Why is Night Vision So Expensive

Night vision scopes so expensive its not longer only a military tool and are being used by hunters, astronomers, and several other professional purposes. But even now, when they can be used by civilians for any purpose except for the places where they are banned, they cost a lot, or maybe some people might think of it this way. You may or may not agree with them.

No doubt the prices are unexpectedly high, but there are various reasons behind that. The most important of them is that the components manufacturing of a night vision scope costs a lot. Such as, the image intensifier tube, which is a major component of them, is quite expensive.

However, the prices may differ on the basis of the quality and specifications. You can even find them ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars for your purpose of use.

Why Night Vision Scope So Expensive

Table of Contents

There is a lot more to get to know about night vision scopes to understand why they are so expensive. Read the article thoroughly, and you will find out.

High Manufacturing Cost

As mentioned before, the manufacturing cost of night vision scopes or goggles is very high. It is because they are handmade and are complex to be made with special materials. These materials include the image intensifier tube, display, and power supply.

Also, making each of these components for a single night vision can cost a lot and takes a lot of time. 

Not only that, these devices are created by those having the technical knowledge required for manufacturing them. These are created by scientists or physicists, which means that they are very complex to create.  

Even if you buy all the components to create a generation 2 or 3 night vision scope for professional use on your own, it will cost you a lot. And if you plan to buy high quality night vision goggles, you can find some models that will cost more than 10,000 $. 

Special and Expensive Components 

As discussed before, night vision devices are made of special and delicately built components. Depending on the type of device being manufactured, a few of the components vary.

But the most important component, the image intensifier tube, performs the main task of increasing low light images to an extent at which they can be seen easily by the eyes.

Which is itself an expensive component because it is made with analog technology by combining the photomultiplier and image boosting photocathode. 

Other than that, an objective lens and an eyepiece are mounted to the NV device, which is bought separately for the lens system. Moreover, the housing for it as well as the batteries are needed for supplying power to the device, which also adds up to the total cost of the device. 

Limited Availability For Civilians 

Years back, night vision devices were only used for surveillance and military purposes. So they were only manufactured for them and were not available for civilians. But gradually, they started to be used for other professional purposes. 

However, still in some countries, using night vision scopes is banned. As they have been used in warfare in the past and can be used for some sort of criminal activity, they cannot be found easily for buying in markets because they are restricted from being sold. Therefore, being limited in supply, they are expensive. 

More Demand

As the NV devices are being used by hunters, astronomers, and for security other than military purposes, they are getting more and more in demand.  

But mostly, they are bought by the military as well as all other security agencies and are less available for other professionals. Therefore, they are expensive due to the limited supply and more demand. You can find these at stores or online in different price ranges. 

3 Generations of Night Vision 

With the increase in the technology of night vision, up till now, there are three generations of night vision technology, with the third generation being the best. Night vision devices of this category give the best performance in low light conditions.

Although the Generation 2 NV devices are also quite reliable, compared to Gen 1 and 2, Generation 3 devices have a better range and durability.

You can view up to 200 yards of distance through a Gen 2 night vision, while with a Gen 3 night vision device, the range can be more than 300 yards depending on the specifications of the model.

Watch video for understand Gen1 Vs Gen3 Night vision.

Besides, a Gen 3 NV device has a life expectancy of more than 10,000 hours. Therefore, the latest Gen 3 NVs are very expensive compared to the other 2 Generations.


Night Vision technology is complex and requires a high level of knowledge for manufacturing because these devices were mainly manufactured for military use. As they are limited in supply for civilians, it’s pretty hard to find a high grade or third generation NV device at a low price. But if you need it for a professional purpose, you will get what you would have paid for. 


Building night vision scope or goggles on your own is possible with some knowledge of electronics and all the required components for civilian use. Moreover, these DIY night vision devices will cost you less than buying a professional grade NV device.

The cost may vary between $ 500 to $ 8000 depending on the features and generation of the device for civilian use.

An NV cannot work in total darkness because there will be no light to intensify and make the view clear.

Yes, you can see through the water with a night vision device, but it might not be very clear depending on the clarity, density as well as the pressure of the water.

Additional Questions

What is the average price for night vision?

The typical cost of night vision goggles for civilian use ranges broadly, from around $400 to as much as $6000. Several factors can affect this price, such as the generation of technology the goggles use and the specific features they include. In my experience as a longtime enthusiast for technologies like this, it seems like you truly get what you pay for. Higher-end models often offer clearer images, better durability, and more advanced capabilities.

Is night vision on a car worth it?

Definitely yes, for those who often drive at night, introducing night vision to your vehicle can be well worth the investment. Thanks to advancements in technology, these systems can now effectively spot and alert you of pedestrians, cyclists, or animals that are beyond the scope of your headlights. As someone who loves driving into the night, I found night vision system immensely helpful, especially in poorly-lit rural roads.

Is it illegal to buy night vision?

In the United States, purchasing night vision devices or thermal optics is perfectly legal for U.S. Persons—which includes both citizens and permanent U.S. residents. However, governmental regulations prohibit exporting these devices out of the country without specific approval and licensing from the U.S. State Department. Over the years, I’ve seen this confusion quite a lot among first-time buyers, which is understandable considering the military origins of this technology.

Why are night vision goggles valuable?

Night vision goggles are invaluable tools that are versatile and apt for a wide variety of tasks. They are not only popular among military troops but also with civilians. Due to the functionality they offer, tasks that could not be achieved with other night optics can be performed with ease, making them a desired piece of equipment. Personally, I have found night vision goggles to be indispensable for activities like night hiking, hunting, and wildlife observation.