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Thermal imaging in power transmission and substations

The stability of power distribution systems is essential for maintaining our quality of life. From power generators to millions of households, a power distribution system can roughly be divided into 3 sections: a high-voltage system, which includes high-voltage transmission lines and the high-voltage end of a transformer; a medium-voltage system that consists of an electricity generator and the low-voltage end of a transformer; a low-voltage system that comprises electrical cabinets and other electrical components. Of these three, the maintenance of a high-voltage power distribution system is particularly important, for it affects millions of lives downstream and the repair/replacement of instruments is extremely costly.

Unplanned downtime of electric distribution systems could mean the collapse of entire social infrastructure: banking facilities, manufacturing plants, food refrigeration, communication networks, hospital facilities, traffic control systems, etc. Not to mention, the electric utility company responsible for the power supply would undoubtedly suffer from significant revenue loss and repair costs.

Electrical issues in high-voltage distribution systems may vary in components and causes: a bad connection at the insulator bushing, the degradation of the metal oxide disk in the lightning arrester, oil or gas leakage at the transformer or circuit breaker, etc. However, these anomalies share one common denominator: a temperature rise caused by increased electrical resistance prior to component/equipment failure. Thermal imaging is the perfect technology for detecting potential issues in high-voltage power distribution systems for two reasons: it offers non-contact measurements from a distance, which guarantees the inspector’s safety, and the thermal inspection won’t interfere with the operation of the system, which prevents unnecessary downtime and profit loss.

The Fotric 348A handheld thermal imager offers one more advantageous feature in electric inspection: its interchangeable lens. For a grand overview of the equipment status, users can put on a 44° wide-angle lens. The camera's 640x480 resolution makes sure it can reveal all the anomalies of a massive transformer with just one look. For remote and dangerous-to-access places like transmission lines, the 12° telephoto lens and 7° ultra-telephoto lens allow inspectors to accurately evaluate thermal defects as small as 0.05/0.03m in diameter from a 50-meter distance.

Equipped with Fotric 348A, users can catch thermal anomalies early, extend the life span of well-functioning equipment, prevent equipment failure, reduce repair/replacement costs, and improve the overall safety of the distribution site.


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