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Table 6 Estimated cost, time for deployment, detail, precision, and accuracy of data, and typical uses of 7 techniques for estimating fire temperature, heat output, or fire severity. Infrared cameras, while not included in this study, are included here for comparison purposes.

From: Comparing Techniques for Estimating Flame Temperature of Prescribed Fires

Time for Detail Precision Accuracy
Measuring technique Cost per unit Reusable deployment of data of data of max temp Typical uses d
Post-burn assessments none n/a 30 s low mod. n/a Fire severity, spatial heterogeneity
Fuel loading none n/a 1 m low poor-mod. n/a Heat output
Calorimeters $0.1-1 yes 2–3 m low poor n/a Heat output, spatial heterogeneity
Pyrometers $0.5-1 no 4–5 m mod. mod. low-mod.a Maximum temperature, spatial heterogeneity
Thermocouples/Hobo dataloggers $100-125 yes 10–15 m high high mod.-highb Average and maximum temperature, rate of spread spatial heterogeneity
Thermocouples/Standard datalogger $2,500 (36 TC) yes 10–15 m Average and maximum temperature, rate of spread
Infrared cameras $15,000–50,000 yes 2–3 m very high high highc Average and maximum temperature, rate of spread spatial heterogeneity
  1. aVaries according to pyrometer material and subject to observer bias.
  2. bDepends on thermocouple thickness and type (shielded-aspirated thermocouples are most accurate in flames).
  3. cOnly measures surface temperatures of objects, not flames. Accuracy dependent on knowing emissivity of objects and is affected by RH (including water vapor in smoke).
  4. dTypical uses are subject to the device limitations noted in this study. For example thermocouples are typically used to estimate “maximum temperature”, although reported values indicate the device temperature and generally underestimate true maximums.