With so many products on the market, let us guide you on how to choose a security camera system.
What is a security camera system?
A security camera system is a series of cameras and a digital video recorder set up to capture, record and store video images for home security purposes. Indoor or outdoor cameras can capture what is happening in and around your home. Security camera systems can show live action video or record to DVR for later playback. Systems can be cabled in or set up wirelessly, which allows renters to finally have easy access to securing their property. Systems can alert the home owner of real-time activity detected by motion sensors which send an alert direct to your web browser or smartphone. It is easier and cheaper than ever to set up a DIY security camera system or get in the professionals to set up your wired system. The options have never been better.
Why install a security camera system?
Security cameras can assist with catching burglars or recording home break-ins but have also been shown to act as a deterrent to criminal activity. Many households also use their home security camera system to keep an eye on caregivers looking after their children, or older family members, and even their older children who are at home alone.
Now that you’ve decided you need a security camera system, what does it all mean?
- Clear footage can be captured in well-lit areas from any good quality camera.
- For dim areas or night time you will require specific light sensitive video you will need infrared LED lights.
- Day and night cameras with LEDs are the most flexible being able to provide for all lighting conditions.
- Select a camera to suit the location, either indoors or outdoors.
- Don’t use an indoor camera outside as wind, rain and the sun’s UV rays can destroy an indoor camera if it’s exposed to the outdoors.
- Make sure an outdoor camera is explicitly ‘waterproof’ and not just ‘outdoors’ or ‘weather resistant’.
- An outdoor camera may be suitable to be used indoors as well as outdoors.
- Entry points to your home (doors and windows), indoors and/or outdoors are the most important locations for your camera.
Wireless or wired
With Wireless video cameras becoming much more affordable there is increasing debate on whether to choose wireless or wired security systems.
- Wired systems continue to be considered more reliable, higher quality and having a longer lifespan as the video signal is transmitted via cable.
- Wired systems don’t have to contend with interference from other electrical devices.
- Point to Point means a cable plugs into the back of the camera and is then connected into the back of the DVR – plug and play set up.
- If you want your cables concealed, you may require a professional to set up your system correctly.
- The risk of your system being hacked or interfered with is significantly reduced with wired systems.
- Wired systems often have inferior audio and video.
- Wireless systems are not reliant on cabling back to a base station but via a wireless signal.
- The first thing to note is that even wireless systems need to be wired. They don’t require a data cable but they do require a power source. This can be overcome by purchasing a battery adapter or a unit that uses batteries for each camera. Long lasting rechargeable lithium ion batteries are recommended.
- Wireless are more adaptable as they can be placed anywhere and can be more easily concealed. They are a genuine option for people who rent their property.
- Wireless security camera systems are less susceptible to being disabled by a burglar and can be more easily hidden.
- Signal quality and security is continually improving.
- Wireless can have online security issues with hacking so make sure you create strong passwords to your security cameras and update your system regularly.
Stationary or Rotating
- Think about how you want to use your camera.
- If you only need to see a fixed view of a room or location then a stationary or fixed format camera will do the job.
- If you want to rotate the camera to look around your room or space then you will need to choose a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera.
- Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera may be able to cover more space and thereby reduce the number of cameras you need to purchase.
- Resolution is the quality and clarity of the video image.
- High resolution is considered 480+ TVL lines although many are now over 700+.
- It’s important to have an image which is high enough resolution to be useful in identifying faces or items if required.
- Uncompressed means that the video is recorded to you DVR in its highest quality with the maximum number of lines.
- Compressed means that the quality of the video is reduced so that the picture isn’t as clear, but it will mean that you can save more videos over a longer time to you DVR.
- You need to decide if you need high quality videos with clear facial recognition or if you prefer to store more videos on your DVR.
- Some systems will record at 5fps when there is no motion detected and will increase to 25fps when motion is detected. This saves you space on your DVR.
- The field of view is the width of the space the camera will see.
- Taking field of view or the viewing angle into account will give you information on the amount of cameras you will need to purchase.
- The wider the viewing angle on your security camera, the more area the camera will be able to capture in its view. ie 59° Viewing Angle will not be as wide as 90°.
- Keep in mind that the area you need to video may be narrow and may not require a wider angle.
- As it sounds, motion detection cameras will activate when there is any movement detected within its range.
- You can program the motion sensors to your needs taking into account the area you want to be active, schedule a timer when you do and don’t want the sensor active, prevent false alarms (such as your pet moving around the house).
- You can set up the response you want when the motion detection sensor is activated including a buzzer from the DVR or a notification via web browsers or smartphones.
- Some systems will let you access the security camera system in real time via web browsers or your smartphone.
- You may be able to rewind, take an image, pause, rotate, zoom in or stop.
- Make sure your system is compatible with your current PC system or smartphone.
The purchase a home security camera system is to keep your home and your family safe. When selecting a system keep in mind that you should only buy what you can afford and don’t buy something that is worth more than the property is it protecting.
If you want to use your system to video caregivers looking after your children or your older children who are home alone, be aware that it may be illegal to record someone without their knowledge or prior consent. Laws are different in differnet jurisdictions so please check your local privacy laws.
Carefully check what’s in the box when making your purchase. Measure how far each camera will be from the DVR home base and purchase additional cables if required.
If you’re still unsure how to make your selection, take some time to speak to a local security expert for advice and peace of mind. You don’t have to purchase from them if you have found something suitable and in your budget online, but they may be able to give you that confidence that you are making a great decision to keep your home and family safe.
Security Camera System Definitions
CH = Channels. The number of cameras.
TVL = Television Lines. The number of horizontal lines per screen. The higher the number the better quality the picture will be.
DVR = Digital Video Recorder. Where the images/video captured by the cameras will be recorded to and stored on.
Video Resolution (960H, D1, HD1, DCIF) = Width and Height of the picture. The bigger the picture the higher the resolution thereby allowing you to zoom in on the video without losing as much quality of the image (ie it’s still clear).
FPS = Frames per second. Most security systems now offer 30fps which is the same rate that we watch television. This does take up more space so many professional security companies set their systems to 6-10fps to get the balance of clarity and storage.
Pixels = Dots that make up the screen image. The higher the number of pixels the more fine detail in the image.* Be aware that pixels can be compromised by the camera quality and compression at the DVR.
Sensor = The component in the camera that converts the image to video. CMOS is the most cost effective and used most often in modern cameras. CCD is more expensive but equally effective.
Lux = The intensity of light. The lower the lux (lx) rating the less light required to produce a clear image. CCD camera often have a lower lux rating so can cost more. A lux of 0.0 will be an infrared camera that doesn’t require any light to produce an image.
PTZ = Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera. Cameras that can swivel and turn as desired by the operator.