A security camera that has a flickering image will compromise the reliability of your security system. The picture will degrade and if an incident happens you won’t be able to catch the whole action smoothly because the security camera was flickering the whole time. When your security camera’s video feed is flickering at night (or day), finding the cause and fixing it quickly is important to protect your house, property or workplace.
Flickering in CCTV security systems may be difficult to deal with because it may occur intermittently or randomly. Moreover, troubleshooting a security camera with an image that is flickering, rolling or jumping takes patience. There are a lot of factors that can cause this issue. In this article we’ve summed up the most common causes and solutions for security camera image flickering issues.
Why does a CCTV security camera flicker?
There are multiple factors that may cause a CCTV security camera to flicker. In many cases, cameras flicker due to the lighting conditions. Certain light bulbs can operate at a frequency that will cause the camera monitoring it to flicker.
Insufficient power is another possible cause. This is the condition where your cameras need more power than your power supply can deliver; a DC power supply, or PoE switch ( for IP cameras) or on recorders with a built-in PoE switch. Often we see the flicker problem occur only at night time because this is when the cameras demand more power to support their IR LED lights used to illuminate the area under surveillance.
The frequency of power being sent to the camera can be incompatible and also cause flickering. For instance, if you’re in the USA you’re dealing with 60hz electrical power (and not 50hz which is the case for the rest of the world). Or the settings on the NVR/DVR are incorrect which may trigger the cameras to flicker under certain conditions.
In some cases, CCTV video flickering is caused by interference, either due to incorrect installation, malfunctioning equipment or power supplies, or bad ambient conditions. Below we offer solutions and tips for each problem that may cause the security camera to flicker.
Security camera image flickering: causes and solutions
1. Power Issues
Loss of power or not getting enough power can cause performance issues for your security camera system. This is the case especially if the cameras flicker during night time. The IR LEDs turn on when it gets dark and they need more power. If the power supply fails to provide the required power, the security cameras will flicker constantly or show rolling lines.
Check the power source and make sure the cameras are getting the sufficient power supply. If you’re using IP cameras, ensure that the PoE switch is able to support all your cameras simultaneously. If you’re using security cameras that run on batteries, double check if there is a batter low issue.
2. Changing light conditions
If your CCTV camera flickers only when it’s dark, make sure that it’s pointing away from electrical light sources. Sudden changes in lighting conditions, such as sudden increases and decreases in lighting due to cars passing by, may also cause the image to flicker for a few seconds, while the camera is adjusting its IR LEDs.
If changing lighting conditions are the cause of your image flicker issues, adjusting the angle of your cameras or repositioning them to areas that are less directly exposed to oncoming headlights is a relatively quick and inexpensive solution.
2. Damaged cables or connections
Damaged cables and connections can cause power issues and data transmission issues that lead to the flickering problem. Check all of the connections running to your cameras for loose wires or wires that have been exposed to the elements. Exposed wires and cables quickly become corroded or otherwise damaged. The flickering issue may show up if you’re using long cables, beyond the lengths supported by your cameras.
If your CCTV camera has an analogue output, or if you are using particularly long cables, make sure that the cables are correctly routed, and ensure that they are correctly grounded. Also, you can swap the cameras at the back of the NVR/DVR to see if the flickering goes away.
3. Electrical frequency
A camera that is intended for the European or Chinese market, but it’s sold in the US may have the electrical frequency set for non-US markets. The frequency, which is tied to the voltage in a way, is what you need to consider. To keep it simple, the US uses 110-120v power that runs at about 60hz. In Europe and Japan (and many other countries around the world), they use 220-240v power that runs at 50hz. The frequencies (50hz and 60hz) are what determines how often the electricity gets delivered at peak power.
Security cameras sold in the US are designed with this frequency in mind (60hz), and those sold in other countries are set on 50hz. There is often a small switch on your recorder, PoE switch, or composite power supply that enables you to choose the frequency. Also, in many IP cameras the frequency can be changed by accessing the camera settings. For example, below are the frequency settings on a Dahua IP camera.
4. Use the Anti-Flicker function
Many NVR and DVR come with an anti-flicker option which you can enable and possibly fix your camera’s flickering issues. If it’s not on, and you have a flicker, try turning it on. If it’s on and you have a flicker, try turning it off. Usually, this function is located on the Image settings section of your recorder/camera. If you can’t find it, read the manual or ask the manufacturer.
5. Loop-through equipment
If your camera is connected to a loop-through equipment with additional video outputs, make sure that all video outputs are correctly terminated.
6. NTSC and PAL
NTSC and PAL are two different video encoding systems that are still used in analog (HD) CCTV cameras. Both these protocols run on different resolutions and frame rates and are intended for different regions in the world. For example. NTSC is used in the US, PAL is used in Europe.
Nowadays most devices can play video in both formats. PAL or NTSC cameras (or recorders) will work anywhere as long as they are paired with cameras which use the same format. If you are using a security camera that doesn’t support both of them, you may get a flickering video and huge rolling bars on the screen. Access the settings of the camera or recorder and set the correct video format.
7. Update to the latest firmware
In some cases, especially if the flicker issue is related to software bugs, updating the firmware on your IP cameras, DVR or NVRs may solve the issue. Make sure to get the latest and the right firmware and update your equipment. Contact the manufacturer or reseller/dealer to get the firmware for your security devices.
8. Aging or faulty equipment
The older your security camera equipment is, the more likely it is to experience issues. All security camera systems have a limited lifespan and, if yours has reached the end of the line, there’s very little you can do except replace it. If you’ve verified that cameras are getting enough power and the cables and connections aren’t damaged, it’s likely to start shopping for new cameras, a replacement switch, or a new video recorder.