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IR Cameras Go Green with Energy-Efficient Design
a&s International 2010/1/19

To see through darkness, IR cameras often require large amounts of energy. To make IR cameras more environmentally friendly, manufacturers are developing energy-efficient designs.

To see through darkness, IR cameras often require large amounts of energy. To make IR cameras more environmentally friendly, manufacturers are developing energy-efficient designs.

LEDs play a crucial role for IR cameras. Today they can be adjusted automatically or manually according to user preference. Users can see clearer images through mechanical or software controls, rather than overloading the camera with more LEDs.

Another way to reduce energy consumption is with high-power and energy-efficient LEDs. Manufacturers focus more on the efficiency of LEDs rather than the quantity. Extending the life span of IR cameras with patented LED modules makes cameras cost-effective. These environmentally friendly designs enable green security.

As awareness for green security increases, IR cameras are becoming more environmentally friendly by saving energy. Video Security (VDI) uses fewer 850-nanometer high-power and energy-efficient Japanese LEDs, which prevents its IR dome cameras from overheating or overloading the speed dome's stepping motor. "Each of these IR LEDs has lighting capability equivalent to five to 10 regular LEDs," said Paul Roan, GM at VDI.

To enable the camera's operation in mission-critical environments, such as military production factories or firearm storage, it must be explosion-proof.
"Filling the double-layer IP68 aluminum casing with pressurized nitrogen effectively lowers the camera's interior temperature and extends component life span," Roan said.

Being environmentally friendly might be costly, but offers better system performance and value. "Our self-developed 1/3-inch CCD enables higher customization to suit customer requirements and successfully lowers production prices in the long run," Roan said. "Features such as low-light camera modules, alarms, motion detection and WDR can be added later if necessary."

Apart from its self-developed DSP and high-power LEDs, the VDI speed dome features built-in IR LEDs with a removable motor IR cut filter (ICR). "The motor ICR occupies less space and requires less energy. It reacts faster when the DSP signals for ICR switching and does it less audibly," Roan said. "With robust R&D, our motor ICR has a longer life span than traditional mechanical ICRs."

VDI is developing IR speed domes with auto tracking, megapixel and 360-degree panoramic cameras with H.264 compression.

Yes Development also boasts environmentally friendly technology for its IR cameras. Due to heat and long operation hours, the brightness of an IR LED usually falls off after a year or two. With an IR LED module making the camera more energy efficient, Yes Development's patented design allows users to easily replace failing LED modules when necessary. Camera lenses can also be changed easily for different installations.

"Other than our patented modular design, we also customized the camera chipsets to greatly reduce noise," said Colin Chen, Assistant to the Chairman of Yes Development. "This allows our IR cameras to get clear images even at windy nights in high-altitude areas, such as northern China or Russia."

All Yes Development cameras exported to high-altitude areas were tested for extreme temperatures. "A built-in heater prevents frost during the daytime and an electrical circuit on the camera board is separated from the IR LED board, to prevent overheating," said Chen. "These patented technologies increase the life span of the cameras."

Brightness Control
Another way to reduce IR camera power usage is through brightness adjustment. Low-light vision can be improved by adjusting the image brightness on displays without compromising image quality.

User-Friendly Interface
CNB Security's anti-saturation technology features a DSP algorithm that allows the camera to automatically control the LED brightness when an object is too close to the camera. "Traditionally, image brightness adjustment is done manually. CNB Security's R&D has enabled the new auto IR brightness adjustment to increase user friendliness," said John Jo, GM of Sales and Marketing at CNB Security. "This adjustment is not activated by CDS but with a more energy-efficient DSP design."

"Since CDS falls into the RoHS category of hazardous substances, using a DSP to detect lux levels rather than CDS is an environmentally friendly approach," Jo said. "With special camera design, we can increase our camera's life span by 50 percent."

Easy Installation
Adjusting the LED's output level is also made easier with Huviron's IR cameras. To prevent light reflection, Huviron allows users to adjust the IR LED output level through a RS-485 keyboard.

"Normally, IR camera installations take place during daytime. Installers would not know whether the camera's field of view includes defused reflections. The installers would have to check the camera image at night and go back to the installation site to adjust the IR LEDs again," said Lewis Oh, Assistant Manager at Huviron. "With our patented DSP software design, installers or users can remotely control the LED output level."

After understanding installation requirements, users should select cameras from reputable companies. Suppliers should have systematic production and responsive sales service to ensure a sustainable installation.

With growing demand, Asian manufacturers are developing cameras with more efficiency at affordable prices.

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