Why Do Security Cameras Have Red Lights? Let’s Find Out

Have you ever seen those vibrant red lights on a security camera and wondered what their purpose might be? If you’re not aware of what red lights represent on a security camera, we’ve got answers for you. Let’s jump straight into it! 

Why Do Security Cameras Have Red Lights?

Security cameras feature a small, red light on either corner to showcase active recording. It means the camera is both connected to a power supply and the footage is being sent to the receiver. These lights can also be disabled and the camera would still continue to record.

You might be wondering:

What purpose do these red lights serve?

They serve two purposes – debugging and showing the presence of a camera.

Older camera models were a menace to put up. Imagine going back-and-forth trying to view the footage to verify if a camera was recording or not. A simple red light indicator was the perfect solution to check the camera’s operations.

Secondly, the purpose of a camera is to promote security. Since the red light has the highest wavelength, it can be seen from far away. This is often a fair warning for someone bearing malice against a protected property.

You might’ve also seen a security camera which was well-lit at night. This is not just a small blip at either corner but around the lens. What do the red lights on those security cameras mean? Let’s discuss that next!

Why Does My Security Camera Have Red Lights Around the Lens?

Usually, the red lights around the lens represent night vision capabilities in the camera system. These are infra-red (IR) LED lights which light up during nighttime and do not show during the day.

Are these lights completely necessary? 

Unfortunately, most cameras lose vision at night or in complete darkness. It’d be the same as you trying to view your street from afar. IR lights allow security cameras and other equipment to work in low light environments.

Intriguing right?

Infrared lights are invisible to the human eye. Cameras generally work by sending out these lights via IR emitters (the dim, red colored lights) to objects around them. If the radiation reflects, the camera detects motion and a picture is produced. 

Simply put – the more red-colored LEDs around your camera’s lens, the better the picture during nighttime!

Does Every Security Camera Have a Red Light?

Not every security camera has a red light. We’ve discovered two main uses of red lights in a security camera – active recording and night vision. Unfortunately, a few camera models don’t feature either or both of these together.

Since the indicator light is optional, you’d have to check if your security camera supports it. Most cameras still support indicators and the toggle is typically available to the user. Review your camera’s manual or take a look at its back to find a toggle.

You might also witness an absence of a red light if your camera is motion-based. These cameras are only active when they detect motion and the indicator lights trigger. Otherwise, these lights are disabled to showcase inactivity.

Secondly, IR lights aren’t the only way to produce pictures in the dark. Security cameras also use monochrome filters to operate in black-and-white. These filters don’t require the presence of red lights and were more common in older cameras.

Can a Camera Function Without Red Lights?

Cameras can certainly function without red lights. As we’ve discussed before, cameras don’t have a definite need for them. However, these light bulbs can also die out after a few years worth of use.

Cameras are often considered ‘buy-and-forget’ accessories. If it has been too long since the camera has been up, the lights might need a change. This is common and doesn’t suggest the camera is broken or nonfunctional.

Finally, it won’t be hard to check if someone has toggled off the red light indicator on your camera. If that’s the case, simply toggle it back on.

A simple check in either case is to take a look at the footage of the camera itself. If it is still transmitting data back to your device, it’s all good!

Is it Safe to Disable the Camera’s Red Lights?

If you prefer the camera being in a stealthy position you should turn the red lights off on your camera. But you’d also have to factor in the time of the day.

Check if your camera supports other modes of night vision. If it works in low-light environments via IR emitters, stealth might not be your best bet. It’d be glowing in the dark from a distance.

On the other hand, if you would like to fend off potential threats with a camera’s light the red light is enough for them to leave your property without any damage. It can also help establish the fact that the property might have tougher security on the inside.

If you’ve got someone actively monitoring the camera’s footage, the red light is perhaps your best ally.

As you can see, this is somewhat controversial and depends on you entirely.

Frequently Asked Questions on Why Security Cameras Have Red Lights

Follow-up questions? We’ve got answers for you! Here’s a short FAQ section on the top community-picks:

What does red light on a security camera mean?

Red light on the corners of a security camera generally indicates that the device is recording. If the red lights surround the lens of the camera, these represent infrared emitters for night vision. Otherwise, some LED cameras use solid red lights to show the lack of an internet connection.
If your camera supports LED lights, it should have several other colors with a different meaning. Simpler, older models only use the red light for debugging purposes. Go through your camera’s manual to see what colors it supports and their meaning.

Do security cameras have red lights?

Not all security camera models have a red light on the edges or around the lens. A solid red colored light has the highest wavelength and can be visible from a distance. It’s why red lights aren’t available in modern cameras to help conceal them better.
Cameras also allow users to disable the red lights on the camera. If your camera model supports such configurations, you can modify to disable the lights as well. Otherwise, you can upgrade to a different security camera model which doesn’t have red lights on it.

How do you know if a security camera is recording?

Security cameras have red lights on the corner to show active recording. If your camera doesn’t have a red light, you can also view the live footage to see if it is transmitting data or not. Red lights around the lens are also an indicator of an active camera (infrared emitters).
Out of the three, it’s best to check the live footage of a camera to see if it’s recording or not. A security camera might not have an LED indicator to showcase active recording. It could also have been disabled by someone.

How do you hide red lights on a security camera?

You can try to hide it on your property by placing bits of infrared blocking filters on it. You can easily create a mask by cutting out a piece of filter larger than the panel and placing it down with duct tape.
This can help block the IR lights to some degree. You may also place a small piece of black construction paper on top of the panel. It can help hide the remnants of the red lights which might’ve been visible from the last step.

Do all night vision cameras have red lights?

Not necessarily. Most security cameras have red lights around the lens to view their surroundings in low light environments. Night vision cameras might also use monochromatic filters to produce black-and-white pictures in the dark and colored ones during the day.
Modern camera systems do produce colored images via IR emitters during the night. The more emitters there are on a camera, the better pictures it’s bound to produce.

That’s all folks.

Whether you were here to satisfy your curiosity or are planning on buying a new camera, we hope it helped. Just remember to have a good idea as to where you’d like to place your camera and whether you’d like to keep it stealthy or not. It might help you buy your new home security camera!