How important are IR illuminators when installing HD CCTV systems?

Over the years CCTV as a product has managed to get itself a bad name. Sometimes this is due to trying to get too much out of the view meaning detail is lacking but mainly the problems start when specifiers refuse to advise their customers of the importance of lighting when installing their CCTV system. Ironically as technology has progressed and we now have HD images the need for correctly installed lighting has become even more critical. HD cameras are more light hungry than their analogue counterparts and the fantastic images we see during the day quickly deteriorates when the light starts to fade. The poorer image also has the effect of using more hard drive space as the noise on the screen is seen as movement and therefore worthy of recording.

So what is the answer? Well manufacturers have addressed the issue by integrating IR lighting into their products in the form of a ring of IR leds placed strategically around the lens. This can work well and certainly gives us better nighttime pictures but the biggest downfall of this method is the dreaded spider. We have seen several example of cameras that worked well until a spider decided to weave its web across the front of the camera . This has the effect of reflecting the IR back into lens and completely obliterating the images. The worse thing about this is that it can go unnoticed for many weeks and when the need arises to review the images they are are worthless.

Clarius - IS-8100

So what else can be done? Well good ambient light will help or sensor switched halogens are an option but these are expensive and what if the bulb blows? Sodiums burning all night perhaps but this is throwing money away. No the answer is more simple, it is IR LED lighting. An IR illuminator uses hardly any power they are reliable and effective and maintenance free. The level of investment is higher to begin with but ROI is swift and they solve the issue of picture quality. An IR illuminator is the only answer to lighting issues.

So what do we recommend. Well there are three main players in this market place. Raytec, Clarius and Iluminar. All make several models that can suit most scenarios taking into account distance and width of view. Advances in the manufacturing process have bought prices down dramatically so there is no excuse to compromise your CCTV systems for the sake of skimping on lighting.

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