Before we proceed to the actual discussion on which is system is better for you, let’s first deal with the nitty-gritty of thermal imaging and night vision. Thermal imaging is the process of using specialized equipment to find things or objects that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye by detecting infrared radiation emitted by these objects. Night vision, on the other hand, provides images by enhancing the amount of light in the surroundings. Both of these methods offer advantages and disadvantages, some of which are discussed below.
One major benefit of using thermal imaging cameras or sensors is that they do not need any light to be functional. This makes them highly useful in situations that offer low-to-nil visibility.
One such situation would be during fires. Firefighters use thermal imagers to “see” as they go through smoked-filled rooms, helping them to find and save people. Because they work in a dangerous environment, thermal imaging sensors are also used to detect if a room is safe or if there is fire on the other side of a door.
In the field of law enforcement, thermal imaging devices are also used. Most of the time, police officers are placed in situations where they need to detect any possible risks without being seen, thermal imagers can help them find these threats without giving away their position. Thermal imaging detectors can also render camouflage or dark clothes.
Despite the numerous advantages of thermal imaging sensors, it is not free from disadvantages.
One disadvantage when it comes to using this system is that they are usually expensive and the price depends on the brand and quality of the device as well. If you are looking for a special model that would let you mount it on a rifle, for instance, it would cost you more.
Another disadvantage with thermal imaging is that while it grants you the ability to see images even with no light, it does not help you identify what you are looking at since what you are seeing on the detector is just the IR radiation being emitted. Cool objects are also harder to see since thermal imaging systems rely on IR radiation, which is related to temperature.
Night vision devices have been used for a longer period of time than infrared devices and have undergone plenty of improvements in terms of their durability and capability to deliver images in low light situations. These features make them an indispensable device to hunters who often have to hunt in areas with minimal lighting.
Law enforcement officers have also used night vision technology over the years. One advantage of night vision in this regard is that it helps officers to identify objects or people that they see through the scope. Most of all, night vision devices are rather inexpensive in comparison to thermal imaging devices. However, there are some disadvantages you have to consider before using a night vision device. The most important is that, unlike thermal imagers, night vision technology still needs minimal light to be functional.