There are 24 hours in a day, but only 12 or so of those are illuminated. The rest of the time it’s either twilight or dark outside, so you want to make sure your camera is capable of recording images as clear at night as they are during the day.
That said, every camera has a minimum light level required to generate sharp images. With night vision equipped, once this threshold is passed, night vision mode will kick in.
There are several ways cameras can see in the dark, but the three main methods include:
Now that you understand how night vision security cameras operate, let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
Lorex cameras are among the most well-rounded in the industry. They’re designed to last, reasonably affordable, and when it comes to shining a proverbial light in the darkness, they’re tough to beat.
The Lorex security camera system is a highly customizable platform that offers users a little bit of everything. They offer wired and wireless options, have plenty of bells and whistles, and their rugged construction means they can handle almost anything Mother Nature throws their way. But let’s talk specifically about why you’re here — night vision.
Most Lorex cameras are equipped with color night vision technology with digital noise reduction to ensure they record the sharpest video possible after the sun goes down.
When we reviewed Lorex security cameras, we were certainly impressed with their ability to perform at night. And with options ranging from affordable wireless stand-alone cameras to full-blown pan-tilt-zoom options suitable for commercial applications, you’re sure to find an option that suits your needs.
Color night vision models from Lorex include:
The one drawback is that this equipment can get a little pricey — you can read more about that in our guide to Lorex camera prices, but the good news is they offer a wide range of options. If you’re on a budget, Lorex is still likely going to have something you can work with.
With a sleek design and an ability to see in both IR and color night vision, Arlo’s cameras are a solid choice for users looking for around-the-clock coverage.
One of the main reasons we liked these cameras so much when we put Arlo to the test was the ease with which we were able to set up the system. Alro’s wireless cameras are a cinch to install, and from an operational perspective, they’re extremely easy to use. If you’re not the most tech-savvy individual but still looking for a security camera system to protect your property, here’s one you should consider.
Speaking specifically about their nighttime capacity, though, the Arlo Ultimate and Arlo Pro 3 are both equipped with color night vision. One thing to note, though, is that these systems — regardless of which manufacturer you pick — are reliant on ambient light. If you live in a city or suburb, they work fantastically well. If you’re out in the middle of the country, you might find traditional IR gives you a better picture.
Another selling point is that some of Arlo’s cameras offer 4K resolution — the best in the business when you’re talking about image clarity. And while they’re not the most affordable options out there (more on that in my guide to Arlo’s prices), their built-to-last design and technological edge definitely keep them in consideration.
One of the most well-known names in the industry offers excellent nighttime IR coverage.
If you’re considering home security solutions, Ring is a name you’ve likely heard. We’ve reviewed their products extensively, and with a few exceptions, we’ve always liked what we’ve seen. The same was true when we tested Ring’s security cameras — they’re solid, easy to use, and really affordable.
And at night, the story doesn’t change much. Most of their cameras are equipped with standard IR night vision — meaning the image will be black and white — but what’s recorded is extremely crisp and preserves a lot of detail. Will you be able to tell if that car was yellow or white? No, but you may be able to capture the license plate.
That said, Ring does offer color night vision on all of its wired products. The drawback here is that if you’re looking for this feature, you’re going to have to be comfortable with wiring or hiring a handyman. However, I’ve seen better color night vision solutions, namely from the two camera manufacturers above Ring on this list. For IR, Ring is great. For color, not so much.
The trade-off, though, is that Ring has a huge list of products that offer nearly unlimited customizability at prices that won’t break the bank. Read more about that in our guide to Ring’s products and prices.
Affordable and versatile, Canary’s a good option for folks looking for a 24-hour-a-day surveillance system.
When we reviewed Canary’s cameras, both their form and function stood out. They’re discrete, sleek, and offer some really interesting features like built-in alarms and air quality monitors. Really interesting stuff, but how do they perform when the lights go out?
Surprisingly well, actually. Both the Canary Pro and the Canary Flex offer onboard night vision using IR sensors. The lack of a color option moves them down a little on this list, but their onboard infrared still performs admirably in low-light situations. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense option to help you keep watch over your property and possessions, Canary will get the job done.
While they don’t have an extensive list of products — only three security cameras currently — these options are affordable and will keep most consumers covered. Read up on that in our guide to Canary’s offerings and costs.
Backed by some of the best technology in the industry, Google Nest cameras offer great image clarity, day or night.
Google Nest cameras offer some really powerful technological tools like facial recognition, activity tracking, and a built-in assistant — all of which we explore in detail in our Google Nest camera review. If you’re looking for bells and whistles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a system that offers more.
And when the lights go down, Google Nest doesn’t disappoint. Their crystal-clear resolution, coupled with their powerful IR sensors, help deliver details you’d never catch with lesser models.
Watch out, though. As we explain in our guide to Google Nest’s products and pricing, some of their equipment can get a little costly. If you’re shopping on a budget, you might be able to better stretch your dollar elsewhere. Consider reading our guide to the most affordable home security cameras for more information.
Like we said before, when you’re shopping around for home security cameras, you want to make sure you’re selecting a product that’s going to be working 24 hours a day. Criminals love to act under the cover of darkness, and if you’re one of the unlucky folks they victimize, your best shot at recovering is to have as much information and detail as possible.
To do that, you’re going to need a camera that’s recording using the most advanced night vision technology available. Depending on your situation, that’s likely going to be color night vision or advanced IR. The cameras I’ve listed here are all great options, but I always encourage folks to do as much research as they can. If you want to know more about your options, head over to our guide to the best securty cameras of 2022. There’s tons of helpful information there.
What is color night vision?
Color night vision is a bit of a misnomer. What’s really going on, mechanically speaking, is that a camera’s light sensor is sensitive enough to deliver color images in extremely low-light settings.
What is infrared night vision?
Infrared, or IR, night vision is the capacity for a camera to project infrared light that human eyes can’t see, using it to capture black and white detail in low- or no-light situations.
Does my security system need night vision?
While studies show the majority of property crime happens during the day, a significant number of burglaries and break-ins occur under the cover of darkness. You’ll want a security camera that captures crisp images in both conditions.
Which security cameras have the best color night vision?
Two of the best manufacturers of security cameras offering color night vision are Lorex and Arlo.
How much are cameras with color night vision?
Color night vision is a relatively new technology and, as such, costs a little more than traditional IR night vision.