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Red Lights, Blinking Lights, and Other LEDs on Security Cameras

In the past, security cameras were big, bulky cameras that only large businesses used for the protection and monitoring of their buildings. After years of technological advancements, more and more small businesses and individual families have security cameras to surveil their personal property and help keep themselves safe. Not all cameras are really what they appear to be, though, and sometimes the LEDs will give away their purpose.

A bright, noticeable red light on a security camera often means the camera is fake. Fake/dummy cameras are a great way to get all the security and deterrence of a camera without a lot of hassle. Cameras with blinking lights are more likely to be fake.

This can seem like a strange concept. After all, if your camera’s fake, doesn’t that mean you don’t get any video so you can’t play back the tape and actually see an intruder or investigate after the fact? We’ll talk more about the LEDs on a camera and how they’re used as a deterrent in this article, as well as the use of infrared lights for night vision.

What Does a Simple Red Light or Blinking Red Light Mean?

Many times, when you see security cameras in the movies, you notice a red light or a blinking red light.  You may have seen one in person while you were out shopping. While this may be a common thing that you associate with a security camera, most real security cameras do not actually have blinking red lights. Usually, when you see a blinking red light on a security camera, that means that the camera is fake. 

Many businesses or homes choose to purchase fake security cameras because they cannot afford a real one or do not want to handle the maintenance costs.  The blinking red light on a fake security camera is meant to scare potential burglars and thieves. A solid red or blinking red light draws the eye and has the ability to deter some opportunistic or casual criminals, like porch pirates.

While this little red light may stop some criminals from trying to rob you, it doesn’t stop the more experienced among them. Put simply, serious criminals are aware of the differences between a real security system and a fake one, and won’t be deterred at all by a fake system. Some say that the only thing a fake camera does is give the owner of the property a false sense of security, but it’s hard to know exactly what crime any system prevents, because it’s been prevented and we never know about it.

Should You Buy a Fake Security Camera?

If you are considering buying a fake security camera to save money, you may want to reconsider.  Wireless security cameras that utilize your Wi-Fi network have been designed to be both user-friendly and budget-friendly.  Cameras like this one from Nest (on Amazon), Wyze, and Arlo are popular and fit in this category.

These cameras, like the Arlo Essential (on Amazon), are small and inconspicuous and have all the same bells and whistles that traditional security cameras do. Purchasing one of these cameras will only be slightly more expensive than a fake security camera, and far more useful.  These cameras can be mounted in virtually any place and controlled from an app on your smartphone. 

You can even control your camera and view the footage from hundreds of miles away or on your Smart TV by using our guide. It’s worth mentioning that if you’re willing to spend more money on your security system, you can obtain many other features that are certainly worth the money, for instance, infrared lights for monitoring at night.

Infrared Lights for Night Vision

Wyze Camera with IRs On 1 - Smaller

While a simple red light or a blinking red light may indicate a fake camera, another pattern of lights can indicate night vision. Infrared LED lights, or IR LEDs, are red lights that are specifically used for night vision purposes.  When a camera has infrared lights, they are typically located in a circle around the outside perimeter of the camera.

How Do Infrared Lights Work?

Infrared lights work by lighting up the area that is in darkness with “light” that we cannot see.  The infrared lights surrounding the camera activate once it gets dark. When the infrared lights turn on, they act as a floodlight for the area where the camera is pointing.  This allows the user to see in detail, even in pitch-black conditions.

To help us see the images when the night vision is activated, the camera will switch to a monochrome filter, which basically makes all images black and white. This allows our eyes to differentiate between objects better. While the idea of black and white images may seem inefficient, there are many benefits to this technology.

What Are the Benefits of Infrared light?

The LED lights are placed around the perimeter of a security camera so that they can illuminate as much area as possible in the camera’s vision. This gives you a full window of viewing to keep you as safe as possible. Infrared light on security cameras also allows you to be discreet during the night hours. 

Since the light is invisible to the human eye, it is very difficult to see a security camera that utilizes infrared, especially at night. Also, cameras that utilize infrared light allow you to see at night.  If your camera did not have infrared lights, it would be useless as soon as it got dark outside.