Choosing, Installing and Setting up an Effective CCTV Security Camera System
So you’ve decided to invest in security for your home or business – where do you start?
It may be that you have already had a breaking, or a friend or relative may have. Maybe you are building or moving to a new house? Whatever the reason you are looking for a system, it is important to seek advice right at the beginning.
Choosing the best type of cameras for your needs can be quite complicated. There are dome cameras, bullet cameras, pan-tilt-zoom cameras, some with adjustable lenses, some with night vision etc.
Usually, for residential addresses, we recommend outdoor cameras, but for commercial premises such as shops or warehouses, we would recommend indoor and maybe outdoor cameras also.
The first consideration is the area you want each camera to cover. Most of the cameras have a manually adjustable lens, giving between about 82 degrees as a wide angle, down to about 23 degrees at the narrowest. Using wide angle cameras allows you to cover larger areas with fewer cameras, but remember that the wider the angle, the less detail you capture, because the same number of pixels on the camera are recording much more detail in wide angle than when zoomed in.
Another consideration is night vision – how far do you need to see at night? Usually dome cameras can reach between 20-30 metres, but for distances over that, you will probably need to use bullet cameras. These can vary between about 40 metres to 80 metres as standard.
One way to work out the angles and distances needed is to use Google Earth©. If you can see your home clearly, you can use the measure in Google Earth© to check the distances you need. For our customers, we can also use a screen shot from Google Earth© to draw angles, to estimate the required area to be covered and the reach of the night vision. If the home is new or in the process of building, we can also work from architects plans.
Once you have decided the number of cameras and angles etc, you will need to choose between the major technologies available.
IP cameras (sometimes called network cameras) do not connect directly to a recording device, they stream video over a network or the internet, and a recorder in the same network can be used to record them. We usually recommend IP cameras for larger commercial operations, as they are more difficult to set up, and more expensive than other technologies available. Also, although there are standards available, which have tried to improve compatibility, in general it is best to use cameras and recording equipment from the same manufacturer, as sometimes you cannot use all the camera’s capabilities. In adition, some IP systems suffer from ‘lag’ or ‘latency’, which means that the video falls behind live happenings. It is only usually a matter of milliseconds or so, but can be disconcerting.
The new technology which is gaining popularity is AHD or Analogue High Definition. This has only been available for a few years, but has improved as its usage has increased. AHD can now match IP cameras for definition, and clarity has advanced in recent times. AHD is simpler to set up, and has the advantage that it can use most types of cabling available, so is particularly useful for updating existing systems, where there may be cable already installed.
For domestic installations, we usually recommend Vandal Proof Domes, as they are relatively unobtrusive, have an adjustable lens, and can be installed inside or outside. Bullet cameras are mounted on a bracket which extends from the mounting surface, so are easier to damage, say with a hammer or large piece of wood.
The next item to consider is the resolution required. Not so long ago, the only economical cameras available were Analogue for smaller CCTV installations, but the maximum resolution available was D1, 720 x 576 pixels, and the recording was compressed, resulting in loss of detail. With improvements in technology, the cameras available now are higher resolution, give clearer vision, and the pricing is more or less the same as the old analogue systems. We usually recommend AHD cameras and recorders, as they are good value for money, easy to set up, and provide many options for custom tailored solutions.
The resolution of AHD cameras can be 1 megapixel -720p (1280 x 720), 1.3 megapixel - 960p (1280 x 960), 2 megapixel - 1080p (1920 x 1080), and even 4 and 5 megapixel options are available. For general use, we recommend 720 or 960p, as the higher the resolution, the larger the file size for recording – for example, a 1080p data file is more than 1.5 times the size of 720p. However, for more detail – say to capture number plates or faces, 1080p gives a better result. Different camera resolutions can be mixed on a system for the requirements.
Depending on the number of cameras you have decided on, you need a recording device to match. As there are so many new technologies now available, many manufacturers produce recorders which can be used with all 5 major options – they are now called XVRs, and can record Analogue, AHD, CVI, TVI and even IP cameras, usually in a mixture, so that older systems can be upgraded gradually – making use of existing cameras, but adding new ones as needed, with the latest technology. The XVRs come in 4, 8 or 16 camera sizes, or even larger for more sophisticated installations.
To set up and adjust the camera positions, you will need to connect the DVR/XVR to a good monitor, and it works just like a PC, with a mouse or remote to control it. You can also then set up the XVR for access on a local network, and through a broadband router for remote access over the internet.
Most of the systems available have the option of Motion Detection, which is very useful for when you are searching for an incident, so that you don’t have to scroll through hours and hours of video. We normally recommend recording continuously, but setting up motion detection also. Each camera records a separate file onto the hard disk, usually in 30 or 60 minute blocks, and these files are marked with the channel number, date and time for easy recall. When motion is detected, the camera starts a new file, and identifies it as a motion file.
So before you decide on a new system, seek expert advice at the beginning, and you will end up with a system which fulfils all your requirements, at the most economical price.
If you live Australia or the South Pacific and would like free friendly advice to cover your premises, please give Hugh a call on 1300 852 400 or visit www.footprintsecurity.com.au You will find more articles of interest to protect your home, family and business.
Footprint Security imports CCTV Security Systems and Cameras directly from overseas manufacturers, and sells online. They are based on the Gold Coast, but retail Australia wide, including Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Darwin. They have also supply customers in PNG, Fiji and Samoa.
Footprint Security sells a full range of IP cameras, NVRs (Network Video Recorders) which record IP cameras over the network, 4-in-1 cameras, capable of recording Analogue, AHD, TVI and CVI, DVRs and XVRs.