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Using the night vision of a security camera through a window



  View of a camera behind a window at night with night vision on

Wi-Fi cameras require infrared (IR) for night vision. However, IR bounces off the glass – if you use your camera behind a window, you will only see a blurry reflection at night. This will give you a clear picture.

Night vision and windows do not mix

  WyzeCam with Illuminated IR LEDs
Josh Hendrickson

The night vision on most Wi-Fi cameras uses a relatively simple physics trick. One or more IR LEDs emit as much light as possible and act as spotlights. Since infrared is invisible to the human eye, you do not even notice it, and your camera can use this IR light to record video at night, you've probably found it works perfectly during the day. But at night it's a blurry mess of videos that mostly shows just the reflection of your camera and spots of light.

  Wyze Cam with illuminated night vision LEDs, most of the image is obscured by bright lights.
This is the case of a Wyze camera with the NightVision function on and outdoor lights off.

This completely overcomes the point where even a surveillance camera is available. If your camera has seen someone outside, you never know what they look like or what they do.

If you want the night vision of your camera to be through glass, then you want to provide outdoor lighting. You can use either conventional outdoor lighting or IR lighting. You must also disable or cover the camera's built-in IR illumination. Finally, you must either move the camera as close as possible to the window or tilt it slightly, rather than using a direct angle.

It is best to use an outdoor camera. An outdoor camera will deal with glass issues and benefit from most of these suggestions. However, if you can not use an outdoor camera for some reason, consider using these options to enhance the video you get with your indoor camera.

Consider letting the porch light on

  View of the front yard in color with porch lights on

The first goal to get a better picture is to put the built-in IR lights out of the To take out the equation. Traditional lights are the easiest way to reach this goal. If you have a porch light, leave it on. You can then turn off night mode on your camera.

The options here vary from camera to camera. With some cameras, like the Wyze Cam, you can just turn everything off. When the night mode is off, the IR lights will not turn on. Depending on the camera, your video may be colored. As you can see above, the picture is so clear that you would see the face of anyone approaching your door at night.

However, this has one obvious drawback: they consume electricity throughout the night and may disturb your neighbors. Motion activated lights are a better solution. You can find battery powered lights that attach easily to your door or wall, like the Overlight. Or you could consider a powered solution with headlights. A floodlight alone can be more effective than a porch light. Together they make a crystal clear video.

Turn Off or Cover the IR LEDs

In the above example, the video from the camera is still in color and therefore has less detail. If you want less noise and more clarity, you should keep the video monochrome. Some cameras allow you to turn off the IR light while in monochrome mode. Other cameras like Wyze Cam are all or nothing. If this is the case, a small insulating tape is sufficient.

Your outdoor lighting is still useful in spite of IR lighting, but you get a bit more detail with monochrome videos – especially if you use multiple outdoor lights. The excess light will also drown out the reflection of your camera.

  Porch night view with lantern and floodlight on.
Here both the wind light and the movement flood light above the garage are switched on. 19659023] Either turn the camera slightly or move it closer

Mirroring the camera in the window is a problem you still encounter. Darker cameras like the SimplifSafe camera are better than the bright white Wyze Cam. Turning off the lights in the room is helpful, but you should bring your camera as close as possible to the window for the most improvement.

The picture above shows a worst-case scenario in which the IR lights are still active despite the LED. Porch light is on, but you can see enough detail to get through. Turning off the IR lights will further enhance the picture.

If you can not press the camera on the glass, try to tilt it to move the reflection. Even an angle of five degrees will help. If you move the reflection out of direct line of sight, the image becomes clear enough for you to get through.

Use an IR Illuminator instead of conventional light sources

. Traditional lights are not always the best option. Depending on where your camera is to be located, your neighbors will not notice floodlights that bring light into their house at night – or even spray light into your own home.

And while conventional floodlights work, an IR emitter is an even more effective solution. Think of it as a floodlight, but instead of using light from the visible spectrum, infrared light is emitted. The picture above shows the activated IR illumination. However, if you look at the device in person, you only see dark, purple lights.

  Camera at night with a clear view of the porch
The only light in this picture is from the IR illuminator.

The idea here is to replace the built-in IR lights of your surveillance camera. Turn them off or cover them (you want to work in monochrome mode) and attach the lights to the outside of your home. As far as your camera is concerned, you have effectively mounted an extremely powerful headlamp. Strange, dark violet lights may appear to the human eye. Striking but easy to ignore.

In the picture above, the IR emitter is aimed at the sidewalk, so this point is the brightest point. You should test the exact placement and positioning before permanently attaching the device to your home.

  Very good view of the front yard through a security camera behind glass.
In this picture both the IR illuminator and the garage headlight are switched on. [19659010] IR emitters can work with conventional light sources. If you want an absolutely clear picture, you have to choose this route. The above photo uses all the methods discussed above. The Wyze Cam sits with its IR LEDs as close as possible to the glass. The IR spotlight is aimed at the sidewalk, and something triggered the motion-detecting floodlight over the garage.

Camera checking for pixel-based motion detection

Day and night not all Wi-Fi cameras support warnings for motion detection windows. Wi-Fi cameras use one of two methods to detect movement: either using their IR sensors to detect changes in the heat near a human, or measuring changes in pixels in the video.

If your camera uses its IR camera sensors for motion detection, you will not receive any warnings behind glass. Just like your night video, the IR bounces off your window before it reaches a potential human. Your camera can not detect movement.

Pixel-based motion detection does not have this problem and can work through windows. You want a camera that uses this method of motion detection when you want to hold your camera outdoors and aim it at the outside world.

A rule of thumb is that most battery-powered cameras (like the Arlo Ultra) use IR detection and most plug-in cameras use pixel-based detection. There are exceptions. For example, the Simplisafe camera is a plug-in camera that uses IR motion detection and is not a good choice for window security.

Not every option is suitable for your scenario, but if you experiment you will find the right set


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