DeWalt’s Imaging Thermometer Review—Bring High Tech to Tool Bags
DeWalt recently introduced the all-new DCT416S1 12V Max Imaging Thermometer Kit. This is the kind of tool that I have a great need for in my tool bag and it came in very handy recently when my crew needed to attach a sub-floor to a concrete slab. The trouble was, as is often the case in high-end homes in the northern states, this slab had radiant heat tubes embedded in the concrete. The trick was attaching the sub-floor without puncturing the radiant heat tubes with the fasteners. Using the DCT416S1 from DeWalt, we located the tubes and avoided them entirely when installing the new floor.
The DCT416S1 is a non-contact imaging thermometer/camera. You can see a photo in this review showing my foreman scanning the concrete slab. The image is a mixture of colors showing the temperature differences overlaid on top of a real-time picture of the slab. The lower left hand button on the control panel allows you to toggle through 5 different settings: no thermal imagery (photo only), followed by 4 more, increasingly higher mixtures of thermal imagery layered over the real time photo. This is helpful when you may or may not want a lot of the reference image showing or need more contrast to see what you’re doing.
Several years ago I was faced with a similar situation. My crew needed to install some concrete anchors to hold a knee wall in place. The wall was located on a slab with radiant tubing. Fearful of puncturing those tubes and causing a very expensive repair, I hired a specialist that owned a thermal imager similar to the DeWalt. That short one hour consultation cost me $1,200 and I had to wait several days for the guy to fit me into his busy schedule. Considering that the DCT416S1 can be found for as little as $900, you can quickly see how it might pay for itself after just one or two uses.
Perfect for Electricians, HVAC Technicians, Remodelers and Maintenance Personnel
Because the DeWalt DCT416S1 lets you find overloaded circuits, the temperature of duct work, air drafts around windows, or overheated equipment, the Imager is well-suited for a variety of trades including electricians, HVAC technicians, remodelers and maintenance personnel.
In addition to being a great diagnostic tool, I really like that the DCT416S1 also has the ability to save the images from the screen to an on-board Micro SD card (a 2GB card is included in the kit).
The ability to capture the screen images is a feature very important to anyone using this in a way that requires storing and reporting the results. DeWalt seems to understand that and has made available, for free, its DCT416RW (Report Writing) software which makes documenting site inspections a breeze. You can download this PC-only software straight from DeWalt’s website. With that said, while it comes with a Micro SD card, the imager doesn’t have a USB port or include a card reader. Because of this, in order to actually use the reporting software you’ll have to purchase something that will allow you to retrieve your images. This seems like a major oversight and we’d love to see the same sort of USB connectivity other brands have that will connect the DCT416S1 directly to your PC.
The DCT416S1 runs on DeWalt’s new 12V Max 1.5 Ah battery pack. This is a great choice as DeWalt seems to be offering most of their inspection instruments on the same power platform. The kit comes with the DCB100 Fast Charger which brings the included battery back to 100% charge in just 40 minutes or less.
I found the 2.2 inch LCD screen to be very easy to read and it worked quite well in most light conditions with the exception of direct sunlight. The built-in menu system and control buttons are also easy to use and intuitive.
The DCT416S1 offers lots of options for fine tuning its use. If needed, the emissivity can be changed in order to tweak the thermal response. In fact, the user manual comes with an extensive list of materials and related emissivity values. You can also adjust the background temperature to create more accurate readings between adjacent heat sources. What this does is ensure that you have sufficient contrast on the screen to make determinations regarding fastener placement and/or other applications.
The LCD also has a very cool tracking feature that identifies both the hottest and coldest locations on the screen. The locations are identified with a small box with the color zones representing both hot and cold. It’s just another way to more quickly identify what you’re looking for and it speeds up use of the tool.
If there is a “heart” of the imaging thermometer it’s the lens. Clearly, if the lens breaks, the cost to repair this tool is going to be high. DeWalt designed a great lens cover that slides out of the way when you use the tool and then slides over the lens when you’re done. It’s very sturdy and definitely built to take abuse.
The Bottom Line
With a price point in the $900 range, this new Imaging Thermometer Kit from DeWalt is sure to put some pressure on other brands. The DCT416S1 was easy to use, gave clear results, and ultimately enabled us to solve our fastener problem. Best of all, it works on a battery platform that we already had in-house. This thermal imaging camera is a great fit for general construction use and is most certainly going to have some great appeal across nearly all the trades. If you’re an electrician, plumber or anyone who works with radiant heat or any other application that could make good use of a tool like this, don’t hesitate to pick one up—tell them Todd sent you!
DCT416S1 Kit Includes:
- DCT416 Imaging Thermometer
- Micro SD Card
- Report Writing Software (download from dewalt.com)
- (1) 12V Max Li-Ion battery
- Fast Charger
- Kit Box
Todd Fratzel is the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry. He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH and the editor of several other sites including: Home Construction & Improvement and Today’s Green Construction.