IR Illuminator Deployment Statistics

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Dec 04, 2011

With the growing use of megapixel cameras and associated low light concerns, the use of IR illumination has gained more attention. However, how many integrators are really using IR illuminators, and when. In this review, we examine our Integrator Survey results answering the questions: (1) How often do integrators use IR lighting for outdoor cameras? and (2) How often do integrators use cameras with integrated IR?

[UPDATE: This is from 2011, for newer statistics, see our Integrated IR Camera Use Surging report.]

The Questions

In response to the first question, nearly 62% of respondents answered that they regularly or sometimes deploy IR illuminators with outdoor cameras. The remainder rarely or never used IR illumination.

ir illuminator usage

One might expect that the shift from SD resolution to HD or megapixel has driven some of this adoption of IR illumination, due to megapixel sensors' lower sensitivity. However, respondents who predominantly deployed SD cameras were just as likely (less than one percent variance) to use IR illuminators as those installing more megapixel cameras. Variables such as system size, geographic location, and preferred IP camera manufacturer also had little effect on these percentages.

Built-In IR Illuminators

Perhaps the more interesting question is how many integrators deploying IR illuminators are using cameras with built-in IR lighting as opposed to a separate, external illuminator. Of those answering that they regularly or sometimes deploy IR with outdoor cameras, nearly 65% sometimes or often used cameras with built-in IR.

ir integrated usage

The number one reason given for using these cameras instead of a camera plus external illuminator was cost, as evidenced by the following comments:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • "It's economically advantageous to use cameras with integrated IR's. In special circumstances, we will deploy separate emitters."
  • "Cheaper and easier to install than separate IR lighting. Also, if I am going to install a separate light I will leave that to the owner and have them install regular lighting, it's dual purpose, works better, and cheaper."
  • "Lower cost, easier installation."
  • "Easier to install and service. Less equipment for the customer to purchase."
  • "It's a easy solution on lower demand solutions."
  • "We like the convenience of having the LED's built into the cameras."

Those against built-in IR had multiple reasons, with the top two cited being performance and flexibility:

  • "If you have an independent IR source you have more choices of IR light intensities to get the proper exposure. Personally, I try to encourage the use of white lights such as motion sensor lighting (when practical) to get color info. Many times a cheap security light or ambient light from a street lamp or parking lot light will give better results than IR light, especially at a distance."
  • "Only when a low price camera has to be used due to clients monetary restraints. Usually an outdoor dome with IR. Performance is average. I always recommend improving background lighting first."
  • "We feel those integrated solutions are not a very professional offering and are weak in their coverage."
  • "Coverage and range of IR. Plus bugs and spiders."
  • "A standalone IR unit produces much more 'light' thatn an integrated unit"

It is true that a main concern with built-in IR is performance. Manufacturers routinely overstate IR throw distance in their specifications, as we have discussed before in our IR illuminator performance tests. Built-in illuminators are also rarely adjustable in their angle of illumination and power output. This could lead to the illumination not matching the camera's field of view, or overexposing the image.

As one respondent noted, insects and spiders can be an issue when using IR-equipped cameras. We discussed this in a recent LinkedIn discussion, along with possible solutions.

Manufacturer Preferences

Those using built-in IR cited a handful of manufacturers. Some experiences were neutral, citing that the IR was useful in limited FOVs:

  • "If IR is short range or does not need to flood the whole area. Two of the VivoTek cameras we use have it built in so we just use it since it's already onboard."
  • "We used such cameras (Avigilon dome with IR) only in some installations where we have to install cameras in the rooms and cover 3-5 meters with IR lightning."

With one disappointed experience with ACTi:

  • "The ACTi TCM-1231 has built in IR. We installed a motion light for night usage for better results."

Sony received the most positive mentions, with their fifth generation fixed outdoor cameras (dome and bullet) all featuring built-in IR:

  • "The Sony SNCCH160 is a great 720P IP camera with built-in IR. We use it all the time."
  • "[Built-in IR] can be advantageous in outdoor areas, Sony makes good versions of these."
  • "We have found that the Sony DH160 and DH180 cameras are superior in image quality and with the added IR lighting built in, they are great for exterior applications."

It's worth noting that Sony's IR-equipped cameras also feature "smart" IR, which reduces power to the LEDs as subjects in the FOV near the camera. This is intended to reduce overexposure, and may be one reason for more positive reviews of their built-in IR.

US vs. International Preferences

Built-in IR is far more popular in the United States than it is in the rest of the world. The most significant difference: 23% of US respondents stated that they regularly choose built-in IR vs. only 6% of international respondents.

[UPDATE: This is from 2011, for newer statistics, see our Integrated IR Camera Use Surging report.]

1 report cite this report:

Surveillance Statistics Survey Directory Vol 1 on Jan 03, 2012
In this report, we aggregate and present dozens of statistics about how surveillance is being used in the real world. Recently, we conducted an in...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

The HIVIDEO $31 Face Detection DVR Tested on Apr 25, 2019
Face detection in a $31 DVR? That is what "HIVIDEO" (not to be confused with Hikvision, even if the company intends to do that) was promoting at...
Ex-Integrator Now Growth Strategist Interviewed on Apr 24, 2019
For more than a decade, Scot MacTaggart was a security integrator (at PA-based PSX). In late 2018, he left the industry. He is now a Growth...
Speco Ultra Intensifier Tested on Apr 22, 2019
While ISC West 2019 named Speco's Ultra Intensifier the best new "Video Surveillance Cameras IP", IPVM testing shows the camera suffers from...
Arecont Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 22, 2019
Arecont's net negativity remained the same in IPVM's 2019 integrator study, though integrator's feeling became relatively more neutral compared to...
H.265 Usage Statistics on Apr 19, 2019
H.265 has been available in IP cameras for more than 5 years and, in the past few years, the number of manufacturers supporting this codec has...
Securadyne CEO: IPVM 'Entertaining For An Ignorant Few' on Apr 16, 2019
Securadyne's CEO Carey Boethel is unhappy with IPVM's report - Failed Integrator Rollup, Securadyne Sells to Guard Giant Allied. Indeed, he...
Dahua Repositionable IR Multi-Imager Camera Tested on Apr 16, 2019
Dahua has released their first repositionable multi-imager camera, the Multi-Flex 4x2MP, claiming integrated IR, true WDR, and flexible...
Strong ISC West 2019 For Manufacturers But Concerns For 2020 March Move on Apr 16, 2019
ISC West 2019 was strong for manufacturers, according to new IPVM survey results of 100+ manufacturers, consistent with 2018 results. However,...
Alarm.com Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 15, 2019
The once dot com startup has evolved to become a core provider for home security and is now expanding into commercial. In their first entry in...
ISC West 2019 Report on Apr 12, 2019
The IPVM team has finished at the Sands looking at what companies are offering and how they are changing their positioning. See below for 50+...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Verkada Salesman: IPVM "Stuck In A The Stone Age" on Apr 25, 2019
Verkada is 'tackling dinosaurs' and battling those, like IPVM, who are 'stuck in a the stone age'. Verkada's recent sales recruiting promotion...
The HIVIDEO $31 Face Detection DVR Tested on Apr 25, 2019
Face detection in a $31 DVR? That is what "HIVIDEO" (not to be confused with Hikvision, even if the company intends to do that) was promoting at...
Amazon Marketing Pro Installs of Amazon Security Systems on Apr 25, 2019
Is Amazon a threat to conventional providers like ADT, Vivint and Brinks Home Security? Many say no. Now, Amazon is advertising free in-home...
Ex-Integrator Now Growth Strategist Interviewed on Apr 24, 2019
For more than a decade, Scot MacTaggart was a security integrator (at PA-based PSX). In late 2018, he left the industry. He is now a Growth...
19 Facial Recognition Providers Profiled on Apr 23, 2019
IPVM interviewed 19 facial recognition providers at ISC West to understand their claimed accuracy, success and positioning. 9 from China, where...
Locking Down Network Connections Guide on Apr 23, 2019
Accidents and inside attacks are risks when network connections are not locked down. Security and video surveillance systems should be protected...
Hikvision Admits USA Sales Falling on Apr 22, 2019
Hikvision, in a new Chinese financial filing, has admitted that its USA sales are now falling. Less than a year after the US government passed a...
Speco Ultra Intensifier Tested on Apr 22, 2019
While ISC West 2019 named Speco's Ultra Intensifier the best new "Video Surveillance Cameras IP", IPVM testing shows the camera suffers from...
Arecont Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 22, 2019
Arecont's net negativity remained the same in IPVM's 2019 integrator study, though integrator's feeling became relatively more neutral compared to...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact