Can an IR camera see through materials?

Yes and NO

Cover on
Only exposed surfaces of the breakers can be scanned. 

Cover off
All cable and bus connections can be inspected.

Transmittance of IR wavelengths​​

IR Imaging cameras can only "see" through materials that have an acceptable transmittence value. The transmittance value is a materials ability to allow the IR wavelengths to pass though it. Metal panel covers do NOT have an acceptable value. That means that IR wavelengths cannot  pass through this material. The examples above show both a panel with cover and mat in place as well as an opened panel.

If you need to access equipment that cannot be opened we suggest IR viewing windows be installed. The IR viewing windows that are available are made of meterials that have an acceptable tranmittance value, allowing for inspection without removing covers. (see below for examples)​

Can I do an Infrared Survey whenever i want?

Yes and NO

IR Cameras create images from temperature measurements, but what causes the equipment to create the desired temperature changes is what will determine if and when the application can be performed.  ​

Electrical surveys utilize amperage draw and not voltage to create temperature differences.  For most mechanical inspections, friction is utilized to provide the temperature change. Meaning the scan can occure whenever electrical/mechanical equipment is under "load" and/or running.
Roof moisture inspections, use solar gain or heat from the sun. The roof will absorb this solar gain and at night the infrared cameras will find temperature differneces on roof surfaces. 
Energy Loss surveys use the heat typically provided by the tenant or occupants of the building to create temperature changes. However, because the outside of the building is being inspected. This is done at night to elimate heating provided from the sun. That is why both roof moisture and energy loss surveys are usually performed after sun down.