Why is My Camera Not Working at Night?

Why is my camera trap not working at night & other common issues

Batteries have a crucial role to play in how well your camera performs, in fact around 60% of all issues people have with their trail camera are down to flat, low power or poor-quality batteries.

Even though you might have spent a lot of money on a top of the range camera trap, the type and brand of batteries you use will ultimately dictate the quality and performance you get. Here we’ll explain why batteries are the reason your camera isn’t working at night and why they’re to blame for many other trail cam problems.


NatureSpy trail camera support hub - why is my camera trap not working at night?
Not working at night is a common trail cam issue solved by battery replacement


Why is my Camera Not Working at Night?

One of the most common issues people come to us with is that after a few weeks or months, their camera trap has stopped taking videos/photos overnight or takes shorter videos than it was set to. Simply put, this means it’s time to change the batteries! 


But the Battery Meter Says Full! 

Your battery meter may show that it’s got 2 out of 3 bars or 90% left etc, but unfortunately, battery meters are not very reliable, especially when it comes to camera traps – what matters is the load on the batteries.

When it comes to just switching on the screen and/or detection circuit, the camera needs very little power so the batteries can manage it easily and will show that they’re happy. However, when it comes to actually recording, especially at night, much more power is required, and the batteries are put under a far higher load. When you put batteries under a higher load, the current they give out can fall – especially if they’re not very good or nearly flat.

The result is that your camera will happily sit there ready to spot the wildlife, and when it does, it will trigger – the LEDs will come on, it will start recording and then the batteries will start to wobble and… stop. You’re then in a cycle of the batteries recovering and having just enough power to turn back on, start the detection circuit and the same thing happens again and again, until the batteries go completely flat.


Other Issues

Similar battery-related issues you may experience include the following. If you are experiencing any of these problems with your camera just change the batteries:

  • Camera screen flashing on and off
  • Shorter videos than you’ve set
  • Poor detection/missing things
  • Taking a picture but no video in hybrid mode (Bushnell Core, Spypoint, Ltl Acorn)
  • Screen not coming on
  • Not triggering at all
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Turning the camera on but the battery percentage or bar going down steadily, then turning off
  • Dull LEDs or infrared flash brightness

All of these issues are more common with Alkaline batteries when it is cold as alkaline batteries can only output around one fifth of their power when it gets below 5C – not great for camera trapping in the UK’s winter or colder climates! Lithium batteries aren’t affected by colder temperatures, which is one of the reasons we recommend them.


Battery Types Ranked

#1 Lithium

Our number one recommendation is Lithium AA batteries, and specifically Energizer Ultimate Lithium: 

  1. They have a higher voltage than other types 
  2. They’re unaffected by the cold
  3. They last about 5x longer than alkaline batteries
  4. They have a higher battery current
  5. They’re most cost effective
  6. Have better detection

 #2 Alkaline

 Although nowhere near as good as the Lithium batteries, the Alkaline batteries we recommend are Energizer Industrial Alkaline. These have more power than most other Alkaline batteries and are very affordable.

 #3 Rechargeable

 As an environmental organisation we would love to be able to recommend rechargeable batteries but sadly they aren’t recommended by the majority of manufacturers, or us because;

  1. They have a lower voltage
  2. Milliamp hours vary & aren’t always what they’re advertised to be
  3. Using them can mean a loss of detection range, slower trigger speeds & reduce IR LED brightness
  4. They won’t last as long as you think and will probably need replacing after 9-12 months

 If you do really want to use rechargeable batteries the ones to look out for are Panasonic Eneloop Pro and Ikea LADDA 2450 – these, in general, will work to an extent in a camera trap.

#4 Duracell

We highly advise against the use of Duracell batteries. They have a lower capacity than other brands and are built to retain power rather than give it away which is the opposite of what a trail camera requires!


NatureSpy trail camera support - why is my camera trap not working at night?
We would always recommend Lithium batteries to get the best performance


The Takeaways 

  1. If you’re experiencing problems – change the batteries: If you are having any issue with your trail camera change the batteries – it’s highly likely the problem will probably be instantly resolved!
  2. Use Lithium Batteries: Energizer Ultimate or Varta Professional are best – they don’t care about cold temperatures and have high currents
  3. Don’t use Duracell Batteries: The voltage of these is too low to power camera traps sufficiently and they don’t like the cold!


Please recycle your batteries if and when you can when they are no longer in use. This can be done at most recycling centres and some supermarkets. 


You can find more information on all things batteries and trail cameras here.


Happy Camera Trapping! 


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