Infrared illuminators and IR illuminators for Security and LED Lighting Solutions

FAQ & Helpful Tips

Lighting is a very important part of any surveillance system. In order to ensure that your system is functioning around the clock, we’ve listed some commonly asked questions below.

If you have a question that is not covered here, feel free to contact us by visiting Support section of our site or call directly at +1 801.519.0500.

IR light vs. White light

IR light is not some sort of magical light or a hi-tech innovation. It is, and has always been around us as a part of sunlight, candle, or a light bulb. Infrared light behaves and functions the same as white (daylight, sunlight etc) light, with a small exception – it is invisible. This is THE ONLY DIFFERENCE. Therefore for the illumination applications it should be treated the same as visible or white light.

Visible light is measured in lux, such as 0.05 lux or 0.1 lux. However, infrared light cannot be measured in lux, because it is invisible after all. The most common way to measure infrared light is in watts/ M² or Ft², or the energy produced by an infrared light source over a specific area. Most camera manufacturers do not test or specify sensitivity to infrared light. Oftentimes light sensitivity to VISIBLE LIGHT specified in fractions of lux, such as 0.1 or 0.001, but it is not applicable to infrared light. Hence it is impossible to tell how well will the infrared illuminator will work with a particular camera without testing.

How do I maximize the performance of my Day/Night cameras in low light conditions?

Use Infrared or White light illuminator

Make sure your camera is equipped with infrared corrected lens. It solves the problem of focus-shift between night and daylight.

Match the angle of the IR illuminator to the camera’s field of view. 

Does a Day/Night camera work in pitch dark?

It is a very simple rule – NO LIGHT = NO IMAGE. Even the most advanced and sophisticated Day/Night cameras WILL NOT function in pitch dark, or even in very dark conditions. IR illuminator or white light is necessary to aid the camera to produce image usable for security applications.

Are all cameras IR compatible (Sensitive to Infrared light)?

Only true Day/Night cameras with physically removable IR cut filter are sensitive to Infrared light.

How do you test your IR output (range)?

Since the CMOS cameras are most widely used in the security industry, AXTON uses cameras with a 1/3” CMOS chip. Cameras built around CCD sensor deliver the best performance with IR illuminators, but since they are more expensive and therefore not as popular in the security industry, we don’t use them to specify The performance range of our products.

How far can my camera see with your light?

We test our IR illuminators and specify their range with QUALITY Day/Night Cameras with physically removable (NOT DIGITAL) IR CUT filter. If you’re using a TRUE Day/Night camera from REPUTABLE manufacturer with physically removable IR cut filter, you will get the same or even better results, depending on the specific lighting conditions. Because camera manufacturers don’t specify sensitivity to infrared light, the only way to find out how well the camera will perform with infrared light is to test it under actual deployment environment.

Do I need an external power source?

All AXTON IR or white light illuminators have extended low-voltage or Poe/PoE+ power input. if the site has low-voltage or PoE available there is no need for additional power source. However, if you only have access to 110V-240V power, you need to use a 110V-240V to low voltage power converter to provide the unit with the required power.

What’s the difference between IR illuminators with 850 nm and 940 nm wavelength?

The 850 nm wavelength is standard for most applications, including CCTV. The light source does produce a faint red glow at direct exposure, but otherwise is not visible to the naked eye. Most of the true Day/Night cameras with physically removable IR cut filter have great sensitivity to 850nm wavelength, that’s why they are so widely used for IR illumination.

The main advantage of the 940nm wavelength is its complete invisibility. The light source doesn’t emit any glow. This is imperative for law enforcement and military, as well as for traffic and railroad applications where red light can be interpreted as a signal. However, only a handful of cameras are sensitive to 940nm wavelength. The illumination range is 30-40% shorter, compared to 850nm wavelength. While selecting the 940nm IR illuminator, be sure that you really need it, and will be able to use it.

How do I choose the right IR illuminator angle for my system?

When selecting IR illuminator make sure its illumination angle matches the camera’s field of view. Note that Infrared illuminators with the same output power, but different illumination angles WILL have different effective ranges. As a rule of thumb – the smaller the illumination angle is, the greater the range. Also, a wider illumination angle makes the effective range of the IR illuminator shorter.

How do I increase the effective range of the IR illumination?

To increase the illumination distance you need to increase the output power of the light source. There is a simple rule: To double the range, the output power must be increased four times. If you want the range to triple, output power needs to be boosted nine times. This is called the inverse square law.

It’s important to note that more light is required by IP cameras in order to produce high quality images.

What is Infrared Corrected Lens and its purpose?

The IR correct lens designed to eliminate the problem of the focus shift, which cuased the image to be out of focus because light of different wavelengths has different focal points. It optimizes camera performance under all lighting conditions and delivers the best possible image quality.

Does ambient light affects IR illuminator performance?

Infrared illuminator produces the same amount of light regardless of the ambient light at the scene. However, ambient light has a great impact on the camera’s ability to see IR light. Ambient (visible) light dilutes the IR light making it less dense, which impacts its performance. It’s similar to using a conventional flashlight during the day – even though it’s on, there’s not a real difference.

Do you include mounting brackets?

The U-bracket is included with all lights that we sell. If you need additional brackets, you can find them under the brackets section of our site.

Can AXTON lights function with solar-powered systems?

We have many customers who use solar power in their systems. Even though our IR’s don’t have a solar power source of their own, they can be operated by connecting them to systems using solar power. We can also adjust the power consumption if needed.

What is a built-in Automatic Day/Night switch?

The built-in automatic Day/Night switch is a sensor (photocell), which is automatically turns the IR illuminator or white light ON in low light (Night) and turn it OFF in daytime. Some call it a Photocell.

Why do you consider the built-in Day/Night switch to be an outdated solution to controlling infrared illuminator?

Infrared and White light illuminators with built-in automatic Day/Night Switch function perfectly well in simple, one or two camera installations. In larger projects there may be problems, synchronizing the lights with the camera. The Day/Night Switch will either turn the light on before or after the camera switches to night mode. It is almost impossible to adjust the photocell threshold manually to match it to the camera. Therefore there may be “blind” spots in the surveillance.

This can be avoided by synchronizing the camera and the illuminator via the Input/Output (I/O) ports on illuminator and the camera. As soon as the camera switches to night mode, it sends a signal through the I/O port and turns it on immediately. This works 100 percent of the time, no matter how many cameras or what types of cameras you have on site.