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Friday, September 25, 2009

Choosing an Infrared Security Camera

By Chad Buie

Darkness is the enemy of security system setups. Unless you have an infrared security camera, as infrared security cameras excel at capturing video in the dark.

Although most security consultants are familiar with an infrared security cameras single drawback: the capture in black and white, many new security personnel do not understand the advantages of using an infrared security camera or when to use one in a security setup.

Simply put, black and white video is better than no video and there are many situations where traditional cameras cannot capture anything.

A good security consultant will understand that there are often variables that will be outside of your control. Configuring a CCTV setup, has to plan for the unexpected such as a key light burning out, getting shattered, or having their power cut. Installing a infrared security camera functions as a tremendous failsafe for these conditions. Also, many times it is more economical, considerate, discrete, or otherwise preferred to use infrared security cameras outdoors rather than flood lighting.

Infrared security cameras measure infrared radiation (or IR). Infrared radiation sensors are often called heat sensors, as they are used in heat seeking missiles and night vision goggles. But this is a misconception as heat is felt from more than just infrared spectrum and the infrared spectrum contains more than heat (for example, your television remote uses an infrared sensor and infrared light, but does not get hot when you use it). For purposes of security systems, however, we will be primarily concerned with the infrared sensor picking up heat signatures of human bodies.

Infrared cameras come with many different numbers of infrared lights built into the lens. Some have as many as 64 or as few as 6 bulbs, but the number of bulbs is not the only thing to consider. The size of the infrared bulb is important as well. Generally the more infrared light, in both size and number, that a infrared security camera has the farther that you will be able to see with the camera.

When it comes infrared cameras if the cameras has 12 or more bulbs, it was not meant to be used indoors. This is because many flat glossy surfaces can reflect the light back and overwhelm the sensors. A few examples of these types of surfaces include windows, doors, coffee tables, even walls painted with "glossy" paint finishes can wash out an infrared sensor if it has too much light. It is better to know where you will install the camera rather than just assuming that more lights equal a better picture.

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