Commercial grade illuminators from Raytec, Illuminar and Axton work very well, but in many cases, costs more than the camera and this has been the barrier to adoption for many. I came across the Tri-Illuminator from Wrightwood Surveillance that works as well as the high end solutions for a fraction of the price and in a small well made package.
The Tri-Illuminator sells for under $60 including the power supply and contains three 2-watt quality LEDs. It’s powered by 12V (600 ma) and can be purchased with or without a 110V to 12V power adapter. Has about an 18″ pigtail with a 2.1mm jack which is a common size. It uses 8W of power and much brighter than any built in IR illuminator in a camera.
It feels like a quality piece in your hands and it’s very compact compared to the higher end illuminators I’ve used in the past. The light spread is about 60′ degrees and even. If you have a very wide angle lens on your camera, you may want to get two to get the wider coverage. For my typical 4 and 6mm lens cameras, the coverage was about right. This picture to show you size relative to my hand.
Here’s a problem area in my backyard. This is using a Hikvision ds-2cd3332-i with a built in IR LED that’s fairly bright, but you can see that the area on the left was not well lit and grainy.
I added the Tri-Illuminator about half way from the camera to the side fence to provide additional lighting in the dark area. First I tried a very low cost solution from Amazon, the IR3 from CMVision. You can see that it provides some light but despite it’s claims, the lighting angle was narrow with a hot spot in the center some call the flashlight effect. It didn’t solve the problem for me.
This is with the Tri-Illuminator. You can see that’s it’s much wider and brighter as well as being more evenly lit. The area has much less noise and the objects are crisp and clear.
About the same time, I had readers ask me what they can do brighten up a scene and reduce noise. There’s only so much that can be done in camera as built-in IR LEDs tend to be underpowered because of heat build-up in cameras as well as power restriction of PoE. So I recommended this solution to a customer and with his permission, he provided images from his home.
This is the “before” image. You can click on this image to see the original size. The image is not terrible, but does have noise and dark areas. You can see the IR from the camera was not very powerful as the landscape lighting is actually providing most of the light which is useless because the light shines on the ground, not on a suspect.
After adding the Tri-Illuminator, you can see crisp detail and the shadows from the bushes show that the IR LEDs are brighter than the landscape lights. There’s also a lot less noise and blur from noise reduction algorithms. Noise not only compromises detail, but also uses more network bandwidth and disk space on recordings.
If you are not happy with your night images, or getting motion blur due to having to set a longer exposure, having illuminators is essential. I’ve tried inexpensive illuminators in the past but have been disappointed because they are either too dim or have a flashlight effect like the IR3 from CMVision or they failed after a short time. It’s good to see a solution that’s not only effective and well made, but priced affordably.
You can get the Tri-Illuminator from Wrightwood Surveillance by clicking HERE.