Thermal Imaging Camera Guidelines

Best Practices

Now more than ever, the use of Highly Accurate Thermographic (HAT) is a critical part of any business plan for enhancing safety and security.

Below you will find some best practices for ensuring that the investment of HAT devices can be fully realized, and to maximize their effectiveness.


The environment in which the HAT devices are installed can severely impact the performance and accuracy of a scan. The following guidelines should be followed to mitigate false or inaccurate screens.


Proper configuration of both the HAT device and Calibrator are critical to ensuring accurate scanning.

Subject Preparation

Equally important as the configuration of the HAT is the subjects being scanned maintaining best practices as well.

Deciphering the Data

Once proper configuration of the scanning environment has been achieved, making sense of the data is the last step in utilizing the HAT devices.


Model specific, see the detailed spec sheet per product for the suggested capture distance

The equipment by itself is very accurate (within .5°F +/-), including the calibrator and positioning it properly can increase accuracy down to .25°F +/-.

The camera can be configured to take a snapshot when an irregular temperature is detected; in addition to the snapshot, the capture device can also trigger various other alerts (mobile app push notification, email, physical alarm relay).

Temperature can be measured in fahrenheit, celsius, or kelvin.

No, thermal imaging cameras cannot be used to detect or diagnose an infection. However, thermal cameras are used today in public spaces such as airports and hospitals and by essential services such as manufacturing and shipping as an effective tool for measuring skin surface temperature. People who are identified as having an elevated skin temperature can then be screened by medical professionals.

Thermal cameras detect heat radiation and can be used to identify the surface temperature of objects and people. With this capability, thermal cameras are commonly used as a non-contact screening tool to detect differences in skin surface temperatures and pattern changes. 

In order to obtain a good temperature reading, it is recommended that the intended target be as close to the camera as possible (with respect to the camera’s minimum focus distance). It is important that the application be set up so that all intended targets are in focus during the screening process, thereby creating a good image. In addition to focus, a good image is dependent on several additional functions and settings, with certain functions and settings affecting the image more than others. Functions and settings that the operator needs to set and/or adjust include the following:

  • Adjust the infrared camera focus
  • Adjust the infrared image (automatically or manually)
  • Select a suitable temperature range
  • Select a suitable color palette
  • Change the measurement parameters

Thermal cameras with a screening mode can achieve accuracies of 0.5°F (±0.3°C) at the recommended ambient temperature of 86°F to 113°F (30°C to 45°C).

It’s important to note there are many factors that can affect the accuracy of thermal cameras, such as focus, distance, the emissivity* of the target, the ambient environment, and the speed at which the temperatures are acquired.

  • A target’s emissivity is its ability to emit thermal radiation. For example, ceramic mugs, clothing, and even human skin have high emissivity, while polished metals have low emissivity.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using a Precision Infrared Calibrator when screening for elevated skin temperatures. Including a Precision Infrared Calibrator in the camera’s field of view can improve the system’s performance in this application. You can use thermal cameras with Precision Infrared Calibrators as part of an elevated skin temperature system setup. 

In contrast, using a Precision Infrared Calibrator for elevated skin temperature screenings can create challenges. The first is the cost and complexity of including an additional piece of hardware in the solution. Precision Infrared Calibrator integration into a system makes mounting, powering, and ultimately maintaining it more complex. Such an addition also introduces another potential point of failure into the overall solution.

Proper focus on the Precision Infrared Calibrator is essential to getting accurate measurements. For a Precision Infrared Calibrator to be effective, it must be mounted in the same plane as the person being screened. A Precision Infrared Calibrator that is significantly closer or farther than the person being screened will be out of focus and not function as an accurate reference source.

If ultimately the screening solution includes the use of a Precision Infrared Calibrator, we  recommend following these requirements, as set forth in ISO/TR 13154:2017:

  • The thermographic camera should be positioned perpendicular, both horizontally and vertically, to the face of the individual being screened so that the inner corner of both eyes can be imaged simultaneously.
  • The individual being screened and the external temperature reference source should be in the correct position and orientation relative to the camera for proper focal distance, depth of field and image capture.  There should be a means of ensuring that the individual being screened is in this proper position, e.g. a stool, marks on the floor. Consideration should be given to individuals in wheelchairs.
  • The backdrop behind the individual being screened and, when used, side screens should be thermally uniform, high emissivity (non-reflective in the IR spectrum) and light in color (visible spectrum).
  • The operator should be positioned with a clear visual field of the individual being screened and the display of the screening thermograph. The operator may need to intervene to correct the individual’s position. The operator should also be positioned in such a way as to divert individuals to the secondary screening area when required.
  • Operators should be assessed as to their ability to discern the colors of the thermographic image.

We recommend that thermal camera operators obtain at a minimum Level 1 thermal imaging certification through certified thermography courses such as the Infrared Training Center. This is not a medical training or medical certification, but it provides a baseline understanding in thermography. The Infrared Training Center offers more advanced training. 

When properly used, it can be an effective tool to help detect whether someone may have an elevated temperature and should be subject to further screening.

Questions? Call us at 800-460-1801