PROS: 256 x 192 IR Resolution, Wide temperature range, 25 Hz refresh rate, Low power consumption (0.25W).
CONS: Only for Android devices and laptops.
TOPDON TC001 Specifications
|Resolution||256 x 192|
|Temperature range||-4 F to 1022 F (-20 C to 550 C)|
|Thermal sensitivity||50 mK NETD|
|Storage Type||Uses Smartphone Storage|
|Battery capacity||Uses Smartphone Battery (4-7 hours for phones with battery between 3000-5000 mAh)|
|LCD screen||Uses Smartphone Display|
|Refresh rate||25 Hz|
|Applications||HVAC inspection, Electrical inspections, Plumbing, Roofing, Automotive Diagnostics|
TOPDON TC001 – Specs & Review
The TOPDON TC001 is a very interesting alternative to the Flir One Pro and Seek Compact. It is basically a smartphone attachment just like the others, but it is worth noting that this is compatible only with Android devices. It has a minimalistic but very attractive design. Basically what you get is a thermal sensor on the front and that’s it. No battery, no visual camera, no storage. But there’s an advantage to missing all those components: It has a very low price.
To use it, you simply connect it to your phone’s USB-C port (That’s the only connector available), download the TOPDON app and you’re good to go. You can also use an extension cable to connect it to your laptop which does make it even more interesting.
TOPDON TC001 – Thermal imaging quality
Let’s have a look at the thermal image quality of the TOPDON TC001 thermal camera. The first thing you’ll notice is the very high IR resolution of 256 x 192 which accounts to a total of 49,152 pixels. That’s literally 2.5 times more pixels than you would get not just from a smartphone attachment but from any kind of thermal camera at this price. You just won’t find a camera with a resolution of 256×192 at this price point.
Things get even better because it comes with a 25 Hz refresh rate. US manufacturers can’t match that because they’re limited by US regulations to 9 Hz but this one isn’t. A 25 Hz framerate is incredibly smooth when compared to 9. Of course, there’s no manual focus on this device and you shouldn’t expect to get this kind of feature that’s usually present on IR thermal cameras that cost in excess of 1000$.
One downside is that there is no visual camera to enhance the image through fusion however the app can make use of your smartphone’s camera to enhance the image. Now this isn’t as good as one that’s built-in because you have to do a bit of alignment since the position of the camera on each smartphone differs quite a bit. Sure, it may not be as good as the MSX image enhancement technology but then remember that you’re paying a very low price for this piece of equipment.
The app does come with a whooping 9 color palettes to choose from and can read the temperature in 9 different areas of the image.
TOPDON TC001 – Temperature Range, Accuracy
So let’s look at how good the camera is at temperature readings. First of all there is the temperature range which spans from -4 F to 1022 F (-20 C to 550 C), way beyond what other cameras at this price point can. But of course you have to remember that accuracy usually greatly decreases the closer you get to the top of the range.
Now they claim it has a thermal sensitivity of 50 mK NETD. That would be really good because it means it is highly sensitive to temperature changes but this is a claim I am a bit skeptical of after looking at the thermal images, so I would take it with a grain of salt. Heat sensitivity is usually what gives thermal infrared cameras their detail, the more sensitive it is, the more detailed the image will be.
TOPDON TC001 – Battery life & Memory
There’s no on-board storage on the TC001, instead you just capture the images straight to your phone. This is the norm with any smartphone attachment of this kind.
A cool thing is that they didn’t add a battery and instead it draws power from your smartphone. They claim that the battery will last for 4-7 hours on smartphones from 3000 to 5000 mah. Just to put things in perspective, the average battery life of a camera at this price point is about 2-3 hours. What makes this possible is most likely the low power consumption because the TC001 only uses 0.25W. By comparison a Seek CompactPro will use 0.28W and a Hikmicro Mini1 will use 0.30W.
This infrared thermal camera is not waterproof or dustproof so you need to be a bit more careful but it is worth mentioning that no thermal camera for Android or iOS is. Not even the new Flir One Edge Pro which in theory could have been built to be waterproof has it.