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IR Blue Box

Find Electrical System Problems On Your Boat With This Thermal Imager.

The black box with the thermal sensor is shown above as well as the AP screen on my iPad

Many of you have heard my never ending reminders that heat is one of the primary by-products of too much electrical resistance on your boat’s electrical system.Enough heat and things start to catch on fire. Not a good day on the water!

I’ve also shown you that I use an infra-red heat sensing gun to check the temperature of various items both on engines and within electrical systems. Well I also have been experimenting with thermal imaging over the last year as price points for this sort of equipment continue to move downward.

If you can simply take a picture of a given area on your boat and get a true feel for the comparative temperatures within that area you can make certain assumptions about what’s going on within the area photographed.

So, about a year ago I somehow tripped over a device and app that promised to provide thermal imaging capability that could be tethered to my iPhone for a mere $200. Keep in mind here that when I first started looking at this technology the cameras were running in the $15,000 range. For sure that wasn’t happening on my budget. That said, I’ve watched this area very carefully and did finally acquire a Flir unit this year for just under $2000. I have the software on my iPad so that I can upload the pictures and see what’s going on behind panel boards and various bits of equipment. I especially like it for checking what’s happening with dock power boxes.

But, $200 vs. $2000 could it really work? Was the AP and sensor good enough for electrical troubleshooting? The two photos you see here are my first attempt at using this $200 thermal sensor and AP. You are looking at a lamp in my office and the two light bulbs certainly show as much hotter than everything in the area surrounding them. But does this arrangement have enough resolution to be of any real use in troubleshooting electrical system problems?

Stay tuned, this is a work in progress and I will certainly be providing periodic updates right here on

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