Difference Between Night vision and Infrared

Night Vision vs Infrared: What’s the Difference?

There are many different types of vision, but the two most common ones are day and night vision. Day vision lets you see things during the daytime, while night vision lets you see in the dark.  

Night vision is made up of two different types of images: infrared and visible light. Infrared vision is used to see in the dark because it can penetrate through surfaces that other types of vision can’t. 

Here we described the difference between night vision VS Infrared in detail;

Difference Between Night Vision and Infrared

There is a big difference between night vision and infrared technology. Night vision is designed to amplify ambient light so that you can see in the dark. Infrared technology, on the other hand, senses heat signatures instead of visible light. This makes it possible to see in complete darkness and even through walls.

Night vision goggles work by amplifying the tiny amount of light that is available in the environment. This can be moonlight, starlight, or any other ambient light source. The image is then projected onto a small screen in front of your eyes. This allows you to see in the dark without using a flashlight or any other form of illumination.

Infrared technology works differently than night vision goggles. It senses the heat signatures of objects instead of their visible light. This means that you can see in complete darkness and even through walls.

Night Vision

Night vision works by amplifying available light to make it visible to the human eye. Night vision devices, such as goggles or scopes, use image intensifier tubes to collect and amplify the available light, making the image appear brighter and clearer. This technology works best in low-light conditions, such as during dawn or dusk, but it is less effective in complete darkness.

Night vision is the ability to see in low-light conditions by using light receptors in the eye that are sensitive to visible light. This type of vision is what you use when you’re driving at night or walking around outside in the dark.

Night Vision

Advantages of Using the Night Vision

In law enforcement, night vision is a key tool that officers use to their advantage. 

  • It helps them see in the dark and apprehend criminals. 
  • In the military, night vision is used to help soldiers see in the dark and avoid being seen. 
  • Night vision has many advantages in both settings.
  • Some of the advantages of using night vision are that it allows officers to see in the dark, which can help them catch criminals who may be trying to hide. 
  • It can also help officers avoid being surprised by someone who is hiding in the dark. 
  • Night vision can also help officers identify suspects from a distance, which can be helpful if they are trying to keep a large area secure. 
  • In addition, night vision can help soldiers avoid being seen by the enemy and surprise them with an attack.

Drawbacks of Using the Night Vision

When using night vision devices, there are several drawbacks that should be considered. 

  • One is the limited range. NVGs can only see about 100 yards in complete darkness, so they are not ideal for long-distance viewing. 
  • Additionally, because of their amplification of light, NVGs can cause a “halo” effect around bright objects and make it difficult to see anything else in the surrounding area. 
  • They can also create a glare from lights or the moon, which can briefly blind the user. 
  • Finally, they are not effective in all weather conditions; in fog or rain, for example, visibility is greatly reduced.


Infrared (IR) technology, on the other hand, uses thermal imaging to detect heat signatures and convert them into visible images. Infrared cameras and sensors detect the heat emitted by objects and convert it into an image that can be seen by the human eye. This technology can work in complete darkness, as it does not rely on visible light. However, it requires a heat source, and its effectiveness can be affected by factors such as temperature and distance.


Advantages of Using the Infrared

When most people think about infrared radiation, they think about the thermal imaging technology that is used by the military and law enforcement. However, there are a number of commercial applications for infrared radiation that can benefit businesses and consumers alike.

  • One of the main advantages of using infrared radiation is that it can be used to detect problems with electrical equipment. For example, an infrared camera can be used to identify hot spots in an electrical system, which can help to prevent fires.
  • Infrared radiation can also be used to diagnose medical issues. For example, thermography can be used to detect tumors and other abnormalities in the body. 
  • This technology is non-invasive and does not involve exposing the patient to harmful radiation.
  • Another advantage of using infrared radiation is that it can be used to measure the temperature of objects from a distance.

Drawbacks of Using the Infrared

The use of infrared radiation in various industrial and medical applications has become common nowadays. However, there are some drawbacks to using infrared.

  • One such drawback is that infrared radiation can cause skin cancer. 
  • Exposure to high levels of infrared radiation can also cause cataracts, temporary blindness, and skin burns. 
  • Infrared radiation can also be harmful to the environment. 
  • It can heat up the Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

What is the Best for You? Night Vision VS Infrared

When it comes to seeing in the dark, you have two main options: night vision or infrared. Night vision technology amplifies ambient light, whether from the moon and stars or from man-made sources like streetlights and headlights. 

Infrared radiation, on the other hand, is invisible to the human eye but can be seen with special equipment. So, what’s the best option for you?

If you’re looking for a way to see in complete darkness, infrared is your best bet. Night vision technology can be hampered by fog and other weather conditions, while infrared radiation can pass through clouds and other obstructions. 

However, if you’re looking for a way to see in low-light conditions, night vision is the better choice. Infrared technology can be “blind” when there is too much light present, while night vision will still work in relatively bright environments.

Comparison Table of the Night Vision VS Infrared

Comparison ParametersNight VisionInfrared
DefinitionNight vision technology has been used by the military for many years. It works by amplifying any light that is available, whether it is from the moon, stars, or headlights.Infrared also uses light but it is invisible to the human eye. Instead, it uses thermal energy to create an image.
Amount of LightNight vision amplifies ambient lightWhile infrared see heat signatures
UsageThis device is used by militaries all over the world, as well as police forces, hunters, and security professionals. There are two main types of night vision technology: night vision goggles (NVGs) and thermal imagers.
Thermal imagers detect infrared radiation emitted by objects in the environment. This makes them useful for seeing in complete darkness or through smoke and haze. 
Purpose of UseIf you’re looking for general security, night vision might be better.If you need to see specific things in a very dark environment (like an animal or person), infrared might be a better choice.
ClarityNight vision produces much clearer images than infrared.Infrared has no better clarity than the night visions.

FAQ’s – Difference Between Night Vision and Infrared

What better infrared or night vision?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the specific needs of the individual. Infrared is better for seeing in complete darkness, while night vision is better for seeing in low-light conditions.

Does night vision have infrared?

No, night vision does not have infrared. Night vision amplifies visible light, whereas infrared radiation is invisible to the human eye.

Is it infrared night vision color?

No, infrared night vision is not color. The image you see is black and white, but you can see more detail in the image than with regular night vision.

Can infrared see through walls?

Infrared radiation can penetrate some materials, but not through walls. Some materials (like glass) are transparent to infrared radiation, while other materials (like brick) are opaque.

Can night vision see in complete darkness?

No, night vision technology only allows users to see in low-light or no-light conditions. In complete darkness, users would be unable to see anything at all.

Can you use night vision and infrared together?

It is possible to use night vision and infrared together in some cases, but it depends on the specific device and its capabilities. Some devices, such as certain night vision scopes, may have built-in infrared illuminators that can be activated for improved performance in complete darkness. However, it is important to note that using both technologies together can result in reduced battery life and increased heat output, which may impact the device’s performance and lifespan.

Additionally, some laws and regulations may restrict the use of infrared technology in certain circumstances, so it is important to research and understand any applicable rules and restrictions before using these technologies in combination.

Can infrared be detected by night vision?

No, night vision devices are not designed to detect infrared light. Night vision works by amplifying available light (such as moonlight or starlight) or by using an infrared illuminator to project infrared light that is invisible to the human eye. Infrared light has a longer wavelength than visible light and is outside the range of the visible spectrum, which means that night vision devices cannot detect it.

However, there are some specialized cameras that are capable of detecting both visible and infrared light, but they are not commonly used for night vision purposes.

Can infrared detect heat signatures?

Yes, infrared technology can detect heat signatures. Infrared radiation, which is emitted by all objects with a temperature above absolute zero, is used to detect and measure temperature variations. Infrared sensors can detect this radiation and convert it into an image that shows the relative temperature of objects in the scene.

This technology is commonly used in applications such as thermal imaging cameras, which can detect and display heat signatures of objects or people, even in complete darkness. It is often used in law enforcement and military operations, as well as in industries such as building inspection, firefighting, and medical diagnosis.

How far can you see with night vision and infrared?

The distance you can see with night vision and infrared technology depends on various factors, including the type of device and the environmental conditions.

In general, night vision devices have a shorter range than thermal infrared devices. Image intensifier night vision devices, such as goggles and monoculars, typically have a range of up to 200 meters, while thermal infrared devices can detect heat signatures at distances of several kilometers.

However, the effectiveness of night vision and infrared devices can be affected by factors such as ambient light, atmospheric conditions, and the size and temperature of the object being detected. In addition, the range of a device may be limited by the magnification of the optics, the resolution of the sensor, and the sensitivity of the electronics. Overall, the range of night vision and infrared devices is highly variable and depends on the specific technology and application.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between night vision and infrared can be crucial in selecting the right equipment for specific tasks. Night vision technology relies on available ambient light to amplify the image, while infrared technology detects infrared radiation emitted by objects to create a thermal image. Both have unique strengths and limitations, making them suitable for different applications.

Night vision is ideal for low light conditions, while infrared technology excels in complete darkness or through smoke and fog. With the continued advancements in technology, the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred, resulting in hybrid devices that offer both night vision and thermal imaging capabilities.

Ultimately, the choice between night vision and infrared comes down to the specific needs and requirements of the user.

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