man looking through firearm scope

Do You Need Any External Light to Work a Night Vision Device?

The answer is yes, but there is some fine print. Most outdoor night situations have low levels of ambient light that an infrared device can pick up and magnify. This might be a partial moon or starlight that a night vision device can pick up and amplify. If you’re using night vision indoors, or under heavy cloud or foliage cover, you may need to use an artificial IR illuminator. Most night vision sights or goggles have built-in illuminators which can provide some level infrared light.

man looking through firearm scopeShould I Use an External Light Source?

While an additional infrared light is not required, it can be helpful in some situations. An additional source of infrared light can increase the range of a device over an integrated light. Consider an extra infrared illuminator if you want to maximize your hunting opportunities and get the most out of your night vision. The X-Vision infrared flashlight is effective to 500 yards and mounts on most standard rail systems.

How Does Night Vision Work?

To understand how night vision works we have to first understand infrared light. In short, Infrared light is a lower frequency wavelength of light that is invisible to the eye under normal circumstances. Infrared light is always present, just invisible to us. Night vision goggles detect infrared light that reflects off objects and it processes through a computer. This computer amplifies infrared light before delivering the modified image to your eye in the characteristic green or gray glow we associate with night vision. This allows you to discover the unseen by harnessing infrared light.

What’s the Difference Between Thermal and Night Vision?

Night vision and thermal sights detect different parts of the infrared spectrum. Night vision reads infrared light and magnifies it to display an image. Thermal sights read the difference in temperatures between objects. This is because thermals read a differential in temperatures. Because of this distinction, thermal sights function without any external light sources.

night vision view of pigNight Vision and Noise

The less light available, the more noise is created as a night vision optic amplifies low levels of light inefficiently. This was more prevalent with older units but modern units have very low levels of noise due to digital processing. If you’re experiencing extreme noise on your set, consider adding an external infrared light or contact customer support to ensure your unit is functioning correctly.