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Thursday, September 24, 2009

When to use an Infrared Security Camera in your Security System Setup

By Chad Buie

If you need to capture security video in the dark, you need an infrared security camera. Infrared security cameras have advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when designing a security system.

Let's start out by acknowledging a infrared security camera's obvious drawback: they capture black and white video. With that said, we can begin to speak about the benefits of having an infrared security camera in your security setup and the different types of infrared cameras.

An infrared security camera has the ability to capture video in conditions where other cameras cannot capture anything. Faced between having black and white video is better than having none.

Many closed caption television security system cameras hinge on having good available lighting. Often times this means that a thousand dollar setup can many times be rendered useless and ineffective by simply removing the light source, by either destroying or disabling the light. In this situation a infrared security camera would make an excellent failsafe. Secondly, many times the lighting necessary to properly secure an outside location would be overwhelming to nearby residents or businesses, draw unwelcome attention, or otherwise be undesirable. This is another situation where a infrared security camera would be very beneficial.

How do Infrared security cameras work? Infrared Sensors (or IR) detect infrared radiation, which is essentially the byproduct of heat. Specifically, electromagnetic radiation has a wavelength longer than visible light but shorter than a microwave, which means that people cannot see it or be damaged by it. Infrared (or thermal) imaging is used in many devises such as smart missiles, night vision goggles, and television remotes. Other scientific uses involve using infrared light to predict the weather or study the formation of stars. Obviously, visible light is not necessary to produce heat, which is why infrared cameras work so well at night.

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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