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Have you ever wondered what that red blinking light was on a security camera? Does it mean the camera is working or recording?

It can be hard to tell if security cameras are supposed to have red lights or not. Here are some reasons why it happens:

Night vision

One reason behind the red light of a security camera is for night vision. Night vision utilizes infrared lights to function.

The infrared light bounces off an object and sends it back to the camera with a picture. The camera detects infrared radiation thereby producing the picture or video.

Since infrared light is invisible to our eyes, the LED lights help us to understand that the night vision feature is working.

Camera dummy

If the red LED light is too bright or flashes during the day, then that indicates that it is fake! A real camera will not have a red light on during the day because it does not need to use the night vision feature.

Reasons for camera lights

Most security cameras do have different LED-colored lights, each serving a different function:

  • A steady red light indicates a problem with the camera.
  • A steady green light means the camera is working.
  • A blinking green light indicates that the camera is in the set-up/configuration mode.
  • A solid blue light indicates that the camera has been paused in its recording.
  • A blinking red light usually indicates that the camera is a fake!

How to spot a fake security camera

With fake security cameras out there, how will you know if the one you see in the grocery store is real or not? Fake security cameras look real to the untrained eye but criminals and security camera technicians can tell if a camera is real or not. Here are seven differences between real and fake cameras.

1. LED Lights

Usually, the LED infrared lights give the fake camera away. If you have seen real security cameras that feature infrared night vision up close, the camera has a red LED light that turns on when the light outside grows dim as night falls.

However, fake cameras have a red light that does not flash in total darkness. As for when the cameras are indoors, fake security cameras will flash even during the day when there is no need for infrared night vision.

This is usually a dead giveaway as to if the camera is fake or real. A real security camera has a subtle LED light that is not obvious

2. Covers

Fake and real security cameras sometimes look the same but if you know what you are looking for, you can tell the difference. It is all about the materials used in making the covers of the camera.

Real security cameras are made with a metal (usually aluminum) cover that is water-proof while fake cameras are made with an inexpensive plastic cover.

3. Installation Place

Where the camera is placed is usually the only way you can tell if it is real or fake. Fake cameras with a plastic covering are not weatherproof unless you place them under the eaves of a house or under the awning of a store.

If you see a camera attached to a brick wall without an overhang covering it, then the camera could be considered real.

4. Wires

Used to be if you were seeing a wire from a security camera, you could tell that the camera was real. Nowadays, some real cameras do not have visible wires much like the fake domed bullet cameras out there.

Not all real cameras have hidden wires though. Some have wires you can see part of especially if they are attached to the ceiling.

Only part of the wire shows while the rest of it is hidden in the ceiling. Wires no longer give the fake cameras away like they used to before.

5. Camera Types

Anyone who does an image search for “fake security cameras”, will come up with several images of domed or bullet-shaped cameras. On the other hand, if you do the same search but use the keywords “real security cameras”, you will get images of more oblong cameras with an overhanging shield over the lens.

Real security cameras are uniquely shaped and are hard to copy manufacturing and material-wise.

6. Markings

One way to be absolutely sure that a camera is real is by the markings on the cover. Most security cameras will have the name of the manufacturer on the cover.

If the camera does not have any brand markings, then it is quite possibly a fake.

7. Motion Tracking

It is funny how movies and television shows feature security cameras in the film or show that move back and forth when someone walks by. In real life, a security camera with a motion-detecting feature does not move back and forth when someone passes it.

With motion detection, the cameras record a person’s movement without having to move.

However, some fake security cameras will move back and forth, giving the illusion that they are detecting movement. That is the major difference between real and fake security cameras and the main way to determine if a security camera is real or not.

How to ensure that a security camera is recording

Have you ever wondered if your security camera was working? Wonder no more. Here are seven ways to know if your security camera is recording sufficiently.

1. Does your camera lens move the way it is supposed to?

If you use a pan tilt-type security camera that moves up-and-down and side-to-side, then if it moves, it is on and recording.

2. Is your external memory card working?

Most cameras save the videos on the hard drive but you can also use a memory card to store the video recordings. If the video recordings were saved on the memory card, then the camera is working as it should.

3. Are the tiny red lights working?

The tiny red lights in the camera do not blink if the camera has night vision and the lights are not on during the day. A way you can detect if the lights are working during the day, block out most of the light surrounding the camera.

If the infrared LED lights come on, then the camera is working.

4. Log onto the security system software to watch the live recording.

If your camera’s security system software utilizes live footage, you can log onto it from your computer to see if it is recording. If you cannot view the live footage, then there might be something wrong with the camera.

5. An electronic bug detector might be the way to go.

When a security camera sends a “balanced signal”, then it is working the way it should. However, the only way to know if the camera is sending the right signal is to use an electronic bug detector.

If it is not detecting the signal, then it can pick up any other security cameras that might be hidden nearby.

6. Your Wi-Fi signal can help.

If you have a security camera that uses Wi-Fi to work, seeing if it can find a signal can indicate that it is working sufficiently.

7. Android phones can be used to see if the camera works.

Most security cameras are run by phones, especially if a person is not at home. There is an app on the Android phone that allows a person to view live footage without having to be at home.

If you can see the footage on your phone, then you know it is working perfectly.


Security cameras are a great way to make sure homes, workplaces and grocery stores are safe places for people to feel secure. Knowing more about how they work, why they have certain features, and how to tell the real ones from the fake is essential to know if you should use security cameras or not.

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