The Home Inspector Logo

Blog

The Home Inspector

Like boot camp for homeowners.

FLIR ONE Pro: a home inspector's review

I had a chance to test out the FLIR ONE Pro Thermal Camera, which is a $399 mobile phone accessory. Just plug it into the USB port on your phone and you now have an infrared camera with the same resolution as the FLIR E6, which is my camera of choice. I reviewed FLIR's first mobile phone thermal camera, the FLIR ONE, back in August of 2014. Since then, they've come out with a few upgraded versions, but the ONE Pro provides a huge upgrade in image quality.

The Basics

There are three versions of the ONE Pro: iPhone, Android USB-C, and Android micro-USB. At the moment, only the first two are available. I tested out the USB-C camera with my Pixel phone. The nice thing about a USB-C connection is that you can't plug the cable in upside-down; it's the same up or down. The micro-USB version isn't available just yet, but FLIR says they'll start shipping this winter.

In the meantime, the USB-C version can be used with phones that require micro-USB, but you'll need an adapter that'll make the camera stick out from your phone. I have one of those adapters to connect my Seek Thermal CompactPRO camera to my phone, and it makes me a bit nervous. If you own a phone that uses micro-USB, my advice is to wait until winter for the right ONE Pro camera.

This camera has its own internal battery, presumably because it uses a lot of juice. It's nice that it won't sap the battery on your phone, but it's also one more device to remember to keep charged.

Setting up the camera was pretty painless; I charged the camera, installed the app, registered online, and I was ready to go.

Size

The ONE Pro camera is the same width as my phone, but it's almost twice as thick.

ONE Pro vs Pixel

That's ok with me, however, because I use a case for my phone that makes the thickness about the same.

There's a big conspicuous dial on the ONE Pro that I first thought was a manual focus, but it actually adjusts the plug depth. See below.

Plug depth adjustment

I absolutely love this feature. If not for this, I'd have to take my phone out of its case every time I wanted to use the ONE Pro. It was smart of them to include this.

Shape

It's clumsy. You need two hands to use this thing. If you want one-handed operation, get a dedicated camera, not something that plugs into a mobile phone. This camera is meant for the occasional user, not a home inspector.

Software options

It does almost everything that I could think of. You can adjust the color palette, emissivity, turn the MSX on and off, adjust the IR scale, lock the span, take videos, and even do a time-lapse. My only complaint is that it won't take a thermal image at the same time as a regular image. That would be a handy feature to have, and I've grown accustomed to having it on my E6. Oh well.

Other stuff

The battery life was fine. I tested it out for a while, then left it sitting on my shelf for a couple of weeks. I turned it on again, and the battery life was at 42%. Not bad. It has a 55° field-of-view, while the E6 has a 45° field-of-view. The display is a little bit laggy, however. When moving the camera around, there's an annoying delay between where the camera points and what gets displayed on the screen. It makes me think of an old computer with an overworked processor that has a laggy mouse display. It's not incapacitating, but you definitely notice it. See below.

According to FLIR, the video frame rate is not a technical limitation; rather, it is factory set to be less than 9 frames per second (fps) to confirm with the guidelines from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Resolution

This camera boasts an impressive resolution of 160x120, which again, is the same as the FLIR E6. It also features FLIR's MSX technology, which blends high-contrast visible images with thermal images to give a much more pleasing image. I love that feature, even though it doesn't give me any more useful information. I took a bunch of images with the ONE Pro and the E6 side-by-side, to see how the images compare to a $2,000 camera. Check 'em out.

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 1

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 2

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 1

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 4

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 5

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 6

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 8

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 9

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 7

Th E6 images all look better in the smaller size, but once you look at a larger version of the image, the ONE Pro looks better. Try clicking on any of the images above and you'll see what I mean. The actual infrared data that you get from the E6 is more detailed, but the MSX feature makes the ONE Pro shine. I took a few images with the MSX turned off to help demonstrate the difference.

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 with MSX off 1

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 with MSX off 2

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 with MSX off 3

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 with MSX off 4

FLIR ONE Pro vs E6 with MSX off 5

As you can see, the E6 produces superior images.

Thermal Sensitivity

If both cameras have the same resolution, why does the E6 look so much better? It has to be the thermal sensitivity. Unfortunately, the two cameras use different scales to measure this. The ONE Pro is listed at 150mK, while the E6 is listed as <0.06°C. Apparently, 150mK means 0.15°C, which is quite a big drop in sensitivity.

FLIR ONE Pro Conclusion

This is a great little camera for $400. If you have a need for an infrared camera once a week or less, this would probably be a great option for you. You don't get the same level of detail that you'd get with a more expensive camera, and you'll need to be careful with this camera, but it'll work. If you're a home inspector, this probably isn't the right camera for you.

If you're a homeowner, a tradesperson, or someone else who has an occasional need for an infrared camera, this camera is a great option.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

Subscribe button

Can I join ABS to PVC?

It's possible to join ABS to PVC, but it's only supposed to be done with a mechanical coupling, not glued. If you just came here for the answer, you can stop reading... but I think you want the whole story. Here goes.

Today, there are two commonly used plastics for drain, waste, and vent pipes inside of homes; ABS (black) and PVC (white, mostly). This is almost all that's ever used in new residential construction here in Minnesota, and I suspect for the rest of the country as well. For most systems, a plumber will use one material or the other, not but both. This makes all of the connections simple; the plumber uses a solvent cement (aka glue) made just for that material, things stick together, and everyone is happy...

Until then the "handy" homeowner comes along and messes it up.

ABS glued to PVC ABS cemented to PVC

For the most part, ABS and PVC are not supposed to be glued together. We'll turn to the 2015 Minnesota State Plumbing Code for some background on this topic.

ABS to PVC: What the MN plumbing code says

If we turn to chapter 7 of the MN state plumbing code, we can find a bunch of info on drains. Section 705.1.2 ABS Solvent Cement Joints (for ABS) says the following, among other stuff:

Where surfaces to be joined are cleaned and free of dirt, moisture, oil, and other foreign material, solvent cement in accordance with ASTM D 2235 shall be applied to all joint surfaces.

So that says you can glue ABS using something that meets ASTM D 2235. That's the standard for solvent cement for ABS.

Section 705.7.2 Solvent Cement Joints (for PVC) says the following, among other stuff:

Where surfaces to be joined are cleaned and free of dirt, moisture, oil, and other foreign material, apply primer purple in color in accordance with ASMT F 656. - and - Solvent cements in accordance with ASTM D 2564 shall be applied to all joint surfaces. 

So as long as you use the right purple primer, you can also glue PVC. You need to use a glue that meets ASTM D 2564, the standard for solvent cement for PVC. Of course.

So how can these two materials be connected together? We need to turn to section 705.11.3 Plastic Pipe to Other Materials:

Where connecting plastic pipe to other types of plastic or other types of piping material; approved listed adapter or transition fittings and listed for the specific transition intended shall be used.

That means that if ABS and PVC are connected together, some type of adapter or fitting needs to be used. That's it, that's all that's allowed. The image below shows one such adapter on the right side. This has a stainless steel band going through the middle for rigidity. The coupling on the left lacks a metal band in the middle and also lacks UPC approval.

Stainless steel coupling

What about ABS to PVC Cement?

If you stop by any home improvement store, you'll be able to find a green cement that will connect ABS to PVC, and it might even have an IAPMO approval stamp on it (UPC), so what could the problem be? I mean, it's approved, right?

ABS to PVC cement

The problem is in the standard. If you look up the technical specifications for the product, you'll find that it meets ASTM Standard D 3138. You'll find the following information on the ASTM website https://www.astm.org/DATABASE.CART/HISTORICAL/D3138-04.htm. I added the bold.

1.2 These cements are intended for use in cementing transition joints between ABS and PVC materials in non-pressure applications only (25 psi (170 kPa) or less). Note 1 This specification was developed to provide a means for joining an ABS non-pressure piping system using a solvent-cemented transition joint, for example, joining ABS building drain to a PVC sewer system. The intention was not to create a specification for an all purpose ABS-PVC solvent cement that would be used for mixing of ABS and PVC piping materials nor to specify a cement that could generally be used for either material. Specific cements for ABS or PVC components should be used (see ).

That spells it out pretty clearly, yes? ABS to PVC cement is only meant to connect an ABS system to a PVC system. An example of this would be an ABS drain system inside of a home connecting to a PVC drain system just outside the building, or vice-versa. That's the only place that this cement is supposed to be used.

What if ABS and PVC have already been cemented together?

I say meh. No big deal if this is done. It's technically not right, but that's all. I have yet to find a single failure at this connection point. I've talked to a handful of experienced plumbers about this, and not one of them have seen this connection fail either. I typically point it out as an improper installation, but I leave it at that. I don't tell people to rip it apart and put it back together. Why would I?

Just for fun, I did a little experimenting at home to show how some of these different types of cement hold up. I started by cementing a bunch of materials together with a bunch of different types of cement. I waited 24 hours, then cut each one roughly in half, down the middle.

ABS to PVC Cement

Next, I cut each section in half lengthwise and put the coupling in a vice to get the materials to separate.

ABS to PVC in a vice

I got most of the connections to separate, but not all of them.

Separated ABS and PVC

The easiest section to separate was the PVC to PVC without purple primer. Next was the ABS to PVC without purple primer. The ABS to PVC connections with purple primer were as strong as the PVC to PVC connections with purple primer, if not stronger. It actually seemed to pull the surface of the ABS right off of the pipe. The only connection that refused to come apart was the ABS to ABS; the plastic would probably rip apart before that connection would fail.

Again, an ABS to PVC glued connection isn't technically correct, but this connection is highly unlikely to fail. I think failure is close to impossible; if I hadn't used a vice, there's no way I could have separated the two. There's no need to lose sleep over connections like this.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

Subscribe button