How to Choose a Home CCTV System

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If you want to choose a home CCTV system then your initial research may leave you feeling overwhelmed by the number of options available. From simple choices of camera types to accessories and specifications, its understandable why so many people choose to put the decision off.

We’ve put together a beginner’s guide to choosing a home CCTV system which we hope will help you make the right choice for your surveillance package.

What CCTV Camera Should You Choose?

The choice of camera is not always about how they look from an aesthetic point of view, although this can also be a consideration for many, but about the capabilities of each design.

There are three main types of camera available for a domestic CCTV installation:

  • Bullet
  • Dome
  • PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom)

Each camera has its own pros and cons but, more importantly, they each come with specific operational features.

We have already put together a brief guide detailing some CCTV camera choices which you can read here but, essentially, the main differences between them can be summarised as follows:

  Bullet Cameras Dome Cameras PTZ Cameras
Cost Low to High-Range Mid-Range Mid to High-Range
Size 2-8” 4” 8”
Field of View 70o to 100o 70o to 100o 360o (pan), up to 180o (tilt)
Internal/External Mostly external Both External
Night Vision Approx. 100ft Approx. 100ft App

Beyond these main design features, each manufacturer and model will also have differences in:

  • Field of vision
  • Focal length
  • Image clarity
  • Lighting requirements

what cctv camera should i choose
Image via SilhouetteTown.

In order to ensure you make the right choice of camera you will need to have be able to answer these questions:

  • Where the camera is to be mounted? Is this on a internal/external wall, ceiling or on a dedicated mounting pole?
  • What area is the camera going to monitor? Is this a fixed and/or narrow location or will you require a wide field of vision?
  • Is there supplementary lighting to enable you to view images recorded at night or do you need a camera with night vision?
  • Do you need to be able to move the position of the camera? If a camera is to be mounted some distance away from the focus of its lens then will the recorded footage give enough detail or will you need a zoom lens?
  • How detailed do you want the footage to be? Will you need HD quality?
  • Is the camera going to be inside or outside and will it need any external housing to protect it from the elements if it is not indoors?
  • Does the camera need to be vandal proof?

All of the answers to these questions will have an impact on the choice of camera in order to ensure that you have a CCTV system that is capable of meeting your demands.

Choosing a Colour or Monochrome CCTV Camera

There is no doubt that colour images are more effective when reviewing footage to identify potential intruders or vandals; however, in situations where light is an issue, you may need to consider a camera that uses infra-red. This will mean that footage will be recorded in monochrome. It is possible to opt for day/night cameras that adapt depending on the ambient lighting conditions.

How Do You Want To View Your CCTV Footage?

It is important for most people that as well as being able to review recorded footage taken from their CCTV cameras that they can also watch a live stream.

Most CCTV systems are fitted with a display monitor that will relay a live feed from your camera(s). Choosing a high resolution will give you better visibility and you can opt from a range of monitor sizes.

Remote monitoring is also something to consider and the ability to connect your CCTV camera network to broadcast a live stream direct to your smartphone, tablet or computer can be a useful feature.

Always check the security of how this data is being broadcasted to ensure your home camera network is safe from being hacked.

how to watch your cctv footage
Image via Pixabay.

Should I Choose a Wireless CCTV System Over a Wired System?

Wireless systems are quite popular as homeowners prefer not to have visible wires running around their property. Though they do not require a wired network to transmit data to the DVR they do still require a fixed power supply cable. You can purchase CCTV cameras that are battery operated but these models are not suitable for permanent installations.

There are a variety of wireless CCTV systems with the most basic models operating over just a single frequency and others that allow multi-channel operation. It is worth remembering that a single frequency camera does not allow you to operate more than one camera within 100m of each other.

Wireless CCTV systems can also experience significant interference from other devices using similar frequencies and have been known to be affected by items such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and Wi-Fi.

Another factor to consider with a wireless CCTV system is how far from the DVR recorder a camera needs to be sited. This is often stated to be 100m but, in reality, a DVR recorder located inside a home communicating with a camera beyond its walls can be restricted to a maximum distance of 10-30m

By contrast, wired CCTV systems do not experience interference and are not limited by distance when it comes to transmitting a signal back to the DVR recorder.

Wired CCTV systems, contrary to popular belief, actually do not require two cables as just a single one supplies both the power and the signal itself.

How To Choose the Best CCTV Camera Position

Choosing how your cameras are set-up is essential to enable you to monitor your home.

Ask yourself exactly what it is that you want to be able to see with your camera. Do you want a wide view of the front of your property to include your driveway or do you just want to see who comes to your front door? Do you want your camera to capture a person’s face or record vehicles that park on your drive?

The reason for being specific is important as cameras do not see the way humans do and have no ‘peripheral’ vision. A wide-angle lens might be suitable for covering a larger area but may not provide the focus and definition you want.

Most people who purchase a home CCTV system do so for reasons of security and it is therefore a good idea to cover the main access points to your home as well as focusing on any weak spots in your perimeter defences. Other homeowners may be looking to deter vandals in the garden or from their external buildings.

Remember that if light is going to be an issue then you may need to consider a camera with infra-red capabilities for night recording or think about installing additional lighting.

do i need extra lighting for cctv at night
Image via pxhere.

Do You Need Additional Lighting for Your CCTV Camera?

Most CCTV cameras have no problems recording footage during the day and even in bright sun can adapt as necessary. However, unless you choose a camera with infra-red capabilities (night vision) then low-light will present you with a problem. It is worth noting that infra-red cameras switch to monochrome (black and white) when light levels drop.

The solution is to offer supplementary lighting which will enable full colour footage to continue being recorded at low light levels and allow those cameras without infra-red to operate.

Additional lighting such as via an LED lamp could also provide an additional deterrent to would-be intruders.

How Much Storage Capacity Do You Need?

The data recorded on a home CCTV security system is most commonly stored on an external hard drive known as a DVR. DVRs come with a range of storage capacities but selecting one with a minimum size to ensure sufficient back up is essential.

You should also consider whether your DVR’s capacity can be increased at a later stage with extra storage hard drives plus how easy it is to access files when you need them.

CCTV data security regulations in the UK also require you not to store footage for longer than is necessary so you should be able to delete your DVR files easily too.

How Do I Use Multiple Cameras in a CCTV Installation?

Many CCTV systems make the use of more than one camera at once so it is important that your installation is able to record from multiple feeds as well as offering you a way to switch between cameras to view them live.

This can be achieved via switchers, multiplexers or a quad processor.

How Scalable Is Your CCTV System?

Whilst you may initially only wish to install CCTV to cover one area of your home, you may find that (at a later stage) you would like to add additional cameras. Budget may prevent you from doing so immediately or the tangible benefits of an operational system may persuade you to extend your home security.

Whatever the reason, it is important to ensure that your investment can be upgraded at a later stage should you wish.

Connect 4 CCTV Security

Connect 4 CCTV: Advice from Security Professionals

Still need held to choose a home CCTV system?

Understandably, the correct planning and installation can be quite complex which is why partnering with a reliable and trusted installer is essential to getting this right.

Connect 4 CCTV works with its clients to fully assess and understand your needs before providing a fully costed proposal to supply and fit a robust and dependable home CCTV system that is easy to operate.

We pride ourselves on being professional with our knowledge yet being efficient with our advice; we want you to understand exactly what you are buying and how to use it.

If you would like to know more about our services and how we can provide you with a tailored quotation for a CCTV surveillance system for your home then contact us today.

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