This paper proposes an energy efficient instrumentation set-up for pulse-compression thermal-wave imaging with a low-power LED excitation source. The set-up consists of three different subsystems that are synchronised in time. The individual systems consist of a LED modulation circuitry, reference signal measurement circuitry, and an IR camera trigger signal generation circuitry for frame capture. A separate reference acquisition circuitry is useful in quantifying defect depth resolution. This paper also proposes a nonuniform frame capture technique to reduce the memory allocation space of the recorded video. The technique is based on varying the sampling rate with a change in instantaneous frequency and is specifically useful for frequency modulated excitation signal. The proposed technique is implemented on a carbon fiber reinforced polymer test-piece. The variation of pulse compression parameters with different defect dimension is studied, and the results are verified with an electro-thermal simulator. Further, an objective comparison of pulse compression experiment for different experiment duration is presented. © 2017 IEEE.