Cameras In High Moisture/Condensation Environments

Hi,

I work for a company that processes meats, and I inherited control of our plant security environment (about 85 cameras), and have had to do a bunch of on the job learning the past year.

We have an area of the plant that contains industrial smoking ovens, and we have dome cameras in place to cover the area.

The problem we are having is consendation in/on the cameras. This area of the plant stays anywhere from relatively warm to above average temperature when product is removed from the hot ovens. Then, across the hall, we have blast freezers that will drop the temperature in the hallway a good 30-40 degrees in a few seconds when they are opened to load product in.

Our problem is that most of the time, the cameras are so fogged up, or have so much condension in the dome that you are left with a bad to unusable video feed. (See Examples below)

The company that installed this system pretty much used the same Speco dome cameras everywhere (regardless of what was needed).

I am seeking ideas on what type of cameras would be best suited to this type of environment. The current cameras are analog, but I would prefer advancing to IP for better video quality and management. I have been in the process of upgrading our environment with IP cameras in a managed rollout process, and so far have been very pleased (more importantly, the boss has been very pleased) with the improvements.

I realize that a dome is probably not the best solution because you have this big bubble of space that if(when) moisture does penetrate, there is no where for it to go.

I have considered 'bullet' type cameras, but havent' tested one in there yet to see how tightly the seals may be in keeping moisture out. If I can keep the insides dry, we still have the issue of the lenses fogging up during the rapid tempurature changes.

I even thought about coating the outside lens cover with Rain-X to see if it would 'roll' the moisture off the lens, but even that would require re-treatment on a regular basis.

Does anyone make a good IP camera with windshield wipers :)

Thank you in advance for your help.

Examples:

Camera Camera 1


Hi Bill,

I think your application would be better-served by installing enclosures made for high-humidity environments. Something like Pelco Humid Environment Fortified Camera Systems - FH-M Series, though they are integrated with Pelco analog or Sarix cameras, which some people are not very fond of. The point is that those systems have active dehumidifiers, although they don't necessarily reduce condensation on the outside of the window.

I'm sure there are other enclosure options. There are enclosures with wipers but it is my understanding they require regular replacement. I would bet that in a smokey environment, such replacement would be required quite often.

I think we have to distinguish between condensation inside and outside the dome. Inside condensation can be, as Carl succinctly details above, routinely and effectively handled by installing high-humidity rated enclosures.

One thing I might add is that depending upon the IP rating of the current domes and assuming the seals are still intact, you may obtain some interim relief to the inside condensation by the use of a desiccant. The dessicant simply dries the air so that there is nothing to condense. Silica Gel is example of one such agent. However since the dessicant's capacity is finite, if there is significant inrush of new moisture the desiccant itself will quickly become super-saturated and have to be dried before it will be usable again. It all depends on the effectiveness of your moisture barrier.

As for the outside condensation I think you were on the right track with RainX, but as you say it needs to be reapplied too often. It is also merely hydrophobic as opposed to the newer super-hydrophobic and ultra-hydrophobic ones that now are available. Not only are these newer products better than hydrophobics at repelling, but when applied professionally they can last years.

There are number of superhydrophobics available on the web that can be applied in situ, so you may try out a couple on a test dome, if they at least claim to be clear and to work on polycarbonates. One to avoid is NeverWet since it will leave a hazy film on your dome. A professional treatment for optics is the best route though, and here's a company Aculon, that offers such treatments, though I have no experience with them. Above is one of their videos.

First, seal your cameras. Get some ordinary silicone sealant (in a small tube, not a caulk gun), open the dome, and seal every seam, every opening, and every joint. Seal the hole the wire comes through, seal the backing of the camera body inside and outside- basically, try to make the camera housing as watertight as possible. Inspect the gaskets for signs of cracking or shrinking, too, while you're at it.

Throw a bag of dessicant in the housing and close it up.

If this solves your problem, terrific. If not, you'll need to try RainX. But if I had to bet, I'd bet on condensation inside the camera, not outside.

But if I had to bet, I'd bet on condensation inside the camera, not outside.

What would be the bet exactly? You would bet there is only condensation on the inside?

It seems to make sense why there would be both, not only due to the OP's assertion, since sometimes the outside of the dome is colder than the inside(condensation on the inside) and sometimes the inside of the dome is colder than the outside (condensation on the outside) based upon ovens or freezers being active last, as stated:

The problem we are having is consendation in/on the cameras. This area of the plant stays anywhere from relatively warm to above average temperature when product is removed from the hot ovens. Then, across the hall, we have blast freezers that will drop the temperature in the hallway a good 30-40 degrees in a few seconds when they are opened to load product in.

Whatever the wager, I am in total agreement with the sealing and desiccant treatment...

Ideally before doing this you want to make sure the camera is dry inside, otherwise you're just sealing moisture inside it. This isn't always possible to do 100% in the field, but for a case like this if the camera has an external pigtail (or you can make/adapt one), it makes sense to take it down, put it someplace with low humidity and let it dry out. Then seal a dessicant pack inside the camera and remount it.

I've had a similar situation where I had a camera above a transporterbelt carrying hot and moist ore. This caused the glass to, not only fog up, but grow a nice ore-like 'beard' on it's glass.

We got rid of it by placing heating elements inside the housing against the glass. This caused the glass to be warmer then the outside temperature, which prevented fogging.

Roger,

Excellent suggestion. I have seen housings that had a heating element up against the front window. It seems to me that they could be modified so that the thermostat kept the window warm enough to prevent condensation on it. It seems to me that the Pelco EH2500 series was one of those but I can't read the .dwg file on my Note.

Hi Bill,

if the dome is used without the PTZ function, then take any IP Megapixel camera and put these in a housing as for example from Videotec.

On this stainless steel housing there is a whiper, so you will have clear sight after a few seconds.

First, let me thank you all for your insight so far. It has given me alot of good information to think about, and probably set up some tests. Keep 'em coming.

To Carl, it really isn't a smoky environment. All the smoke from the ovens is vented through the roof by chimneys. The ovens don't get extremely hot because we are mostly smoking meats where the ovens may not go above 170-180 deg F, but may smoke a batch of hams for several hours.

It sounds like we may have to go with an enclosure in these particular areas to help control the camera environment better.

I have been deploying Grandstream GXV3674_FHD_VF IP cameras to other areas in the plant and have been very pleased with the results so far.

http://www.grandstream.com/index.php/products/ip-video-surveillance/gxv3674

I'm not sure how they will hold up in the oven area, but will probably give one a shot being as I have them in stock. They do have gasket seals, but I will enhance that with silicon sealant, and a silica gel pack inside. Being as they are bullet cameras, I don't have to go back in the camera dome to adjust the FOV or focus while in place. I can seal/test the cameras in a good dry environment before installing.

I do have one question with sealng these though. The cameras have two knobs on the bottom to adjust zoom/focus. Any ideas on how to seal them (other than just siliconing up the gap around the knobs after they have been adjusting on-site)?

I havent taken one of the cameras apart yet (but will today) to see if/how the adjustement knobs/electronics can be sealed from the camera lenses. I would think that the holes the knobs come through the housing could allow moisture to get back into the case, and with it almost completely sealed now, the moisture would have no way to get back out.

BTW, Anyone have any experience with Grandstream cameras? I know there are a zillion companies making cameras now that go anywhere from crap to excellent. We've tried several different brands of cameras and so far we have been very please with these cameras for the money. (Especially coming from existing cameras being basic analog ones that have to cover relatively large areas, and cannot produce the kind of detail that is needed)

Their software isn't the greatest in the world, but I am still evaluating options for VMS software. Right now, most of my recordings are being triggered from the camera itself and are saved via FTP to a NAS on our network, and it works pretty well. We don't have a huge demand for going back to recorded footage, so having a separate directory for each camera to save motion activated clips in works ok for now. All the clips are timestamped, and most of the time a 1 minute clip is enough to catch what we are trying to find. If we know about when an event occured, scanning through 2-3 clips normally gives us what we need to know.

Most of our camera useage comes from several people in management having the camera viewer open on their PCs and checking in at different locations as needed.

Once again, thank you all for the help and ideas.

Hi Peter,

The Videotec housing sounds great. Just don't think I could get the boss' to spend $17,600 on camera housing ($4,400 x 4) + the cost of the camera :)

Have to find a wee bit more economical solution to the problem.

Videotec

Hi Bill,

please ask your local dealers, Videotec has more economical housings with wipers too.

Thanks. I check into that.