Understanding how Thermal Imaging Works - Arkayne


Understanding how Thermal Imaging Works

  • December 1, 2023
  • By Brenton

Understanding how Thermal Imaging Works

Thermal is daunting to most at first. You may find yourself asking “Why do I need it?” or “What does thermal really add if I already have night vision?”. We wanted to take you on a quick dive into the Basics of Thermal and all of it’s capabilities. Understanding how Thermal Imaging Works is crucial to becoming prepared.

If you want to get the full experience, watch the video above about The Basics of Thermal.

How does thermal work?

Deer on thermal
Deer seen through RH25

Simply put, thermal captures different levels of infrared light put off by heat in order to create a “thermal image”. Infrared light is not visible to the human eye but everything puts off varying levels of infrared radiation. This will ensure that you see a detailed image most of the time when using thermal (more on that later).

The reason you see detail even at night is pretty simple… everything cools at different rates during the night which results in varying levels of infrared output. The sun warms everything up at different rates during the day and then those objects cool at different rates at night.

Should I get Thermal or Night Vision first?

PG25 + Sting IR384 (top) and PVS-14 + NOX18 (Bottom)
PG25 + Sting IR384 (top) and PVS-14 + NOX18 (Bottom)

We personally recommend running dual band systems or at least having thermal to supplement night vision. We also understand that the world of night vision and thermal is EXPENSIVE. That is why we always recommend budgeting for one at a time and not going into debt to get them.

Now, we don’t want to avoid the question because both are important but different people may have more need for one over the other. As a general rule, night vision is better for navigating and shooting while thermal is better for scanning, identifying and seeing details. Anything that can be hidden during the day will be hidden at night when looking through night vision. For example, let’s say someone is wearing camo and can blend in pretty well during the day. They will also be hidden from night vision… but not thermal. Thermal will pick them up immediately and can see what they are holding and what they have on them.

That being said, if your wanting to train at night on the range and learn how to to maneuver with a device on your head, night vision is probably the first thing you want to get. If you’re looking to have a device to identify, make sure your perimeter is secure or to go predator hunting with, thermal is for you.

We have plenty of content on the different units and different set-ups to look into. If you are looking for dual band set-ups, check out our budget set-up video where we dive into the “budget” and “premium” version of a dual band system.

When does thermal not work?

As hinted to earlier… there is one situation where your thermal won’t show much detail.

Blank screen on thermal
Blank Screen on an RH25

We call it the “Blank Screen Phenomenon”. This happens when the temperature of the surrounding area is pretty even which results in a loss of detail. This is typically due to an overcast day combined with constant rain. That being said, heat signatures for any live being will still stand out with extreme detail because of the difference in heat. If you need to navigate through the terrain, night vision would be essential (especially in this situation).

Coyote still standing out during “Blank Screen Phenomenon”

Where is thermal superior to night vision?

As discussed earlier, there is a lot of applications where thermal can be superior to night vision. The first one being identification.

Multiple deer shown through RH25

Seeing potential threats and identifying how many, where they are hiding, what they have, etc., is crucial to safety and survival if the community around you turns to chaos. Having thermal on you unlocks the ability to find the threat before they find you, which allows you to evade or engage.

Thermal is also highly critical for predator hunting. If you are into predator hunting, thermal will absolutely change the game. Thermal makes it extremely easy to spot predators and can also be weapon-mounted in order to take clear shots through it. One of our favorite units; the RH25, can be used helmet-mounted, weapon-mounted, or handheld. The options are endless.

In the market for thermal?

If you are in the market for thermal, contact us. Email us at cs@arkayne.com or head to arkayne.com to shop around. We have many thermal and night vision options available as well as a professional customer service team that will get you the information you need.


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