Glare from not using outdoor home security cameras

Indoor Cameras Pointed Outside vs Outdoor Home Security Cameras

In Home Security by Jody14 Comments

In a hurry? Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Why you shouldn’t point a security camera through your window (in most cases)
  2. The only allowable exceptions to rule #1

Sound good?  Read on.

Just for grins, let’s say that you read about the best burglary deterrents to use for your home and saw that cameras are THE MOST EFFECTIVE deterrent when criminals are choosing a target.  A whopping 57% of surveyed, convicted burglars said that they would walk away from a house with cameras installed.  Done.  Threat eliminated.

Now it comes to finding the best camera to do the job, and you’re stressing over the extra cost and difficulty of installing an outdoor camera.  Just don’t forget:

Outdoor cameras are an obvious, visible deterrent to burglars.

If you throw a camera in a window inside, a burglar may not even notice it until he has already chosen your house as a target.  That, of course, assumes you haven’t plastered supplemental signage up outside your home (I know, tacky right?).

Barring all of that, if you’re still considering an indoor camera, please read on.

Just Don’t, Please Don’t

I’ve long since lost count of the number of times somebody has mentioned that they were shopping for a cameras to cover their driveway or front yard and planned to buy indoor instead of outdoor home security cameras.  I had to stop slapping my forehead for fear that I might start to look like some of the heads on Easter Island.


Flat forehead, the bird poop is just bonus material (pun intended)

If you have a standard or night vision camera pointed through your window to see things outside at night and don’t have enough exterior lighting (it can visible or infrared) to make it look like its daytime, then you’re going to be disappointed with the results.  Go ahead and visit our page to help you compare surveillance cameras and use the filters to look for outdoor cameras to do the job correctly the first time.

Here, I’ll hold your hand with a video. I promise, it’s really quick.

Don’t Prevent Glare Through Your Window, Avoid it Altogether

If you plan on getting an indoor camera with night vision, then you better make sure that you can cover or disable the IR LEDs on the camera meant to provide night vision.  Or, you’ll get something like this (your mileage may vary):

Can you see me now?

The light from the infrared LEDs that provide night vision illumination for home security cameras is going to reflect off of the glass, and you’ll see a nasty reflection or glare. That makes it a little hard to make out faces and license plates, which you’ll need to give to the cops to have any hope of catching someone.

Heard someone with this idea before?

If you see someone asking about pointing their Dropcam out the front window on Facebook or reddit, feel free to use this post to deflate their balloon.  After all, it’s for their own good.

Fighting stupid one share at a time . . .

What about window film to reduce glare from a security camera?


The problem is the windows reflect IR.  If you add a sheet of film on top of the window, it may ease the transition to the window so that less light reflects back into the camera.  But, you’re not really solving the problem.  If you insist on installing the camera inside, you COULD install special IR glass that is transparent to the light.  But, that’s going to be more expensive than just buying an outdoor camera.

But what if I really want to point a security camera through a window

If you just can’t resist the temptation, the only good approach is to:

Install external infrared illuminators or visible light.

The Exceptions

Some of you are trying to talk to the computer, “But, but, but . . . [waah waah wa wa waah waaah]!” (that’s from Charlie Brown in case you didn’t get it).

OK, I will readily admit that there are a few specialized situations when an indoor camera would be suitable looking outdoors.

“I Only Want to Film the Mail/UPS/Milk Man/Package Thieves”

If the ONLY thing that you’ll EVER want to see from the camera happens during the day, then go ahead and buy an indoor camera.  Just make sure you know how to be an educated security camera shopper and account for the other pitfalls that you can fall into when purchasing a home security camera.

And NEVER forget, that you can’t complain when you can’t make out the face of the guy that kicked your front door in at dusk after it happens.  After all, you assessed the risk and chose to save a few bucks and accept it.

“You Can See My House from Space at Night”

The other option to avoid glare when looking out of a window is to block or disable (electrical tape or some cameras have software disable settings) the IR lights that may be (probably are) on the camera.  Then, you will need to add equivalent or better lighting outside the window to illuminate the area of interest.

You can install flood lights or another type of visible light, but the neighbors may not like you shining a light across the street at their house just to illuminate the side walk.  Or, you can buy IR illuminators to mount outside.  These can also be a good supplement to your camera lighting even if you decide to buy an outdoor light.

Here is a review of an illuminator from a reputable site.

Or, if you want something from a bigger site with some other reviews, here’s a highly rated unit on Amazon:
infrared illuminators

The Wrap-Up

Hopefully, nobody’s crying after that tirade.  I tried to be clear about why you’ll likely expect more from your camera installation after you install it than just the 1 reason you’re getting it now.  So, it pays to think ahead and plan for an installation that you’ll be happy with (and will protect your family) for years to come and in all conditions.  After all, that kind of longevity is worth the extra $30-50 bucks you might pay for a good outdoor camera.

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  1. a basic Y Cam I use; [with the Infra Red turn off option] works well enough- its a few mm from the glass. Sun flair at some times of the day/year interfer, but mostly its fine. At Night its not as good- I get some light from a street lamp and you can enhance this with an outside security light. Not bad though. Ideally an outside Invisible Infra Red would be handy for me but I dont think there is a successful one on the market??

    1. Author

      Yeah, that would give you a better picture at night for sure. I linked to one in the article that is reviewed well.

  2. Invisible IR would be my preference. Red light glow can b useful but not in my case.

  3. From the inside of my house at night yes I see a bright light glare reflect on my window. I like to know if that’s noticeable from the outside? I always disconnect the camera before it starts to get dark outside. “I try to keep my camera from being noticeable”

    1. Author

      Since the IR LEDs are not visible light, you shouldn’t have a problem with people from outside spotting your camera. It’s just that the camera sensor picks it up and then displays it in the recording in the visible spectrum. So, unless they are using a camera, they won’t see it.

      Although, some of the cheaper LEDs used in cameras do emit spurious light at the very top of the visible spectrum, giving off a slight red glow.

  4. My issue is we rent our house, so I can’t just drill holes and mount outside. It’s a property/landowner issue, not a ‘want to’. So have to window mount. I have a motion activated flood in the area I want to monitor, any suggestions on a camera model that has a shot and working for me?

    1. Author

      If you have lighting outside, most cameras will have a way to disable the night vision LEDs. That way, you can really on the exterior light and not get the glare on the window. I’ve also heard of people using black electrical tape to cover the IR LEDs too. Either of those approaches should work given your motion-activated lights.

  5. Hiya,

    I need your advise, I need a CCTV Wireless camera facing outside from my inside large patio window( ground floor flat) to look directly outside facing my parking bay (literally 3 meters away ).

    Please can you advise me what best CCTV camera I can get preferably wireless.

    Thank you

    Kind regards

    1. Author

      Hi Rashida, any camera will do that allows your to disable the onboard LEDs if you are using external illumination. The Blink cameras have been getting good reviews for a consumer grade camera and Hikvision is always highly recommended too.

  6. I live in an apartment and have to have indoor cameras. I also cant install infra red illumination outside. Lastly, my Amazon thefts are happening at night. last night the delivery was at 6pm, When I got home the package was taken the contests stolen and the box left between the buildings.
    Any suggestions for my situation?

    1. Author

      How is the lighting at your door? Is it possible to leave an exterior light on so that you could get a good picture without the IR LEDs of the camera with the outside light on? If so, it’s just a matter of finding a camera where you can disable the infrared or applying electrical tape or something similar to cover the LEDs.

  7. I have a bit of a different problem. I have a neighbor who drilled a hole in his barn that is like 12ft or so away from my deck, and put in a camera that looks right onto the deck. Unfortunately, it ALSO looks right into my living room AND bedroom windows. I am trying to find a way to install IR illuminators from all of my windows so that his camera will be unable to pick up anything in my house, which is a HUGE violation of privacy. What would you recommend? I found some rather inexpensive ones on Amazon….but do I need to purchase cameras to get the IR illuminators to work? I’m not sure how to go about it to protect myself.

    1. Author

      Would it be possible to install a fence blocking the view from his barn? The illuminators are just like lights except they’re non-visible. But, they aren’t going to do much in daylight.

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