What Cameras Can See Infrared & Top Uses for Them


Surveillance cameras are an essential part of many business structures. However, traditional cameras are limited by lighting requirements and are often ineffective for a large portion of the day. Here, infrared cameras are needed to pick up the slack. 

Most people know that infrared security cameras can offer some form of low-light vision, yet they aren’t sure how much. This article will cover the capabilities of infrared cameras and some of their top uses. 

Related: Why Everyone Is Switching To AI Video Surveillance

What Cameras Can See Infrared?

Cameras that can see infrared are usually night vision cameras. While some distinctions exist between some types of infrared and night vision cameras, they are all meant to pick up information and footage in low or no light conditions.

These cameras have internal infrared sensors and infrared lights generally in place around the lens. They activate with low light and allow the sensor to take in information. The footage these cameras produce is usually always black and white. This is because infrared waves are distinct from the wavelengths of light that make up visible colors. So, when no visible light is available, no color will be available either.  

Despite this singular drawback, black-and-white footage is generally enough information for most infrared cameras functions. Some cameras provide low-quality footage, which obviously is a more significant issue. However, low-quality footage usually results from a poorly designed system or some other issue that can be addressed. 

These cameras are even more effective when combined with certain features, such as alarms. Meanwhile, cameras that are built to detect temperature changes serve some specific purposes.

Benefits of Using Infrared Security Cameras

Infrared cameras are ideal for no-light conditions. Outdoor locations can get dark at night to the point where regular cameras will effectively be useless. This is why you will generally see infrared cameras used for security at night. 

In addition, infrared cameras are useful for low light conditions. This helps make camera monitoring possible in the early hours of the morning or around dusk when the amount of light is still enough to see by but not enough for most surveillance systems to function effectively.

While a lack of sunlight prevents many cameras from working for portions of the day, there are also cameras that are almost constantly dealing with no or low-light situations. Cameras aimed in dark hallways, warehouses, and other indoor locations are better if they are infrared because they provide constant monitoring

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Top Uses for Infrared Cameras

Infrared security cameras have some clear benefits. This leads to a number of situations where they are likely to be used. 


CCTV infrared cameras are ideal for keeping commercial properties secure. Regular cameras cannot see in the dark. However, infrared cameras can. So, infrared security cameras are really the only solution when dealing with an area that needs to be monitored in no or low light conditions. Because of this, they are a standard part of any commercial security system but are becoming more common in residential security systems as well. 

This can even be true in locations that typically have lights. For example, cameras in a busy store are usually aimed at bright and well-lit locations. However, at the end of the day, the lights are put out, and thus, the visibility of the cameras is limited. Unfortunately, this is the exact time of day when criminals are most likely to strike. 

A white CCTV camera mounted to the ceiling

Nighttime Monitoring

Infrared cameras aren’t just used for security. They can be used to monitor anything that needs to be monitored at night. 

For example, a pet boarding house could use infrared cameras to ensure the animals don’t get loose during the night. A storage facility could keep cameras trained on points where rats could get in to determine if an infestation is happening. Finally, any facility where fire or other hazards are an issue could have an edge in detecting a disaster if cameras are running. 

In each of these cases, the cameras also work well alongside additional technologies. For example, the pet boarding house or storage facility could use motion detection to see if animals are moving around where they shouldn’t be. Meanwhile, a facility dealing with potential hazards could use a smoke detection system or temperature monitors to watch out for these as well. 

Related: Manufacturing Surveillance Security: What You Didn’t Know You Needed

Refineries and Fuel Depots

Nighttime monitoring is essential in many different industries. However, the benefits it provides for refineries and fuel depots are beyond comparison. This is an often-overlooked yet ideal application of infrared cameras. 

They are critical in these places because of the dangers presented there. A fire or other incident has the potential to create a serious problem in any industry but has the potential to create a massive problem for refineries and fuel depots. A fire could create an explosion that harms or even kills people. Plus, the resulting damage to the property may cause catastrophic financial damage, as one factory ended up bringing in a bill of over $1.2 billion in repairs after it was damaged in a fire. So, constant monitoring that cannot be interrupted by a lack of light is necessary for these locations. 

In addition, refineries and fuel depots are dangerous to be in and have many dangerous locations within them. In 2006, one of the deadliest years on record, there were 125 fatalities. Having humans constantly walking through these places puts them at risk. This risk is unnecessary if monitoring can be accomplished remotely. Cutting risk at any point in this process helps save lives and prevent other types of injuries.  

Finally, infrared security cameras give an accurate picture of exactly what is going on at these locations. While temperature sensors and smoke detectors can give some indication of what is happening, they are limited in the information they provide. Meanwhile, being able to see the area visually, even if it is dark, provides a wealth of valuable information that may be critical in directing the response. Some infrared cameras even have temperature detection built into the camera, providing the best of both worlds when it comes to protection. Pairing these with automatic alerts for changing temperatures can help alert personnel before the situation becomes too dangerous.

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Using Infrared Cameras

An aerial view of an oil refinery

Infrared security cameras can provide plenty of benefits for a variety of different industries. Their ability to provide safety and security in no or low light situations gives peace of mind and provides a warning if disaster strikes. 

Related: Top 5 Security Camera Installation Companies in Texas

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