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I couldn't find a thread specifically about cctv systems, so putting this in a new one. I recently added a pretty good secondary illuminator for the security cameras at the house. Most outdoor cctv cameras nowadays have built-in IR illuminators that kick on at night; the camera switches to monochrome mode with an IR cut filter and the infrared illuminators let it see even in total darkness. Great concept and very common now, but the built-in illuminators are usually just some LED's that have a very limited range and power. If you're in a garage, under a carport, etc, they do fairly well, but in an open outdoor setting they tend to be pretty lacking. Also, they're almost never a true IR light, they're 'near IR'. For geeks like me, basically most are in the 840 nanometer light spectrum, which means that the human eye can't make out the light that's projected out from the led itself, but if you're looking toward the led, you will see a red/orange glow on the led's themselves. Not a big deal usually, and the reason they do it that way is that the 'near IR' 820-850 nm range puts out more lumens-per-watt than true IR; which will be up around 920nm or higher. So they get (and can claim in the literature) more infrared-illumination range with the near-IR than with true IR.

Our cameras are quite good, but at night have always suffered due to this one factor, so I decided to try a supplemental IR illuminator to see if it would help. I've tried them in the past, but they were cheap ones that were $20-$30 off amazon or ebay or wherever; never used a real top-end brand simply because they cost more than an additional camera does. But I bit the bullet and bought a fairly decent one from Bosch and installed it this past weekend, and thought I'd pass on the difference that it makes.

This is the back yard with the camera's built-in IR illuminators; the little LED's that most outdoor cameras have nowadays:
Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tire


With that much area to cover, this is what you typically get. One central bright spot, and a lot of non-illuminated areas in the frame. After adding the Bosch illuminator, the view in pitch black is now this:
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Car Motor vehicle


Still not as good as daylight, but much better than the camera's little built-in illuminators. The Bosch illuminator comes with various lens inserts for different widths of projection, from 10 degrees through 95 degrees. The narrower a diffuser you use, the farther the illuminator's reach. I used the 80-degree diffuser, which gives up a little area (on the left in my case), but gets a little better range than the 95-degree one, and lights up all the way to where I park my truck and even beyond it some. Fwiw, in this pic the truck is about 70 feet form the camera. I may re-aim the illuminator a little more to the left, as it gives an unnecessary amount of splash on the wall now, but it's somewhat of a pain to adjust, since you're on a ladder and it has to be complete dark for you to see (and adjust) the illuminator's angle. These units are true infrared at 940nm, so there's not even a faint glow when it's powered up.

Anyway, the one I used is Bosch's lower-end, their 50940sr short-range unit.
Product Camera accessory Rectangle Automotive radiator part Gadget


They make medium- and long-range units that are more powerful, but also substantially more expensive and also require more power. This short-range one I was able to just scab power from the camera's own power supply, so installation was easy. Also, the added cost of the higher-end ones wasn't worth it in my particular application, This 'short range' one does okay for my purposes and is around $275 instead of the $500 and $750 prices of the medium- and long-range ones.

If you have a camera system and aren't happy with its night-time performance, in a lot of cases, this may be a better solution than adding more cameras.If your existing camera power supply can support this small additional load, you may be able to install it without any new wiring; just tapping power from what's already there at the cameras. You may not, either; even the short-range unit that I used pulls more power than several additional cameras would; roughly 1 - 1.2 amps at 12 volts or so.
 
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