An average laser pointer will probably not damage a security camera.
Lasers are beams of light, which produce heat. If a laser makes sustained contact with sensitive materials, such as a camera sensor, it causes physical damage. To disable a security camera with a laser pointer is incredibly hard. Average laser pointers don’t have the power to disarm the sensor. Also, to disarm a camera sensor, one must hit it precisely head-on within about 5 meters (16 feet).
Yet, there are lasers can disrupt the CCD (camera sensor) on your security camera. Often, the lasers will create dead pixels. There may be 1 or 2 dead pixels or it could drop complete vertical or horizontal lines from the image. In extreme cases, it can actually melt the sensor.
To demonstrate, here’s the actual effect of a laser on a normal, consumer DSLR camera:
The lasers used in the above video more than likely belong to either a Class IIIb or Class IV laser. Anything below this class is relatively safe to look at with the human eye (or a camera sensor). To put this in context, here are the levels of lasers as recognized bythe FDA:
- Class I – CD players
- Class II – Barcode scanners
- Class IIIa – Laser pointers
- Class IIIb – Laser light shows
- Class IV – Industrial and medical lasers that can be used for eye surgery
All lasers above a Class IIIb must be registered in the United States. If someone brings in an industrial grade laser to disarm your security camera, then there may be bigger issues besides your disrupted security footage.
How to Prevent Laser Damage
To laser-proof your security cameras, take the following precautions:
- Install moving PTZ security cameras to make tracking difficult
- Keep your cameras high, which keeps it away from people and makes it difficult to aim into the sensor
- Ask your security camera installation team about installing infrared filters (it should cost about $5 at most)
- Use many cameras in a zone to capture the culprit that disables your CCTV
- Use a blinding notification software. If your camera goes offline due to a laser, you get notified immediately and can dispatch security