Extreme Conditions: Can Your Surveillance Cameras Handle It?

By Henry Olivares

Did you know that installing a surveillance camera directly in the sunlight can shorten its lifespan and impact how well it performs? Extreme weather situations, such as the hot sun or sub zero temperatures, can play a role as to whether or not a surveillance system will work properly when faced with these extreme elements.

When installing a surveillance camera in the hot Southwest where the temperature can reach well above 100 degrees in the shade, it is important to pay attention to the placement of the camera. Is the camera facing West, so that it is in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, or is it facing North or South? West facing cameras will fail sooner than those located in the shade due to the extreme heat, so whenever possible it is important to place cameras in a location where there is an overhang on a building that can help shield the camera.

Also, because IP cameras contain more components than their analog counterparts, these devices operate much like a computer and require a fan to help keep the elements cool. Some IP cameras available on the market today contain coolants to help maintain a proper temperature.

The introduction of extreme weather enclosures has helped to ensure that cameras do not overheat when located in hot environments. Some of these enclosures include an additional fan to help keep the camera cool.

For cold environments, the market has introduced cameras with a built-in heater or blower. Many cameras today include a temperature rating, which makes it easier to identify whether a camera can operate properly in sub zero temperatures.

Outside of the extreme weather, other environmental elements need to be taken into consideration when installing a surveillance camera. For example, if a camera needs to be located in food processing facility and in its wash-down room, it is important to install an exterior grade camera that can handle repeatedly getting wet.

Geographical areas that experience high winds, such as dust storms, tornados and hurricanes, should consider using sealed camera enclosures so that dust does not get inside the housing and impact the lenses and components.

When it comes to installing surveillance cameras, a one-size fits all approach doesn’t always work in extreme environments. End users need to work closely with their security systems integrator to make sure their integration partner pays attention to the location of the camera, understands how hot or cold that area can get, factors in direct sunlight and tests products in the field to make sure they can stand up to the elements.