What is the purpose of an infrared camera in a security system?

Thermography, or thermal imaging, refers to the creation of images by using the infrared radiation emitted from the captured object; its heat signature. In simplest terms, thermal imaging is the use of an infrared camera to capture images not via light, but via the heat radiating off the targeted object. Infrared cameras are a very popular choice in security systems, as they can capture video in low or no light conditions and still have visual on the subject. Being able to capture footage in these low light conditions is incredibly useful for any security system using cameras, as light will not be a requirement for capturing video. With the cover of dark typically providing a route for intruders to get to your home, infrared cameras can do a lot to see what may be in the dark, whether that be wild animals wandering onto your lawn or a potential intruder who hoped to go undiscovered. In short, the purpose of an infrared security camera is to grant your monitoring security cameras the ability to “see” in the dark.

How does an infrared camera work?

Everything emits a heat signature, also known as infrared energy.  Rather than detecting light, as normal cameras do to capture images, thermal cameras instead capture thermal energy, using the detection of thermal energy to then construct an image or video output from the infrared data. An infrared camera is made up of the lens, the thermal sensor, the processing electronics, and the housing. The lens takes in the energy to be put onto the sensor, which sends the data to the processing electronics, where the raw data is converted into an image for the user. Due to the lack of light involved in capturing the images, the image will not be in the real world colors. Instead, the colors appearing in the image will be representative of the heat being given off by the objects in frame.  Typically, light colors, or white, is used to show high levels of heat; heat generated by the human body, for instance. Lower tones, or grays and blacks, are used to represent objects that are emitting less of a heat signature – typically background objects, such as lawn furniture or trees. All objects emit a heat signature, no matter how small, so thermal cameras are able to detect even the smallest differences in heat signatures.

How to properly place an infrared camera during install

Infrared cameras are best use for outdoor monitoring. While there are certainly use cases for indoor infrared cameras (some stores may use them as a non-invasive tool to check customers’ temperatures before entering) outdoor monitoring is the preferred location for infrared cameras. As it is very difficult to illuminate the night in an open space, infrared cameras seek to bypass the necessary illumination entirely by simply seeing in the dark. As a result of this, infrared cameras can be considered the perfect choice for true 24 hour monitoring of a given property.

Installing infrared cameras follows the same line of reasoning as installing your standard security cameras. Consider placing infrared cameras near any entrances to your home or property – areas such as ground floor doors and windows, as these are the most common routes for intruders to enter from. With infrared cameras not requiring light to function, it’s not a bad idea to install a few in your front and backyard; these areas can often go unmonitored by regular cameras due to lighting conditions overnight. Keeping an eye on your yards is an excellent way to maintain security on your property, as most intruders sneaking toward your home will have to pass through these areas, now without the cover of dark to keep them safe from the watchful eye of your cameras. On a similar note, monitoring your driveway with infrared cameras seals off another potential route for intruders, as well as protects your vehicle from theft or vandalism. Your home isn’t the only area that can be broken into and stolen from; consider installing these cameras on garages, sheds, and detached buildings on your property to ensure nothing valuable from there is stolen. Finally, during install, make sure you keep your cameras high up, to prevent the cameras themselves from being stolen or vandalized, and do what you can to avoid blind spots during installation. Getting your camera system professionally installed by companies like Cunningham Security is a great way to ensure that these cameras are properly placed to maximize coverage.

Why you should include infrared cameras in an alarm system

Cameras are an excellent part of any security system, and infrared can be especially helpful when monitoring your home. Being able to capture footage even in pitch darkness can be a massive boon following a home break in. The footage captured can be given to police and insurance companies as evidence for your case. Additionally, when connected to your full alarm system, you can use these cameras to do a lot more – even deter crimes before they happen. One major use for infrared cameras in a larger system is for activating lights. When the camera picks up a heat signature, it can be trigger your outdoor lights and floodlights to turn on, potentially scaring off any intruders or unwanted wild animals. Additionally, the alarm itself can be connected to these cameras, setting off an alarm when an unrecognized heat signature is noticed. These options are best seen when used within a smart home security system set up, in order to best customize what should happen when heat signatures are detected by your infrared cameras.

The darkness shouldn’t be a safe haven for just anybody attempting to approach your home. You should be able to rest easy, knowing that despite the darkness of the night, you can have a clear image on what’s going on outside. Whether you notice a potential intruder casing your home, or a dangerous wild animal that may have wandered into the neighborhood, capturing these moments on video will help you, your neighbors, and law enforcement remain informed of what’s going on when the lights go out. Consider adding infrared cameras to your security system – it’s among the best ways to see exactly what’s going on in the dark.