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Industry first combines thermal imager with digital multimeter

November 2016

Industry first combines thermal imager with digital multimeter

Change how you find and troubleshoot equipment trouble

Industry first combines thermal imager with digital multimeter
Electricians and technicians are often faced with the challenge to quickly locate and troubleshoot faulty equipment with the tools at hand. For years that has meant a digital multimeter and maybe a thermal imager, also known as an infrared camera. But for many facilities thermal imagers are a shared tool and not always available when needed.

The latest technology available combines a digital multimeter with a thermal imager and adds wireless capabilities so measurements can be taken from a safe distance, saved and even stored in secure data centers for later analysis. That’s a powerful combination that helps increase productivity and confidence.

Let’s consider the scenario of a large pump that keeps going down before it achieves full power. Such problems are often suspected to be electrical, although the root cause is unknown.

A common troubleshooting procedure would start like this:

Spot problems with thermal imager
While the pump is still running you do a quick thermal survey using a thermal imager looking for hotspots at the panel, disconnect and the pump motor itself. If nothing looks unusual, increase the speed of the pump until it fails while surveying for hot spots at the panel, disconnect and pump. If something is found, save the image and note the location.

Use a multimeter to diagnose the problem
While the pump is still running you use a digital multimeter to troubleshoot the problem.
Put on the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) and examine each of the three-phase currents that supply the pump or at least the one phase that may have been identified as suspect during the thermal survey when the pump failed.

Use the multimeter’s Min/Max function to capture max current of the pump while running, then continue to increase the speed of the pump until it fails. Note the max current reading on the meter and display and save it.

If the phase reading was outside of normal, use additional tests to determine whether the issue was due to a supply problem, connection or the pump itself.

Verify successful repairs with thermal imager
After determining the problem and making repairs, once again complete a thermal survey of the equipment, saving the images to a report to document that the repair was successful and no hot spots remain.

One tool to find, repair, validate and report
With such work in mind, Fluke developed the first thermal multimeter so you can easily complete all those steps with one reliable compact tool. The Fluke 279 FC a full-featured digital multimeter with integrated thermal imaging that is designed to help find, repair, validate, and report many electrical issues quickly so that you are confident problems are solved.

As you probably know, Fluke Corporation is the world leader in the manufacture, distribution and service of electronic test tools and software. The Fluke brand has a reputation for portability, ruggedness, safety, ease of use, and rigid standards of quality.

Fluke understands that the demands on you and your tools are continuously evolving. This drives Fluke to keep innovating, to learn from you what challenges you face and what you need from your tools.

With thermal imaging multimeters, you have a first-line troubleshooting tool for electrical equipment that can check hot spots on not only the pump mentioned, but also other high-voltage equipment and transformers, detect heating of fuses, wires, insulators, connectors, splices and switches. Scanning with the 279 FC’s thermal imager reveals many electrical issues rapidly and from a safe distance.

The thermal multimeter is also compatible with Fluke iFlex® (a flexible current clamp) to expand your measurement capabilities and get into tight, hard to reach spaces for current measurement (up to 2500 A AC).

Reporting and communicating results
With Fluke Connect®, the wireless tools and software platform, you can transmit results wirelessly to a smartphone and save time on reporting to validate work is complete. Troubleshoot better by instantly trending and monitoring measurements live on your smartphone screen. Create and email reports right from the field.