Shenzhen Sunell Technology Corporation
Shenzhen Sunell Technology Corporation

Understanding Cooled vs Uncooled Thermal Cameras

Thermal imaging technology has revolutionized numerous fields, from scientific research to security. Central to this advancement are two types of thermal cameras: cooled and uncooled. Each serves unique purposes, and understanding their differences is crucial for anyone looking to harness the power of thermal imaging.

When choosing an infrared thermal imaging camera, should I choose uncooled or cooled?  
What parameters should I focus on about the infrared detectors?


Cooled and uncooled thermal cameras differ primarily in their sensor technology, sensitivity, applications, cost, and maintenance requirements. Here's a detailed comparison:

Cooled Cameras

Uncooled Cameras

Sensor Technology

Use sensors that are cryogenically cooled to temperatures below 0°C, reducing thermal noise, enhancing sensitivity.

Utilize sensors that operate at ambient temperature. That changes resistance or voltage when heated by infrared radiation.


Low sensitivity

Working in cryogenic environment



More affordable

Maintenance and Durability

High maintenance, delicate

Low maintenance, rugged

Startup Time

Longer startup time

Nearly instantaneous startup time


Larger and heavier

Compact and lighter


Ideal for specialized applications requiring high detail and sensitivity, such as military use, border security, high-end scientific research, and astronomy.

Widely used in industrial applications, building inspections, wildlife monitoring, firefighting, and law enforcement. They are suitable for most commercial thermal imaging needs.

Making the Right Choice

Selecting between a cooled or uncooled thermal camera depends on your specific needs. For tasks requiring high sensitivity and detailed imaging, a cooled camera is unmatched. However, for more general applications, the uncooled variant offers a perfect blend of functionality, ease of use, and affordability.



Whether it's the precision of cooled thermal cameras or the practicality of uncooled ones, each type has its place in the world of thermal imaging. Understanding their differences helps you choose the right tool for your specific needs, ensuring you get the most out of this fascinating technology.