IR Camera Housing - Raytec Lighthouse

By John Honovich, Published Apr 21, 2014, 12:00am EDT

A key limitation of integrated IR cameras is distance covered. Even long range integrated IR cameras are typically not more than 50 meters. 

Now, Raytec is releasing the Lighthouse, what they describe as a "fully integrated lighting and housing solution" that supports using 3rd party box cameras in an assembly delivering 400% greater range than professional integrated IR cameras.

In this note, we examine key features, pricing and competitive positioning.

Lighthouse Overview

Raytec's Vario Lighthouse is an outdoor camera housing with the following key features:

  • Mounting space for one or two cameras.
  • Illuminator patterns from 120° to 10°, with ranges listed from 98' to 722'.
  • Integrated infrared and/or white light Vario (standard, not IP Vario) illuminators with interchangeable lenses with varying illumination patterns. An IR remote may be used to set up mode and power settings.
  • Integrated photocell and I/O. Photocell may be used to trigger camera night mode via relay, or camera outputs may be used to trigger illumination via contact closure.
  • Integrated heater/blower.
  • 24VAC power only, no option for PoE.
  • Optional germanium window for use with thermal cameras.

Applications

There are a few key applications where the Lighthouse makes most sense:

  • Long range IR: For those requiring longer IR illumination distances than integrated IR cameras are capable of, the Lighthouse may be a more aesthetically pleasing option than using an outdoor camera housing with separate illuminator, with cabling connections made within the housing, simplifying installation somewhat.
  • License plate capture: Since it can hold two cameras, the Lighthouse may be used in applications requiring a monochrome capture camera and color overview camera without mounting two separate housings plus external illuminator. 

The germanium window option may be interesting for those wishing to combine day/night visible camera coverage with thermal cameras for detection, generally limited to high security facilities. However, few box-style thermal cameras are available, limiting options for this combination.

Versus Integrated IR

Combining the Lighthouse with a separate IP camera results in a total package of $1,500+ (~$1,100 for the housing plus $400+ for the camera), with price increasing as higher performing cameras are used. By contrast, integrated IR cameras sell for as little as $250, with most averaging $600-700, less than half the price of the Lighthouse plus IP camera, making it useful only for specialist applications.

Versus Separate Illuminators

Compared to a separate, external Vario i4 illuminator (estimated ~$900), the Lighthouse is about $200 more expensive. However, an outdoor housing with heater typically sells for about $150-200, making up the difference when using a box camera, and becoming less expensive if a second camera is required, as in the case of license plate capture applications. 

Recommendations

Due to its higher price and larger dimensions compared to integrated IR domes and bullets, the Lighthouse is likely useful only when requirements may not be met by these cameras. Its specified IR range is much higher than integrated IR cameras, making it most applicable in these installations.

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