When you buy an infrared security camera to watch your home or business during the day and at night, you need it to work as expected. Lets take a look at some of the factors that affect performance and a few of the troubleshooting techniques you can try if your camera is performing poorly or not at all.
The Right Camera for the Right Job
Before going into troubleshooting, we have to make sure that you’re using the right camera for your application. Many times, we find the cameras already installed simply do not have the capabilities of providing quality night performance.
Buying a camera with the right lens, proper resolution, and enough infrared power to illuminate the area being covered, in pure darkness, should be your number one concern. Buying a cheap night vision CCTV camera that is just good enough may leave you disappointed, or worse.
Take a look at our security camera lens guide to make sure you choose a suitable lens, or camera with a suitable built in lens, to cover the area you are trying to. Take into consideration both the minimum and maximum length and width of space you will be recording.
Infrared illumination distance
After you have selected the proper lens and have a good feel for the area the camera will be focused on, the next important specification is the infrared illumination range. Each camera should have a specification for this, telling you approximately how far its infrared LEDs will illuminate the darkness.
Please note that your final choice in camera should be something that illuminates more than the required distance. As mentioned before, good enough typically leads to disappointment.
For example, our extremely popular and affordable AP-LIRDBP has an illumination range of 40 feet, which makes it great for indoor rooms, walkways, and similar locations. It wouldn’t be a smart buy, however, for a warehouse or other application where it was expected to cover longer distances well.
If you’re looking for long range, say something that can cover up to 250 feet, you would want to consider something like our AP-6200FV. This camera also has a 5-50mm lens, giving you a little more control over the field of view, depending on how wide you want the coverage to be at what distance.
None of the above will matter if you don’t have a camera with sufficient video quality. You have to be able to make out a face and physical features on the video, otherwise it’s worthless.
If your system is analog, make sure that the number of TV Lines (TVL) on the camera make sense for the application. Lower resolution, such as 480TVL, may be ok for short-range indoor applications, but for cameras covering larger areas where you might need higher resolution to make out faces, etc, look for at least 600TVL and test it. If it’s not good enough, send it back and get something better. We’re talking about your safety and belongings.
For IP security systems, you can crank up the resolution quite a bit for an impressive video that will give you the absolute best chance at catching that
criminal, night or day. For instance, our Veilux VBIP-5V can illuminate out to 130 feet and has a resolution of 5 megapixels. That’s huge!
Is My IR Camera Defective?
If your camera(s) pass the above prerequisites, it is possible that something is wrong with them. Lets run through a few common issues.
Fuzzy and/or unfocused video
This sounds like the lens may need to be re-focused. To fix it, locate the focus ring or knob on the camera and adjust it until the video is sharper. If the camera does not have a focusable lens, then the lens may need to be replaced/fixed. Contact your provider or the manufacturer for further assistance.
Grainy CCTV video
Infrared video is often visibly lower quality than daytime video. As such, a small amount of grain is normal. If it is excessive, however, read below.
Depending on the type of grain, your camera’s sensor may be bad, you may be getting power interference, you could have a poorly terminated cable, or your DVR may be malfunctioning.
Make sure that none of your video cables are running alongside power cables. If they are, build a “bridge” or gap between the two so that they are not close together, and try to cross them at 90 degrees if one passes the other somewhere along the line.
If that doesn’t help, make sure that all the connections are secure at the camera and DVR. If all the cameras except for one are working properly, try running a new cable directly from the DVR to the camera giving you problems. If that doesn’t fix it, attempt to connect the same camera to another input of the DVR. If that fixes it, something is wrong with that input of the DVR (or potentially the dongle, if you are using one). Contact your provider or the manufacturer to get that taken care of.
Can’t see well at night
The camera’s quality can have a lot to do with advertised versus actual infrared illumination range. If your camera is not illuminating the area it was advertised as being able to, and you have confirmed that the IR LEDs are on at night, I would contact your provider, or the manufacturer. Whether the LEDs are working or it’s just a cheaply made camera, you don’t need to waste any more time troubleshooting it. Ask your provider for a higher quality alternative, or check out our store.
An alternative would be to add an additional standalone infrared illuminator to the camera. These units are built exclusively to provide illumination for security cameras at night, and are quite popular for upgrading old box cameras to be infrared.
Are you having other issues?
If you are experiencing other issues with your infrared camera, please let us know and we’ll see if we can troubleshoot it for you.