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21 Easy Ways to Improve Your Security Cameras’ Night Vision

improve your security cameras' night vision

Installing a security camera seems easy enough, right? And if you want night vision, you simply buy a camera with night vision. But seemingly minor things can have a serious impact on your camera’s performance in low-light conditions. Here are 21 easy ways to improve your security cameras’ night vision and help with troubleshooting your security system.

improve your security cameras' night vision

21 Ways to Improve Security Your Cameras’ Night Vision

Many people find it difficult to get good security camera video from low-light conditions. Several things can be the cause, from the type of camera you’re using to where the camera is positioned. But don’t worry, there are ways to improve security camera night vision.

1. Use an outdoor-rated security camera

Weather-proofing is essential to ensure your cameras work properly in any environment, including extreme cold or heat. Outdoor-rated cameras are designed to withstand the elements and will usually have better night vision capability than cameras designed for indoor use.

Many outdoor-rated cameras also have weatherproof housings to further protect from the elements.

2. Check the night vision capability before purchasing

Always check the specifications before making a purchase. This way you can see how well the cameras perform in low-light conditions. After all, you can’t improve a device’s performance if you don’t know the base level capability.

Some cameras work better than others, and you should make sure you have a camera that can provide high-quality video, even in dim lighting.

3. Use a motion sensor to activate the security camera at night

A motion-activated camera starts recording when movement is detected in the view area. These are great for nighttime when many break-ins and vandalism occur.

And since they only start recording when there’s activity, you can save storage space and conserve battery power. Plus, you won’t have to worry about reviewing hours of footage with nothing going on.

4. Install extra lighting above the security camera to help with visibility

Installing lights higher than the camera will shine light into the camera’s range of view without too much light going directly into the camera lens. This can improve the quality of your images and also increase the camera’s range. Just be sure not to use extremely bright lights, as this can actually degrade your video quality.

5. Keep trees and bushes trimmed around the house to increase visibility

Trees and bushes can obscure your camera’s view, making it more difficult to see what’s going on around your property. Trimming all bushes and hedges to about 3 feet or shorter will increase visibility and reduce blind spots in your camera’s view.

6. Add additional lighting around the property to improve your security cameras’ night vision

Consider installing additional lighting, especially if you have a very large property. Be careful with positioning, though. Glare from bright lights or ones that shines directly into your cameras can cause streaking and white blind spots.

Additional lights can help in two ways. Not only will it improve visibility for your cameras, but it will also act as a deterrent to criminals. After all, criminals don’t want to be caught on camera, and they certainly don’t want to be caught in the act if there’s a bright light shining on them.

night lights

7. Use infrared security cameras

Infrared (IR) security cameras see in the dark by using infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye but can be picked up by night-vision cameras. IR cameras are great for low-light conditions and can even see in complete darkness.

IR is the general standard for night vision capable security cameras. But if your cameras don’t have this feature built-in, you can purchase an infrared illuminator as an add-on. Avoid pointing the IR illuminator directly into the camera, as this can damage the sensor.

8. Change your outside light bulbs to LED bulbs

LED bulbs are a great way to improve the visibility of your security camera’s night vision. Not only do they provide better light than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they also use less energy and last longer.

LEDs also have a more even light spread compared to incandescent lights. A better spread creates a better lighting environment and fewer dark spots. They also start up right away with no warm-up period before reaching their full brightness.

9. Reduce or eliminate nearby reflected IR to improve your security cameras’ night vision

The infrared light from the camera’s internal IR LEDs might sometimes be reflected off of a nearby surface, such as the wall or the surface surrounding where the camera is placed. This can cause a “hot spot” glare in the video that washes out the image.

Reducing the number of reflective surfaces near your camera, or using an IR filter, can help to reduce or eliminate this problem.

improve your security cameras' night vision

10. Try using white light instead of infrared light

IR light is usually ideal for night vision, but some security cameras also can use white light as an image enhancement. While IR lights are good for recording covertly, you can set white lights to be motion-activated, which is good for scaring off would-be intruders.

White light is less likely to cause glare and reflection than IR light, and it can also provide good color rendering in your videos. However, it is important to note that white light can also attract bugs, so you may want to avoid using this feature if you live in an area with a lot of insects.

11. Make sure the IR is powerful enough

IR LEDs inside a night vision security camera are really a spotlight that is not visible to the human eye. The number of IR LEDs and their power determines how far the spotlight can reach. A common night vision range for home security cameras is between 40 and 100 feet, but this can vary depending on the quality of the camera.

If your camera’s IR doesn’t seem to be reaching as far as it should, try repositioning the camera or adding more IR LEDs.

12. Upgrade your security system

If you’re still using an analog security system, it might be time for an upgrade. Analog cameras tend to have poor night vision compared to digital cameras. Digital cameras, on the other hand, provide much better image quality, including sharper images and truer colors. They also offer other advantages, such as the ability to record in high definition (HD) and to zoom in without losing image quality.

Using HD-CVI technology, you can even upgrade to digital without having to completely rewire your system. You can use existing analog Coax cables to connect HD-CVI cameras and recorders, which record in up to 1080P resolution.

night security camera

13. Get professional installation to improve your security cameras’ night vision

One of the best ways to improve your security camera system’s night vision is to have it professionally installed. A professional installer has the experience to position and angle your cameras to optimize your camera’s night vision. They’ll also know how to troubleshoot any issues you might have with your current system.

14. Use a camera with a mechanical IR-cut filter

Most true day/night security cameras have a mechanical IR-cut filter that can be used to improve the camera’s night vision.

An IR-cut filter works by filtering out IR light, preventing distorted daylight image colors and improving the image quality. In low light, the IR-cut filter is removed from the image sensor, allowing IR light to reach the sensor to produce sharper images with less noise and better contrast.

15. Install external infrared LED lights to improve your security cameras’ night vision

Perhaps you’re not getting the performance you want from the IR lights installed in your security cameras. External IR LED illuminators may dramatically improve the contrast in an otherwise completely dark environment.

External IR LEDs can be used in conjunction with your existing security camera system, or they can be purchased as part of an outdoor-rated night vision security camera system.

low-light security camera

16. Use low light cameras with CCD image sensors

Certain security cameras, such as those that use CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensors, are designed to work well in low light conditions.

CCD image sensors are more sensitive to light than CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) image sensors, which means they can produce better images in low light. CMOS image sensors tend to be less expensive than CCD image sensors, but they tend to produce grainier low-light images.

17. Reposition the camera to get a better view

Your security camera’s positioning can greatly impact its night vision performance. If the camera is pointing directly into a light source, such as a street lamp or porch light, the image will be washed out and you won’t see much detail on the monitor. Position the camera so that it has a clear view of the area you want to monitor, without little to no direct light shining into the lens.

Also, position your security cameras with interlocking fields of view. This way, if one camera’s view is obscured, another camera will have a clear line of sight.

18. Make sure your camera is switching to night mode

Many cameras have an auto-switch feature that will change the camera’s settings based on the amount of light in the area. However, sometimes this feature doesn’t work correctly or the camera might be set to the wrong mode.

As a functions check, try manually switching your camera to night mode (or low light mode). If you can manually engage the low-light feature, then there could be a problem with the camera’s settings or the camera’s position. It could also be too much light from street lights and such for the camera to switch modes.

low-light security camera

19. Add more than one camera

Don’t try to cover a wide area with just one camera. The more cameras you have, the better your chances are of getting a clear image at night.

A camera’s night vision rating will be the limiting factor on the distance you can see at night, which is usually around 50 feet. Additional cameras with interlocking fields of view along the length of your property will give complete coverage.

20. Don’t position your camera behind window glass

You might think installing your camera behind a window will give a clear view of what’s happening outside and protect your camera from vandalism. However, placing your IR security cameras behind glass or windows tends to wash out the picture, especially in low-light conditions.

Furthermore, dirty window glass can cause the picture to appear hazy or foggy. The motion sensors on a motion-activated camera will usually not function properly when positioned behind glass, causing you to miss nearly all the activity you intend to record.

Instead, position your cameras so you have a clear view of the area, without any glass between the camera and the scene.

21. Only use a camera with an IR-corrected lens

IR-corrected lenses ensure your camera will produce a similarly sharp image in daylight and in low-light conditions.

Some manufacturers try to save money by using a regular camera lenses and simply adding an IR filter. However, a regular camera lens will produce an unclear, fuzzy image in low light. Only use a camera with an IR-corrected lens for the best night vision image.

night on street

Conclusion

Security cameras are a vital part of any security system, but they can be tricky to set up and operate properly in low-light conditions. In this article, we’ve talked about 21 ways to improve your security cameras’ night vision. By following these tips, you’ll be able to get the most out of your security system no matter the lighting conditions.

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