How to Choose an IR Illuminator – 5 Things To Look For

Adding an IR illuminator to your setup is a great way of boosting your cameras’ range, visibility, and usefulness. In this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to choose an IR illuminator.

Things To Consider

IR illuminators come in a range of different shapes, sizes, and intended applications. Choosing a quality illuminator from a professional company is tough, especially with all the options available in the market. However, the mark of a good IR illuminator is that it provides a drastic improvement in image quality with clean, even lighting over its intended range. Also, it should be able to do its job in grueling conditions and while remaining reliable.

How To Choose An IR Illuminator

You should choose an IR illuminator based on the application you intend to use it in. Do you need the longest possible range? Or would you rather have a medium or low range and consume less power? Do you need features like remote control and weatherproofing? How many do you intend to deploy, and how will you choose to power them?

We’ve listed some factors you should think about below:

1. Power Consumption and Options
The more light your illuminator provides, the more power it will consume. Today’s LED lighting technologies are much more efficient, but if you have several illuminators, you will need to devise a plan to power them all. AC or DC power options are available, but some also come with PoE (power over ethernet) support. PoE allows you to power even the most remote illuminators with a single ethernet connection, which is likely already running to your CCTV camera.

2. Weatherproofing and Waterproofing
These attributes are very important in a device that is potentially going to live its entire life exposed to the elements. Dust, dirt, water ingress, and temperature fluctuations are all hazards for electronics that aren’t protected against them. Fortunately, quality illumination modules come with ruggedized builds rated using IEC 529 standards for ingress protection against dust and water. Look for an “IP” rating such as “IP66.” The first number (on a scale of 0-6) represents resistance against dust, with 6 being completely dust-tight. The second number (0-8) represents resistance against water, with 8 being protected against continuous immersion in water.

3. Covert vs. Semi-Covert
Infrared illuminators come in 850nm and 940nm configurations. This refers to the wavelength in nanometres (nm) of the emitted beam. 850nm illuminators are considered “semi-covert” as they have a faint, red glow that can be seen with the naked eye. They are otherwise completely invisible and compatible with a wide range of cameras with removable IR cut filters. That’s why they’re the most widely-used kind of illuminator.

However, 940nm illuminators are completely invisible, making them ideal for military, law enforcement, and other applications where red light can be misinterpreted as a signal. Note that only a small range of cameras can see 940nm, and it offers less range and detail than 850nm illumination. If you’re getting a 940nm illuminator, make sure you need it, and your cameras are compatible.

4. Range and Illumination Distance
As mentioned above, several factors can affect your range. This translates into how far your camera can “see” because of the illumination. IR illuminators are available in short, medium, long, and super-long range models, with larger, higher-output LEDs increasing range capability. Of course, larger modules also weigh more than smaller ones, so bear that in mind when considering where you’ll mount the illuminator.

5. Remote Control Features
Some high-quality illuminators will allow remote control and operation input, allowing you to turn it on and off as needed. This is great for energy consumption based on the time of day or if the illuminators need to turn on/off on schedule. It’s also great to use a handheld remote control instead of reaching over to where the illuminator is physically mounted.

Another consideration to make is whether you need IR illumination at all. White light illuminators are also available, with the additional advantages of providing light and fidelity to color cameras and working as a deterrent to intruders.


We hope that this guide has been useful to you. Choosing a quality illuminator ensures that it will be able to serve you reliably for years to come and let you maximize your camera’s capabilities.

Iluminar Inc. is based in the USA and is a specialist manufacturer and supplier of illuminators for CCTV and license plate recognition. Our products feature 850nm or 940nm semi-covert or covert wavelength options, as well as bright, white light. In addition, they’re waterproof, offer PoE power and AC/DC options, and feature pressure relief valves for rugged outdoor use.
We pride ourselves on our 30 years of experience and dedication to excellent customer support and service. To upgrade your illumination setup, call us at (281) 438-3500, and our experts will be able to help you with any inquiry.

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