There are benefits to using a security camera with infrared night vision—you know, the kind that turns videos black-and-white as opposed to color night vision from a bright white light. For starters, infrared LED lights have a better illumination range than the white light used by cameras with color night vision. Plus, as security experts, we prefer our security cameras to be subtle and discreet, and the invisible infrared light helps with that. Over the years, we’ve tested a great number of security cameras, and these options performed the best in low-light conditions. Read on to find out which infrared security camera is most suitable for you.
Here at Security.org, we test all products that we recommend, either individually or as a part of a larger security camera system. So whether you’re looking to buy an indoor camera to monitor your house day and night, an outdoor camera for your backyard, or one that you can use indoors and outdoors and adjust to different light conditions, we got you covered. Without much further ado, here’s our full list of 2023’s best infrared cameras!
Comparison of the Best Cameras with Infrared Night Vision
Nest Cam Indoor
Arlo Pro 3
Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro
$179.99 for add-on camera
$99.99 for add-on camera
$199.99 for add-on camera
$299.99 plus $100 for professional installation
1080p HD with HDR
2560p HD with 2K HDR
1080p with 4K HDR sensor
Field of View (in degrees)
Infrared LED lights with up to 130 feet of range
Two 850nm LED lights with about 15 feet of range
Infrared LED lights
Two infrared LED lights for infrared night vision
One 6500K spotlight for colored night vision
Infrared LED lights with up to 55 feet of range
Local Video Storage
Yes, with a compatible Lorex NVR
Yes, via the Sync Module 2
Yes, can connect USB to Arlo base station but cannot be used on its own w/o cloud recording
If you have a Vivint Smart Drive ($249), about 30 days of continuous recording
Cloud Video Storage
Paid options of 30 or 60 days with 10-day continuous recording
$3 per month for one camera, $10 per month for unlimited cameras
Paid options of 30 or 60 days
$5 per month per camera for 14 days of 30-second event clips history
Smart Platform Integration
Google Assistant and Alexa if used with an N841 or N861 NVR
Google Assistant, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Alexa, etc
Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Watch
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Person detection and vehicle detection if used with a Lorex NVR with smart detection technology
Without Nest Aware: person detection
With Nest Aware: Familiar face alerts, activity zones, dog barking, and people talking alerts, etc.
Person, packages, vehicles, animal detection with Arlo Smart Home
Person detection, activity zones, detects lurkers and wards them off with lights and sound while also sending you an alert with a snapshot
Records continuously to an NVR, clear colored night vision with minimal ambient light
Night vision doesn’t turn off when someone (i.e. a burglar) shines a flashlight on the camera.
Spotlight, siren, activity zones, safety buttons, battery-powered with 3-6 months battery life
The Lorex 4K Nocturnal Smart IP Camera had the longest night vision range out of all the infrared cameras on this list. In total darkness, it can see objects up to 90 feet away. When aided by ambient light, it can see as far away as 130 feet. On top of that, the infrared night vision didn’t kick in as long as there was still sufficient ambient light for the camera to be able to see clearly. That meant our night time videos were in color until we turned off our outdoor lights.
4K HD Resolution with HDR
This camera also had the highest resolution on our list. It captured videos in 4K HD at 30 frames per second. For outdoor cameras, details are everything, so we loved that we could zoom in the image and still get a clear picture. We knew that in case of a break-in, we could use the camera’s footage as evidence to gather information about the perp.
Works with Lorex NVRs
As an IP camera, the Lorex 4K Nocturnal camera needs an NVR in order to work, but that’s not an entirely bad thing. The NVR served as the camera’s local storage, allowing it to record rolling videos without expensive monthly cloud storage fees. Better still, with a Lorex NVR with smart detection technology, the camera was able to tell apart people and vehicles from other moving objects.
The Nest Cam IQ Indoor is famous for many reasons, but mainly for its exceptional video quality. For starters, it captured videos in 1080p HD, which it further enhanced using HDR. The HDR added life and color to the image by reducing the glare and highlighting shadowy areas. It also had a decent 135 degrees field of view that covered our entire living room, plus it could zoom in digitally up to 6 times. In other words, there was no escaping our sight once we set up the Nest Cam Indoor.
Sufficient Indoor Night Vision
The Nest Cam Indoor comes equipped with two sets of high-powered 850nm infrared LEDs. This type of infrared LEDs provide better illumination than the other type, which is 940nm. In Nest’s case, the two sets of infrared LEDs provide up to about 15 feet of illumination. Now, that’s not nearly as good as Lorex’s outdoor cameras, but being an indoor camera, the Nest Cam Indoor’s night vision range is sufficient. In fact, you don’t want to go overboard with indoor camera night vision. Narrower indoor spaces often have lots of reflective surfaces that could create glare if your night vision LEDs are too strong, so in this case, sufficient is better.
FYI: In addition to the red infrared lights that glow up on the camera’s face, the Nest Cam Indoor has status lights, which are visible and easy to spot. This might become a problem if you plan on using the camera as a hidden cam.
The icing on the cake was the Nest Cam Indoor artificial intelligence. The camera came with person detection built-in, so we only received notifications of events that truly mattered, when people walked by. And when we finally decided to get a Nest Aware subscription, the camera got even smarter. It started recognizing familiar faces, which we later named in the app, it alerted us of the sound of people talking and dogs barking, and it allowed us to set activity zones. With the activity zones, we were able to tell the camera which areas mattered most to us, which significantly reduced the number of false alarms we received.
The Blink Outdoor is an affordable but very capable outdoor camera with superb night vision. It’s also pretty easy to install, thanks to its wire-free set up. It runs on battery power, so you don’t have to worry about running power cables through your yard. That also means that you can install Blink Outdoor in secluded and dark areas where intruders might try to hide. If you have a spacious back yard or an outdoor shed where you keep your tools, this could be a good camera to place there.
Free Local Storage
Unfortunately, we can’t monitor our cameras 24/7, especially not at night. That’s where the free local storage comes handy. Unlike most available options today, Blink doesn’t require a cloud subscription. All you need is a Sync Module 2, which is a hub-like device for Blink cameras, and a USB flash drive. If you connect Blink Outdoor to a Sync Module 2, it will be able to capture, record, and store motion videos locally without ongoing monthly costs.
Long Battery Life
Although the Blink Outdoor was battery-powered, it didn’t require much attention from us. That’s because it has a long battery life that can last up to two years before needing a replacement. Of course, given how much we used the Blink Outdoor during our testing, we had to replace its batteries after a year, but that’s still impressive.
4. Arlo Pro 3 - Best Camera with Both Infrared and color Night Vision
The Arlo Pro 3 offered both infrared and color night vision. We used the infrared option when we wanted the camera to be less conspicuous and also when we wanted it to have a better night vision range. As for the color option, the Arlo Pro 3 utilized its built-in 6,500 K spotlight to see things in clearer detail, colors and all. This night vision mode proved useful when we wanted to identify the color of the van suspiciously parked out front in the middle of the night, just in case it was a burglar surveying our place.
Contrary to what many believe, most burglaries actually occur during the day.2 Fortunately, the Arlo Pro 3 not only captured clear nighttime videos but also high-definition daytime videos. With a 2560p HD resolution that is significantly higher than the standard 1080p HD, 160-degree field of view, and up to 12x digital zoom, the Arlo Pro 3 protected our apartment day and night.
Thanks to its IP65 rating, which meant it’s sealed shut and protected against dust and water jets, we were able to install the Arlo Pro 3 almost anywhere. And because it’s powered by batteries, we didn’t need to run a wire to keep it plugged in; although we did have to charge its batteries every three to six months. For those reasons, the Arlo Pro 3 also made our list of the best wireless cameras.
5. Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro - Best Infrared Camera with Professional Monitoring
Made by the alarm company Vivint, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro is the only one on this list that offers proactive protection. Whenever someone approached our front door or lurked too long within the surveillance zone that we defined, the camera issued warning lights and tones to let them know they’ve been spotted. The red warning light was particularly intimidating at night, as it glowed like an eye watching from the shadows.
The Outdoor Camera Pro was also pretty smart. It didn’t bother us with alerts involving pets or vehicles passing by. It only alerted us when it saw people, which was incredibly useful considering that it’s professionally monitored. We wouldn’t want to receive a call from our alarm company every time a dog walks by, especially here in Brooklyn.
Works with Vivint
As a part of the Vivint security system, the Outdoor Camera Pro integrated well with our alarm system. There’s a setting that let us use the camera as a siren for our Vivint system. In case we weren’t home, the camera could tip off passers-by and our neighbors that there was something going on. In fact, we asked our friendly neighbors to call the cops if they ever hear the outdoor camera’s siren go off.
Tip for Video Storage: Vivint charges $5 per month for cloud storage of each camera. If you’d rather not pay the cloud storage fee, you can purchase a $249 Vivint Smart Drive with one TB of storage space, which is enough to store about 30 days of continuous video history for up to four Vivint cameras.
How We Ranked the Best Infrared Cameras of 2023
When comparing infrared cameras— or any type of security cameras for that matter— we use a methodology that measures the overall value of each camera. We take into account the cameras’ price, video quality, audio, integrations with smart platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant, artificial intelligence, and video storage options. We also test out each camera to get a good grasp of the installation process and ease of use.
We also make sure that the cameras are up to our standards. When it comes to the video quality, we like our cameras with at least 1080p HD resolution, a 120-degree viewing angle, and of course, infrared night vision. For the audio, we prefer cameras with two-way talk so we can hear the camera’s surroundings and talk through the camera’s speakers whenever we want. Security features like motion detection and person detection are also necessary, and it’s always a huge plus if the camera offers facial recognition and/or activity zones. Finally, every camera needs video storage. The ideal setup for us is one that has local storage like a micro-SD card and with cloud backup, but we’re also not one to turn down cameras with free or affordable cloud storage plans. And if the camera supports continuous recording, that’s even better.
Our Expert Advice: We recommend security cameras with cloud backup in addition to local storage. It’s always better to have backup video storage in case a burglar steals or destroys your camera. NVRs and DVRs, which are devices with a hard drive that can store videos, might work as well provided that they are kept hidden away.
For this review, in particular, we paid close attention to the cameras’ night vision ranges, especially for the ones that can work outdoors. If you have a wide front lawn or backyard, you’re going to want to have a camera with a night vision range of at least 40 feet. For indoor cameras, it’s a slightly different story. There tend to be more reflective surfaces indoors, which could create glares when viewed from an infrared camera. That’s why we chose indoor cameras that either had a shorter night vision range or an adjustable infrared intensity.
We also looked for features that can further improve the night vision experience. An example of this is the Nest Cam IQ Indoor’s ability to tell apart natural light and bursts of artificial light coming from, let’s say, a burglar’s flashlight. As a result, it can’t be fooled by burglars trying to “blind” the night vision.
And last but not least, we included infrared security camera options that offer professional monitoring. Many law enforcement agencies confirm that video verification through monitored security cameras can help speed up police response.3 So with a professionally monitored infrared camera, you’re sure to get the help you need in case of a break-in whether you’re home or not, day or night.
Based on our tests, the Nest Cam Indoor is the best infrared camera for indoor use, while the Lorex 4K Nocturnal Smart IP Camera is the best outdoor infrared camera. The Arlo Pro 3, Blink Outdoor, and Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro also made our list of the best infrared cameras on the market.
The night vision ranges of infrared cameras vary. For outdoor use, we recommend cameras with a night vision range of at least 40 feet, whereas indoor cameras need a night vision range of up to 20 feet.
In most cases, infrared cameras are better than color night vision. That’s because infrared cameras don’t rely on visible white light, so they are more covert. However, if you want your cameras to see in color day and night, color night vision might work better for you.
Infrared cameras are equipped with two necessary components: LED lights that emit infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, and an image sensor that can see infrared light. The LED lights illuminate the camera’s surroundings for the image sensor, which then creates black-and-white, night vision images.