Let’s face it, we buy stuff for our boats that we don’t always need. We love to tweak everything to make our experience better – and sometimes just because. This certainly applies to technology, which, depending on who you ask, could be essential or superfluous. Here’s one cool product to consider in this light – a thermal imaging system that plugs right into your smart phone (iPhone or Android). This kind of thing used to be reserved for the military fighting the cold war but is now available for your phone for about $400 from FLIR.

The FLIR One Pro attaches directly to the bottom of your phone and with the accompanying app, transforms your phone into a military-grade thermal imaging monster (ok, that might be overstatement). So how do you talk yourself into this one? Just wanting to play with it may not be enough (or for some, maybe it is). The reality is you can use these handy devices to spot potential electrical problems before they become really big problems. As Nigel Calder, author of arguably the best books on boat systems, says, most problems with boats are electrical. Electrical problems result from poor electrical design – from the manufacturer or a previous owner. These poor designs often involve wiring that is under-sized for the loads it needs to carry, which leads to heat and fire.

So now you have the rational argument to get one. Now consider the emotional side. You’re hanging out with friends arguing about who has the best smart phone. Let’s face it, these days it doesn’t really matter how new your phone is – they aren’t that different. So you whip out your FLIR One Pro attachment and boom, you are the star. Everyone wants to check it out and they marvel at the fact that you even have some kind of reason to have one. You win.