Night vision devices are fascinating. The technology behind them is incredible. Their evolution from systems so large you need a backpack to tote them, to models small enough to mount to a helmet, is beyond impressive.
Today, night vision devices are in heavy use by police and military forces. They have also gained acceptance among the civilian population for hunting, nature watching, and even home defense.
Most people understand how they work, how to use them, and what they are good for. How many people know how to take care of them, though? Night vision, especially Gen 3 and Gen 4 devices, are a big investment that requires proper handling and maintenance.
Without proper care, your night vision tools could easily break down and become very expensive paperweights. Because we like you, we are going to talk night vision care, proper maintenance, and a few things to avoid.
6 Safety Tips To Follow
Number 1: Do Not Turn on the Lights
Never, ever turn on your night vision optic with bright lights present! It feels a lot like turning the lights on in a dark room. We have all experienced the pain and discomfort that comes from looking at the light before our eyes have adjusted.
Night vision works a lot like that. Except night vision can’t close its eyes, and it’s not just uncomfortable. In fact, exposure to daylight or even just being aimed at a bright light can permanently damage your device. Not to say anything about your eyes.
This can lead to costly repairs not covered by your warranty. While using night vision, try to keep the light source out of your peripheral vision as well. Some devices utilize special lens caps to protect the device during daytime use, but it is something you want to be certain of.
Number 2: No DIY work
Never take your NVGs apart. They are complicated, not to mention fragile devices. If you are not a professional, you are going to break them and it won’t be covered under warranty when you do.
These devices should only ever be disassembled by a professional. The military has entire MOS’s for dealing with these nighttime optics for a reason. If something breaks, always contact the manufacturer for repair before you try to fix anything yourself!
Number 3: Do not Touch the Objective Lens
The objective lens is the one furthest away from your eye. These lenses are sensitive and have a special coating that can easily be damaged. Your fingers are essentially filthy and covered in oils that could smudge or even harm your lens.
Cleaning lenses should be done with a soft, unsoiled, and nonabrasive cloth. There are entire kits designed to clean night vision devices, and they are a small investment to ensure proper care of your optic.
Number 4: Moisture is the Enemy
Electronics and optics are two things that absolutely despise moisture, so what do you think happens when you combine the two? I can tell you this, nothing good. Night vision uses complicated and fragile electronics that are easily susceptible to water damage.
Some devices are water resistant, but even then you should try to keep them as dry as possible. Treat them the same way you would treat the new iPhone. Yes, Apple says it is water resistant. But, how much are you willing to risk?
Number 5: It’s Not a Hot Potato
This is the third time we have said it, but it is worth saying again. Night vision is fragile! Avoid dropping it, tossing it, kicking it, and bumping it. We have seen military issue high-end PVS 14s rendered useless after a good bump.
Night vision gets better and stronger every year, but there is a reason most manufacturers include a rough and ready box for their optics. You don’t have to baby them, but don’t be purposefully rough.
Number 6: Don’t Leave the Batteries In
If you are shelving the night vision for more than a few days, remove the batteries. This helps prevent damage to the unit’s internal system. Not to mention that batteries can leak. After removing them, make sure to store them in a cool, dry place.
This also ensures you don’t leave the unit on, or it doesn’t accidentally switch on. Night vision is a bit like a plasma screen TV. If it is left on, a stationary image can be burned into the device’s optics field.
Cleaning Your Night Vision
Cleaning your night vision product is important to its continued performance and should be done with some caution. The regular tools you would use on standard binoculars, spotting scopes, rangefinders and other optics should not be used on night vision devices.
The outside of the optic can be wiped down with a clean, dry cloth. However, be cautious with the lenses. For these, camera cleaning cloth is a good choice. As I mentioned above, there are specialized night vision cleaning kits that run less than $20.
If dust is present you can remove it with pressurized air, but do not use a standard keyboard cleaner. There is way too much moisture in those kits. Instead, a hand squeeze blower for DSLR cameras works very well for this task.
Camera lens paper is probably the best cloth for cleaning lenses. We like it because it is disposable, meaning we know every new piece is clean and dry. Camera lens paper is also super cheap and comes with most standard camera cleaning kits.
Another benefit of purchasing the kit is the lens pen. Lens pens are invaluable for cleaning hard to reach areas. They are also the best tool for potentially stuck on dirt and grime.
The More You Know
This article may have you running to protect your night vision device. It may even have made you reconsider buying one. Don’t be scared! Although this article may have made it sound like night vision is as tough as China dolls, that just isn’t true.
These are cautionary tales and steps to take to maximize the life of your night vision device. It won’t break if you breathe on it. Just follow a few simple rules, and you will be good to go. Now, carry on!
To learn more about each night vision devices, check our our buying guides for: