How Far Can Security Cameras See At Night?

How far can security cameras see at night? On average, security cameras can see about 155 feet (47.24 meters) at night. Night vision distance depends on a few of factors including: the number of light emitting diodes (LEDs) on board the camera, the strength of the infrared sensor (measured in nanometers) and quality of the camera. The maximum distance of security cameras is around 300 feet (91.44 meters). Here are six night vision distances and the number of LEDs onboard for popular security cameras:

  • Zosi security cameras: Night vision: 65 – 100 feet, LEDs: 24 – 36
  • YI Home Camera: night vision: 9 feet, LEDs: 1
  • Blink XT: 20 feet, LEDs: 1
  • Zmodo Wireless Security Camera: night vision: 65 feet, LEDs: 24
  • Wyze Cam: nigh vision: 30 feet, LEDs: 1 – 2
  • Lambow Wireless IP: night vision: 16 feet, LEDs: 1

Why are LEDs important?

The LEDs are important to night vision because it provides the infrared light needed for the camera to record at night, by illuminating the field of view. The benefit of of the LEDs is that the illumination is invisible to the human eye, and cameras can go almost undetected. Some LEDs will emit a small light (usually red) that people can see as it will stand out in the darkness. The LEDs are usually clustered near the camera lens.

As you can see from the examples, there is a correlation between the number of LEDs on board the camera and the distance a camera can “see” at night. For example, Zosi security cameras have a night vision range between 65 and 100 feet. This correlates to the number of LEDs on the security cameras. In most cases, the higher the number of LEDs on the camera the further a camera can see at night. There is one caveat: the Blink XT and the Lambow Wireless IP each have one LED, but there is a difference in night vision range. Why the difference?

Infrared sensor strength

Another important factor in a cameras’ night vision distance is the strength of the infrared sensor. Most security cameras use a type of infrared sensor called a passive infrared sensor (PIR). According to Wikipedia, PIRs “measure infrared light radiating from objects in its field of view.” These sensors are considered passive because they do not generate or radiate energy for detection purposes.” 

 Infrared light has a wavelength range of 700 nanometers and 1 millimeter, and this range has an impact on the infrared sensor strength. The closer the sensor is to visible light (700 nanometers), the shorter the distance your camera will be able to see at night (assuming all other factors are equal. In addition, the type of infrared sensors has a high impact on the distance of the night vision camera. Currently there are two types of IR sensors: active and passive. Within these two IR sensor types, there are a number of IR detectors that provide various features and services. 

How to improve security camera night vision?

The best way to improve security camera night vision is to improve the lighting at or near the camera. Adding a light near your security camera can provide enough light to simulate daytime lighting, thus allowing the camera to take higher quality pictures and recordings. The camera can be an inexpensive LED bulb, or a commercial flood light. Be aware that adding a light may add an additional cost to your monthly energy bill.

Another option to improve security camera night vision is to purchase a camera that has a lighting system attached. There are several security cameras that have a pre-installed light that activates when motion is detected.

What is the smallest thing a security camera can see at night?

In theory, a night vision camera can see anything that has a heat signature. This includes mice, rats, and other rodents. In practice, the answer is a little more complicated. The security camera will be able to see and record rodents if there is a big enough difference in the cameras field of view. Also, it may depend on the distance the rodent is away from the camera, environment, and camera type. If you are need a camera that can spot rodents or other small animals, I recommend tail cameras for outdoor use, and spy cameras for indoor use.

Is the same technology used both indoors and outdoors?

Yes, the same passive infrared sensor (PIR) technology can be used both indoors and outdoors. The same PIR technology used in security cameras are also used in burglar alarms and motion activated lights. The functionality between indoor and outdoor motion detection is similar; an outdoor security camera sensor is pointing in a direction, usually at the ground, when an object with a temperature greater than 0 enters into the field of view the camera will begin recording. Indoor cameras are usually angled toward a wall, and like outdoor cameras, if an object that is greater than 0 enters the field of view the camera will begin recording. In most cases, the infrared distance for outdoor cameras is further than the distance of indoor cameras.

Bullet cameras’ night vision distance

Bullet cameras, also called lipstick cameras because of their oval shape, have the highest range of around 300 feet. Bullet cameras are most commonly found in commercial settings (warehouses, office buildings) but can be used in a residential setting as well. Bullet cameras are usually used in conjunction with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems. CCTVs are television systems that “transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors.”

Bullet cameras can have both passive infrared sensors (PIRs) or Infrared cut filers (ICRs). ICRs are different than PIRs in that ICRs are “designed to reflect or block mid-infrared wavelengths while passing visible light.” ICRs are part of the reason why bullet cameras can have a night vision range of up to 300 feet.

Dome cameras’ night vision distance

Dome cameras have an average night vision range of 100 feet. Dome cameras are similar to bullet cameras in that they can be used in both commercial and residential settings. Also, like bullet cameras, domes cameras can be used with Closed Circuit (CCTV) systems.

Click here to see 30 cameras with the best night vision.

Conclusion

The average distance a security camera can see at night is around 150 feet. The distance depends on a number of factors including: infrared type, number of LEDs on board the camera, and the infrared sensor strength. If you considering purchasing a new security camera for your system, please consider the following:

  • What is the size of the objects you are targeting?
  • Will the camera be inside or outside?
  • How much are you able to spend on a security camera or system?
  • How is the lighting configured in the cameras field of view?
  • What is the field of view that you need to capture motion?
  • Will there be a glass between the security camera and the objects?

Similar questions:

  • Can security cameras see in the dark? Yes, if there are infrared sensors onboard the camera, it will be able to sense movement in the dark. The distance depends on the number of LEDs on the camera, the type of infrared used, and a few other factors.
  • How can cameras see in the dark? Cameras use LEDs with infrared sensors to “see in the dark.” These LEDs use radiation and changes in radiation to know when to take a picture or recording. There are two types of sensors, active and passive, and they have an impact on the distance the camera can see.
  • How far can night vision see? The average distance for night vision of security cameras is around 155 feet. The distance depends on several factors including the number of LEDs, heat signature, and others.

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