Once upon a time in the early days of security cameras, there was no such thing as an “infrared” camera. In other words, unless you had a source of light illuminating the area your security camera was aimed at – either from the sun during the day or a floodlight, spotlight or some other type of light at night – you weren’t actually going to record anything.


However, things have changed. Thanks to new advances in technology, security cameras can actually record images in complete darkness. This is exactly what someone’s talking about when they talk about an infrared camera or a camera equipped with infrared lights. Still curious? Here’s more information about infrared lights, how they work on their own, and how they can work together with security cameras to provide higher levels of security at night and in extremely low-light conditions.


It’s All in the Wavelength


If you’ve forgotten your high school physics, the reason we can see during the day is because the Sun emits light. However “light” is just a portion of the electromagnetic radiation the Sun gives off – the part that our eyes can see. There’s a certain wavelength of radiation that we can recognize is between 700 nanometers and 400 nanometers – all the colors of the rainbow. However, just because we can’t see infrared light – which has a wavelength of around 800-900 nanometers doesn’t mean it’s not there; we simply perceive it as heat instead.

Now, we can create artificial light sources, and we’ve been doing so since the first caveman invented fire. Today our light sources run on electricity, and give off both light and heat, though we can’t see the heat these light sources give off. It’s a simple process to create light sources that just give off heat – or infrared light – and it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to use these infrared lights to “see” in the dark.


Infrared Cameras


Infrared cameras, at least the most common kind, rely on highly advanced sensors that are so sensitive to changes in temperature that they can“see” into the invisible world of infrared light and then display it in a way that we can see, typically rendered on a video screen in black and white. These sensors most commonly work in conjunction with a ring of infrared lights that line the outside of a security camera; these lights bathe the area in the same way that a visible light source would, and that infrared radiation reflects off the surfaces it hits. An infrared camera can pick up and record that radiation, lending shape and form to things that would otherwise be impossible to see in darkness.

Infrared cameras are invaluable for any security system that has regions that are extremely dim to the point of being too dark for traditional cameras to monitor, and are ideal for keeping an eye on outside entrances as well as dark interiors like attics, basements, or darkened stairwells.