Award at ACI National Conference. Peter runs the websites of over 300 home performance contractors, and so may have the best view of how performance-based business in the 21st century is actually working.
Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford at the Building Performance Workshop. Hear new episodes of the Building Performance Podcast, see new videos from the Home Performance YouTube channel, and learn all about how diagnostic testing (more than an 'Energy Audit') can make home improvement and new home construction a proven process!
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Besides being fun and cool, can the Flir ONE infrared camera be helpful in assessing wall cavity insulation, attic insulation consistency or detect air leakage in a home, with or without the aid of a blower door? I'm a general contractor and I'd like to get an inexpensive IR camera- what are your thoughts on this matter?
thanks so much,
Hey there Matt-
Thanks for writing! The short answer is a big fat NO- any pocket infrared camera has very low resolution, and while they're great at demonstrating the simple fact of heat fluctuations, I wouldn’t trust it for QC and inspection of homes. The resolution on a Flir ONE is 80 x 60- that means, incredibly, there are 5,400 infrared thermometers embedded in it, but that's not enough to give you a clear, colorful picture most of the time. See here, in these three images taken of a big bunch of flowers, using the Flir ONE, a Fluke TiR110, and a Testo 885.
While the Flir ONE's 5,400 sensors (80 x 60) are assisted for clarity by combining with the visual camera's outlines, you can see that the Fluke TiR110's 19,200 sensors (160 x 120) mean four times as much resolution! And the winner here is the Testo 885's 76,800 sensors (320 x 240), which give your eyes the clearest picture yet- that means this >$10,000 camcorder-style infrared camera has almost 15 times as many sensors as the Flir ONE. That being said, bang-for-the-buck-wise, I got my ONE for $250, 1/40th the price of the big mother. That's a good deal.
I carry the Flir ONE in my pocket, where it stays connected to my iPhone 24/7 so I can shoot infrared photos of whatever is cool on a daily basis. The Fluke TiR110 I take on all my building forensics jobs. And the Testo 885 I'm using to shoot a high-def video in infrared. Each has its own special uses.
Here's another example of the resolution and 'color pop' difference when you're choosing an infrared camera: the wire shelves in my oven...
The wire supports are almost completely invisible in the Flir ONE's 80 x 60 resolution, even WITH the added outlines from the visual camera. You get more resolution and snap in the other two cameras, again with an obvious winner in the 320 x 240 resolution. And by the way, anytime you use the infrared camera for home performance testing, you should DEFINITELY always use a blower door to reveal the air leakage- otherwise, you're at the whim of stack effect, wind, and HVAC pressurizations.
I hope this helps with your decision- being a building performance analysis ninja means having the right equipment, and there's probably a reason why the nice tools don't get carried around with you everywhere (hint: $10,000)- that's why it's nice to have a range, if you can swing it!
To find out more about how to use infrared to understand home performance, watch this:
July 12, 2013 – Chicago – Standards for the home improvement industry have been given another push up the ladder with the launch of BPIexamprep.com . The online training, from Home Performance Diagnostics author Corbett Lunsford, is designed as a supplement to BPI Training or for professionals who need to self-study due to limited time, budget, or access to training.
Homeowners and government programs alike have been demanding a growing army of BPI Certified contractors , and even building codes are now recognizing the certification for new home quality control. "BPIexamprep.com has been years in the making, and something I wish I’d had when I was getting ready to challenge these certification exams," says Lunsford. The modular, self-paced video course offers students all the information needed to put the finishing touches on preparation for any of the main five BPI Certification exams: Building Analyst, Envelope Professional, Heating Professional, A/C and Heat Pump Professional, or Multifamily Building Analyst.
While BPI Exam Prep is not meant to take the place of a week-long hands-on BPI Training, it does help students pass the exams the first time. Many people who seek BPI certification have been out of school, and out of the habit of test-taking, for years. "BPI exam sets have a standard price of $750, so it can be expensive to have to re-take these tests," laments Lunsford. "I got sick of watching other school’s students fail these exams on their first try, simply because they didn’t know what to expect. The psychology of test-taking is a huge hurdle, and this course helps students get over it."
The online course is self-paced, interactive, and includes 6 modules: 5 guidance videos from Lunsford and a 100-question practice BPI exam. After having trained hundreds of BPI Certified Professionals, and proctored hundreds of BPI exams, Lunsford and his Building Performance Workshop are standing up for students everywhere, and giving them the edge they need to ace the test.
FOR A FREE, INTERACTIVE VIDEO GUIDE TO BPI CERTIFICATIONS, OR TO GET A TOUR OF THE COURSE, VISIT:
We’ve recently begun using I-GO, Chicago’s non-profit car sharing service (www.igocars.org), and we love it. Since we don’t have a conventional office where clients visit us, our transportation to the energy audits is important in several respects:
Reliability- we arrive on time, and always have a clean, working vehicle with enough gas to get us there. I especially like the fact that if you’re in a hurry and waiting for your car to show up, the previous driver gets fined and the office will help you get a new car, and even pay for a cab to take you to it. That was one of my biggest hangups before we got our account.
Advertising- the company’s logo, phone # and URL are all on the magnet we can stick to the outside of the car. The magnets run us under $50 for the pair, and look great on any paint color. Wrapping a car costs thousands of dollars.
Credibility- since we’re in the green industry, our clients are always impressed to see us walking the walk; the importance of clients who are impressed with you cannot be underestimated.
Hassle Free- this is my favorite part. I pick the car up where it’s supposed to be, I drop it off when I’m done. Not responsible for what happens before or after I have it, and in the middle it’s insured. I don’t have to find and maintain relationships with honest mechanics (where are those guys?), don’t have to change oil or tires, don’t have to track mileage to write off in my taxes.
I highly recommend it, if you live in the city. There are I-GO cars in every neighborhood, and if you’re reasonable about booking a few days in advance, you can get pretty much everything you’d have with your own vehicle, minus all the downsides.