Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Difference Between Night Vision and Infrared

difference between night vision and infrared

There are many distinct types of vision, but the two most popular are day and night vision. Day vision allows you to see things during the day, whereas night vision allows you to see things in the dark.

Night vision is comprised of two types of images: infrared and visible light. Because it can penetrate through surfaces that other types of vision cannot, infrared vision is utilized to see in the dark.

We went over the differences between night vision and infrared in detail here.

What Is the Distinction Between Night Vision and Infrared Vision?

There is a significant difference between night vision and infrared technology. The purpose of night vision is to magnify ambient light so that you can see in the dark. In contrast, infrared technology detects heat fingerprints rather than visible light. This enables vision in complete darkness and even through walls.

Night vision goggles operate by amplifying the small quantity of light in the environment. This can be moonlight, starlight, or any other type of ambient light. The image is then put in front of your eyes on a small screen. This enables you to see in the dark without the use of a flashlight or other source of illumination.

Infrared technology differs from night vision goggles in its operation. It detects the heat fingerprints of objects rather than their apparent light. This means you can see even in complete darkness and through barriers.

Night Vision

The ability to see in low-light circumstances by using light receptors in the eye that are sensitive to visible light is referred to as "night vision." This is the type of vision you use when driving at night or strolling about outside in the dark.

The advantages of using night vision

In law enforcement, night vision is an important instrument that officers use.

  • It aids them in seeing in the dark and apprehending offenders.
  • Night vision is used in the military to help soldiers see in the dark and avoid being noticed.
  • In both cases, night vision has numerous advantages.
  • Some of the advantages of employing night vision include the ability for officers to see in the dark, which can assist them in catching criminals who may be trying to hide.
  • It can also assist officers in avoiding being shocked by someone lurking in the dark.
  • Night vision can also help authorities identify offenders from a distance, which is useful when trying to secure a large area.
  • Furthermore, night vision can assist warriors in avoiding detection by the adversary and surprising them with an attack.

The disadvantages of using night vision

There are various drawbacks to using night vision gadgets that should be considered.

  • The first is the narrow range. In full darkness, NVGs can only see about 100 yards, making them unsuitable for long-distance viewing.
  • Furthermore, because of their light amplification, NVGs can create a "halo" effect around bright objects, making it impossible to see anything else in the surrounding area.
  • They can also cause a glare from lights or the moon, temporarily blinding the user.
  • Finally, they are ineffective in all weather circumstances; for example, vision is considerably reduced in fog or rain.


Infrared vision, on the other hand, is the ability to identify the heat signatures of objects in complete darkness. Security guards and military personnel that need to see in the dark without revealing their position employ this type of vision.

The advantages of using infrared

Most people associate infrared radiation with the thermal imaging technology employed by the military and law enforcement. However, infrared radiation has a variety of commercial applications that can benefit both enterprises and consumers.

  • One of the primary advantages of employing infrared radiation is that it may be used to detect electrical equipment faults. An infrared camera, for example, can be used to detect hot spots in an electrical system, which can aid in the prevention of fires.
  • Infrared radiation can also be used to detect medical problems. Thermography, for example, can be used to detect cancer and other anomalies in the body.
  • This technology is non-invasive and does not expose the patient to potentially dangerous radiation.
  • Another advantage of employing infrared radiation is that it can be used to remotely measure the temperature of objects.

The disadvantages of using infrared

Infrared radiation is currently widely used in a variety of industrial and medicinal applications. However, employing infrared has significant drawbacks.

  • Infrared radiation, for example, has been linked to skin cancer.
  • Excessive infrared radiation exposure can potentially cause cataracts, temporary blindness, and skin burns.
  • Infrared radiation can be detrimental to the environment as well.
  • It has the potential to warm the Earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

What is the best option for you? Night Vision vs. Infrared

There are two basic alternatives for seeing in the dark: night vision and infrared. Night vision technology enhances ambient light, whether it comes from the moon and stars or from man-made sources such as streetlights and headlights.

Infrared radiation, on the other hand, is invisible to the naked eye but may be detected with specialized equipment. So, which option is best for you?

If you need to see in complete darkness, infrared is your best bet. Fog and other weather conditions can impede night vision technology, although infrared radiation can penetrate through clouds and other obstructions.

However, if you need to see in low-light settings, night vision is the superior option. When there is too much light, infrared technology can become "blind," although night vision can still function in moderately bright surroundings.

FAQs: What Is the Difference Between Night Vision and Infrared?

What's better, infrared or night vision?

There is no conclusive answer to this topic because it is dependent on the individual's personal demands. Infrared is better in total darkness, whereas night vision is better in low-light circumstances.

Does night vision have infrared?

Infrared is not present in night vision. Infrared radiation is invisible to the human eye, although night vision magnifies visible light.

Is it infrared night vision color?

Infrared night vision does not have color. The image you see is black and white, but it has more detail than ordinary night vision.

Can infrared see through walls?

Infrared radiation can penetrate through some materials but not through walls. Some materials (such as glass) are transparent to infrared radiation, while others (such as brick) are impenetrable.

Is it possible to see in complete darkness using night vision?

No, night vision technology only allows users to see in low or no light. Users would be unable to see anything in full darkness.


To summarize, both night vision and infrared are useful instruments for seeing in the dark. They do, however, work differently and have various applications. Night vision is better for seeing details, whereas infrared is better for viewing things in a larger area. Infrared can also see through smoke and fog, although night vision cannot. Finally, while night vision requires light to function, infrared can function in complete darkness.