I hope this blog finds you all well. It’s summertime here in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live, and just like every year around this time, I’m seeing the typical number of tourists coming in from other areas. Kayaks on their roofs, coolers and fishing rods in the back of pickup trucks and a fair number of campers pulled behind vehicles of all sizes. I was recently introduced to a new trend by a longtime friend of mine; Glamping. It’s a blend of “glamour” and “camping”. The word itself was actually added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2016, I was also surprised to learn. Glamping is essentially camping with a higher level of amenities than is typical. Never heard of it? Now you have. You’re welcome.
So how does this apply in the slightest to IR? Well in the case I’m about to describe, it’s relatively apparent. Among the current trends related to this leisure activity is the restoration of vintage campers. There’s a significant market for both retro-styled campers as well as a fully restored vintage camper of all sizes. The friend I mentioned recently purchased a vintage camper that was listed at a consignment dealer for a very reasonable price. Upon arriving home, the discovery was made that this 1973 Vega might not be in exactly pristine condition. I’m a country boy if you will, and as such, I am pretty handy. I work on my own truck, make a lot of my own home repairs and I’m the de facto maintenance resource for my aforementioned friend. So, I get a call. “Hey, do you know much about campers?”
A camper is like a small building on a rolling frame. Like a combination of a car and a house. Therefore, I can inspect it much like I would either of those two things. Clearance lights, turn signals, wheels, and tires all like a car. Not much in terms of thermal findings in the automotive aspect, aside from perhaps checking for even brake heating or maybe lights running too warm. From the perspective of building similarity however, quite a lot can be done. Insulation, air leakage, moisture intrusion can all be detected just like a building inspection. I just need to remember to follow the same rules as with a frame building.
I’d want a stable DeltaT from inside surface to outside surface. The ASTM C1060 recommends 18°F as a minimum, but often good results can be had with a slightly lower Delta T. I want to avoid solar loading, as it can skew the results of a conduction inspection. Likewise, air movement around the structure would need to be at a minimum. Ideally no wind, but certainly below 15MPH, again as specified by ASTM C1060. Moisture trapped in the wall of a camper behaves much as it does in the wall of a house. And may be detected in one or a combination of three ways; conduction, evaporation or thermal capacitance. Air leakage and damaged or poor performing insulation will also have thermal characteristics similar to a stationary house.
So if you’ve made the decision to Glamp, and you’re looking at campers, remember you can inspect them with your trusty IR imager just like you did your own house after you got back from Level 1. Remember the prevailing rules for conditions, and you’ll find yourself a Glamper in no time.