Why Do Security Cameras Have a Red Light?

Today you can easily find any type of security camera on the market; for outdoor and indoor use, large and small. Each camera has different features, and these are one of the main features that distinguish them. However, all cameras have one common thing: a small red light positioned above the camera lens. The reason why this light is present on each camera is important. In this article, we’ll explain why security cameras have a red light and what’s its purpose is.

So Why do Security Cameras Have Red Lights? Security cameras have a built-in red light that signals that it is in recording mode. These cameras are usually turned on 24/7. However, some camera models have motion detectors that will only turn on when motion is detected, while there are models that can turn off the light even when recording.

Security Cameras have small LED lights that are usually located in the upper corner of the device. They are present so that the user can determine at any time, just by sight, does the camera works well

Long before the ability to check the correctness of the camera remotely with the help of Smartphone Apps, this little red light meant a lot to people like security guards. It ensured that during the surveillance of the space, they confirmed with a short glance whether the camera is working or not. 

Sure, they could check that all the cameras were working with the help of a monitor at the checkpoint after each round of inspection, but the little light we’re talking about meant they could do it on the go. As this simple solution was not difficult to install in the device, lights have become an integral part of security cameras.

Does Every Security Cameras Have Red Light?

The red light on security cameras

Although security cameras have improved over time and gained more features, red-light indicators have remained. So even today, almost all cameras you can buy in stores have an indicator light that confirms active recording.

Are these lights always red on all cameras? The answer is – No. On some models, the recording light is blue. There are also models without lights (Some manufacturers have kicked them out for savings or design).

There are also people who love and want to have a security camera without light. That’s because they usually want their camera to be invisible so that the recording remains only for their eyes. Modern security systems, such as Blink, give the user a choice when setting the device whether or not the light will be on during recording.

Related article: How To Reset Your ADT Alarm After Power Outage?

Do Night Security Cameras Have Red Lights?

Security cameras that have night vision usually also have more than one red light. Their basic function is illumination, but they also confirm that the camera is recording. The lights that are visible on security cameras during night work are usually infrared LED lights, whose function is to allow the camera lens to capture a quality image in low light conditions.

Although infrared light is invisible to the human eye, depending on the type of LEDs and their wavelength, sometimes a person can still perceive it as a slight shade of red light since infrared overlaps with a certain intensity of red. But more expensive camera models that incorporate far infrared technology (FIR) allow the light to be completely unnoticed by the viewer.

Do Smart Security Cameras Have Red Lights?

Many smart cameras that are adapted for use in different spaces may have red lights, but in most cases, they are only an indicator of camera status. In addition, you should know that the typical “red light” on security cameras can be other colors, often white, green, or blue. However, each color indicates a different mode of the camera, which we will discuss more below.

Do Fake Security Cameras Have Red Lights?

It is interesting to note that today the classic red light for cameras is used more on fake cameras than on those that actually record. This is because red lights on fake cameras simulate that the camera is recording while it’s turned off. On the other hand, some models of fake surveillance cameras have a red light set to automatically turn on at night to make the camera look more real.

However, be aware that to an ordinary observer, the red light on a fake camera can look quite convincing, but a person who understands how cameras operate will quickly understand what this is all about.

The biggest difference between a real and a fake security camera is that several IR LED lights are positioned around the device’s lens, which can be recognized only by the dimmed shade of red light.

On the other hand, fake cameras also have equally positioned LED lights, but unlike real ones, they do not emit any light. On fake cameras, there is usually only one LED light which is always the one that lights up intensely. That is why people, even on fake cameras, decide to turn off the red light function.

How To Tell If Camera Red Light is Broken?

Security camera red light is broken

After some time, the electronic equipment breaks down, which is not uncommon when it comes to well-hidden security cameras that are not used. Then you only notice at one point that the red light is no longer on, even when you are standing directly in front of it and waving towards the lens with your hands. The question you might ask is, is it still working?!

An easier way to check if your camera is still working is to check the recordings on a DVR (if it is a closed-loop system) or via an app. If the recordings are not saved and you cannot view them, it is a sign that your camera is not working, and you need to find out why.

If the recordings are present, you can see that you have a camera model that activates the option to work without the light indicator, which we discussed earlier in the text.

Make sure your camera has this option and whether it is turned on, and you will easily find out if this is why the light does not work. Note that there are several reasons you should choose to leave the indicator light on even when you can turn it off.

Should the LED Light On Camera Be Turned Off?

We mentioned earlier in this text that it is good to leave the indicator light on, especially in situations when you cannot view images directly or when you use multiple cameras to monitor a larger area at the same time. But there are also a number of situations in which it is wise not to turn on the LED light on the camera. The top reason for this is if you want your camera to go unnoticed.

When you put a lot of effort into hiding your security camera so that passers-by don’t notice that it is doing surveillance, it’s clearly pointless to leave the indicator light on to flash from some bush or gutter. By doing that, you are nullifying the purpose of a hidden camera.

The light can be turned off at the time of day when it is most useful to you. When the light is on during the day, it is almost invisible if someone does not stare directly at the camera.

You should also know that turning off the light on the camera is a big risk or if we are to speak the language of the program developer – a big bug. For some burglars who know how to recognize a camera at work, it is enough to see the indicator light and give up on entering your home.

The decision is yours, and whatever you decide, before you buy a camera, think carefully about what to expect from it. Answer the questions for yourself: where do I plan to place the camera, what will be its purpose, will I need the indicator light on to fulfill that purpose, and do I need a camera that has a light off function?

How to Hide The Red Light On A Security Camera?

Hide red light on security camera

Have you decided that you want to hide the red light on your camera? Maybe that light bothers you at night, or you want your camera to be as unobtrusive as possible. Whatever the reason, there are several ways how you can do this.  

If your security camera is using the IR LED technology we talked about earlier, it’s not wise to disable that kind of light. However, if only a light shows the on / off function, you can make it less visible using several methods.

  1. By using the off switch. On some models, the manufacturers leave the user the option to turn off the red light through the software itself (camera red-light program) or with the help of an off switch, which is usually activated by pressing the reset button in combination with other buttons. If there is a switch-off option, instructions on how to use it can be found in the manual that came with the camera.
  2. Electric tape. While this is not a revolutionary idea, this is a solution that works well and is often used. It is necessary to cut a small piece of electric tape, preferably in the shape of the light itself, and then place the tape over the camera lens.

Should You Use Security Cameras That Have Red Lights?

After reading this text it is possible that you are thinking that the red light on the camera is causing more problems than it has benefits. Whether this is really the case depends on what you want to achieve by setting up the camera. 

We advise you not to use real security cameras that have standard LED red lights. Experienced thieves and burglars know how to recognize the difference between a fake and a real camera if they look closely at the LED light on it. Real camera LED light can fool them and make them think that the real camera is actually fake. This loses the purpose of setting up the camera.

If you have decided to buy a fake camera, it is a good trick to cover the LED light by using the tape because that way you will make burglars think that the camera is real. But you won’t be able to avoid having your fake camera exposed at night. 

The reason for this is that IR LEDs today can be easily spotted if viewed through a smartphone camera lens. In such cases, the lights will be strong. So the classic red light LEDs cannot successfully pretend to be IR LEDs at night. 

When we talk about shooting at night, you have no choice. Never cover LEDs with tape. LEDs do not normally have a standard red LED light.

If you want to know how night vision cameras work, be sure to watch this YouTube video.

If you want to know more about home security, be sure to read Do Barcodes Set Off Alarms? Expert Explain

FAQ: People Also Ask

How can you tell if a security camera is on?

Check the LEDs status of IP security cameras. This is also a good way to discover if your security camera has incorporated night vision. We recommend you use a notebook or any covers for blocking the light falling on your camera. When you see that the light is turned red, it means the camera is on.

Can security cameras see in the dark?

The answer is – Yes. These cameras are using modern technology that allows them to record videos and view images in the dark. We are talking here about specialized software and lenses, also infrared and thermal imaging.

How to know if a camera is recording audio?

Inspect the camera body. Check it well and try to find a small hole. It indicates the location of the microphone. From that hole comes the audio and if it works it will confirm the audio recording.

Final Thoughts

Cameras are widely used today, both for the protection of our property and for surveillance. We can also find a lot of different models of security cameras, with different functions. Most of these cameras have a red light that signals to record, and in this article, we have explained all the advantages and disadvantages that they have. I hope we have helped you and if you have any questions feel free to contact us.

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