What Is an IR Illuminator?

January 5, 2023
What Is an IR Illuminator?, Steele Industries Inc

If you have ever used a night vision device, chances are you have heard of an infrared illuminator. People who navigate in the dark, use cameras to observe criminal activity at night, hunt between dusk and dawn, and perform military activities that require them to remain unseen are all examples of people who may use night vision devices and infrared illuminators. 

Here is a brief look at what an IR illuminator is and how you can purchase an infrared device.

Why Use an IR Illuminator?

One of the main reasons why people use infrared illuminators is to enhance their night vision devices. Night vision cameras allow people to see in the dark by changing photons, or basic components of visible light, into electrons, or components of electricity.

Night vision goggles can be very useful; however, they sometimes have limitations. For example, night vision devices typically need some sort of low light source to work optimally, which is to say that they are less useful in locations experiencing extreme darkness. 

Infrared Light

Infrared light consists of wavelengths longer than those found in light that is visible to the human eye. Because this light is invisible to the human eye, users pair IR light with a night vision device to enhance its illumination.

If you want to know how an infrared illuminator works, think of it as carrying around a torch or beacon that is not visible to the naked eye of the person next to you.

IR Illuminators in Practice

There are many scenarios in which you might wish to pair your night vision device with light in the infrared, such as:

  • Navigating a body of water on a night when there is a new moon or too much cloud cover for the moon to be visible
  • Watching for illegal activity in and around a dark building
  • Attempting to locate a missing person in a heavily wooded area at night

When you have a night vision apparatus and an infrared illuminator, you are well-equipped to navigate locations with minimal light and near-invisible conditions.

What Are Some Different Types of IR Illuminators?

If you are in the market for an infrared illuminator, you will soon find that you have several options to choose from. Three infrared illuminators that you might find to enhance your night vision include:

  • Infrared light-emitting diodes, which are small and relatively inexpensive compared to other devices and pair well with cameras
  • Infrared heat lamps, which offer illumination via incandescent bulbs and are often used in industrial settings
  • Laser infrared illuminators, which are a long-range solution for use in rough weather and other suboptimal conditions

You will also find that you have a choice between IR illuminators that integrate into your night vision device, ones that attach to the device, and IR illuminators that you hold in your hand and direct where you need visible light.

The best IR illuminator depends on what you need the device for. For example, you might reconsider getting handheld infrared illuminators if your work involves heavy use of your hands or if you carry a handheld camera. In addition, you might choose attachable IR lasers to use with a firearm to produce a small dot on your target.

What Infrared Illuminators Are Available?

There are many infrared illuminators on the market, such as:

  • The Holosun LS221G laser
  • The B.E. Meyers KIJI
  • The L3 Harris NGAL

As all of these IR illuminators vary in price, capabilities, where they fall on the light spectrum or infrared spectrum, and the way they emit infrared light, it is crucial that you look carefully at your options before purchasing.

Where Can You Locate Infrared Illuminators?

If you want to look through a wide selection of IR illuminators and other night vision devices, consider looking at lights and lasers available at Steele Industries. Contact our IR device professionals to learn more about the various infrared illuminators that we carry.