Why are Night Vision Goggles So Expensive?

by | Learn

Last Updated on May 11, 2021

With economic issues, these days price has been a factor that’s more important than almost anything else. Night vision goggles can be expensive for a number of factors including.

  • Being a niche hobby
  • Having a complicated manufacturing process
  • High markup on tubes

And many more factors we will cover below.

How Pricy Could Night Vision Goggles Get?

Getting started might require you to spend quite a bit.

But if you are ready to invest in this amazing tech then it would cost you around $3000-4000 to get a decent pair of night vision goggles and there are some models which can go up to $20000.

These goggles are made of a housing and an image intensifier tube and the price of these goggles is based on the quality of the housings and the tube.

Reasons for High Prices

Niche Hobby: Night vision is a very niche hobby and most of the sales made by the companies who make night vision gear is through government contracts and charge a hefty amount.

/Users/msxysarhea/Downloads/SHANNISS Night Vision Goggle 8mm Binoculars for Hunting.pngNight vision goggles are banned in many countries and only allowed to be used by the military.

In the countries where they are legal, the sales are through the people who are interested in animal watching at night, animal hunting, trekking after the sun goes down, and for any outdoor activities in the surroundings which do not have proper light.

This is a very small number of people and hence the companies quote high prices as they know that the people who want the night vision gear will buy them no matter what the price is.

The number of people interested in night vision is growing slowly and steadily which in turn is making the companies research more into night vision and hence the price is decreasing over time and hopefully, soon the prices will become more wallet-friendly.

Complicated Manufacturing Process:  As we told you before that the goggles are made up of a housing and an intensifier tube. The intensifier tube is the most important part of the goggles. These tubes can be either green phosphor (GP), or white phosphor (WP), which is the color we see when we are looking into the goggles but manufacturing them is a very long complicated process. (1, 2)

/Users/msxysarhea/Downloads/Nightfox Swift Night Vision Goggles SetThe intensifier tube is made up of millions of very fine fibers of optic glass. This glass is made of a special formula that preserves its desired results when they are heated up and drawn.

Making optic fibers that are so thin takes a long time as the quality of the tubes depends on how careful the companies are during this precise process.

High Markup Value on the Tubes:  Basic intensifier tubes can be bought by sellers for as low as 200$ and if they manufacture it on their own it would cost as low as 50$ but the tubes are sold at a price of around 2000$ and if the companies reduce this markup value, then the price of goggles will fall to a much lower price.

Because of such inflated prices even if you buy from a reputable seller you would have to pay a lot of money.

Monopoly Controlled by Few Companies:  There are close to only half a dozen manufacturers who make the Intensifier tubes and they do not budge as the competition is close to none.

HUTACT Night Vision Binoculars Infrared Night Vision Bincular for Adults HD Digital Night Vision GogglesEven for the manufacturing of the housings which hold the tubes, there are only a handful of companies and they hold a monopoly on them and sell them at high prices.

Digital NVGs not Being up to the Mark:  Digital NVGs are quite new into this market and they are a lot cheaper compared to the other type of NVGs.

It costs around 500-600 $ for the best pair of digital NVGs but they come with their own set of problems.

There are very few models which are helmet mountable. They are heavier and have low light amplification. They have an issue of noise in dark environments, and they have a refresh rate.

This might be because it is a new technology, and it might take years till the digital NVGs will become the mainstream market for these goggles.

But digital NVGs are great for videos as they provide real colors compared to the general NVGs in which the image formed is either green or white. 

Wrapping Up

If you are a night vision enthusiast or want to become one, then in the current situation, it could cost you a lot to buy a decent pair of night vision goggles.

Monopolizing the market, currently being a niche hobby and a tedious process to manufacture the parts are some of the factors which are causing these high prices.

More research is being performed on the night vision gear and the prices are slowly going down because of advancement in technology.

Let us hope that the prices go down in the coming years and more people can make this a hobby if it becomes more affordable.

But before we end, one thing to consider before buying any is how far can night vision goggles see. You may read more here for the best night vision goggles in the market! Until next time!


(1) green phosphor – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1002072119304028
(2) white phosphor – https://www.officer.com/command-hq/technology/security-surveillance/night-vision/article/20985031/green-or-white-phosphor-technology-wpt-a-comparison-of-night-vision

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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.