FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera Review

FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera
PTR Review
  • Pro Review 9.0

The FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera is truly a must-have piece of preventative maintenance equipment for finding small issues before they become big problems and moving quickly from diagnosis to repair.

Overall Score 9.0 (out of 10)

Flir C5 Combines Pro Features with Cloud Connectivity

The FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera promises sharper diagnostic data and maintenance time/cost savings. It features a 19,200-pixel imager, Multi-Spectral Dynamic imaging (MSX), and a 5-megapixel visual camera. It lets you easily make notations, upload images to the FLIR Ignite Cloud on WiFi, and quickly create reports. We’ve covered several thermal imagers, from the FLIR One Pro LT to the FLIR TG275. The C5 improves upon the C2 thermal imaging camera and even breaks new ground.


  • Indispensable tool for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing maintenance and inspection
  • Touchscreen with 5-megapixel camera makes using and interpreting C5 data very simple
  • Shortens inspection times immensely
  • Change image contrast to suit your needs
  • Reveals potential problems early for better preventative maintenance
  • LED Flashlight aids inspection
  • Makes notes about images and uploads directly to FLIR Ignite Cloud
  • 1 GB free storage on FLIR Ignite Cloud
  • Quick and simple sharing and reporting
  • Tough rubber case with IP54 rating


  • Slight lag in processing speed makes C5 feel a bit sluggish
  • Not compatible with Flir Tools App, so images must be downloaded from Flir Ignite Cloud


The FLIR C5 is an indispensable preventative maintenance tool that allows you to do diagnostics in a fraction of the time. It helps reveal thermal anomalies before they become costly problems. From finding water leaks in walls, ceilings, floors to electrical hot spots to thermal efficiency, there’s likely not a plumbing, electrical, mechanical, maintenance, or inspection professional that won’t benefit greatly by using it.

Use the Flir C5 to Find and Troubleshoot Problems

Over time, buildings don’t tend to improve on their own—quite the opposite! Without visibility of thermal anomalies, maintenance comprises about 90 percent of my time and preventing, unfortunately, the remaining 10 percent. That ratio is costly in time and money. But the FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera is adept at instantly revealing thermal anomalies—and it’s been helping me turn that ratio around at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes’ campuses.

The FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera is a rugged cell phone-sized powerhouse with an impressive 160 x 120 (19,200 pixels) imager resolution. The FLIR C5 also gives you a 3.5-inch integrated touchscreen that makes it easy to inspect, document repairs, and share your findings with customers.

FLIR C5 thermal camera

Building a Heat Map

Once powered on, it measures the temperature range of everything in its purview, identifying what it considers heat signature anomalies. Having reviewed the FLIR C2 thermal imager, the C5 quadruples the resolution at around the same debut price point. It also adds a host of expanded features.

When the FLIR C5 reveals potential thermal issues that you’d like to document, simply capture a photo with the imager. It can even take two complementary photos simultaneously: the thermal image along with a high-quality standard photo. This makes it easy to identify the context of the thermal image. Perhaps most helpful is the ability to include notes attached to the photos you take.

You can make quick manual thermal adjustments using the 1-Touch Level/Span. The C5 also includes FLIR MSX technology (Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging), which uses scene details from the built-in visual camera and overlays them onto the full thermal image.

Flir C5 Compact Thermal Camera

Scanning for Problems

With just a quick scan of a few rooms, I quickly identified things invisible to the naked eye: an old fuse creating a hot spot, a fan motor generating too much heat, and efficiency loss in several buildings. I snapped some photos and made notes for further investigation. Needless to say, catching small problems is much better than fixing big ones!

diagnosing troubleshooting thermal efficiency

I knew I didn’t have to worry about a ceiling water stain because it was old (no thermal difference with the rest of the ceiling). The stain was on a high ceiling and I avoided dragging out a big ladder to inspect it.

If only I’d had the FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera a couple of months earlier when I spent an inordinate amount of time locating a water leak behind a wall!

Cloudy Memory

The C5 offers 1.5GB of memory. Even after taking dozens of thermal images, I had plenty of space left. That amount of storage should work well for everyone except Ansel Adams.

When connected to WiFi or a mobile hotspot, you can sync images to the FLIR Ignite Cloud. FLIR provides another 1GB of free storage for you online. You can then download from the cloud to any desktop or laptop for closer inspection, report preparation, or general record-keeping.

The FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera isn’t compatible with the FLIR Tools App. I wish there was an app-based way to easily access the FLIR Ignite Cloud through a phone app for those times when I don’t have the C5 with me, I’m not around my computer, or I’ve removed the image from the C5 and stored it only in the Cloud.

Flir C5 Compact Thermal Camera

The Compact and Lightweight C5 Thermal Imager

At 5.4 x 3.3 x 0.94 inches and weighing in at under half a pound, the FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera fits easily into a pocket or bag. It even features an LED flashlight, making it handy to have around even if the job doesn’t specifically call for thermal imaging.

It also features an IP54 enclosure to protect it from dust and water. Lastly, FLIR designed it to withstand drops from up to 6.6 ft.

FLIR C5 thermal imager

Constructive Feedback

For all its impressive and incredibly helpful uses, I think the $699 FLIR C5 Compact Thermal Camera should have a faster processing speed. There’s an ever-so-slight lag in the action and this iPhone user just wants it to be a little snappier!

I also noticed that if you leave it off for a couple of days, it takes a while to recalibrate. The first couple of times this happens, it’s long enough for you to worry that something’s wrong with the C5. Eventually, you realize you simply have to wait for it to boot up.

The Bottom Line

The FLIR C5 Thermal Camera is truly a must-have piece of preventative maintenance equipment for finding small issues before they become big problems and moving quickly from diagnosis to repair. I’m spoiled by my iPhone’s speed so I wish the C5 processing was a bit faster, but the maintenance time and money it saves me outweighs that small gripe by far.


You can pick up the Flir C5 Compact Thermal Camera for around $675 online. It includes Flir’s 2-10 Limited Warranty, which basically gives you two separate warranty periods for the components and the camera sensors.

For a full explanation of the Flir warranty program, click here.

Flir Compact Thermal Camera Specs

  • Model: Flir C5
  • Accuracy: At ambient temp. 15 to 35°C (59 to 95°F) and object temp. above 0°C (32°F), 0 to 100°C (32 to 212°F): ±3°C (±5.5°F), 100 to 400°C (212 to 752°F): ±3%
  • Object Temperature Range: -20 to 400°C (-4 to 752°F)
  • Operating Temperature Range: -10 to 50°C (14 to 122°F)
  • IR Sensor: 160 x 120 (19,200 pixels)
  • Touchscreen: Capacitive touch
  • Screen Rotation: Yes
  • Image Upload: Directly upload images to Flir Ignite cloud library and services
  • Drop Test: 2 m (6.6 ft)
  • IP Rating: IP54
  • Camera Size: 138 x 84 x 24 mm (5.4 x 3.3 x 0.94 in)
  • File Format: Standard JPEG, 14-bit measurement data included
  • Image Storage: >5000 images
  • Warranty: 2-10 Limited Warranty
  • Price: ~$675

For more information about the Flir C5 Compact Thermal Camera, including a full spec sheet, click here.

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