It stands to reason that a security camera is only as good as the quality of its image. You can have all the cameras in the world, but if their image’s quality is poor, their usefulness will be significantly limited.
This brings us to one issue some owners have, which is CCTV camera flickering.
So why does a CCTV camera flicker? CCTV cameras flicker due to either lighting or electrical problems. The ambient lighting can create interference with the video feed of the CCTV cameras, which can be observed as flickering. Insufficient power caused by poor wiring can cause different types of interference, which can cause security cameras to flicker, too.
The reason behind security camera flickering can be hard to pinpoint in some cases. The flickering can be happening at seemingly random times or intermittently.
On top of that, troubleshooting and fixing the problem can also be tricky and take some time as different types of flickering can be observed.
Below I share with you more in-depth information about what you need to know about security camera flickering and what you can do about it.
Let’s take a look.
Is It Normal for a CCTV Camera to Flicker?
A CCTV camera should not be flickering. The footage should be smooth and seamless.
That being said, a number of different factors can cause a CCTV camera to flicker. Different types of flickering can also be observed.
Generally, a CCTV camera may experience one or a combination of the following:
- Seemingly randomized or intermittent on and off flickering.
- Flickering that only occurs at night.
- Rolling horizontal or vertical that may also flicker.
- Flickering fuzziness and noise.
- Flickering artifacts that can often be randomly colored.
- Distorted flickering vertical lines that are randomly colored.
- Light and dark banding.
Below you will find more information about the different circumstances under which a CCTV camera can flicker and what you need to know about them.
Common Reasons for CCTV Camera Flickering
One of the more common reasons why a CCTV camera may flicker is because the camera is not getting enough power. This can also be happening only during the night when the IR LEDs activate.
On PoE cameras, you may need to check its distance from the PoE switch and the type of the PoE switch.
Usually, IP cameras should not be placed further than 300 to 328 feet from the PoE switch. On top of that, the PoE may also not be capable of powering all the cameras. Poor wiring may cause a drop in the Voltage, which can lead to some interferences, too.
Ensure all the wiring and connections are tight and in good condition, and try using a different port on the PoE switch for each camera.
Sometimes the problem may be due to a faulty camera. This can be checked by disconnecting all cameras and checking each one to see if all cameras are working as intended and whether the number of cameras is the problem.
On analog systems, you can also try using different types of power supplies and ensuring the wiring is in good condition. If the camera is too far away from the power source, it can experience power drops, in which case it may need to be connected to a power storage unit to avoid interference.
Ambient Light Sources
Another common cause of CCTV camera flickering is ambient lighting.
Light sources close to the camera or stronger light sources directed at the camera can interfere with the camera and cause the captured footage to flicker.
Security cameras designed to work at night will normally have a built-in infrared sensor that will detect and activate when the lighting drops below a certain range. As the light becomes more limited, this will cause the camera to switch to night mode.
Thus, light sources can cause the camera to continuously switch to and fro its night mode, which can be perceived as flickering.
The best solution is to remove or reduce the lighting that is aimed at the CCTV cameras. It is also possible to opt for cameras that have a Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), a CMOS sensor.
Lights also flicker, which can cause some security cameras to capture that flickering and be visible on the video feed.
Problems with the digital video recorder (DVR) can also cause the footage of some CCTV cameras to flicker.
The type and characteristics of these flickers can vary from a normal camera on and off flickers, random color flickers, or horizontal or vertical flickering lines.
In this case, the DVR may need to be replaced.
Bad or compromised wiring can also cause signal interference, which can lead to flickering video footage.
Inspect all the cables and connection points. Make sure that the shielding and connectors are in good condition and that there are no loose connections. Ensure the cameras are grounded correctly.
Unplug each camera and check if there are any noticeable flickers. If the flickering continues despite the cameras being offline, inspect the condition of the monitor you are using as problems in the monitor’s end may be the cause for the flickering sometimes.
Ensure that your CCTV camera is working at the same electrical frequency as the lighting in the environment. Most electrical systems and (LED) lighting usually operates at either 50 Hz or 60 Hz.
In the USA, for example, the AC frequency used is 60 Hz.
But why is this so important?
Here’s the thing.
LEDs and fluorescent lighting flicker, too, and the camera can capture this flickering if it is run on the wrong Hz. (However, this problem is not observed in incandescent lights.)
This can be tested by turning the lighting off and checking the video feed for flickering.
Although to the human eye, those flickers will be practically invisible, a camera may be able to spot them.
As a result, mismatching the Hz can result in video flickering and rolling horizontal or vertical lines. For that reason, most CCTV cameras come with a switch or an option to work at either PAL (50 Hz) or NTSC (60 Hz).
In some instances, it may be necessary to look for alternative light sources.
Poor Signal Coverage
Video corruption due to lost data can also lead to a number of different problems with the video footage. Flickering vertical lines, pixelated artifacts, and smears can all happen due to video corruption.
However, the important question is why the data was lost, to begin with. One of the reasons could be poor signal strength and coverage, causing loss of information. (However, it can also be a problem with the firmware. More on that in a bit.)
The strength and the quality of the radio signal can affect the video image causing it to produce seemingly randomized flickers or even flickering vertical lines.
Ensure that the signal quality and strength are good and sufficient. You may also need to restart the base hub or reinsert the camera’s batteries just to make sure everything works correctly.
If you are working with smart CCTV cameras, sometimes firmware issues can cause problems with the video feed. Newly released firmware or old firmware that has bugs or compatibility issues can cause flickering.
While updating the firmware, the systems can also crash due to a number of different reasons, which may affect the way the cameras work.
It is recommended to check the latest firmware on the manufacturer’s website and see if your system and cameras are up to date.
In any case, you may need to speak with technical support to resolve any issues with the firmware. Sometimes, it may be necessary to revert to an old firmware, which is known to be stable.
Poor installation practices are often one of the reasons why security cameras flicker.
Ensure the cameras are all wired and grounded correctly.
Often CCTV cameras may have their electrical circuit grounded to the outer metal shell of the camera. When these cameras are installed on a metal surface or part of the building, they may create a ground loop or a short circuit to the ground.
In these cases, the camera should be installed on a non-metal and non-conductive surface and isolated from the metal surface.
In some instances, even installing the monitor and the DVR and the CCTV cameras on a different electrical circuit can cause video flickering, so they should be kept at the same electrical circuit.
If the CCTV cameras are powered from a different source and not the DVR or the power injector, you can try installing a ground loop isolator as this can also cause interference.