Do Night Vision Goggles Work in Total Darkness?

by | Learn

Last Updated on May 11, 2021

Many people wish to engage in hunting or different types of night activities. It is where people may start using night-vision goggles and other similar devices. Too many people ask the question, “Do night vision goggles work in total darkness?” or “Can civilians buy night vision?”

A short answer is that these devices do not work in total darkness, and yes civilians can buy one. Night vision goggles take advantage of any glimmer of light to intensify and provide a clear image. 

You may want to check the best night vision goggle today, and more options such as, is thermal or night vision better?

Do Night Vision Goggles Work in Total Darkness?

To answer this question, you should consider exactly how night vision goggles work.

People may believe that no illumination or low light is required for night vision goggles to work. The following aspects are important to understand how this device works.

Achieving Complete Darkness

night vision in total darkness The simple answer that night vision goggles do not work in complete darkness. It is difficult to perceive or be in a place that is truly completely dark. Many places can be completely dark to human eyes, and still, some light can exist. 

Night vision goggles can detect that light that may be invisible to human eyes. When it is completely night, the moonlight may be more than enough to use the night vision goggles. The outdoors, such as a forest, are not appropriate places to get complete darkness.

It is only possible to get complete darkness in a special place such as a laboratory prepared for this purpose. Even in a basement, there is always some slit or small opening that allows some light to enter, unnoticed by human eyes. That is why night vision goggles usually work in different situations.

How Night Vision Goggles Work

night vision goggles used by military manNight vision goggles usually incorporate several important elements inside them. One of the most important components that night vision goggles should include is the light intensifier. This light intensifier takes advantage of any glimpse of ambient light even though human eyes are not noticing it.

Using night-vision goggles in a too brightly lit place can be detrimental to the durability of each of these components. While night vision goggles do not work in total darkness, there are not many specific places with total darkness.

Different Results in the Dark

military and night vision gogglesDark environments are not equally dark in reality. Some differences can be subtle to human eyes. When dealing with a very sensitive device such as night-vision goggles, the differences can be easily appreciated.

An example is a night illuminated by a full moon or a night with a new moon. On a full moon night, people will have the ability to see greater distances during the night using night vision goggles. It is important to use night vision goggles correctly in situations where they are needed.  (1)


We can conclude by mentioning that night vision goggles do not work in total darkness. This device requires some light to intensify the image obtained by the user. It is not easy to find environments with total darkness. 

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below and share the article if you liked it. Because places with total darkness are hard to find, night vision goggles usually work in all kinds of dark spaces. 


(1) full moon –

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.