Have You Ever Had A Camera Freeze Due To Cold?

I mean physically freeze, due to temperature, not lock up.

With the dreaded polar vortex on its way out, it made me wonder what effects everyone has seen on surveillance gear. In the middle of an outdoor test today, we had one camera malfunction -- the auto iris seemingly froze all the way open. This is an issue we have never seen before, and we've shot with this camera in this same scene and others many many times, so presumably the only variable which has changed is the cold.

Granted, this is an extreme example, as this is an indoor camera operating for a couple hours in freezing temps, but it's been colder than even many outdoor cameras' minimum operating temperatures this week, too.

Has anyone else seen issues?

I have one outdoor camera at a customer that is currently offline that is moderately exposed on a fuel island... I'm suspecting weather, but because of the questionable cabling/conduit, not because of the camera. As cold as it was here in NY, I don't that cameras are effected so much by wind chill as human skin is...

I've had splices snap due to cold. Nothing is more fun than getting up on a ladder or bucket to repair a splice, especially since I never figured out how to splice wires while wearing gloves...

I've also had a few cameras frost up on the inside.

I live up North in a small Canadian town. This year, the coldest I've seen so far is -32 I've obviously seen colder than that in past years. So, to me it is just a typical winter.

The camera has to be able to handle the cold and humidity. Are you sure the heater is working? Some cameras, such as Pelco PTZ will stop working until the heater has well heated the camera housing.

If there's no heater, are you sure the camera is completely sealed? If the cable going into the camera has an air gap, it's enough for the cold to come in.

Months ago, I had to open sealed bullet cameras due to condensation on the inside of the lens cover. I removed the lens cover altogether and wiped out the lens. No more condensation! The sealing tape covering the seam between the camera body and the lens cover became old and was no longer sealing properly. Condensation in the cold = frost.

If one uses greasy splices, that should occur.

One of the cameras outside our office was pretty well-frosted lately. They had a very small leak in the seal where the mount met the housing, and it only let in a few drops of water...but when the heater kicked on and that turned to vapor, it immediately frosted up the inside of the dome.

Been -50 Celcius here (give or take 5 degrees) for the last few weeks, and have not recieved any calls from customers. Except one who wanted us to adjust a camera (we said no...for now.)

We did have three digimerge cameras fail on us during an install. I think the issue is they sat in the cold for too long without power (wasn't my idea...fought tooth and nail against it.)

Mind you 99% of our currently installed systems are analog, not that that should really matter.

-50 degrees w/out the windchill factor?

Do you mean "without heater on" for extended period of time?

No power what so ever. Just mounted on the outside. So no heater or anything.

-50 with wind, below -40 without. Couple camers were getting direct blasts of wind, and that wind was coooold.

Yeah, turning on such a cold camera may not be very good. Can't you temporarily bring it indoor and re-install it outside?

As for the windchill factor, that only affects humans (and animals). It feels colder to us, but makes no difference to inanimate objects, such as cameras. The cameras are subject to the same temperature regardless of the wind. Well, not true when the camera is heated. The more wind, the faster it loses its heat.

When I was an integrator I had to backfocus a camera on the FAA tower at the Grand Rapids airport. Temp was -10 with a -30 windchill. When the housing was opened, the camera would freeze up in about 30 seconds. Then had to close the housing and wait 3 hours for it to heat back up enough for the camera to become operational again. Took three tries to get it done. BRRRRR!

Well, not true when the camera is heated. The more wind, the faster it loses its heat.

The same phenomenon holds true at cold temperatures as well. Camera at -30C with no wind will be warmer than a camera at -30C with a 10Kph wind.

There is some confusion over Windchill factor. While not scientifically accurate, it is describing a real phenomenon in terms that are easy for the average person to understand. For reference see forced vs. free convection cooling.

Wind (forced convection) promotes heat loss at any temperature.