Disable TP-Link Tapo Camera IR LEDs

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This post quickly covers how I disabled (removed) the IR LEDs on several Tapo C110 cameras I own. This was to use them behind a window without the IR LEDs’ glare ruining the video. The Tapo C110 is an excellent small WiFi security camera, boasting up to 2K resolution, local continuous SD card recording, and two local RSTP streams. Most importantly, it works perfectly fine without an internet connection once configured, fitting my use-case. A significant drawback of the camera is the need to completely disable the night vision mode to turn off the IR LEDs. This means you can’t use the night vision mode while the camera is behind a window. Thankfully its easy to disable Tapo camera IR LEDs!

The Official (lack of a) Solution

A discussion has been ongoing since 2021 on the TP-Link forum regarding this issue. The official TP-Link support recommends disabling night vision mode entirely. Meanwhile, the most popular suggestion among forum users involves covering the LEDs with tape. However, this is often ineffective due to light leaking around and through the tape since the LEDs are inset. My guess for why this hasn’t been addressed with a straightforward firmware update is that the camera’s design links the digital output controlling the IR filter to the IR LEDs. As a result, they cannot be independently deactivated, representing a significant design flaw if true!

Opening the Camera

Opening the camera is just a matter of using a prying tool along the front edge of the camera and the front plate will pop off — there are four clips, one along each side. It’s okay to use a bit of force, you won’t break it (don’t quote me on that). Conveniently, the LEDs are on a daughter board that connects to the PCB.

The Simple (slightly broken) Solution to Disable Tapo Camera IR LEDs

If you don’t mind losing the microphone and indicator LED you can simply remove the daughter board PCB entirely and the camera will still function. This allows the use of night vision mode without the IR LEDs causing reflections on the glass.

The Less Simple (more functional) Solution to Disable Tapo Camera IR LEDs

A more comprehensive approach involves desoldering the IR LEDs. This is relatively straightforward with tools like a hot air tool, heat gun, toaster oven, or even a stove and pan. I wouldn’t recommend using a soldering iron; the PCB’s heat sink properties mean that the LEDs may be damaged before the solder melts enough. I used a hot air tool on the PCB’s rear, directly behind an LED, and gently pulled on the LED with tweezers. The LEDs detached after a few seconds of heating. KEEP THE LEDs!

There are two hardware versions of the C110. Version 1 has three LEDs, while version 2 has two. I have one of each version, and found the LEDs in both easy to remove.

Reversing the Changes

If you decide to reverse these modifications, you can easily solder the LEDs back on or reattach the PCB. I ultimately reversed this change for all my cameras once they were no longer needed for window surveillance. Resoldering the LEDs is doable without extra solder, but I suggest using at least a bit of flux for better results. I personally applied a small dab of solder paste. For the resoldering process, I used a hot plate. It’s crucial to align the pads on the PCB with that on the LED by size to ensure correct polarity.

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