What is a Borescope vs Endoscope for Plumbing?

Last Updated On November 30, 2021
What is a Borescope vs Endoscope for Plumbing

How To Use A Borescope vs Endoscope For Plumbing?

Even the most talented plumber is limited by the tools they have, just like a photographer can only produce pictures of a certain quality based on the camera in their bag. 

In order to select the best tool, a DIY plumber must know the important distinctions between different products that may seem identical at first.

So what is a borescope, and how does it differ from an endoscope (if at all)?

If you knew that borescopes and endoscopes both provide images of hard-to-reach places, such as the inside of your plumbing, you’re ahead of most people. While often used for inspection, you can also use these awesome plumbing tools to get something out of a drain.

However, you probably still don’t know the minute differences between the two. Read further to learn more!

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • Endoscopes vs Borescopes
  • What are the different types of plumbing cameras?
  • What should you look for in the best plumbing camera?

What's In This Guide?

      What Is a Borescope or Endoscope for Plumbing?

      Borescopes and endoscopes both contain a small inspection camera on the end of a long cable or wire. The camera head is specifically designed to reach places not easy to see, such as the inside of your sewer line. 

      People use these products to inspect their sewer lines as part of regular plumbing maintenance. They are also used in the case of a sewer line clog to identify it.

      If you have a stubborn clog in your sewer line in an inaccessible place, such as underneath your foundation, you first need to locate and identify the problem before you can take action. 

      Sliding an endoscope into your sewer line is the first step. You will get a detailed picture of the inside of your sewer pipes so that you can see if they are clear or accumulating gunk. 

      The sewer camera will show you exactly where a clog is so that you don’t do more work than necessary to create a drain opening. See this post for our rating of the top sewer cameras with locators.

      Endoscopes and borescopes have many additional uses outside of plumbing, too, including:

      • Internal medicine 
      • Mechanical inspection 
      • Car repair 
      • HVAC system inspection
      • Ceiling and wall assembly examination
      • Scientific research
      did you know What is a Borescope vs Endoscope for Plumbing

      Endoscopes vs. Borescopes

      Essentially, an endoscope is a specific type of borescope similar to how a 4K digital camera is a type of digital camera. 

      Endoscopes don’t necessarily provide a better quality image, though. Rather, they have slightly specialized features that make them ideal for plumbing work as to borescopes that come in more varieties.

      To ensure that endoscopes can fit in more places, they tend to be thinner in diameter. Endoscopes also aim for smooth feeding, while some borescopes have ridges. 

      Other features specifically attributed to endoscopes include zooming and flexibility. They also usually contain a dim or adjustable led light more suitable for inside plumbing than something super bright that will provide too much glare.

      One feature that borescopes tend to have over endoscopes is the ability to view 120 degrees, while most endoscopes are limited to 90 degrees. 

      What Are The Different Types Of Plumbing Endoscopes?

      Flexibility 

      There are three options when it comes to borescope flexibility: 

      • Rigid
      • Semi-rigid
      • Flexible. 

      A rigid endoscope does not allow any slack or flexibility for the cord to maneuver odd angles and shapes. This option is inappropriate for plumbing since all plumbing systems contain different shapes and zigzags. This sometimes warrants criticism of the data received from rigid borescopes

      Semi-rigid endoscopes, usually made from metal, can mold as necessary to fit into your pipes (in most cases), while still maintaining their strength. This is the most common option for plumbing purposes.

      You may find some flexible tube endoscopes available that are easy to manipulate but may not hold up to the potentially damaging materials in your pipes. Nonetheless, you will need these to reach 90-degree angles and other hard-to-reach places just out of reach of a semi-rigid endoscope. 

      Flexible endoscopes are often used for medical purposes. Flexible endoscopes designed for medical use go through a particularly strict endoscope reprocessing system that includes detailed cleaning and sanitizing.

      Endoscopes vs. Borescopes

      Essentially, an endoscope is a specific type of borescope similar to how a 4K digital camera is a type of digital camera. 

      Endoscopes don’t necessarily provide a better quality image, though. Rather, they have slightly specialized features that make them ideal for plumbing work as to borescopes that come in more varieties.

      To ensure that endoscopes can fit in more places, they tend to be thinner in diameter. Endoscopes also aim for smooth feeding, while some borescopes have ridges. 

      Other features specifically attributed to endoscopes include zooming and flexibility. They also usually contain a dim or adjustable led light more suitable for inside plumbing than something super bright that will provide too much glare.

      One feature that borescopes tend to have over endoscopes is the ability to view 120 degrees, while most endoscopes are limited to 90 degrees. 

      What Are The Different Types Of Plumbing Endoscopes?

      Flexibility 

      There are three options when it comes to borescope flexibility: 

      • Rigid
      • Semi-rigid
      • Flexible. 

      A rigid endoscope does not allow any slack or flexibility for the cord to maneuver odd angles and shapes. This option is inappropriate for plumbing since all plumbing systems contain different shapes and zigzags. This sometimes warrants criticism of the data received from rigid borescopes

      Semi-rigid endoscopes, usually made from metal, can mold as necessary to fit into your pipes (in most cases), while still maintaining their strength. This is the most common option for plumbing purposes.

      You may find some flexible tube endoscopes available that are easy to manipulate but may not hold up to the potentially damaging materials in your pipes. Nonetheless, you will need these to reach 90-degree angles and other hard-to-reach places just out of reach of a semi-rigid endoscope. 

      Flexible endoscopes are often used for medical purposes. Flexible endoscopes designed for medical use go through a particularly strict endoscope reprocessing system that includes detailed cleaning and sanitizing. 

      Transmission

      There are three main ways that an endoscope will transmit data:

      • USB – Many endoscopes use a USB cord to connect to any monitor that accepts a USB video input.
      • Wireless – Wireless devices transmit data via WiFi (after a somewhat complicated setup), meaning there’s no need for a physical cord.
      • Direct Video – Easiest yet most expensive option in which a camera transmits data to a specific monitor already set up to receive the data.

      What Do You Look For In The Best Plumbing Camera Endoscope?

      Waterproof

      Working in plumbing can put your tools into contact with standing water or moisture from a leak, which can usually cause damage to an electric camera. 

      When looking for an endoscope to use for your sewer line inspection, look for a product that markets itself as waterproof. However, be careful to notice exactly what parts of the product are waterproof. 

      There are different categories of waterproof. Ideally, look for products with an ip67 waterproof rating or better. 

      Locator Included

      Many endoscopes come with a transmitter automatically installed into them. When you use a receiver with the same frequency (usually 512 Hz), it can help you pinpoint the exact location of a sewer line clog

      High-Quality Materials 

      The materials used to make the endoscope help determine how well the product will hold up. The best products contain stainless steel and other hard metals with additional anti-corrosive protection. 

      Best Endoscopes For Plumbing (With Locator)

      Having your own equipment can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in plumbing costs over the years. We scoured the available products to find the five best endoscopes for plumbing based on product reviews and product details. 

      Whether you need something to fit a budget or to satisfy commercial needs, you can find what you need in our list of the 5 best endoscopes for plumbing (with locator).

      1. Comstex Sewer Camera With Locator (Our Top Pick)
      2. Pranite Sewer Camera With 512 HZ Transmitter (Best Budget)
      3. OKK Sewer Camera, Drain Pipe Camera with Locator and Receiver (Best High End)
      4. Anysun Sewer Camera with Locator and Distance Counter (Best Locator)
      5. RIDGID 48488 SeeSnake Plumbing Snake Sewer Camera Locator (Best Commercial)

      Final Thoughts on Borescope vs Endoscope For Plumbing

      An industrial endoscope can perform an in-depth sewer inspection to locate and diagnose plumbing problems at their source. 

      Many people use borescope and endoscope interchangeably as they are both snake cameras, but they have minor distinctions. Mainly, endoscopes are a type of borescope with subtle yet important characteristics specifically designed for plumbing uses. 

      High-end models today provide impressively high-quality images thanks to features such as zoom and autofocus, and you can monitor everything over WiFi on some high-end models. 

      Instead of focusing on the words “boroscope” and “endoscope.” focus on the features of the product. 

      When you pick the right tool and create a clean sewer line, it’s a reason to smile. Say cheese!

      FAQs For Borescope vs Endoscope

      What is endoscope and borescope?

      Both an endoscope and borescope offer a way to view inaccessible locations, such as the inside of your plumbing. 

      An endoscope is a specific type of borescope that works particularly well in plumbing. 

      What is a borescope used for?

      A borescope can be used for the following purposes:

      • Internal medicine 
      • Automotive repair 
      • HVAC system inspection
      • Ceiling and wall assembly examination

      What is an endoscope camera used for?

      An endoscope camera has multiple uses, including viewing inside your plumbing or even inside your body. 

      What are the types of borescope?

      Borescopes come in the following different types:

      • Rigid borescope, semi-rigid borscope, or flexible borescope
      • USB transmission, wireless transmission, or direct video transmission 
      • Smooth borescope or ribbed borescope

      Meet Your Plumbing Expert

      Brant

      I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

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      Brant

      Brant

      I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

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