Security cameras come in all shapes and sizes and have different features on them. While other features of security cameras may vary, one thing that you can find on most of these cameras is a red indicator light.
In most cases, the purpose of having this light is to let observers know that the camera is recording. However, this can also have other meanings and we will explain to you what those can be. Knowing it can also help you improve how you manage your security and possibly minimize the expense you incur when setting up a new security system.
What is the purpose of red lights in security cameras?
Take a close look at any security camera and there is a chance you will see some sort of light in it. This is usually a small red led bulb which is either blinking or static. The color of the light can also be different in some cases, but you will not find them commonly.
Blinking lights and static lights also carry different meanings.
Most companies distinguish them as cameras that are either constantly recording (static light) or cameras that record when there is motion (blinking light). In some cameras, there is also an option to turn the light off completely.
Before the introduction of smart cameras that let you monitor everything from your smartphone, these red lights were a convenient solution for operators to check if a camera was operational. Places that require nighttime security could have the security personnel patrol the perimeter and keep an eye on the red light to make sure it was up and running. This could also be double-checked from the control station, where operators could check if the recording was in progress.
Do manufacturers install red lights in all security cameras?
As mentioned earlier, the primary use for the red light in cameras was to ensure its functionality. This use has expanded through the advancements in security camera technology. With cameras becoming easier to install and available to end-users directly, people still find it easier to see if their camera is working by looking at the indicator light. (1)
Nowadays, we also see cameras that either come with a blue light or have the light entirely removed. This can either be for a stealthy design or simply a way for manufacturers to reduce production costs. More advanced systems also allow you to manually control the light, either through a switch within the camera or through the controlling software or app.
Cost-savings can also be done by people who want to make their premises secure without recording anything. Dummy cameras are now a big market, especially for home users who do not want to go through the hassle of installing an expensive security system (although they have become reasonably priced too now). This can trick a potential thief into thinking that they are being recorded and prevent break-ins.
The correct way to check for a broken led light in security cameras
Security cameras are not the kind of devices that you check or troubleshoot frequently. They do their jobs day after day, and it is easy to forget that they are even there. However, you do not want to be caught off guard simply because you did not look after your camera.
Depending on whether your camera is a fake or a real one, you will need to take different steps. For the fake ones, all you need to do is look at the camera and check if the red led light is running. If it is not, you need to check if the connection is broken, the batteries have run out, or if the light itself has been damaged or fused.
For real security cameras, you will also need to do the same steps but add a further check which is your recording device. If the control panel is still recording, then it means two things. Either you turned off the led light yourself, or it is broken.
Check the settings through your control panel or app to see if you disabled the light. If you do not have that function, take the camera off its mount and check for a manual button.
If neither of these steps solves the problem, then you have a broken led light.
Of course, checking the recorder for footage may also reveal no recording which would point to a faulty connection or a broken camera.
Most consumer-grade security cameras can be checked easily, but if you had yours installed by a professional, it is best to ask them to come and check it for you. (2)
Is it a good idea to turn off the led light in my security camera?
Depending on your use scenario, you may want to turn off the light on your camera. The most obvious one would be if you want to hide the camera on purpose to continue recording without letting people know that they are on camera. This is usually in places that are recording activity to ensure no one is doing anything wrong.
Locations where people only come during the daytime can also turn off the red light as they are not so visible during the day and can make the camera inconspicuous but at night, it could be a giveaway if the objective is to keep it discreet.
Unless you want to intentionally hide your security camera for these or any other reasons, the right thing to do would be to keep it on.
The idea of putting the light on is not only to let the operators know it is working but also to act as a deterrent. An obvious camera with a red light would stick out like a sore thumb and any thief would be alarmed that they are being recorded and leave immediately. Having this would be much better than investing in a whole array of security features like lights, alarms, etc.
You may check other security camera guides below;
- How far can a security camera see
- Best solar-powered security camera
- CCTV camera night vision problems
(1) end-users – https://smallbusiness.chron.com/end-user-5067.html
(2) consumer-grade – https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Technology/gx-tech-consumer-grade-employee-experience.pdf