A thermal drone is these days extensively used in mining, electrical, construction, firefighting, surveillance, search and rescue missions.
Drone with thermal cameras use the vision imaging cameras to detect heat coming from almost all materials and objects turning them into video and images. This helps in capturing objects in poor light or environments with obstacles, especially at night since standard cameras cannot capture them.
Thermal imaging cameras are also known as heat vision cameras are usually heat-detecting sensors. These cameras make video and pictures from heat, unlike standard cameras that make them from visible light. It is important to mention that both light and heat infrared thermal radiation are parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Nevertheless, a camera that can detect thermal radiation cannot see visible light and one that can see visible light cannot detect thermal radiation.
Heat vision cameras detect more than just emitted heat as they have the ability to detect the slightest differences in temperature, even as little as 0.01 degrees Celsius. After capturing the pictures or video, the information is displayed on display as various colors in the thermal apps or software.
Thermal cameras work on the principle that every object or material gives off thermal energy. In addition, the hotter the object is the more heat or thermal energy it radiates. The emitted heat affects the frequency and wavelength of the radiated waves. Therefore, these cameras are able to capture objects as they radiate thermal energy in the form of infrared waves.
With these abilities, using a drone equipped with thermal imaging camera allows you to see in the dark in more excellent details. Drones with thermal cameras are also able to detect hidden objects, which explain why they are used in different applications.
Drones with Best Thermal Cameras
Drones with conventional cameras that use visible light can help you see objects in the freight yard, warehouse or office complex in poor light but they will not reveal all the details. The thermal imaging camera has the ability to detect objects and materials in the dark.
Thermal imaging devices can capture the heat emitted by a person crouching among pallets in the freight yard, or among machinery in the freight yard or boxes in the warehouse for it to appear onscreen. Therefore, using drones with thermal cameras is the most effective way of identifying where the intruder is as well as the details of the intruder.
With these capabilities, the best imaging camera will also help detect an intruder hiding inside a box. The thermal cameras for drones that we have included in our list of the best thermal cameras for drones are specially designed for drones. This means that they are compatible with most of the top-rated drones available on the market today.
Moreover, mounting thermal imaging cameras on your drone allows you to turn your device into an exceptional search and rescue tool. Thermal cameras for drones are lightweight and specially designed to avoid affecting your drone’s performance and functionality. This means that the best thermal cameras for drones does not affect your drone’s center of gravity and will not cause you to sacrifice your previous flight time. Besides, the possibilities of drones with thermal cameras are endless.
Finally, the combination of thermal cameras and powerful thermal imaging drones is not what most casual drone users want, but this combo is ideal for many useful applications. Several thermal imaging cameras in the market can be mounted on high-quality drones. However, we have thoroughly researched and came up with a list of the best thermal cameras that you should consider to help you find the right product.
Before, we look at the reviews of these amazing thermal cameras for drones; let us go through this table to identify the 5 products and their key features.
5 Top Thermal Camera Drones in 2021
|Image||Thermal Camera Names||Key Aspects||Price on Amazon|
|Flir 436-0010-00S Vue640||Size is 2.3 X 1.8 X 1.8 Inches, with 92-113.4 grams. Resolution is 650 x 512 with power input of 4-6.0 VDC.||Check Price|
|Flir 436-0014-00 Vue Pro||Size is 2.3 X 1.8 X 1.8 Inches, with 92-113.4 grams. Resolution is 650 x 512 with power input of 4-6.0 VDC.||Check Price|
|SKY EYE-DUO PRO 3-Axis camera||Size is 4.9 x 4.5 x 5.2 Inches, with 400 grams. Resolution is 360 x 220 with power input of 3S-4S.||Check Price|
|Flir 436-0012-00SVue640||Size is 2.3 X 1.8 X 1.8 Inches, with 92-113.4 grams. Resolution is 650 x 512 with power input of 4-6.0 VDC.||Check Price|
|Flir 436-0018-00 Vue Pro||Size is 2.3 X 1.8 X 1.8 Inches, with 92-113.4 grams. Resolution is 336 x 256 with power input of 4-6.0 VDC.||Check Price|
Flir 436-0010-00S 13 mm Lens, Vue640 Resolution Camera
This is our top camera and definitely an editor’s pick.
Flir 436-0010 Vue640 is a relatively affordable thermal camera that is ideal for all the needs of most sUAS operators. The device is customized to provide all the thermal imaging capabilities that you need at an affordable price. Besides, the FLIR Vue camera is lightweight, small, and easy to integrate, install and use on every drone.
Moreover, the FLIR VUE allows you to get all the thermal imaging features for your drone imaging operations without paying for functionality that will not be useful to you. The thermal camera is also pre-configured to deliver optimal imagery to the user in a wide variety of conditions. In addition, the FLIR camera is easy to integrate and use in any platform as it comes with simple video-out and power-in connections.
The thermal camera is used for a number of applications, including firefighting, roof inspections, precision agriculture, search and rescue, cell tower inspections, substation inspections, security surveying and many more. However, unlike other cameras with the same thermal imaging capabilities used for these applications, FLIR VUE offers similar performance at a relatively affordable price.
As mentioned above, the drone is easy to connect as it requires you to just plug in a cable compatible with GoPro into the 10-pin mini-USB connect to provide a controlled 5 VDC power supply. The USB cable connector also allows you to get an analog video to your OSD or transmitter and you are good to go. You can get more detailed information on the FLIR 10-mini-USB connector from the internet or their official website.
In addition, the thermal camera is easy to use since the configuration has already been done. This means you need to charge it and go out to fly with it. However, if you want to get deeper into the settings, download FLIR Camera Controller GUI and using a USB cable connect FLIR VUE to your computer.
Finally, the FLIR VUE 640 thermal camera is also easy to mount on any unmanned aircraft. The camera is lightweight and well-designed, which ensures that you have several mounting options on any kind of drone. Therefore, if you intend to put the camera on a brushless gimbal or hard-mount it, FLIR VUE will perfectly fit the purpose.
- Lightweight and small.
- Easy to connect and mount.
- It is pre-configured making it more user-friendly.
- Relatively affordable.
- Suitable for multiple applications.
- Delivers optimal imagery in a range of conditions.
- Relatively few customer reviews.
The FLIR VUE thermal imaging camera is relatively affordable and offers excellent performance. Moreover, the camera is customized to deliver optimal imaging capabilities than most of the products available on the market. It is also lightweight and small, which means that it will not drag down the flight time of your aircraft or destabilize your drone’s center of gravity.
In addition, the thermal camera is pre-configured to deliver optimal imagery in different conditions, which makes it ready to use from the box. The FLIR VUE is also ideal for a number of thermal imaging applications.
FLIR VUE 436-0014-00 Pro Camera
Here is our runner-up.
The FLIR VUE Pro is our alternative pick for the best thermal cameras for drones. It comes with great features that take thermal data recording and imaging to another level. Moreover, the thermal camera allows you to get optimal images making it the best device that you need for sUAS operations without spending on functionality that is not useful to you.
Apart from being a thermal camera, FLIR VUE Pro is also a data recorder and a thermal measurement instrument that significantly improves your sUAS services and operations. The camera is specially designed for professional use and is a product of one of the leading thermal imaging camera manufacturers. It offers excellent value as it allows for full data recording of thermal 14-bit still imagery and thermal video.
The FLIR Pro camera has the ability to help your drone become a cutting-edge thermal inspection workforce significantly. It is also important to mention that the camera is a trimmed-down version of FLIR VUE Pro, which is fully-fledged and adds functionality like PMM controls and MAVLink support. Besides, the thermal camera is also considerably cheaper, which could also be a significant factor when it comes to some of the users.
In addition, the camera comes with the standard Uncooled Vox Microbolometer imager, which is finely tuned with 336 x 256 resolutions. This resolution might be excessively low when it comes to the current camera standards, but for thermal imagery, this could be in the mid-tier area.
The FLIR VUE Pro is incredibly lightweight, as it weighs about 100 grams, though this depends on your configuration. Besides, the thermal camera can be mounted in different ways making it compatible with almost all unmanned aircraft. It features two m2x0.4 holes on the bottom and 1/4 -20 threaded hole on top for easier mounting.
Finally, the camera is still a great thermal camera that can meet the requirements of most thermal imaging applications, although it does not have the capabilities that match Shiny Pro suffix. FLIR VUE Pro will be ideal for you if you do not need extra features like PMM in-flight controls or MAVLink support for automated imagery and geo-tagging.
- Takes data recording and thermal imaging to new heights.
- Dramatically improves your sUAS services and operations.
- Offers in-flight camera control through PMM connections.
- Comes with a built-in Bluetooth module that enables you to configure your camera Android and iOS apps.
- Captures 14-bit still imagery and 8-bit digital video in H.264 or MJPEG formats.
- Easy to integrate and mount.
- Relatively affordable.
- It is not suitable for applications some features like MAVLink support are required and has considerably lower resolutions.
The FLIR VUE Pro is another premium camera that meets almost all your sUAS operations. It is more than just a thermal camera, but also a data recorder and thermal measurement instrument that adds great value to your sUAS services and activities. Moreover, the thermal camera comes with a built-in Bluetooth module that makes it easier for you to configure your image.
SKY EYE-DUO PRO Drone Gimbal for Thermal Camera
If you are looking for a 3-axis stellar gimbal for drone’s camera, then SKY EYE-Duo is an excellent option for you. The 3-axis device is purposely designed for FLIR Duo Pro R camera. This gimbal uses advanced Field-Oriented Control (FOC) motor control technology that allows you to enjoy a 0.02-degree incredible precise control.
Therefore, with the 3-axis gimbal, you are assured of stable and clear video footage in the air. The wiring of the thermal camera to the device is quite comfortable and clean as the 10pin JST, and the Micro HDMI port of the thermal camera is connected to one wiring hub. Moreover, the gimbal allows the GPS data to be overlaid to video/ photo from a thermal sensor or daylight sensor making it an ideal device in applications such as firefighting and search and rescue operations.
Additionally, the 3-axis gimbal for drones allows video streaming from thermal or daylight sensors to be combined and fed to the wiring hub through the HDMI port. It also enables you to switch the video streaming from thermal to daylight sensor freely through RC controller.
The SKY EYE-Duo gimbal is entirely compatible with a number of popular UAV devices such as Matrice 600 and DJI S1000 multirotor platforms, Amimon Connex Full HD video link, DJI Lightbridge series video transmitters. This makes the integration and operation of the 3-axis gimbal with DYI AND DJI solutions easier.
In addition, the gimbal is lightweight, as it weighs just 400 grams. This means that the device does not drag down your drone’s flight time. It also comes with an adjustable control speed function that allows for fast speed for sensitive, small zoom range and quick captures, and slow speed for accurate and large zoom range captures.
The 3-axis gimbal comes with serial command control and PMW control feature that allows you to operate and adjust the camera in the air. Moreover, the SKY EYE-Duo includes a back to home position key for safe drone landing.
Finally, the drone gimbal supports a high definition of up to 1080p Full HD video. It comes with a 360 x 220 degrees resolutions and an optical image stabilizer for quality thermal imaging.
- Offers convenient wiring hub for video and RC receiver output.
- Includes serial command control and PWM control for better user experience.
- Features back to home position function.
- Designed with a high stabilized gimbal system.
- Comes with adjustable control speed.
- Allows the GPS data to be overlaid to photo or video.
- Does not include the camera.
The SKY EYE Due Pro is a premium product that allows you to get the best out of your FLIR Duo Pro P camera. It is equipped with a Field-Oriented Control (FOC) control technology that enables you to enjoy a 0.02-degree extreme precise control. The 3-axis gimbal allows for the GPS data to be overlaid to photo or video. Besides, it also includes a serial command control and PWM control for a better user experience.
FLIR VUE 436-0012-00S 640 Resolution Camera
This is another top quality thermal camera for drones that is worth your consideration. The FLIR VUE 436-0012 thermal camera is relatively affordable and customized to meet all your requirements for sUAS operations and services. It comes with great thermal capabilities that you need at a cheap price.
Moreover, the thermal camera is lightweight and small making it ideal for most unmanned aircraft. It weighs about 92.1 to 113.4 grams and is 57.4 x 44.4 mm in size (including the lens). This means that FLIR VUE 0012 camera does not drag down your drone’s flight time or affect its center of gravity.
The thermal camera is also easy to integrate, install and have in the air. The FLIR VUE 436-0012 includes two precision M2 X 0.4 mounting holes, on each of the two sides as well as one at the bottom. It also has 1/4 -20 threaded mounting hole on the top, which ensures that your camera is securely mounted on the drone.
In addition, the camera offers 640 x 512 resolution and full frame rates 30 GHz and 25 GHz (PAL). It comes with 20-degrees to over 50 degrees operating temperature range and -55 range to +95-Degree non-operating temperature range. With the great features, the thermal camera can deliver +40,000 feet operational altitude just like the other FLIR VUE cameras.
The device also offers a great image optimization for all sUAS requirements. These include invertible image feature, digital detail enhancement, color palettes and polarity control (white hot or black hot). You are required to use 10-Pin min-USB cable that is GoPro compatible deliver 5 volts of power to the camera. The mini-cable is also used to get analog thermal video out to your video transmitter or OSD.
Besides, the FLIR 436-0012 thermal drone camera is ideal for people that need accurate and constant sensing temperature in a specific area. The FLIR device comes with extra functionalities for better user experience and performance. These include Bluetooth module, onboard image/video recording, PWM controls and many more. Therefore, apart from radiometry technology, this thermal camera offers all the other features in the advanced FLIR VUE Pro R.
Finally, radiometric technology allows the camera to capture additional data found within the temperatures in captured frames. The FLIR camera also comes in a variety of lens sizes, which depends on your desired FOV.
- Comes with image optimization features for sUAS.
- Include precision mounting holes.
- Relatively affordable.
- Small and lightweight.
- Easy to integrate and install.
- Features additional functionalities for better user experience and performance.
- Offers great value for money.
- Does not include radiometric technology.
The FLIR 436-0012 is another affordable thermal camera from FLIR VUE series that is compatible with all thermal imaging drones. It is customized and specially designed to provide great thermal imaging capabilities making it ideal for multiple sUAS operations. Moreover, the drone is small and lightweight, which means that it will not destabilize your drone’s center of gravity or drag down its flight time.
FLIR 436-0018 Vue Pro, 640 Resolutions Thermal Camera
With FLIR 436-0018 Vue Pro, you get an excellent thermal camera that caters for all what you need for sUAS operations without having to spend on functionality that is not useful to you. The drone thermal camera is designed with great features that allow it to take thermal data recording and imaging to an entirely new level. Apart from being a thermal camera, the device is also a data recorder and a thermal measurement instrument that adds significant value to your sUAS services and operations.
Moreover, the FLIR Pro camera uses the available and popular video out/ power-in over a 10-pin mini-USB cable. This makes the thermal camera easy to integrate and accessing the analog video for downlinking a snap. The device is among the best selling FLIR VUE cameras due to its great value and outstanding thermal imaging quality. It also adds 14-bit still imagery and thermal data recording video.
The thermal drone camera allows you to control two functions while in flight through direct PWM connections. Besides, it is also expected to be compatible with MAVlink support in the future, which will make it usable in simple image stitching that is required in many applications. Some of the applications include precision, mapping, and survey. The FLIR thermal imager comes with features that are similar to those in FLIR Pro R, but it is not designed with radiometric technology.
FLIR VUE Pro is equipped with built-in Bluetooth module that allows you to configure your device with Android and iOS easily before you get in the air. It is also compatible with Pix4mapper. With the convenient mobile app, the pre-flight thermal camera configuration and set-up become much easier and quicker. Therefore, you will not be required to carry your computer to the flying spot in case you intend to adjust your camera setting.
Finally, the device has 640 x 512 resolutions and includes a 19 mm lens with 32 x 26 inches and 32 x 24 inches field of view. It is also important to mention that the field of view depends on your adjustments and circumstances. The camera also has the ability to record video in 30 GHz. Just like other FLIR VUE cameras, the device comes in a number of different lens sizes, depending on your preferred FOV.
- Small and lightweight making it ideal for any unmanned aircraft.
- Include precision mounting holes.
- Comes in a wide range of lens sizes.
- Offers excellent value for your money.
- Suitable for multiple thermal imaging applications.
- Not equipped with radiometric technology and auto temperature range adjustment makes it hard for users to see the details.
The FLIR VUE Pro drone is more than just a standard thermal camera. It is a revolutionary device that takes thermal data recording and imaging to new heights with great features. Moreover, the device comes with additional features for a better user experience and high performance. The thermal camera is equipped with removable micro-SD that ensures that you do not lose your data through the transmission.
Drones with Thermal Cameras Buyer’s Guide
What IS A Thermal Camera Used For?
A thermal camera or an infrared camera for the drone is used for multiple applications. The camera is used to portray other vital elements that are not visible to the human eye from the electromagnetic spectrum. These cameras are able to display various temperatures emitted by specific objects effectively and with high precision using infrared radiation.
The importance of what thermal camera portrays is often overlooked when it comes to regular jobs, but for commercial usages, these cameras are exponentially gaining popularity. Therefore, for regular jobs whether the thermal cameras provide white/black/palate/Gray/ rainbow palate or iron palette color options, it might not make much sense but this means a lot in commercial applications.
What Are Drones With Thermal Cameras Used For?
In the recent past, drones have had a significant influence across many different industries. The use of drones is even expected to spread further in the near future, especially with the enactment of less restrictive laws on the use of them for commercial purposes.
Drones with thermal cameras have more potential applications as compared to regular ones. As mentioned above, thermal cameras portray entirely different elements from the electromagnetic spectrum as compared to what traditional cameras show. Moreover, when the thermal imaging capability is combined with agility and versatility of the best drones, the two helps boost the performance in particular industries.
Industries Where Drones with Thermal Cameras are Used
As mentioned earlier, drones equipped with thermal cameras are used for a number of applications in different industries. Some of the sectors that are significantly reaping from the use of drones with thermal cameras include:
Search and Rescue
Drones with thermal cameras are increasingly becoming an important tool in search and rescue operations. The drones are even more useful in carrying out life-saving missions in hard to reach places or terrain.
Most agricultural companies have adopted the use of drones in managing their large farms. Drones equipped with cutting-edge HD cameras have made crop inspection easier to handle than never before.
On the other hand, drones with thermal cameras are even more useful than regular cameras. These drones collect infrared data that shows irrigation, ripeness, diseases and crop yield, making it easier for these companies to manage the farms in the long run.
This is one of the most common applications of drones with thermal cameras. Drones equipped with these cameras are used for power grid inspection and solar panel inspection.
Power grid inspection
Drones with thermal cameras have the ability to recognize and detect parts that are responsible for power failure effectively. Moreover, these unmanned aircraft are able to do it in a much affordable cost as compared to using conventional methods of inspecting the power grid.
Solar panel inspection
Inspection of solar panels is important since drones are prone to damage. Frequent infrared radiation inspections help detect solar cells that are causing issues or overheating. Besides, they also help determine the causes of the problems, which could be mechanical defects, dust, and scratches.
Drones with standard cameras are heavily being used in the real estate today. However, drones equipped with thermal cameras can give assurance to potential buyers that the property is in perfect condition in terms of leakage and insulation.
Drones with thermal cameras come in handy when it comes to firefighting. These cameras help the commanders to see through the smoke and to be able to monitor their personnel in big fire scenes. Besides, the use of these heat vision cameras the fire crew is able to determine areas where the fire is hottest.
What can be Captured Using a Thermal Camera?
As mentioned earlier, every object and material radiates thermal energy. Heat vision cameras detect temperature differences and translate them into images for easier interpretation. Therefore, thermal cameras can capture images and heat emission differences from the following:
- Buildings- these include factories, tents, skyscrapers, houses, and buildings.
- Living Species- Animals, People, and vegetation.
- Electrical –Power lines, a Coupling capacitor, capacitor, and insulation.
- Machinery- Engines, assembly lines and conveyor belts.
- Liquid and gas- these radiate thermal energy that can be detected by infrared radiation cameras.
- Land, buoys, and rocks- these objects radiate the heat that absorbs from the sun during the day at night.
- Vehicles, planes and vehicles- vehicles, boats, and all other automobiles.
Conclusion & Recommendation
Overall, drones with thermal cameras are used in more applications than their counterparts that are equipped with standard cameras. As mentioned above, drones with heat vision cameras offer more details and can be used in poor light and adverse conditions like places covered with smoke. It is also important to mention that there are a high number of drones equipped with infrared cameras, which makes choosing one a bit tricky.
However, we believe that the products that we have reviewed here and the information that we have provided will help you find the right device. We recommend drones equipped with FLIR VUE 436-0010 as it is customized to provide all the thermal imaging capability required for SUAS operations. Besides, it is small, lightweight and most importantly relatively affordable as compared to other products in its category.