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Mike's Review: Using supplemental infrared lighting to enhance night vision

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mhnatt
Luminary
Luminary

“In light” of recent talk surrounding concerns about night vision abilities of the new Arlo Pro 2 camera, I thought I’d explore and review a few third-party auxiliary IR lights to supplement the existing illumination already on the camera. After being a pleased Arlo user for a few years, I too found the Arlo 2’s slightly short on night lighting when compared to their predecessors. Before going further, let me make clear that despite of this minor shortcoming, I still prefer the newer Arlo Pro 2’s over the older models given the added features/capabilities that the new Arlo Pro 2 has. And now that I have found a more than adequate solution to fill the void of night lighting, I couldn’t be happier. And by the way, these solutions apply to any of the Arlo cameras for those wanting to augment their night recordings. So, here’s what I found.

 

What they do:

For those unfamiliar with night vision/Infra Red, we are talking about light invisible to the human eye, so not just any light will do. Night vision/IR lights with wavelengths other than 850nm will do little if anything to help the camera at night. It is also notable that these lights are practically invisible to humans/animals. At night, just as you do when the Arlo camera is active, you will see a faint red glow of the LED bulbs, though hardly noticeable a few feet away. Only when looking through the Arlo camera can you see the huge difference of illumination.

 

The hardware:

I bought three IR lights from Amazon that match the Arlo’s 850nm wavelength. I was also careful to look for the widest-angle lights – those with a 90 degree – to capture the most area possible, and the longest distance/most powerful yet keeping the size of the light down to a minimum since ideally these things are going to be mounted right next to the cameras. There were lots to choose from but I narrowed it down to three that represented a small, medium, and large size. I wanted to see how small I could go before losing an effective range of the light. Here’s what I came up with:

 

Small: Tendelux 80ft IR Illuminator AI4 ($19.65)

Medium: Tendelux 120ft IR Illuminator BI8 ($30.65)

Large: JC (JCHENG) 131ft IR Illuminator 12-LED ($31.99)

 

IMG_4362.JPG

 

Each of the lights have an outdoor rating of IP65 or higher which means they are fine in the rain and even under the pressure of washing. They all draw 1-watt per bulb so the energy pull of each of the three sizes are 4watts, 8watts, and 12-watts. Each one also includes a built-in photocell switch that automatically turns them off during the day. They all come with standard power adapters (which need to be protected from the elements) that are very short, but I prefer it this way since you can Amazon a “CCTV 2.1mm 5.5mm” extension for the length you need. Something else notable is that the small and medium sized lights (made by Tendelux) have much smaller power adapters than the larger JC unit, likely making them small enough to allow a second plug to fit into a typical outdoor outlet (for those also using power to the camera itself).

 

The test:

Using an Arlo Pro 2, I tested each light independently alongside of the camera and below are my results.

 

test.jpg

 

 

Conclusion:

As you can see, there wasn’t much difference across any of the three. Only when I stepped up to the 12-LED unit did I see slightly more flood that could convince me to use something of that size. I understand that the results will vary depending on factors such as objects within the range of view, but I am satisfied to see that the small unit (AI4) is sufficient for my needs, not just because of its lower price, but more importantly its small size is aesthetically appealing. After all, I already have enough discomfort having cameras around my properties and the thought of added IR lights is about as much as I can handle. Granted, I haven’t had these long enough to witness their longevity and durability but they each seem solid and very well built. Personally, I like the Tendelux brand as the dark lens conceals the LED bulbs, making them more look like a solar charger than a light.

 

So for me, I’m going with the Tendelux 80ft IR Illuminator AI4!

 

IMG_4361.JPG

 

 

8 REPLIES 8
brh
Master
Master

Very useful information. Thanks.

 

Brian

steve_t
Master Master
Master

I liked the pun 😉

TomMac
Guru Guru
Guru

Thanks for testing... similar results for me. 

I was able to obtain 2 Vuezone outdoor IR floodlights. ( had vuezone back when and found another for $10 on ebay )

the external lighting does make the world of difference in the range of view.

 

nice report

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Hula_Rock
Prodigy Prodigy
Prodigy

Thats a great write up !!!!!  Kudos

mnesbitt
Aspirant
Aspirant

I really appreciate the time and effort you spent to evaluate the IR lighting and share the information. 

 

Is there, in your opinion, a simple way to add a silicone skin (with shroud) that won't negatively impact the IR performance? 

mhnatt
Luminary
Luminary

You are welcome. I have found that the skin/shroud does not harm the lighting as long as supplemental lighting is used. I will post pics this weekend.  Otherwise, if no supplemental lighting, then you must remove the skin or cut away the hood.

Paul_FCCL
Prodigy
Prodigy

Well done !.......Very interesting option for all unhappy with current night vision issue.

ElizabethMackey
Aspirant
Aspirant

Very helpfull thankyou