If you’ve ever browsed through CCTV camera brochures with their dozens of options, product shots, specifications and varying prices, you may have been tempted to slap it shut and leave upgrading your home or business security system to another day.
The vast array of CCTV cameras and recorders on the market can be daunting, making it difficult to decide which system would be best suited to your home or business environment.
Tripwire unpacks some of the basics of CCTV cameras and sheds light on 10 factors to consider before investing in a security camera system.
Try to buy the best value for money CCTV camera system within your personal or business budget. It’s always wiser to invest in a good quality, small, entry level system that allows you to add more cameras later on, than to rush out and buy an unbranded cheap camera, that could lead to buyer’s remorse. Tripwire’s highly experienced sales team will be able to offer you a range of camera and recorder options made by reliable manufacturers.
Some small retailers selling unbranded cameras may only offer a statutory six month product guarantee at best, which you might find yourself fighting for, if the camera fails. A reputable security company will sell a CCTV camera system with a warranty of up to three years.
There are three types of CCTV cameras on the market from the most affordable entry level analogue cameras to High Definition (HD) and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras at the top end of the market. Fortunately, camera prices have dropped significantly with the advance of technology which has brought entry level HD and IP cameras into the realm of the home and small to medium sized business budget.
Do you want the camera to be able to see a vehicle outside the front driveway gate or a pedestrian ringing the bell? We often compare the ability of our human sight to what we expect cameras to do but there is no camera that delivers the optical perspective of the human eye with its 160 degree peripheral view and the ability to see up to 160 meters away. However, with the advance of technology CCTV cameras now offer a wide range of capabilities.
When selecting a camera it’s important to consider lens size, wide angle degree and memory for data storage. For every millimetre of lens size, the rule of thumb is that this is how far away in meters the camera will be able to view its subject (focal length), while the degree of a wide angle lens will determine the field of vision and shorten the focal length as the angle gets wider. For example a basic 60 degree wide angle, 4 mm lens will have effective viewing of up to 4 meters away but it will not have enough range to view your neighbour’s property to the left or right. Cameras come with a range of data storage sizes from 500MB to 1GB.
Deciding whether to buy a more affordable entry level analogue camera or an HD or IP camera depends on the quality of the image you desire and your present and long term security needs. A basic analogue camera offers a low resolution image, while an HD camera provides a crisp high resolution image of a quality bordering on IP cameras. A higher resolution offers a far more enhanced picture, which makes it possible to zoom in digitally and retain image quality to identify subjects and details such as vehicle number plates. The benefit of zooming in is that this intelligence can be shared with police investigators and security companies. At the top end of the market is the IP camera, a networked camera that can sound the alarm of a security breach and transmit data such as images to a control centre via your broadband service. Breaches can be picked up via outdoor passives and beams that have been integrated with the camera into the home or business alarm system. Small to medium sized businesses tend to opt for high end Turbo HD cameras and entry level IP cameras.
CCTV cameras can record colour during the day but at night, unless sufficient support lighting has been set up, they switch to black and white. It’s important to provide support outdoor lighting, such as an LED lamps, for colour definition, so that a meaningful intelligence report can be written up describing, for example, the colour of vehicles and clothing of intruders. Low light cameras that don’t need support lighting are available but are far more expensive, making it cost effective to use lighting.
Selecting the correct type of CCTV camera is just part of the process , which should also include considering the cost of recorders and peripherals such as cables, connectors, an uninterrupted power supply and the cost of labour and commissioning of the unit.
Deciding where to place your first camera will largely depend on the topography of your home or business property and your security needs. Usually, the first camera is installed in a position such as near the front door or gate, to gather information about people or vehicles entering, followed by additional cameras to cover “weak spots”. For example, near a back wall that runs parallel to an alley or on the darkest side of your house. Ideally, covering the entire perimeter of the property with cameras will offer the security of an early warning system – if the camera has been connected to outdoor beams – and of being able to investigate security breaches without peering out of a window.
Before selecting a CCTV surveillance camera for your home or business seek the advice of a professional sales team who will be able to assess your property and show you recorded footage from different types of cameras, that will enable you to get the full picture on quality and pricing before you commit to a decision.
Grasping the wide range of camera technology on the market can take some time and there is so much more the latest cameras can do to enhance security. Would you like to know more about advanced capabilities or do you have any questions regarding how CCTV cameras can enhance your home or business’s security system?
Tripwire’s sales and technical professionals are available to assist with any CCTV camera questions and can be reached on 1850 930 390.