I can open an app on my phone to look at my driveway at home, or view a bunch of cameras located around my office building. Costs have dropped enough for this to be a reality for many people whether in their home or a small to large business. People can get it now. People want it now. But the question becomes where do I get it?
Many security companies offer camera equipment as well as installation services. There are also cheap IP cameras you can find at a local computer store. Finally, there is the “Warehouse Club special” (DVR and a bunch of cameras for one low price).
Most people envision a camera security system which is nice looking, unobtrusive, cameras attached to the ceiling or walls, in the corner of rooms, hallways, or edge of buildings without any wires being seen, all viewable from your smart phone. Let’s see which purchase options will accomplish the desired outcome.
Let’s start with the “Warehouse Club Special”, often sold as low as $399. The kit includes a hard-drive that can receive a set number of cameras, often 4, 8 or 16 ports. The cameras you get are usually very low quality, they are all the same, and often not aesthetically appealing. The package also includes “all cable” however after closer review one finds that it is limited to 50 foot lengths. The purchaser is responsible for running wire for the cameras and must purchase additional wire if any of the cameras will be mounted more than 50 feet away from the hard drive. Many of these camera systems do not include a power supply; instead they come with a separate power supply for each camera with only a 12’ cable. This requires a power outlet within 12’ of the camera which often calls for an electrician. That results in a lot of cables everywhere and unsightly power supplies which are easily unplugged (a major security flaw). The average consumer lacks expertise on installing wires, adding electrical outlets, understanding volts/amps, and often discovers they would rather leave it to a professional.
A second option is the up and coming, inexpensive Internet Protocol (IP) cameras from the local computer store. Inexpensive is relative of course. For roughly $80-$150 a consumer can purchase wireless IP cameras from electronic, computer or office stores. Often overlooked is the word “Wireless”; this does not mean the cameras don’t need cables; it refers to the network communication. The cameras still need a wire providing power and a power outlet near the camera. Again, unless the purchaser is proficient at running and hiding wire the cables are often exposed. Once the camera is installed the user must program the network. This includes ports on the router (for remote viewing), setting up recording on the hard drive, video storage, how many frames per second, image quality, and resolution settings. Most of these cameras are less than one megapixel (low resolution). Users must ensure they have enough hard drive space for specific settings and configure network settings for either static or dynamic IP addresses. This is a lot to consider.
The final option is to have a security company provide an estimate for a camera system. A professional security company can provide proper equipment, clean installation, and complete system configuration.
A security company can help:
- Decide if an IP or analog system is preferred.
- Determine the best cameras for the location/purpose. For instance: high light, distance, low light or night viewing. The consumer can specify the purpose of the cameras so the security company can customize the equipment properly.
- Make any necessary network changes for remote viewing on a computer or smart phone.
- Setup recorded video if desired.
- Obtain the best pricing on quality products which come with a warranty
- Handle all warranty issues leaving the consumer with nothing more than a phone call to deal with.
Warehouse club special, inexpensive IP cameras, or professional installation? Consumers now have access to camera systems viewable from anywhere. Welcome to the future!