Security Camera Systems 101

Security cameras are video cameras that are used for the purpose of surveillance and security.  As such, a security camera allows you to monitor your office, home, and any other area.

If you find yourself worrying about the security of your home or place of business, then you will appreciate security cameras that allow you to review footage to see if there are potential breaches in your security.  Today’s security camera systems also allow remote viewing of footage.  You can be working out at the gym or strolling at the mall, and whip out your smartphone to see what’s happening at home.  Set it up outside your house or trained to the front door to see would-be intruders move, and catch them while they are trespassing or in the process of breaking in.

Security cameras are also used for things other than keeping your home safe.  Use it to keep an eye on the kids, or perhaps see how a new nanny or babysitter behaves when you are not around.

So basically, security cameras provide you with another pair of eyes since it is impossible to be at two places at once.

Depending on what type of security camera you are planning to use, there are other components that you should have for your security camera system.  For instance, an analog security camera system would need to be hooked up the camera to a DVR so that it could store the footage it captures.  Meanwhile, with a power over Internet, the security camera generally needs to be hooked up to a network video recorder (NVR).  The NVR is responsible for recording the footage in digital format and stores these in a flash drive, memory card, disk drive, or other storage devices.  Furthermore, you have wireless camera systems that make use of your Wi-Fi network.  Just install the camera and connect it to the DVR via Wi-Fi.

 

Benefits of Security Cameras

Security cameras are now an essential part of securing your premises.  But there are other advantages that come with having a security camera system around.

  1. Security cameras help deter crime. Would-be thieves seeing a security camera would think twice about intruding in your home or office, because there would be a visual record of them that would make it easier for the authorities to trace and catch them.
  1. Get a visual record of everything that happens. Security camera footage can be used to settle disputes between employees. For instance, in cases where security cameras are installed around a store and there is a dispute between a customer and an employee, the footage can easily point to who’s right and who’s telling the truth so that an appropriate and fair action can be taken.
  1. Make your premises safer and more efficient. There are times when security cameras can help make your place of business or home safer. You can monitor what’s happening at all times and see if there are things that need to be changed.  For instance, you find that family members often leave the front door open when they go outside.  While they might be just around to prevent any intruder from entering, that behavior lets the heat or cold out, thereby raising your home’s heating or cooling costs.  Now that you see what’s happening, you can remind family members to close the door behind them.  Or perhaps you find out from your camera that your baby is always tripping on the rug in the nursery.  You can either get rid of the rug or find ways to secure it firmly to the floor.
  1. Peace of mind. Security cameras can help achieve peace of mind, especially those that allow live viewing of what’s happening at your premises in real time. There is no need to ruin a perfect date night, due to wondering if you left the stove on or not.

 

Types of security cameras available

There are several classifications of security cameras used today.

  1. Indoor and outdoor security cameras basically share the same features, shape and design. However, outdoor cameras are better suited for changes in the weather, low light conditions, and better picture quality. Chances are outdoor cameras will be recording a moving person or vehicle.
  1. Battery vs. wired cameras. As the name connotes, battery cameras are powered by batteries while wired cameras need to be plugged in to a power source.  Battery cameras are great to have if you suffer from a power outage. The camera can just keep on recording – especially if it uses an SD card to store the footage.  Be aware when batteries run out, or you may not have footage until you replace it.
  1. There are different types of cameras according to form: the bullet camera, the dome, and discreet cameras.

 

The bullet camera is primarily an outdoor camera that has a cylindrical shape, resembling that of a bullet.  Bullet cameras are usually used for monitoring a fixed area, as they generally do not pan, zoom or tilt.

On the other hand, the dome camera is nestled inside a dome housing and these cameras are generally used indoors.  The camera inside the dome can spin to cover a wider area.

Then you also have the discreet hidden cameras, or cameras that do not look like cameras at all.  It can look like a clock, a speaker, or perhaps a smoke detector, but it works as a camera.    These cameras are great for sleuthing, like when a suspicious nanny is up to no good or an employee is stealing from the register. However, a security camera that is exposed can help deter would-be thieves from even entering your premises.

Aside from its form, you can also have different types of cameras, according to features.

  • Night vision or infrared security camera: Uses infrared LEDs that allows it to record video even in pitch darkness.
  • Day and night security camera: Usually used outdoors, such as in parking spaces. Day and night cameras are able to adjust to different lighting conditions in order to give great footage, from sunup to sundown.
  • Network and IP security camera: This camera has the capability to transmit footage and images over the Internet.
  • Wireless security camera: Without wires, it is very easy to install these cameras anywhere, since you do not have to place it near a power source or install plugs near it.
  • PTZ security camera: PTZ means pan, tilt and zoom. These cameras can remotely move to focus on different areas and is best used when a live person is manning the cameras and looking after your premises.  Some PTZ cameras are also automated, meaning a schedule can be set to move them at certain times.  This also helps cut back on the number of fixed security cameras required to fully monitor your home or office.

 

IP vs. Analog Security Cameras

 

To understand analog cameras, think of the earliest versions of closed-circuit televisions (CCTV).  IP security camera, on the other hand, has the ability to transmit data using a computer network, without needing another device to do so.  IP security cameras have better picture quality, even to zoom into an image or video.  Also, set up alerts using a technology called video analytics if there is something wrong.  IP cameras also offer more flexibility than analog cameras because each camera does not have to connect to the DVR. Instead, use the switches to operate several cameras that are near each other.

 

Storing your footage: local storage vs. cloud storage

There are several places where to store security camera footage (data or files).  Analog systems back in the day are connected to the DVR. However, at present, security cameras that live in one’s network can record to an NVR, edge storage, or cloud storage.  With some security cameras, a slot for an onboard SD card exists, and can record and save footage.

An onboard SD card is easy to use.  Insert an SD card into the slot found on your camera, it will then store all the security footage until it is full.  Set it to stop recording or overwrite older footage.  This is pretty easy to do, but might not be the perfect solution to keep old records of the footage.  If security footage is only needed to be review for the day, then the best option is to overwrite the SD card.

An NVR provides better storage capacity than an SD card.  NVRs also can be scaled if more space is needed.  NVRs provide greater control over footage that you do not want anybody else to see.  But, unlike recording to an SD card, there may be times when no recording happens, such as when the connection between the camera and the NVR is down, or if the storage device is down.

Cloud storage, on the other hand, sends footage to a cloud service provider.  Think of it as your security camera’s iCloud service, where your photos and other files are sent.  For example, if you have Google’s Nest Cam, then you are using cloud storage for your security camera’s footage.

This is a good idea if you plan to keep copies of all your security footage, because you can pretty much keep everything.  However, a monthly fee may be applied for security footage to be automatically sent and stored on a cloud provider.