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Home Video Surveillance Systems

Updated on September 20, 2013

A little market research

Do you own any home video surveillance equipment?

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Video surveillance is a multi-purpose and an extreme important way of protecting your family and property, but is a very vast world, there are numerous technologies and services available that will suit different needs. Whether you are trying to check who enters your property or make sure that nothing happens to your baby while he sleeps, the chances are that there is already a system that will do what you ask for, with little to no maintenance and/or low implementation costs. The trick here is to find find the perfect balance between cost, quality and ease of use/purpose.

How does a surveillance system works and what does it require to operate?

You need the cameras (wired or wireless), a way to communicate with the base (wi-fi, radio signals or cable) and a place to see the footage(computer, VCR).

Wired cameras tend to be more expensive to install as you need put cables trough the wall, or sacrifice some discretion by showing the cables on the open, but the latency will be lower, the quality and resolution is better. Wireless cameras can be installed in more locations, and they only require a power supply and a wi-fi cover, but they are more reliant in the conditions of the network (atmospherical conditions, walls, bandwidth will reduce the speed, and the quality of the streaming); have a lower quality and resolution and the signal may be intercepted by thirds (perhaps the ones trying to break into your house). It is up to you to choose which one suits better your needs, but here, I prefer wireless cameras.

For IP cameras (the more common, and the ones that are more usual in the domestic market) you will need a camera; a router (and, of course an Internet connection); and a computer to see the footage. Some technologies allow you to have access to the cameras on your mobile phone, tablet or television but the computer is the basic.

What do you want your home surveillance system to have?

  • Resolution and quality: the bigger the better, but they will take more space; and IP cams tend to have lower image quality;
  • Where and if it stores the footage: some cameras only start recording after they detect movement while others record the whole time, which increases the size of the record significantly. Other thing to take mind is that while some save it locally (like a SD card embed on the cameras) others stream if to the computer;
  • The size of the camera: You may want a bigger camera that will have a bigger and better resolution, with a persuasive effect or a smaller one that is more discreet and may go unnoticed but has a weaker quality?
  • Night vision features: If you record 24/7 with no external source of light your camera may require a night vision feature to fulfill its job, but the price will also increase accordingly;
  • Wired or wireless: has it was discussed before, wired and wireless cameras both have their ups and downs, its up to you to choose what you want to your home surveillance system.
  • The signal is encrypted: if it is a wireless camera, you may want to encrypt the signal to avoid others to have access to the same eyes that protect your house- and the whole point of the system if gone), you may also want the signal to be protect against other signals that may jam the video (cellphone signals, other video broadcasting systems, etc);
  • With or without a motion sensor: As I said earlier, some cameras only start recording when they detect some kind of movement. IF you want to implement a system like that, in order to save resources or just because of personal preference, your camera will need to be equipped with a motion sensor;
  • If the cameras moves or is stand still: Some camera only focus on certain area, others can be remotely controlled and others keep rotating. So it is up to you to choose which ones fit your needs.

Other things to consider

Also other things that you have to consider is how many locations do you want to record, if it is in the indoor or outdoor, how many sites, because every camera may have a special purpose. Some cameras are smaller and offer a weaker protection against the elements so they belong to the interior of the house, but the habitat of a bigger, more protected camera if definitely the outdoors. If you have a lots of places to record but a smaller budget you will have to make some choices: record every location but with lower quality, choose some cameras to some locations (better cameras for higher priority locations) and weaker ones to less important places? Those are all choices you will have to make when you decide to instal your home surveillance system.

Where to place the Cameras?

Entrance and exit points: this is very easy to guess why. This way you will be able to tell if someone is trying to enter of exit your house. Probably the camera will have to operate under low light conditions so a night vision surveillance camera might be the best solution. Consider that windows and glasspanes can be considered entrance points!eras and how you place the cameras is half the way to have your house properly secured. First of all, before you or the company you contract install the system you may want to take a photograph of the place and point of view where the camera is supposed to be installed. This way you will be able to check for blind spots, a preview of how the area will be taped, the lighting conditions and arrangements can be made to increase the efficiency of the surveillance system.

Near choke points: if you have only a pathway directing to your property this might be a good idea do consider because it is the almost certain way that the burglars will use to break into your house;

Pointing at valuables: this is a very good idea because if you have a work shed, or you keep your boat/car/bycicles in the garage they are very tempting to burglars so if you can keep an eye on them you will be able to sleep better at night.

Note that I did not mentioned places on the inside of the house because every case is a case and the architecture and arrangement of each habitation is different so you should contact an expert that will be capable of evaluate tour case.

Other thing to consider is that is best to place your cameras is on the roof or higher locations because they will offer a cleaner, wider point of view and will be harder to be vandalised or obstructed.

Legal aspects of home video surveillance

DISCLAIMER : This is just a general guide, I am not responsible for any of your acts regarding the installation, use and recording of surveillance footage. You should always check your local laws.

In the UK it is illegal to record the property of other person. So your cameras must the placed and installed in such way that ONLY your house/property will appear in the video.

In most countries illegal to have cameras in places where it is expected privacy: bathrooms, locker rooms, someone elses house, and to record audio of conversations that you are not part of and/or the people evolved are not aware that you are recording.


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