Deploying Cameras in Super Hot Environments

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 01, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

High temperature locations are some of the most unforgiving for surveillance cameras. Dealing with excessive heat, as in deserts or industrial facilities, requires special consideration to reduce or eliminate the risk of cameras overheating. In this note, we look at two options for cooling of cameras in these climes: cooled housings and specialized cameras.

Normal Temperature Ranges

Generally, IP cameras are rated to operate in temperatures up to 115-120º F/~46-49º C. Cameras in these conditions suffer few, if any, ill effects from these temperatures, and generally are only passively cooled, via heat sinks, or at most a small fan. Users may see our guide to IP camera temperature ranges for more information on this topic.

High Temperatures

Above this range, users must seek specialized cameras or housings. Between about 120º and 140º/49-60º C, third-party housings with active cooling systems are available. These methods, referred to as "solid state" cooling, generally use larger heat sinks, multiple fans, and insulating materials applied to the interior of the housing.  These enclosures are able to handle higher temperatures without much increase in power draw or increased maintenance of an air conditioned housing.

Examples of housings in this category are the Dotworkz D2/D3 Cooldome (about $1,000 online) and Videolarm's Fusion Series (about $200 online).

Extreme Hot Temperatures

Above 140º F/60º C, fewer options are available, as most solid state cooled housings will not perform at these temperatures. One exception to this is Axis' recently-announced Q60-C series, variants of their existing Q60 PTZ line with built-in active cooling (using Peltier elements for heat transfer). These cameras are capable of operating in temperatures up to 167º F/75º C. Pricing is not yet finalized, but is expected to be about a $500 premium over existing models. This sets pricing of the 720p Q6034-C at about $4,100 USD MSRP, with an estimated street price of ~$3,800. The Q60-C series is expected to be available in early Q4 2012. To date, we know of no other cameras other than Axis capable of handling temperatures this high.

The second option in extreme temperature environments is air-conditioned housings, which accept third-party cameras. These housings provide perhaps the best temperature handling capability, and are better able to handle long periods of high temperature than other options. The main drawbacks are a substantial increase in cost and much higher power draw.

The Videolarm Igloo Dome ($3,000+ online) is an example of this type of housing. Note that this pricing is three times the price of many solid state options, or more, making this an option only in the most extreme environments.

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