Your Complete Guide to Choosing the Best CCTV System
Did you know that more than 2,000,000 burglaries get reported in the United States each year? These break-ins result in $4.6 billion in lost property. But with the best CCTV system, you can protect your family and property.
CCTV or Closed Circuit Television video surveillance systems effectively deter and even prevent crime. And when the worst does happen, they provide you with irrefutable evidence. Read on to learn more about quality CCTV systems.
Your First Line of Defense
A CCTV surveillance system stands between what you hold most precious — your family, your home, your business — and the perps who want to take them from you. These systems provide serious deterrents to potential criminals.
They also offer you and your loved ones advanced warning of impending danger. Instead of wondering about every bump in the dark, camera footage offers explanations in real time.
They also give you and your family the chance to evaluate whether or not to open the front door. And they buy you extra time to notify the police should a potential threat crop up.
CCTV Surveillance Systems 101
CCTV surveillance systems can get as sophisticated and complicated as you want. But underneath it all, you’ve got the basic foundation of:
- Surveillance cameras
- A monitor
- A system of wires interconnecting everything
Beyond this, systems start getting complicated. If you’ve ever seen Ocean’s Eleven, you probably have an idea what we’re alluding to…
Some surveillance systems come with everything from hundreds of cameras to video recorders to armed guards. Fortunately, many options exist between the two extremes mentioned above.
Interior vs. Exterior Cameras
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Outdoor cameras can be used indoors. However, the reverse doesn’t prove true.
Why? Because indoor cameras can’t endure extreme weather conditions or physical damage. So, make sure you take care where you place each camera that you purchase.
On one hand, outdoor cameras feature IK and IP protection ratings, which let you know how much inclement weather they can handle. These ratings also indicate the heartiness of the camera and how much physical damage each can handle.
On the other hand, most manufacturers don’t even bother giving indoor cameras IK or IP ratings. After all, the likelihood of them seeing inclement weather remains close to zero, barring a natural disaster.
Another disparity between indoor and outdoor cameras has to do with the viewing angle of the lens. Outdoor cameras include wide viewing scopes so that you can observe large areas of land at one time.
Finally, more and more exterior cameras now come with night vision technology sophisticated enough to capture activity on even the darkest nights.
What should you do if your indoor cameras take a regular beating? Maybe you work at a school, prison, or other institution where the population proves hard on cameras?
Perhaps you labor at a manufacturing plant where chemicals and condensation build up? Or, your warehouse facility keeps its outside doors open, letting in outdoor elements?
Challenging circumstances such as these require the hardiest equipment. We recommend installing exterior cameras indoors to hold up to the toughest abuse and damage.
Securing Your Exterior with Cameras
In most situations, outdoor cameras will handle the brunt (if not all) of your security needs. That way, you can monitor crucial exterior locations on your premises.
When it comes to camera placement, the most common areas for equipment include:
- Dark corners
Many people opt for one camera located at the front door. But some individuals take it to the next level, dividing their property into distinct zones. Each zone gets covered by a specific camera allowing for optimal surveillance coverage.
That said, no one size fits all when it comes to surveillance coverage of your property. Every property has different needs. So, where you place cameras will vary depending on your geographic location, infrastructure, and more.
Once you’ve purchased the right equipment for your property, it’ll be installed using wired or wireless technology at designated areas on your property. Your cameras will all get connected to one control center.
Using a wireless network or a DVR, you’ll retain access to this footage for review and your private records. In terms of the data picked up by each camera, you can program them to record at specific times, on demand, or by motion detection.
Buying CCTV Cameras
Security surveillance systems have come a long way in the past twenty years. In fact, you’ve got more options now than ever before. Of course, too many options can get bewildering.
Additional factors that you should consider include:
- Camera lens coverage
- Storage of video surveillance
- Analog cameras
- IP cameras
- Short-range cameras
- Long-range cameras
- Pan, tilt, and zoom cameras
- Weather-resistant cameras
- Wide-angle lenses
- And more
Not sure where to begin? Don’t let all of these options intimidate you. With a thorough understanding of what your system needs to do, you can start narrowing your search criteria.
More and more systems today allow you to review surveillance footage on wireless devices like phones. And some companies even offer 24-hour monitoring of your footage. These services sound an alarm at the first sign of trouble.
Types of Surveillance Cameras
Surveillance cameras get divided into a variety of categories. Each type of camera comes with specific pros and cons. Gaining a better understanding of their capabilities will allow you to find the right equipment for your unique needs.
Two main types of cameras exist, analog cameras and IP cameras. They offer differing capabilities, and their price points vary.
Analog cameras represent the most common surveillance equipment on the market. Traditionally, they also prove the most affordable.
They rely on CCTV surveillance software. Connected to a DVR or computer monitor by transmission cables, this permits the cameras to relay visual data to the mainframe.
Once received, the video gets compressed by the DVR and stored on a hard drive. Most DVRs come with the ability to convert the raw film into digital footage for internet streaming.
All programming for the system happens on the DVR. This includes programming for scheduled operations, notifications, and alarms.
Once upon a time, IP cameras cost a lot more than their analog counterparts. But market saturation means IP prices have dropped in recent years.
Yet, they still come with many advantages over analog cameras. That said, you must have access to a network or the internet to power your system.
Instead of relying on a DVR, IP cameras have DVR capabilities built right into each camera. So, they compress their own videos. They also convert them to a digital format and stream them online.
In terms of storage, they pack in more options. For example, most systems come with the capacity to store video on SD cards. Many also come network video recorder (NVR) ready, which means they can stream video right to smart devices.
Finally, IP cameras offer much higher resolution images. But you’ll have to pay for them. Not only do the cameras cost more, but you’ll also need to pay for extra storage and larger bandwidths to accommodate this technology.
A few years ago, one of the major differences between analog and IP cameras remained the price. But as mentioned above, so many IP devices have flooded the market that their prices have dropped.
That means more value for your buck. At reasonable prices, you can still find equipment that’s loaded with features. When you add in the fact that IP cameras prove cheaper to install and maintain, they offer a practical solution for many.
Other Camera Features to Consider
Outdoor security cameras come in many stripes and types. So, you’ll need to do some research when it comes to camera features. Today’s market contains lots of competition, and you’ll need to pay close attention to product details.
Wired vs. Wireless Cameras
Wired cameras provide a higher quality picture than their wireless counterparts. They also stream more reliably without the limitation of battery life. But the advantages stop there.
Wired cameras prove more vulnerable to the weather (due to their wires), and they remain easier for criminals to detect, disrupt, and circumvent. Their location depends on the proximity of nearby electrical outlets, too.
Wireless cameras prove convenient for exterior installations because you don’t have to worry about outlets or wiring. This also means they prove easier to conceal. Finally, they feature lots of versatility.
That said, you have to rely on batteries to operate them. Constantly changing out batteries can feel inconvenient and get expensive.
Security cameras vary by climate, so make sure you purchase the right equipment for your region. Some cameras even automatically heat up and cool down to prevent temperature extremes and condensation.
Besides weather considerations, you also want to make sure that your cameras stay protected against exterior threats such as vandalism, insects, and sun damage.
Cameras also vary by shape and include discreet cameras, bullet cameras, and dome cameras. Discreet cameras present the most secretive profile. You can conceal them in household planters, behind bamboo trees, inside clocks, and more.
Bullet cameras work well in entryways and near doors. They have a streamlined esthetic and prove affordable. But they stay pointed in one direction and don’t zoom, so they prove easier for criminals to avoid.
On the other end of the extreme sit dome cameras, designed to stand out. These dome-shaped cameras appear formidable to deter criminals. Since it’s difficult to tell which direction their camera points, they provide a broader type of deterrent.
Black and White vs. Color Cameras
While black and white cameras won’t break your budget, they provide a lower film quality than color footage. In fact, they can’t distinguish between light and dark contrasts as well as color film.
What’s more, color matters when it comes to identifying bad guys. Whether you’re talking about the color of their shirt, car, or hair, these details can mean the difference between a positive ID and a cold case.
Wide-Angle Lens vs. Pan, Tilt, & Zoom Cameras
Wide-angle lens cameras allow you to maximize your visual coverage with a minimum number of cameras. They work great when filming a large backyard and can capture images up to 40 feet away.
Point, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) cameras also cover a large area. But unlike wide-angle lens cameras, they move and capture a variety of angles. You control them remotely to capture the best footage possible.
Night Vision Cameras vs. Day/Night Cameras
Night vision or infrared cameras excel at capturing images in low-light visibility. From shadowy spots to the dead of night, these systems use infrared LED. They provide the height of security late at night when safety matters most.
Day/night cameras deal with a wide range of light variability. They can handle everything from bright glares to artificial lighting to shadows producing clear, crisp images.
The Best CCTV System
When it comes to finding the perfect CCTV system for your property, you’ve got many factors to consider.
- Your budget
- Whether cameras will go inside, outside, or both
- The lighting conditions where cameras will go
- The size of the space you need to cover
- How you can incorporate equipment already set up into a new system
- If you have reliable access to a network or internet
Once you’ve decided on a system, explore your installation options. Many people prefer to have professionals do the work. A reputable company’s installers and technicians can streamline the process making it hassle-free.
Of course, if you feel comfortable installing the system yourself, use the detailed instructions that come with your equipment to help. You can also check out YouTube videos to work through complicated steps in the process.
Secure Your Life
Interested in learning more about the best CCTV system for your site? Or, maybe you’re looking for other ways to protect your home? We’re here to help.