Jeff Jones reviews the GTC 400 C thermal imaging camera from Bosch to give an electrician’s perspective on a product many installers will find invaluable.
As a contractor working in the events industry, I can really understand the value of having thermal imaging capability, so I was very excited to get to grips with Bosch GTC 400 C to use primarily as an inspection tool when on-site.
We’re often asked to monitor temporary power networks and produce electrical condition reports for large, complex infrastructure on sporting events or opening ceremonies worldwide. As such, the GTC 400 C has very quickly become our ‘go to’ tool for spotting faults with cable, connections and switchgear. This allows you to target and identify abnormal heat spots in an electrical system and counter them before they become detrimental.
The camera is a relatively compact size and feels good in the hand. What I particularly like about it is the large screen, which makes it very easy to see the captured thermal images. It has a robust case with a rubberised section around the camera screen to add some well needed protection.
The tool has a high quality, professional feel to it and it works with the standard 12V Bosch battery – so if you have other Bosch professional tools in the range, the battery and chargers are interchangeable. The online ‘getting started’ video guides on the GTC 400 C website also proved very useful with helping me to get to grips with the camera functionality straight away.
From novice to expert
Before trialling the GTC 400 C I was a complete novice to thermography, but within 15 minutes all the camera menu layouts and buttons felt very intuitive. I particularly liked the ease that you could swap between heat and cold settings in the menu, which means the camera only focuses on one or the other – a nice feature.
Aside from this, you can also select manual settings that allow you to fine-tune the temperature range so you can capture very precise thermal images. I also liked the trigger function – you simply squeeze the trigger and freeze the picture on the screen, making it easier to view or share with a colleague or client. You can then choose to save the image on the screen or discard and I have to say that I found it really easy to get fantastic results.
Connecting the camera to the mobile App and the PC software was also very simple and this allows you to quickly create reports using the thermal images you’ve captured. Clearly Bosch has really stepped up to the mark by producing a user-friendly PC software and mobile App package that really accentuates the tool and increases the scope of the camera.
Putting it to the test
The first site I took the camera to was an ice rink in central London where we provide all the temporary power and distribution. The power demand does fluctuate due to temperature over the winter season and this really puts our cable and distribution equipment through its paces.
I used the camera to inspect all the cable, joints and distro over the whole system in under a couple of hours and this enabled me to produce some very detailed thermal images which I was able to include in extensive mid-season inspection reports that we provide.
Another benefit of the tool is that it allows you to inspect electrical distribution panels, cable runs, cable joints etc. without disturbing any of the cable and equipment in-situ. It’s simply incredible that you can view the temperature difference in large multiple cable runs of individual conductors or to similarly be able to monitor higher than normal temperature differences in a large bank of circuit breakers. You get clear and concise temperature readings which then allow you to take preventive measures long before they have any detrimental effect to the electrical system.
The only issue that I came across was with a lack of connectivity at times. It appears that the only way to add Bluetooth to the camera is with a special battery adaptor unit which is sold as an extra, but it would have been nice to have Bluetooth as a connectivity option straight out of the box. That said, the WiFi connection mode is very easy to set up and use with the Bosch App on my phone and tablet, so no great loss. There is also the option of a wired connection for use with a laptop/pc.
I can safely say that I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Bosch GTC 400 C. It’s a fabulous product that, alongside the reporting software, allows you to show your customer or on-site team clear and concise images. It could even be the most useful inspection tool you perhaps never knew that you needed.
Click here for more information about the GTC 400 C thermal imaging camera from Bosch.