Many people install security cameras in harsh cold environments and they wonder if the camera will be able to work when the temperature drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius).
One of the main concerns when installing security cameras on your property is whether the camera will properly work in cold weather. Whether it’s heavy rain, ice, snow, or heat, outdoor surveillance cameras are subject to extreme weather conditions that can cause the device to freeze or completely fail.
Technically the question can be answered with a simple yes or no, but the situation is more complicated. Security cameras can work in cold or under harsh weather conditions, however, the functionality of the camera may be negatively affected.
Most outdoor security cameras are designed to withstand hot or cold weather conditions, but that doesn’t mean that these cameras will survive the elements in the real world. There are a lot of factors that you have to weigh in, such as the make of the camera, the price tag, and other installation tips.
As a general rule, if the cameras are expecting to deal with freezing temperatures, it’s necessary to purchase cameras from reputable brands that sell well-tested products. Usually, these cameras cost more than the regular ones.
One of the most important features of a security camera is weatherproofing. Water entering the camera’s enclosure means a broken camera, especially if this water freezes which expands the camera. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain a camera with certified weather sealing.
How to Keep Security Cameras Working in the Winter
There are a few methods you can use to keep your camera functioning when temperatures drop below zero. Follow our tips to keep your security camera system up and running during the winter.
Select the right camera (based on IP rating)
The first thing you should do is to select a security camera that has the correct IP rating for the job. Cameras are rated differently and optimized for various conditions such as immersion in water, dust, or freezing temperatures.
Cameras that will be installed in freezing cold environments need a weatherproof rated enclosure or housing. The IP66 rating is designed to withstand hard weather such as snowstorms, sleet, and heavy rain. The enclosure needs to be inspected regularly to ensure that the seal is still tight.
Another factor to consider is humidity which can cause condensation that turns into frost when the weather gets cold. If there’s relevant condensation, it could short circuit the components and break the camera. Additionally, be careful if you move the camera from an extremely cold environment to a warm one, the temperature difference may cause problems with its components.
You can take other steps to ensure the proper functioning of the camera. You can apply marine coating to protect the camera from the elements. The low winter sun can cause visibility issues. Ensure that the camera is not prone to glare.
If you notice glare effects, tilt the camera or move it to another position. The reducing wintertime sunlight hours may prevent the camera from recording images at the highest quality. Make sure that the settings are set correctly for the location’s light conditions.
Another option is purchasing a camera with a built-in heater and extreme temperature operating range, which can ensure uninterrupted operation when the temperatures rise and fall. The built-in heater helps to protect the camera’s electrical components, prevents fogging and condensation, and keeps it operational in freezing temperatures.
Check camera’s working temperature range
Before purchasing the camera, check the working temperature range to see if it fits the camera’s location. There are two specs that you need to understand: storage temperature and operating temperature.
Storage temperature is the temperature at which the camera can be safely stored when it’s powered off. Some cameras get damaged by the cold even when they are not installed.
Operating temperature is the air temperature of the environment when the camera is powered on and regularly working. If your location’s temperature is too low, ensure that it’s within the manufacturer’s specs. If the camera has been stored below the recommended operating temperature, you should let it warm up naturally until it’s good to be powered on.
Inspect other components of a CCTV system
Apart from the cameras, you need to pay attention to other components that can be affected by low temperatures. Snow and wind can damage cables and unprotected connectors. Ensure that the installation is up to the code.
Other surveillance components such as DVRs, NVRs, hard drives, and monitors need to be placed in moderate temperature environments. If these devices have been stored in freezing temperatures, they can get damaged if powered right away. Let them reach room temperature and then power them on.
Hard drives can fail or get broken because their lubricants thicken. LCD screens contain liquid, which can freeze and damage pixels. Ensure that all the CCTV components are designed to work within the location’s temperature range.
How to make security cameras work in cold weather
Follow these suggestions to keep your camera functioning when the temperatures drop way below zero.
- Keep your camera sensor free of snow and ice with a cleaning towel. Do monthly cleaning maintenance on the camera.
- Place the camera in a location where it will receive direct sunlight during daylight hours to take advantage of natural heat.
- Install special housing to keep the camera warm. There are enclosures that come with heating elements that help the camera operate in freezing temperatures. They may be expensive, but it’s worth it.
- Double check with the manufacturer to ensure that the camera is tested to withstand extremely low temperatures.
- Elements such as dirt and dust, along with various weather conditions such as sleet and snow can impact the visibility of your CCTV camera lenses. To clean the camera, you can start by spraying a can of compressed air onto the lens to gently blow any loose dirt or debris off it.
- Carefully inspect all of the connectors to ensure that there is no sign of damage or corrosion. Replace any connectors that are corroded, damaged, or do not form a secure connection to the equipment.
Not all security cameras are designed to work in harsh conditions such as snow, rain, or freezing temperatures. If you intend to use the camera in such a location, make sure to purchase a camera designed to work in low temperatures. Check the spec sheet regarding the operating temperature.
Additionally, you may purchase a special housing or enclosure that comes with heating elements. It needs to be powered on and the unit will generate heat to keep the temperature within the camera’s working range. For recommendations check this purchasing guide.