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A security camera buying guide – What to look for?

Protecting your property and keeping an eye on it has never been easier. The latest advancements in technology have helped keep intruders away while proving to be their worst nightmare.

One such great invention is the security camera which, as time passes, is becoming even more efficient and useful in ensuring the safety of your property, be it residential, commercial, or industrial.

According to research, security cameras are one of the best deterrents against burglaries and don’t just keep criminals away, but also help collect evidence by recording and monitoring them if they try to sneak in.

Due to their effectiveness in not just stopping criminal activity but also helping catch the perpetrators, security cameras are the top choice among home and business owners alike.

Follow this guide to find out all about security cameras, what to look for when buying one for your property, the different types to choose from, and how much they cost:

BUYING A SECURITY CAMERA

There are several types of security cameras available, each made for a specific purpose. To get the full benefits, you must make sure that you choose the perfect one for your property.

If you are well-informed, buying a security camera can be a fairly simple process. For starters, you need to follow these five steps to determine the right kind of camera for your requirements.

Run a risk assessment

Placement is key. Before you invest in a security camera, you must identify all the risky areas on your property through which an intruder could gain access. Apart from that, if there are certain areas that you wish to keep an eye on, such as your toddler’s room or the garage outside, you must choose the best installation positions to capture the best angles.

You would also need to determine whether you need indoor or outdoor cameras, or both, depending on your security requirements. You can’t just haphazardly place any type of security camera anywhere and expect results. Proper planning and risk identification go into the decision.

Choose your power source

Security cameras come in two main variants – wired and wireless. Wired security cameras are connected to a power source and the internet using a cable, whereas wireless security cameras are connected to a power source via a cable and connected to the internet over Wi-Fi, uploading the video to a local storage device or the cloud.

The main difference between a wired and wireless security camera system is that the recorded footage in wireless systems is transmitted from the camera to the recorder wirelessly, whereas wired systems work entirely over cables. Both, however, require wired power. Also, for wireless systems, batteries can be used as both a primary source of power and also as a backup.

Determine your budget

The prices for security cameras vary considerably depending on the type of system and the features that they boast, and your budget will play a huge deciding factor on the best one for your security needs.

There has been a conception that security cameras are extremely expensive and a luxury that only the rich can afford. The good news is that, while that may have been true a couple of decades ago, due to recent advancements in technology and their increased demand, the prices of CCTV cameras have gone down substantially and the systems are now affordable for everyone.

Choose your desired features

Various security cameras come with various features, all suited for specific situations and circumstances. Which features you require depend solely on your security requirements and the reason that you’ve installed the cameras in the first place.

Some key features include motion-activated sensors, high-quality resolution, night vision, and smartphone alerts. Other features include two-way audio, built-in alarms, zooming capabilities, and professional monitoring, among others. Quite obviously, the more feature-rich the system is, the heftier the price tag will be; therefore, it is vital to understand your requirements and opt for the features you feel will benefit you the most.

Privacy concerns

CCTV cameras are a great tool for protecting you and your property, but they are also vulnerable to hacking which is done to access sensitive data and for spying through the internet.

There are very simple ways to prevent such attacks from happening such as installing only state-of-the-art equipment, securing your wireless connection, using stronger passwords, setting up two-factor authentication, and regularly updating your security camera’s firmware.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SECURITY CAMERA?

There are certain key features to look for when buying a security camera for your property. They include:

Motion sensors

Also referred to as event-based recording, security cameras come equipped with motion sensors that start recording as soon the slightest bit of movement is detected. The footage is then recorded which can be accessed for a certain time.

Notification alerts

An extremely useful feature, some security cameras offer customisable notifications and alerts to be sent to your smartphone or device as soon as any movement is recorded. Since, unless you have professional monitoring services enabled, you can’t keep an eye on the real-time events, this feature helps to always keep you in the know, especially when your attention is most required.

Resolution

Security cameras come in a range of resolutions ranging from 720p to 4K. The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture. It’s no use if the footage being recorded on the CCTV camera is grainy to the point that making up the face of an intruder becomes a challenge; therefore, a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels is recommended.

Night vision

Cameras need light to see and record clearly, and naturally, night time makes it difficult to capture clear footage as it does during the day. Outdoor cameras have special night vision that helps them see better and farther during the night, with some high-end models even offering colour night vision.

Audio

Due to privacy concerns and certain legal requirements, audio surveillance is not allowed in some places, however, where it is, a security camera with a built-in microphone allows you to not just see but also hear what’s going on. Additionally, two-way audio enables you to speak to whoever is on your property as well.

Design

Some security cameras are big and bulky and built in a way to act as a visual deterrent, whereas others are small and discreet and are used as hidden deterrents. The installation location and position, and what you wish to monitor, will play a huge part in determining which type you go with.

Field of view

The field of view is the total area that the camera covers. The wider the field of view, the more area will be covered, and the fewer cameras you will have to install on your property. Some cameras come with a default wide view, while others have adjustable lenses with panning, zooming, and tilting features.

Storage

Security cameras record the footage and save it to be viewed at a later time. There’s the option of storing it on the cloud or to use local storage, such as a microSD card placed inside the camera or a separate hard drive.

Security

CCTV systems come with built-in security features where you can enable two-factor authentication to help guard against attacks such as hacking. Every time you log on to the system, it sends a verification code to your smart device via a call, text, or email, so that it can confirm that it’s you trying to gain access and not some unauthorised person.

Advanced features

In addition to the aforementioned key features, there are certain very useful advanced features such as built-in alarms, facial recognition, and pet-friendliness that can help make the security cameras more efficient and effective.

Integrations

CCTV cameras are part of a comprehensive security solution that include burglar alarms, access control systems, and smart lights. Independently, they provide great benefits at keeping your property secure, but when integrated, they pack quite a punch.

Security cameras can be integrated with intruder alarms to activate an alarm as soon as certain types of movements are detected, the automatic locking mechanism can activate through access control, and the security smart lights can turn on to illuminate the area.

TYPES OF SECURITY CAMERAS

The most popular types of security cameras include:

BULLET CCTV CAMERAS

  • One of the most common types of CCTV cameras.
  • Ideal for outdoor use and are made to withstand extreme temperatures, water, and dirt.
  • Their recognisable look makes them a highly visible deterrent against burglaries and intrusions.
  • Used in applications that require long-distance viewing.
  • Usually found in open spaces that include parking lots, back and front yards, shopping malls, offices, factories, warehouses, and farms.

DOME CCTV CAMERAS

  • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Have a discreet shape making it difficult to spot them and see which way they are facing.
  • Allow wider angles to be monitored via 360-degree rotation of the camera.
  • Generally found in restaurants, shops, and hotels.

C-MOUNT CCTV CAMERAS

  • Come with detachable lenses that can be switched to adapt to the distance and field of view.
  • Range of viewing and recording can be extended by using special lenses that can be zoomed in and out without losing focus.
  • Bulkier in size and noticeable to passers-by making them an effective visual deterrent.
  • Come in a rugged camera casing that protects them from harsh weather conditions, making them suitable for outdoor use as well.

PTZ PAN/TILT/ZOOM CAMERAS

  • Allow more control over what is being recorded.
  • Can pan sideways, tilt up and down, and zoom in and out of objects.
  • Can adjust the right angle of the camera to record the area of interest.
  • Offer impeccable video quality.
  • Capture the finer details of a subject and are the ideal choice if you have someone monitoring your property.
  • One camera can do the job of multiple owing to the great level of control.
  • Best for remote viewing and are mostly used in retail environments, businesses, banks, museums, and casinos.

DAY/NIGHT CCTV CAMERAS

  • Built to effectively work during both the day and night-time, regardless of the lighting conditions.
  • Have extra sensitive chips that help capture clear and crisp images even at night.
  • In addition to poor lighting, they can also withstand direct sunlight, glare, and reflections.
  • Ideal for properties that require round-the-clock outdoor CCTV monitoring.
  • Offer both colour and grayscale recordings.
  • Come in a protective casing to withstand all sorts of outdoor conditions.

INFRARED/NIGHT VISION CCTV CAMERAS

  • Use infrared technology to record images and videos in absolute darkness.
  • Usually more expensive than day/night cameras since they can work in pitch-black darkness.
  • Can also withstand fog, dust, and smoke, and record coloured footage during the daytime while capturing black and white during the night.
  • Used for very reliable surveillance, even in complete darkness, such as banks, manufacturing plants, and farms.

NETWORK/IP CCTV CAMERAS

  • Connected over a network that allows the live footage to be accessed from anywhere in the world via the internet.
  • Provide ease of video sharing and remote monitoring.
  • Allow storing archived footage on network video recorders (NVRs) and digital video recorders (DVRs).
  • An ideal choice for home and business owners who are often away or on the move since the easily accessible footage gives them the ability to view the footage from absolutely anywhere.
  • All that is needed is a smart device such as a phone, tablet, or laptop, and a good internet connection.

WIRELESS CCTV CAMERAS

  • Made for the sole purpose of minimising the installation time and use of excess wires for a cleaner appearance.
  • Due to their discreet appearance, they easily blend in with the surroundings working as a hidden deterrent.
  • Ideal for situations where good presentation is key and the display of excess wires might ruin the aesthetics such as in museums, churches, heritage sites, and other tourist attractions.

HIGH DEFINITION (HD) CCTV CAMERAS

  • Come in a variety of resolutions ranging from 720p going all the way up to 4K.
  • Offer unparalleled video quality and deliver high-quality images with zooming capabilities.
  • Particularly useful in high-risk areas where the foot traffic needs to be monitored closely and the perpetrators can be easily identified and caught using the recorded footage.

COST OF SECURITY CAMERAS

To give a very general idea, a one-camera home CCTV system, complete with DVR (recorder), monitor, wiring, and full installation would cost around £540 – £660. Each additional camera thereafter would be around £120, so a 3-camera system, for example, would cost roughly £780 – £900.

The average starting cost for a CCTV security system for your business would be around £900. This may vary depending on the type, the number of cameras, and the complexity of the security system.

Apart from the up-front installation costs, that include both the labour and material costs, there are certain recurring costs that you must keep in mind.

With that being said, the costs involved with CCTV cameras should not be considered costs but rather an investment due to the plethora of benefits and long-term savings that they provide.

The other costs include:

Monitoring costs

Adding a monitoring service to your CCTV system offers an extra layer of protection, knowing that your property being watched by security professionals 24/7, keeping it safe from all kinds of threats. The average monthly charges for professional CCTV monitoring start from £12.

Maintenance costs

Maintaining your CCTV security system will repay your investment in it by working effectively with minimal disruptions. Annual servicing is recommended to keep your CCTV security system working as it should. On average, a maintenance visit would cost you around £75-£125.

Repair costs

Your CCTV security system can malfunction for several reasons such as bad weather conditions, power surges, or general wear and tear. Whatever the issue, you need to resolve them quickly by an engineer who knows what they’re doing. CCTV repairing service would cost you around £92 on average. The total charges may vary depending on the nature of the fault.

CONTACT CALDER SECURITY

At Calder Security, we offer a comprehensive range of CCTV camera services ranging from professional installation to monitoring, maintenance and repairs for both domestic and commercial properties.

  • We design, supply, and install a wide range of domestic and commercial CCTV systems.
  • We offer both analogue HD and IP camera systems and can advise on the best solution for your property.
  • Our SAIB approved installers follow all the best practices in the industry and provide full training on the equipment provided.
  • We do not compromise on quality and ensure your utmost safety by installing only high-quality, state-of-the-art CCTV equipment from trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.
  • We’ve been in the security industry since 1976 and are specialists at what we do.

Contact us today to speak to our experts and maximise the security of your property right away!