Yes, cold weather does affect security camera functionality—as does hot weather. Before making any purchase, it’s important to be aware that not all cameras are temperature-tolerant or waterproof. It means if it’s going to be placed in an environment of extreme cold or extreme heat, it may not function properly.
But there are numerous ways to protect video surveillance and security systems against the blistering cold, heat, and wet. Discover the proven methods to safeguard security cameras for those times when Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate.
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Many things can go wrong with a security camera in extremely cold weather. Although most products are able to withstand low temperatures, some might stop working at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
For example, Google Nest cameras work efficiently between -4 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, Ring’s doorbell security camera systems can continue operating within the temperature range of minus-5 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Interestingly, Ring’s Floodlight Camera Plus can withstand a slightly higher temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
It would be safe to assume that Google Nest and Ring security cameras work in freezing conditions, given that the freezing point is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Impact of Dew Point on Security Cameras
The principal concern in cold weather is how low temperature affects water dynamics. Water molecules exist in the air as moisture or water vapor, which we know as “humidity.” 50% humidity tells us that the air contains 50% water vapor.
Water vapor also has a “dew point,” the temperature at which water vapor condenses to become liquid. Dew forms during early morning because the low temperature reduces water vapor movement. Decreasing water molecule activity lowers its energy output, further reducing the temperature.
It’s usually okay to have a bit of condensation on the security camera’s exterior surface because the sun’s rays and the relatively higher temperature later in the day will evaporate it. However, extreme condensation can obstruct the lens.
Dew or condensation can also become problematic if the environmental air or device surface temperature falls between 32 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range reflects a water droplet’s “frost point.”
The low temperature causes the cold water droplets (condensation) to crystallize, blocking the security camera’s view and potentially damaging the circuitry if it gets inside the device.
Impact of Cold Weather on Battery Life
Although a security camera can continue working at -4 or -5 degrees Fahrenheit, its battery might not charge, drain quickly, or hold insufficient DC electricity.
Security cameras always have two specified operating temperature ranges: one for optimal operation and another for battery charging.
For example, Google Nest requires a minimum charging temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says the battery could still power the security camera between minus-4 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit but drains faster and won’t charge.
Battery runtimes decrease to 50% as it nears -4 degrees Fahrenheit.Meanwhile, Ring security cameras have three low temperature levels to monitor.
The battery might not hold charge at 36 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring more frequent recharging. It stops charging at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and will cease to function at minus-five degrees.
Hardwired security cameras connect to an AC electrical system to draw power. Hence, the battery should receive adequate charge from an electrical outlet through a DC/AC power adaptor or hardwired to home electric wires. But that’s not always the situation seen in real life.
For instance, Ring security camera batteries won’t obtain power if hardwired when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a similar story with Google Nest Cam power cells.
The DC power units can still push electricity to the security camera between -4 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit but will drain faster.
Like cold weather conditions, security cameras also have a maximum operating temperature.
For Google Nest, that temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, while Ring’s is slightly higher at 120 degrees. Other products might have higher or lower maximum operating temperatures, with some reaching as high as 131 degrees Fahrenheit.
Extreme heat can degrade security camera performance. In some cases, the device might experience irreversible system failure, especially when you live in exceptionally hot places. Hence, protecting your security camera against heat fluctuations is a must.
Impact of Excessive Light on Security Cameras
A concern during the summer or in warmer climates is that there is too much sunlight. Excessive light can damage the security camera’s image sensors, secondary to overheating.
Although image sensors collect and transform light information into digital codes, they can be prone to heat-related problems when exposed to intense light for too long.
Like using a magnifying glass under the sun to burn things, the camera’s lens focuses light energy into the sensor. If it’s exposed to direct, extreme sunlight for too long, it can burn the inside of the camera and even cause fires.
Light reflected from nearby objects will also create glare on the camera lens. Security cameras might have no issues recording, but the images will be too bright to discern faces or objects clearly.
Impact of Dust on Security Camera
Another issue facing security camera owners during the summer months or those living in perennially hot weather is dust formation.
Although winds are stronger in winter than in summer, jet streams can still pick up at 4.0 to 4.5 meters per second (about 13.12 to 14.76 feet per second).
Strong winds can pick up loose dust and other particulates, such as pet dander and end-of-season spores. These substances can stick to the security camera’s lens and affect image quality.
There’s also “backscattering,” a phenomenon where the camera images have orb-shaped artifacts.
A more serious concern is particle ingress or the entry of dust and other solid substances into the security camera.
Although we don’t know how exactly these particulates will create havoc in particular systems, we can only assume it would be like pouring silt or sand into your car’s engine.
9 Tips on Dealing with Extreme Weather Conditions
1. Choose the ideal security camera location
One of the best ways to protect security cameras from extreme weather is to position them under an eave or awning, about eight to ten feet above the ground.
Any overhanging house element can safeguard the security camera against the rain, snow, and extreme sunlight.
However, you might want to take a different approach if you’re more concerned about fogging and frosting.
The ideal security camera location in such situations is away from the shade. You would want to expose your security camera to morning sunlight to “melt” the condensation that formed at dawn.
The security camera should also be far from heating and cooling sources, such as HVAC systems, dryer vents, plumbing, landscaping elements, and pooled water. These devices can increase the risk of condensation and frost formation as well as, conversely, overheating.
2. Bring the security camera indoors
Security camera batteries require at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit to charge effectively. Environmental temperatures can drop below freezing without warning. For example, it might be 40 degrees during the day, but plummet to 25 degrees at night.
The security camera might still work, but the battery won’t charge anymore. Ice formation in your device may even occur if the air temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hence, it’s sometimes advisable to bring security cameras indoors where the temperature is kept stable. It may not be ideal for vantage points, but extreme heat and extreme cold can both destroy the device.
3. Check the inside of the camera
If the camera starts to malfunction, it may be worth inspecting inside it to check for condensation or melted circuitry.
Consult any warranty terms and conditions before opening up any electrical device, as it may void the warranty (in which case, simply replace the device).
If condensation is inside the device, place it in a bag filled with silica gel packets or an alternative desiccant like white rice. These products draw moisture from surfaces, drying your security camera.
Charging the security camera battery indoors can also help warm it, safeguarding its operating functionality.
4. Weatherproof the security camera with enclosures
If the security camera cannot be positioned under shade, the device can instead be placed in an enclosure.
Much like how a human house shelters its inhabitants from the elements, the security camera should also be warm and dry inside its “home.”
Camera enclosures can be bought at retail or DIY’d to add a touch of personality. For example, a DIY birdhouse can be made using poplar board, wood glue, spar urethane, and other materials.
Ideally, the birdhouse’s frontage will use clear acrylic glass to create a weatherproof enclosure. The DIY birdhouse security camera enclosure must have as few entry points as possible without undermining the gadget’s performance.
Alternatively, you can check out our post on “How to Make a Waterproof Camera Cover.”
5. Observe proper security camera orientation
Similar to protecting security cameras against the bitter cold, it is wise to position the device facing any direction except the West. Security cameras facing west are likely to fail faster than units oriented in other directions.
Mount the security camera in shade, like under awnings or eaves. Although this advice isn’t foolproof, it should still give you better control of the heat’s effects on your device.
6. Protect the camera in an enclosure with built-in cooling fans
The DIY birdcage we described above could also work to protect your security camera against extreme heat. However, it’s vital to include a cooling system in the enclosure to lower the internal temperature.
It’s possible to install a PC cooling fan inside the DIY birdcage or use similar technology.
7. Monitor the battery temperature and charge level
Ring recommends monitoring the security camera battery’s charge level and temperature, ensuring it doesn’t drop below the minimum limits.
Bring the security camera indoors if the outdoor temperature nears 32 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure optimum charging. The company also recommends charging the battery to 100% to ensure optimal function.
8. Use heating tapes
A heating cable or tape is another viable solution for a chilly security camera that can be wrapped around the body of the device.
This technology has heating elements powered by electricity, allowing the security camera’s surface temperature to remain higher than the environmental temperature.
9. Protect the wires
If your security camera has cables or wires, they must be adequately protected. Ultra-low temperatures can make the wire inflexible and brittle, increasing the risk of cracks and other deformities.
Shielding the security camera wires in a conduit (a flexible tube for housing cables) should do the trick.
What temperature is too cold for cameras?
Any temperature below the security camera’s minimum recommended operating temperature is too cold. For example, Google Nest considers anything below -4 degrees Fahrenheit unwelcome for its gadget’s optimum functioning. Meanwhile, Ring and AlfredCam put this number at -5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do security cameras work in the cold?
Yes, security cameras work in the cold. However, functionality depends on the manufacturer’s recommended minimum operating temperatures. For instance, Ring security cameras work at -5 degrees Fahrenheit, while Google Nest Cams can only run until -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s also worth noting that battery-powered security cameras might not charge their batteries below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The stored DC electricity can still power the security camera up to the device’s minimum operating temperature. However, it ceases to function once the battery empties its charge.
What happens if a security camera gets too cold?
Exposing the security camera to temperatures below its recommended operating temperatures can damage sensitive components, reduce battery life, and freeze the lens.
Do outdoor security cameras work in the winter?
Yes, outdoor security cameras work in the winter. However, winter operating performance varies across security camera systems. Some products can work in minus-22 to minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit (about -30 to -40 degrees Celsius), while others can only run in 14-degree Fahrenheit.
Although these measures can help protect security cameras against extreme cold and extreme heat, picking the correct waterproof and weatherproof security camera should reduce worries about undermining the security camera’s performance or damaging it.
Choosing a security camera with an extensive operating temperature range can help in extreme climates. Also worth looking for are ultra-low minimum charging temperatures, at least IP66 ingress protection rating, and a robust, weatherproof enclosure.
These characteristics will increase your chances of safeguarding security cameras in extreme weather.
This content was originally published here.