Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are increasingly available for all budgets and needs. If you haven’t bought one yet, now is the time to change your mind, as you will be spoiled for choice online. That creates its own problems, though, as many first-time buyers are prone to picking the wrong security camera and then regretting their purchase.
The reason is there are so many specs to understand and choose from since CCTV cameras can be deployed in a wide range of configurations. Among many options, you will have to decide whether to go for Wi-Fi or wired cameras, local or cloud storage, wide angle view or narrow view, and motion detector or night vision functions.
If all of this sounds confusing, do not worry because we’ve simplified this decision tree for you. Whether you want to install a CCTV surveillance camera int your home, shop or office, our easy three-step guide will help you pick the right one for your needs.
Assess Your CCTV Camera Requirements
As a first step, you will have to assess your realistic requirements before making a purchase. Take a paper, pen and calculator to create an approximate due diligence budget. It is very important to take this activity seriously if you don’t want to overlook something you would regret later.
The questions you must ask are summarized in the table. First, you need to check whether you want to go for an indoor or outdoor camera because not all cameras are weather-resistant. Also, clarify your total budget and the number of cameras you’re looking for.
You would need a minimum-installation height to prevent camera theft. If you frequently face power outages, go for a camera with adequate battery life (~12V DC is enough). If you’re using IP cameras, go for easy and cost-effective cloud storage which is generally included in CCTV plans. If you want to ensure security during your absence at a location, go with night vision cameras.
Once you’re absolutely clear about your requirements, proceed to the next step.
Selecting CCTV Camera Type
This runs you through different CCTV surveillance camera types and what makes each one unique to your requirements.
Dome cameras are the most common example of CCTV cameras and named for their unique dome shapes. The most basic example is of a ceiling-mounted dome CCTV camera which you may have noticed in shops, malls and restaurants. These don’t cost more than $25 a piece.
Nowadays, it’s more common to have a turret dome camera which costs slightly more. A varifocal dome CCTV camera has most flexibility, as it can support a wide-angle view using a varifocal lens (2.8 mm-12 mm etc). Infra-red dome cameras enable night vision and are generally tamper-proof.
Bullet cameras are appropriate in outdoor settings where the field of view has to cover a greater distance, such as an extended view of a parking lot. These are usually weather-proof, tamper-resistant and equipped with night vision. Bullet cameras don’t cost much and can be had for as little as $13. You only need to check for permission to install them, as the extended range means you can can view your neighbor’s property. Generally, these CCTV cameras are seen in commercial locations.
Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) cameras are multi-purpose because they allow you to review the CCTV footage in multiple ways. You can zoom in a detail (5x etc.), pan the entire screen for hidden clues and tilt the cameras in any direction. These cameras generally don’t come cheap.
Other Considerations Before Purchase
After knowing your camera type and installation requirements, you need to focus on the quality of camera visuals. A high-definition (HD) or 4k CCTV camera will allow significant readability of objects such as license plates.
You should also keep an eye out for features like H.265 compression, motion detection alerts and whether you can play the footage on your smartphone, Windows or Mac systems. The branded CCTV cameras will feature a company app that is readily available at Google Play or the App Store.
Once you have a clear budget and awareness of the above requirements, you will find it easy to shop for CCTV cameras online.
Today, CCTV cameras have become the most ubiquitous feature of modern living. They reinforce a feeling of security in uncertain times. As long as you have valuables to protect, the CCTV cameras will give you anytime access to activities in your absence.
Do you have security cameras installed anywhere? What were your considerations in making a purchase? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.