With many options on the market, it can be hard to identify exactly what setup you need to meet your perimeter security needs. From cameras to lighting, access control, motion detection, and radar, the possibilities can seem endless. Although most agree, perimeter security lighting is your first line of defense against an intruder, there may be a lighting option you haven’t considered: Infrared (IR) light.

IR light, also known as infrared radiation, is a different type of light on the light spectrum that emits radiant energy. It has wavelengths longer than visible light, and it is invisible to the human eye. When it comes to security, IR is a great option when you don’t want an intruder to know they are being watched, but you still need surveillance capabilities to know they are there. IR and your security cameras can provide this type of “invisible” security since both types of cameras—digital and analog—rely on IR LEDs to be able to “see” what’s happening when it’s dark or there isn’t an available light source.

How does IR lighting enhance your security cameras?

When a camera switches to night mode, the images that the camera captures inside can change from color to black and white, the picture becomes “grainy,” and/or it becomes too dark which shows nothing but a black image. Color is crucial to your security cameras’ ability to see clearly when the sun goes down. By adding light, however, your camera can go back to color. This change also increases the detail your cameras can capture, making it much easier to more accurately see what’s going on in the cameras’ field of vision. If you want the ability to read the license plate of an intruder, for example, you’ll need that more detailed recording that your IR light-enhanced security cameras can provide.

If you’re thinking about adding IR to your security camera, it’s important to consider the different types. IR illuminator emits light within the following IR range:

  • IR 850nm illuminators are most commonly used for day/night cameras and closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs). They are classified as “semi-covert” since they do produce a faint red glow that can be seen when looking at the camera, making them not completely invisible although still very useful.
  • IR 940nm illuminators do not emit that faint red glow, making them nearly invisible to the naked eye, earning them the “covert” classification. IR 940nm illuminators are widely used by law enforcement, military, traffic, and railroads.

White light vs IR light: What’s the difference?

If you need lighting for security cameras and other purposes, then white light is a good option. For example, white light is optimal for parking lots, parking garages, parks, loading bays, and anywhere people will need to see to work or for other activities—day or night. White light has the advantage of providing light for both people and security cameras.

As previously mentioned, IR lights are best for covert uses, like when you don’t want intruders or anyone else to know they’re being watched. IR light also works when you have close neighbors who would complain about night light and/or when there are local government restrictions. And since IR lights are nearly invisible, another advantage of using IR lights is that your cameras can track any intruders without them knowing it, uncovering possible weak points in your overall perimeter security system.

As far as disadvantages for each, pole lights can cause light pollution, and IR lights can’t add color to videos as needed or work with motion detectors to deter intruders.

Limitations in IR Cameras design

Typical cameras that have IR illuminators have both distance restrictions and view of range limitations. The distance is typically under 100’. The range of view is reduced by approximately 30% at night vs. what the camera can see during the day because cameras that are further away produce glare, making the camera view blind.

The solution is easy to solve. When you put the IR lighting out on the perimeter, the camera can see it. The CAST Lighting IR solution has been tested as far as half a mile from the camera. To solve the range of view so the camera can see as well at night as in the day, the CAST Lighting IR solutions are field tunable. This means the installers can adjust the IR illumination at each fixture to eliminate glare so the camera can see clearly to each IR fixture.

Good news: Take advantage of both white light and IR to offer the best perimeter solution

The CAST Lighting CPL3IR Infrared Night Owl Generation 3 Series offers the ability to switch between both IR light and white light—in one fixture. It is also the only fence mounted IR solution that can be integrated with either sophisticated monitoring systems or basic analytics from cameras to activate the white light on event triggers.

Imagine this scenario: it’s dark out, and an intruder approaches thinking he/she isn’t being seen. Of course, the IR detects him/her and then sends a signal to the CAST Lighting bank of white light in each fixture. Boom, the bright light turns on. The intruder feels tremendously exposed and typically runs away, which is exactly what you want them to do!

To learn more about the CPL3IR Infrared Night Owl Generation 3 Series, click here.

Thinking about adding IR lights or have any more questions? Contact us for more information on how IR lights can benefit your perimeter security system or for any perimeter lighting security needs.