Thermal Camera For Boating

Is anyone using night vision or thermal imaging on their boat? I've been looking at a few handheld units from FLIR. They're not cheap so I want to make sure I'm getting the best camera for my dollar. I'm set on a FLIR, im just looking for any first hand experience in utilizing thermal imaging for marine use. Thermal imaging has its advantages at night for marine use, especially for collision avoidance or search and rescue. On top of that, it is much easier to see obstacles like docks and buoys. I'm wondering how well thermal imaging works at a distance and how durable they are. Also, do marine thermal imaging cameras tell you the distance to the objects you are viewing? Thanks in advance Dock Line!



  • @JJ_MoFro I absolutely love my thermal camera. I have 2. I have a FLIR c5 handheld camera. It works okay for anything very close, within 100 yards at most. I like it because it takes a picture and I can use it for troubleshooting and inspecting mechanical issues or electrical. I also use a FLIR Ocean Scout 640. Sight picture is very clear. You are able to make out trees, docks, land etc. I have no trouble navigating at 20-25 knots while using the Ocean Scout. Even the best flood lights won't light up as clear as a picture as the FLIR does for marine use. Even when I have to navigate in a slight fog before the sunrise, the scout helps tremendously. If you do any boat operating in the dark, a quality thermal imaging camera is a game changer and well worth the initial investment.

  • Infrared thermal imaging makes all the difference coming back to the marina at night. Especially if it is a heavily trafficked marina. You can get a canopy mounted camera that will show up on your screens or you can stick with a more affordable handheld option. I will say that FLIR has the best technology out there and their products are worth the investment. The technology is rapidly advancing where you can even connect the cameras to your phone screen or an iPad.

  • I picked up a FLIR SCION monocular in 2019 for different uses but I use it on my boat more than anything. The GPS time stamped tagging is beneficial but more than anything the night navigation is awesome. The handheld version uses the same tech as the large yacht cameras. I like the Picture in Picture feature so you can zoom in on something while still keeping the main field of view in focus. You can also utilize the thermal camera in the day time. It picks out the slightest heat signature so if you have a MOB situation in rough waters, the FLIR will help you see. If there is fog, the thermal camera will see right through it. You can change out the lenses on some models to offer a different viewing angle as well. When it comes to thermal imaging for recreational boats, I think the FLIR monoculars are well worth the investment. This is the one I currently have.

  • @JJ_MoFro Only the high end handheld thermal imaging monoculars give you a yardage reading. But you can usually scale an object and give yourself a rough guesstimate on yardage with enough use. That is if the object you are viewing is within range. One thing to note is that most thermal cameras have to process so much information so rapidly that they burn through battery very fast. I'm talking about just a few hours of use before dying. They take a heat signature reading from every single pixel they are displaying so the energy use is significant. Consider buying a battery bank for charging or an extra battery for whichever unit you do decide on.

  • Thermal imaging for marine use has become a standard feature on most modern boats. People want to get the most out of their boat and navigating crowded areas at night have become normal in some areas. Thermal imaging for boating is essential if navigating in busy city ports i a regular occurrence on your boat. The images speak for themselves. Some of the high end units by RayMarine and FLIR can detect a person in the water up to 1200 meters away.

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