Practical and commercially available night vision security cameras use Image Enhancement or Image Intensification technology. It is built with a special lens that can detect light at a slightly higher frequency than thermal-infrared. When light hits an object, it emits a thermal frequency which is how true thermal-infrared works. Thermal-infrared is great for complete darkness while Image Enhancement picks up more reflective higher frequency than thermal-infrared. In short, light photons are converted to electrodes, amplified, and converted back to photons to display a visible image on your camera screen or monitor.

The details that your night vision camera picks up can be enhanced with what is known as infrared illumination or infrared LEDs. It’s the technique of flooding an area with reflective infrared light. Very similar to shinning a light so you can see better, it shines infrared light so the camera can ‘see’ better. In fact, despite popular perception of blurry red-green blobs, the image quality is actually very detailed and clear. The only compromise when you choose to use a night vision security camera is color. It will show up as shades of green. Most devices were manufactured this way because our eyes can detect more shades of green than any other phosphorus color.

For commercial use, the range of outdoor night vision cameras will serve well. In optimal conditions you can typically get anywhere from 30 to 300 meters depending on the quality of the camera.

When picking out a night vision security camera, you will notice two main specs to focus on. The Lux rating, also known as the minimum illumination rating, is the minimum amount of light needed for the camera to pick up something. The closer the camera’s Lux rating is to zero, the less light the camera needs to ‘see’. Some security cameras have a minimum illuminations rating of 0 meaning it can perform just fine in complete darkness. There are color day/night cameras that switch to black and white or phosphorus green when lighting conditions hits the minimum illumination requirement.

There is also this notion of generations of night vision cameras. This refers to the advancement of the technology used for detection. Gen 0 was used about fifty years ago and was nothing more than an infrared spotlight with a receiver. The technology advanced through Gen 1, 2, 3, and 4. Don’t go buying a cheap Gen 1 camera. With today’s technology the performance is going to be crap.

Power options are similar to any other outdoor security camera: adapters for wall socket, battery pack options, and other creative power source adaptations you electrocuted yourself to invent.