If you’re on the search for security cameras I understand the frustration you can go through. I worked in the security industry a few years ago, and even then I dealt with many customers who were simply overwhelmed by the choice there was on the market.
These days, the features you come across are even more numerous simply because technology has moved on very quickly. Do you decide to go with wireless or wired? Do you want cameras that need internet access or are you just happy with something basic that will act as a simple deterrent to burglars?
It’s also difficult deciding which features are best for the home or office since many will help in both situations. So just for you, I thought it would be good idea to give some brief explanations on what features various security cameras have and how they will help with a given situation.
The following features can be found with many basic models of camera, and I start with these because (in my humble opinion) they are points you should consider before looking into cutting-edge features.
The Type of Connection
This is something to think about if you want to store the footage you capture. Some camera systems have the ability to store video locally, but remember you will be limited to the amount of memory you have.
Of course, as mentioned you can get both wireless and wired connections which send information back to a central computer. This helps if you would like to keep video for a period of time, or have a lot of data that needs storing.
Although you will pay more for wireless cameras, they do eliminate the need to get that drill out which means less mess, and you can also “play around” with position before settling on where you would like them placed.
As you go through some of the reviews I have for you on my website, you will notice that picture quality is top of the list for many people. However, if you want high resolution pictures that are police evidence quality, be prepared to pay more. Plus, you will more than likely need a system where information is stored on a computer or DVR.
Picture quality is possibly more important to those of you who have a business to protect. If you do suffer a burglary, you will need to be able to make out what a person looks like.
For the home, if you just want to know if it’s the neighborhood teenagers leaving garbage on your lawn or next door’s dog, this may be of less importance.
I put this into the basic features category because outdoor cameras are becoming ever more popular. However, there is one important point you should think about before you choose a particular brand.
When reading up on an outdoor camera, be aware that you know the difference between weather “resistant” and weather “proof”. Weather resistant security cameras are cheaper but they may not deal with very low or high temperatures. Plus they need additional protection if you intend to place them where driving rain or other types of contact with water can be an issue.
It is possible to protect outdoor cameras with special housing, but this will need to be factored into the overall cost. Oftentimes, a weatherproof camera turns out to be the cheaper solution.
Now, on to the more advanced camera features.
As we all know, most types of crime occur in the dead of night, especially petty crimes such as theft or vandalism. So if you need to make sure you have decent video surveillance overnight, you will need a camera that can deal with darkness.
In most cases, look out for cameras that use infrared technology. These are the most popular types and are typically easy to install and use. They come in a variety of designs and you can get both outdoor and indoor cameras that will record at night.
Some will automatically switch from day to night vision, and to help with energy costs, they feature and automatic motion detection so the LED does not react unless the camera catches movement. Whilst many people will use this type of camera to spot things that go “bump in the night” outdoors, they can also be very useful indoors if you want to keep an eye on a young child.
I think motion detection security cameras have several benefits. The first is energy. If you have a camera that’s switched on all the time in the hope it might catch something suspicious, this will add to your energy bills. And whilst manufacturers do their best to make sure that regular cameras are energy efficient, motion detection still wins for me, as they only switch on when motion is detected.
The other benefit to this is you won’t need to go through hours of recorded video just to find out that a raccoon was responsible for spreading garbage all over your lawn. A motion detection camera will only record when it senses movement.
This also helps with memory usage. The less your camera has to store, the less memory you need, which will help keep the initial cost of the camera down.
Sound, to some extent, still needs some work in the security industry. Outdoor recordings often suffer from weather and traffic noise, and with indoor audio you can have direction and echoing problems.
Sure, technology is advancing and the systems slowly seem to be getting better, but the fact is that you still have to pay for good quality audio recording.
However, the models that allow you to have a two way conversation with someone at your front door are usually pretty good. These are also a great option if you want to monitor a child’s bedroom, where you can hear and see what’s happening while your baby sleeps (or not as the case may be).
With the dawn of the internet came security cameras that will allow you to view footage either real-time or recorded over the internet. These actually vary hugely on price depending on the type you would like and how complex they are.
There are two main choices.
One: You can buy single cameras that will connect to the internet so you can, for instance, see who is coming in and out of your front door when you’re not there. These are also a great option if you want to make sure the kids are OK when they’re home on their own.
Two: A more complex camera setup will make up a whole system. A subscription to the manufacturer for a safe and secure account is often necessary, but this way you can view both recorded and real-time footage from different cameras, anywhere you like.
Of course, you can also choose a security company.