Flir TG130: A Review

I am weird. At least that is what I hear. I like to worry over little details that don’t really matter and make plans for situations that may never arise. That is what persuaded me to buy the Flir TG130. I had worried myself sick about trying to find a way to cause as little damage during a job and my solution was to know exactly where the bees were. No more stethoscope and guesswork. I was joining the 21st century!

Honestly, when I bought the Flir, I didn’t really think I would be using it as much as I have. I thought it would be a cool toy.

I never imagined the endless amount of uses I could get from this awesome piece of technology.

The first job that I used the thermal camera on was the Wilson Job in Lynchburg, Virginia. This removal was in a pre-Civil War church that some of the community members were interested in restoring. Our goal was to do as little damage as possible to the wall that the bees were in but still be thorough in removing the hive. The Flir TG130 exceeded all of my expectations. Not only were we able to pinpoint the exact location of the hive, we were able to see the edges of the comb and work area of the bees, thus avoiding excess damage to the original walls by guessing where to remove material.

Our second job again proved that using a thermal camera may have been the best decision we had made. We were in Manassas, removing a hive from a wall. At least that is what we thought. When we got to the house, we used the camera but could not find the bees in the wall. The reason? They were in between the basement and first floor. That day, the Flir saved us so much time and embarrassment, not to mention the money it would have cost to fix the hole in the bee-free wall.

Recently, I did a consultation for a couple who were worried about the excessive amount of bee activity near their house. I was able to use the camera to “look into” their walls to verify that there was no hive.

I am also able to view the bees in the hives of my bee yard. This is especially important in the wintertime when opening a hive could cause irreversible damages to the vulnerable bees and brood during cold temperatures.

These are just a few of the many things you can do with a thermal camera. None of the things I use mine for are even listed on the Flir website.

So, let’s get a better look at the features of the camera and how they work together to make this one of the best products I have ever used.

Price

I purchased mine from Flir for $230. As of this article, that is still the price point.

It was definitely a good chunk of change for something that I thought I would use a few times, put it in a drawer, and forget about. Considering how useful it is and how much I use it, I would definitely say it is well worth the money.

Features

The first thing I noticed about the Flir TG130 was the grip. It fit very nicely in my hand and the grip angle compared to the screen, made for a very natural point of aim. Also, the bottom of the grip had a place to attach the lanyard that came with the camera. I would definitely recommend using the lanyard, especially if using the camera with slippery or sticky hands.

The screen is a little over 1 3/4 inches. That may seem small but given the size of the whole unit it is actually pretty decent.

This thermal camera is powered by three AAA batteries. In my opinion, having replaceable batteries is definitely a benefit. No recharging a battery in the middle of a job.

Another feature is the ability to capture a “picture” by squeezing the trigger on the grip. Admittedly, I have not used this function during a removal but have tested it out while getting to know the camera.

It also has a built in temperature reader in the “crosshairs” on the screen. This can be changed to Fahrenheit or Celsius by flipping the toggle switch in the battery compartment.

Functionality

The camera, as a whole, is a great investment. I have not put it through any torture tests but it has stood up to being dropped a couple feet and having sticky honey on the buttons, trigger, and screen, all without adverse effects.

The thermal capabilities of this camera far surpassed my expectations. It amazes me how sensitive it is to slight changes in temperature. It will show a single honey bee flying through the air or a handprint on a doorknob.

I have yet to find anything to fault this camera on. I do wish there was a way to tone down the sensitivity to light but I think that may be an issue with all thermal cameras. Light, both direct and reflective, does tend to give off false readings and overpower the sensors, so it is best to find an angle to view the target that allows for less light to enter the camera.

Overall, this is well worth the money. I would love to try the other cameras made by Flir but I really have no need to purchase another one, as this one fits my needs.

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