It doesn’t matter if you want a video surveillance system at home so you can keep an eye on the kids when they’re in the backyard, want to know exactly who or what is leaving your trash strewn all over the lawn, or if you just need to make sure you and your family can rest easy at night, the best type of security system starts with the cameras!
It’s the same within a business environment. Of course, the main reason (as it is with residential security systems) is to deter thieves. But what if you want to see what your employees are up to, or make your customers feel safer? There is no point in installing a surveillance system if the cameras are not going to give you the information you need.
So, for this page of my website I’m going to give you an idea of the different types of security camera you can buy, and what situations they’re better for.
Bullet Type Cameras
No, these do not fire bullets. Although some of you may be frustrated enough at the moment to wish they did! A bullet camera is actually the cheapest type you can buy, and there is a reason for this. A bullet camera is usually rectangular or cylindrical in shape and can be fixed to a wall (normally in a corner) by use of a mounting arm. This means they can very easily be seen.
They do not have any type of remote movement but instead, you can manually adjust them so they give you the coverage you’re looking for. Some models do come with built-in zoom or pan-tilt features, but personally I would stick with the more basic model and use them as a deterrent in a small business area such as a store or desk front.
These are a step-up from the standard bullet camera, and if you don’t have much in the way of a budget, I think these will work very well. As the name suggests, they are dome shaped and the actual camera has a dome cover. This can be clear, smoked, black or even mirrored. There are two main advantages to a dome camera and these are they’re much more difficult to destroy, and they have shown to act as a better deterrent to would-be thieves.
The last point is possibly because (if you use a cover other than clear) that people cannot see where the camera is pointing. Usually this type of camera can be used both indoors and outdoors, and depending on how much you want to spend there are various features to choose from. Some have motion detection included or use infra-red technology so they offer better security overnight.
Do bear in mind though, that like bullet cameras, a dome camera is visible so if you’re looking to make sure people know you’re watching them, this type might be a better option for you.
Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras
More often than not manufacturers will abbreviate this type of camera to PTZ. In fact, I’m probably aiming at people who are interested in cameras for commercial use. Especially if you intend to secure a large store or warehouse area, and this is because PTZ cameras can be pretty bulky but offer greater coverage so you don’t need so many of them.
Generally, they will be mounted on their own pole or bracket, but the most complex (and expensive) will have a dedicated rail so they can zoom across to places where suspicious activity might be taking place.
As the name suggests, this type of camera has the ability to zoom and tilt to get a better look at what’s going on, and are also fitted with high resolution lenses so video quality isn’t affected when zooming in.
You have to be very careful when thinking about using a spy camera (also referred to as a discreet camera), and I would have chosen not to include them except for the fact that if used correctly, they can help with a variety of security problems. Perhaps you want to know who it is that’s stealing the petty cash or helping themselves to the money left in a cash register, they can even be used to help determine who keeps stealing your favorite snack out of the fridge!
Due to their compact size, you won’t get great picture quality however, the main benefit of a spy camera is it cannot be seen when it’s installed. They come in a wide range of sizes and at their smallest are no bigger than a quarter so this makes them pretty versatile when you don’t want others to know you’re “spying”. However, I cannot stress enough that you must think about the legalities surrounding using this type of camera.
HD or High Definition
These are the best type of cameras to use if you think it might be necessary to provide video evidence of something suspicious you’ve caught on camera. Again, as the name suggests, they have a high definition video feed which also means they generally need to be connected to a computer. Because the resolution used is much higher than your average camera, it will need more storage space so bear this in mind.
Whilst HD cameras are readily available for both residential and commercial use, they will cost more than other types so if you are looking for something in the home, it might be a better option to take a look at some of the other models I’ve reviewed that will store video footage that doesn’t necessarily need to be of the highest quality.
For the more complex security system design, you may want to choose cameras that can be networked. I personally think this a great idea if you have many places throughout the home you want to protect. I also think they’re the best option for most business premises.
A networked camera does need to be connected to a central computer because it doesn’t store the information it captures locally. However, you can buy them for both wireless and wired networks. What’s great about this option is you can easily monitor one or more cameras at the same-time, and this can be done real-time or the information will be stored on a computer for viewing at another time.
Simulated Dummy Cameras
Simulated dummy cameras are slightly different to a standard dummy camera in that they look and act just like the real thing. They come in just about any design you can thing of from dome, bullet and even PTZ. Essentially, you can have a camera like this that shows a flashing red LED light, will look like its detecting motion and will even simulate zooming in.
These are a very inexpensive way of deterring burglars, vandals and any other type of undesirable in or around your property. In fact, these days technology is such that it’s very difficult to tell the real thing from something that’s fake!
You can read my dummy camera reviews here.