Can Security Cameras Work Through Glass?

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As a homeowner, whether or not security cameras work through glass is an important factor to consider when installing security cameras for your home. Quite often people will ask a professional installer if window glass will interfere with their cameras ability to film clear video.

Perhaps you already have security cameras but they don’t seem to pick up any good video of the outside of your home. If they’re positioned from inside your windows, the glass could be causing interference.

The good news is that security cameras can work through glass. However, you should keep a few things in mind. After all, not all security cameras will work through glass. You need to make sure the cameras you purchase are specifically designed to work through glass.

security cameras work through glass

Can Security Cameras Work Through Glass?

Security cameras can work ok when pointed through window glass, however you’ll get better performance with exterior mounted cameras. However, at night it becomes very difficult to capture clear images at night when you have your security cameras pointed through window glass.

It might seem like a good idea to have your cameras inside facing out. After all, the glass will protect your camera from the elements and from potential thieves, while still allowing you to see everything that’s happening outside. But how well can security cameras really work through glass?

Are Security Cameras Effective Through Glass?

The answer is kind-of, but with some important caveats. During the day, any type of security camera will be able to see through a window just fine as long as it’s positioned properly. You might notice a slight reduction in image clarity, but for the most part, you will be able to see everything that’s going on outside.

The bigger issue comes into play more at night, when the camera is relying on infrared (IR) light to see. If there is a double-pane window or other type of glass between the camera and the target area, the IR light may not be able to penetrate the glass.

Regardless what time of day or night you’re recording, you should make sure that the lighting in the room does not interfere with the camera. Most experts recommend recording from a darker room, which will help avoid glare from the window glass.

Can Motion Sensors Work Through Glass?

The simple answer is no – motion detection will not work through window glass. Nearly all motion detection with security cameras uses passive infrared (PIR) technology to measure changes in heat as objects enter and leave an area.

Most modern home windows are insulated dual-pane glass, making it near impossible for infrared waves to penetrate the glass and detect heat changes. PIR even has a hard time passing through old-fashioned single-pane glass windows.

Will Infrared(IR) Night Vision Cameras Work Through Glass?

Night recording IR uses a lower wavelength than PIR for motion sensors. Night vision IR has an easier time passing through window glass, but the image may still be distorted based on the type of camera. Coated glass makes it even more difficult for night vision IR to work properly.

One way to overcome this limitation is to install motion activated flood lights in the area you want your cameras to record. The bright exterior lights will give your cameras a clear image to capture for video.

IR illumintators placed outside your windows might work, but this is not always a guaranteed solution. Some types of glass allow certain wavelengths of IR light to pass through, which is why exterior illuminators can help. You would need to experiment with your camera system to see if this solution will work for you.

Thermal camera technology will also not work from behind glass. Thermal cameras use Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) and Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR), which are both blocked by most glass windows.

camera through window glass

What Happens When Security Cameras are Placed Behind Glass?

The image quality can often be negatively affected when security cameras are placed behind glass. This is because the glass can cause glare and reflections that make it difficult to see what’s going on outside. In addition, the glass can distort the image, making it difficult to identify people or objects.

The Impact of Glass on the Camera’s Viewing Angle

Glass can impact a camera’s viewing angle. When you mount a camera inside a window, the glass will act as a filter and reduce the camera’s field of view. For example, when camera has a 60-degree field of view, the glass may reduce the field of view down to about 30 degrees. This is why careful positioning is important when a camera is recording through a window.

Glare from Window Glass

Glare from window glass can make it difficult for a security camera to see what’s happening outside. The window glare or glass reflection is very likely to cause images to whiteout during nighttime or low-light conditions. When recording through window glass, exterior lights can contribute to even greater overexposure.

The Type of Camera Being Used Through Glass

The type of camera can impact the image quality when recording through glass. For example, a dome camera is more likely to produce a clearer images than a bullet camera. Dome cameras have a wider field of view, which helps to reduce the impact of the glass.

Megapixels matter when it comes to image quality. A higher megapixel count will produce a more detailed image. When recording through glass, you should have a camera with at least 2 megapixel resolution. This will help to ensure you capture clear, high-quality images.

Keep in mind that even the best security cameras will have some image degradation when recording through glass. To achieve the best possible image quality, position the cameras for your security system correctly and use high-quality glass windows.

camera through window

8 Tips for Using Security Cameras through Glass

You might decide you still want to make your security cameras work through glass. If that’s the case, here are some helpful tips to get the most out of your cameras.

Reduce the distance between the lens and the window

Turn off the camera’s infrared lights to reduce glare on the inside of the windows

Disable or cover up any status lights on the body of the camera to eliminate even more glare on the inside of the window

Install motion activated lights outside so your camara can record at night

Leave the porch light on out front and the backyard light on in the back

Clean your windows often

Position your camera as close to the window as possible to reduce any reflection from the inside of the window glass

Make sure the light inside is darker than the light outside (aka the viewing area)

security camera in window


Security cameras can work through glass, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. Image quality may be negatively affected, and the viewing angle can be reduced. Additionally, glare from the glass can make it difficult to see what’s happening outside. Follow the tips above to get the most out of cameras you’ve installed behind window glass.


Do motion sensor cameras work through glass?

No, motion sensor cameras will not work through glass. Most motion sensors use passive infrared (PIR) technology to detect motion. PIR technology detects changes in heat energy in a given area. Most modern windows are double-pane, insulated glass and block PIR wavelengths from passing through. For this reason motion sensor cameras won’t work through modern windows. Even old plate glass single-pane windows have a hard time allowing PIR waves to pass through.

How do you cover an IR motion sensor?

You can purchase an IR sensor cover, which is a device that attaches to the front of an IR sensor and blocks the sensor’s view. This will prevent the sensor from detecting motion. You can also use a material that is opaque to IR light, such as black plastic or electrical tape. Simply place the material over the sensor so it is blocked from view.

Do security cameras work through one way mirrors?

Yes, security cameras will work through one way mirrors. One way mirrors are made of a glass that is coated with a reflective material on one side and are transparent on the other. The reflective side is very difficult to see through from the outside.

For security cameras to work properly through a one way mirror, the camera needs to be on the side of the mirror that is not reflective. The camera can see through the transparent side and record what is happening on the other side.

What is a varifocal lens?

A varifocal lens is a type of camera lens that allows the user to adjust the field of view. In plain English, this means you can zoom in or out, as well as change the focus, of the camera.

Varifocal lenses are helpful in security cameras because they provide the flexibility to change the viewing angle as needed. For example, if you want to get a closer look at something, you can zoom in. Or, if you want to see a wider area, you can zoom out.

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