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How Do Security Cameras Work Through Windows?

Security Cameras

Security cameras are a great way to provide added security for your home or business. However, installing cameras can be difficult when windows are involved, mainly because of the window glare.

Positioning your indoor security camera is essential. That way, you can ensure it will see through a window during the daytime without any issues.

Can Security Cameras Work Through Windows or Glass?

Can Security Cameras Work Through Windows or Glass

Indoor security cameras can take pictures through the glass during the day. Yet you need to take some precautions so the glass surface doesn't interfere with your camera's clear images.

First, look at the most common window glass modern houses use.

Modern Houses Glass

  • Tempered window glass is the number one choice for windows due to its remarkable strength. With robustness and optical clarity that allows natural light through while blocking out harmful UV rays, tempered glass ensures an optimal view with maximum security.
  • Polycarbonate panels are much harder to break than standard and laminated glass windows, providing superior protection against burglary attempts, severe weather conditions, or forced entry. With polycarbonate paneling in place, you can rest easy knowing your property is safe from potential harm.
  • Fiberglass windows are designed to deal with intensely scorching and below-zero temperatures, making them one of the most rigid, resilient window options. Plus, they come with a long-lasting powder coat paint finish that lets more light penetrate your space.

Investing in double-pane windows for your home can be your most cost-efficient decision. Together with seals and spacers, the two panels come together to complete a single element known as an insulating gas unit (IGU). These window units are made with two panes of glass that are hermetically sealed and spaced about half an inch apart, creating an air barrier to maximize insulation.

What Happens When Security Cameras Are Placed Behind Glass?

Cameras Are Placed Behind Glass

If you're looking for an alternative use for your indoor camera, pointing it out the window is a legitimate choice. Still, some features could go missing if this tactic is followed, so inspect all available research before making any decisions.

When done correctly, though, it can provide several advantages and expand the overall utility of your security system.

One of the primary issues when installing, for example, a thermal surveillance camera behind any glass or window surface is unwanted glinting.

Window glare can be caused by various sources, such as the IR lights integrated into your camera, LEDs, status indicators, or external lighting like street lamps. Also, the glass reflection may affect your security camera's work, depending on your window glasses.

When the glass or window shines too brightly, it can wash out your images (we call it images whiteout) and make it difficult to discern any small details.

In some unfortunate scenarios, this could even cause a doubling effect on your image.

House Glasses and Indoor Security Cameras

Tempered Glass Windows

Indoor Security Cameras

This glass window is four times as strong as conventional glass, and if broken, it shatters into small granular pieces without any sharp or pointed edges.

However, this type of glass may not be ideal for security cameras indoors due to its ability to reflect up to 8% of visible light.

As the thickness increases, a faint green hue can become increasingly more noticeable, resulting in lower visibility through the material.

Polycarbonate Windows

Polycarbonate Windows

Whether for your home or business, polycarbonate and Plexiglas take you to the next level. With their higher thermal absorption compared to traditional glazing, swimming pool shelters, glass roofs, and verandas can be fitted with this strong plastic composition.

Polycarbonates come in various finishes, from abrasion-resistant with complicated coat treatments to UV coating and matte, non-reflective anti-glare.

Despite this, there is still some reflectivity at the back surface; when light travels from polycarbonate to air, 5.1% reflection occurs.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass Windows

Adding window tinting to fiberglass windows enhances their energy efficiency, significantly diminishing the amount of sunlight allowed to pass through.

Although this coating helps to prevent heat from entering the glass and reduces glare, an indoor security camera's quality is compromised when trying to capture clear images behind a fiberglass window.

Double Pane Windows

Double Pane Windows

Trying to decrease the glare from a double-pane window can be tricky. While this window allows enough light in, adding an extra layer could cause some of that light to reflect outward, potentially making its way out front.

Will Infrared (IR) Night Vision Cameras Work Through Glass?

Cameras Work Through Glass

With a physics-based technique, most Wi-Fi cameras employ one or more powerful infrared (IR) LEDs that act like floodlights to illuminate and capture footage.

Infrared security cameras will likely wash out the image if placed behind window glass panels at night or in dimly lit areas. In such cases, you will be unable to observe everything happening correctly.

Utilizing infrared security cameras behind a window can often result in a washed-out image quality when situated behind glass or window panels at night or during periods of dim lighting.

Tip for a window-facing IR security camera

If you're having difficulty detecting details through your camera's window, you can disable or turn off the infrared LEDs and status lights at night to avoid glare. This minor adjustment will help reduce reflections on your surveillance camera for more precise viewing.

Glare from Window Glass in Color Night Vision Cameras

Night Vision Cameras

With the advent of color night vision, you can now witness everything that occurs in complete darkness through your security camera.

Typically, this technology has an aperture of f/1.6, allowing it to take in double the amount of light compared to other cameras.

Yet cameras with color night vision depend on white lights to provide a clear picture. However, if the infrared light or the status indicator is left on, the glass will cause glare.

The glass glare will blur the video feed when the cameras catch it.

Tip for a window-facing color night vision security camera

For the most precise security footage, turn off the IR illuminators, white light, and its status indicator before activating your camera behind the window glass. This will ensure maximum quality results.

Can Motion Detection and Recording Still Function Through Windows?

Recording Still Function Through Windows

Motion detection alerts are not always accessible through windows with Wi-Fi cameras. Typically, these gadgets use either of two strategies to recognize movement:

  1. Security cameras can detect nearby human activity through their Infrared (IR) sensors, which recognize any changes in heat.
  2. Alternatively, they can also measure alterations in pixels displayed on the video.

Do PIR Sensors Work Through Windows?

In a video surveillance camera, the Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor can detect movement by accurately discerning the differences between the human body's infrared radiation and other objects.

Unfortunately, your security camera's IR sensors cannot detect motion beyond a glass surface. In addition, PIR motion detectors were not designed for detecting activities behind windows and doors, thus making them an unreliable option for such installations.

So no matter if your security camera is detecting body heat perfectly well or it has the best IR light detector, all it takes is a coated glass or a light inside for the interior camera to stop working.

The PIR sensor is regrettably unable to detect motion through glass, as its signature cannot pass through. Therefore, any movements outside a window will most likely go unnoticed by the motion sensors. As we have stated before, this may vary depending on the glass used in the window.

Does Pixel-Based Motion Detection Work Through Glass?

Pixel Based Motion

Pixel-based motion detection can sometimes be unreliable, as it often produces false positives from movement in reflective surfaces such as windows, glass, and mirrors.

Pixel-based, microwave, and dual-tech motion sensors may be more effective than IR sensors when detecting motion behind windows. Nevertheless, the glare may produce unexpected and unwanted effects.

Clearer Images On Your Indoor Security Camera

Clearer Images

To ensure the best results on indoor thermal cameras facing outside, an outdoor camera is your ideal solution, as it eliminates any issues with glass. 

However, if you can't use one and must rely on an indoor camera, try these suggestions to improve video quality.

  1. The first step is deactivating existing night vision capabilities to get a better view. A regular light source functions best and can be easily obtained by leaving your porch light on if you have one at home. You then switch off the night mode setting of your camera afterward.
  2. When installed behind glass, the camera lens must be placed close to the windowpane to diminish glare and reflection. If this is achieved, there will not be sufficient distance for light reflections off of the glass - thereby reducing multiple unwanted effects from occurring.
  3. Companies like Nest Cam suggest using a suction cup mount to attach cameras facing outwards. This mount type also features a magnetic screw for added stability and reliability.
  4. Clean your windows regularly to ensure the glass is crystal clear and distortion-free. This will improve camera performance and reduce window glare.
  5. Disable the infrared energy lights and other status lights. Some cameras allow you to switch off the lights while keeping monochrome mode. With models such as Wyze Cam, covering up their sensors with a small strip of electrical tape should do the job.
  6. Record your video in a monochrome format for higher levels of detail, particularly if you have more than one outdoor light fixture. The additional illumination will also reduce the visibility of reflections from your camera lens.
  7. Enhance your security camera's night vision capabilities by replacing its integrated IR lights with an illuminator. To ensure the best performance, switch off or mask your existing IR lights and mount the new illuminator to the outside of your property for monochrome mode operation.
  8. To ensure high-quality photos and videos, experts advise setting up the camera in a darker room. This way, glare from external light sources won't interfere with the lens' ability to focus correctly and deliver remarkable images.
  9. Install motion-activated lights outdoors for 24/7 security and surveillance - no matter the hour. Furthermore, this will ensure that all exterior lighting is always on, stopping the glass window glare for your security cameras to work better.

So remember, if you must make your security cameras work through a glass window, the most important thing is to take the necessary steps to reduce the amount of glare and reflections. 

You can also try out multiple recording settings and camera placements to determine which works best for you in the long run.
If you want to know more about home security, contact us today!

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