As the saying goes, a man’s home is his castle – and when it comes to protecting your castle, there’s no place for trial and error. Your security system needs to run smoothly from the start to minimize risk.
Cameras play a crucial role in most security systems, but shopping for one can quickly become overwhelming. There are so many styles and features available! How can you choose the perfect security camera?
Indoors or outdoors?
This is the most critical factor and should be the first thing you consider. A security camera that will be placed outdoors, exposed to the elements and other hazards, needs to be much sturdier than a camera that will be located indoors.
Security cameras use a rating system to describe how well they can withstand exposure to dust and water. This is the ingress protection rating. It’s written as the letters IP followed by two numbers, like this: IP66. The first digit represents the camera’s protection against dust on a scale of 1-6. The second digit represents its protection against fluids on a scale of 2-9. Generally, a higher IP rating is better.
If a camera’s IP rating is lower than 44, then it is meant for indoor use only. Between IP44-IP65, the camera can be used outside but must be installed in a sheltered location. It’s weather resistant, but water can get inside and cause problems if the camera is sprayed or rained on.
An IP rating of 66 or higher means the camera can be safely used outside. Placing it in a sheltered location is still recommended in order to keep the lens clear. The highest possible rating, IP69, means the camera can be completely submerged. However, this level of protection isn’t necessary in most cases.
You may also need to consider the camera’s ability to withstand vandalism. Is this a concern in your situation? Choose a camera with tamper-resistant fasteners, housed in a metal body rather than plastic. Another option would be to install a wire cage, or guard, over your security camera.
Your next step is to decide if the perfect security camera for you is analog or digital. Analog is the old standby, and it’s still around for a reason! It’s very reliable, has excellent range, and is generally inexpensive. However, analog cameras do have their limitations.
Analog cameras don’t have any built-in storage or processing capabilities. They must be plugged into a DVR in order to store and transmit the video they capture. Because of this, there is no delay when watching the feed directly from the DVR. Without a digital ‘brain,’ though, analog cameras can’t have smart functions like face detection. Lower resolution may not allow for a sufficiently clear picture. Additionally, an analog system cannot be wireless. It may be difficult (and expensive!) to upgrade later.
Digital security cameras are capable of much more advanced functions. Unlike analog, they do have internal data storage and processing capability. Digital cameras tend to have better resolution. They can often cover a larger area, thanks to their ability to pan, tilt, and zoom (often referred to as PTZ function). With battery power and Wi-Fi connectivity, they can be truly wireless. Plus, they can easily be expanded or upgraded later.
Digital cameras allow for a wide variety of smart functions. Some examples are night vision, face detection, and abnormal sound detection. With line crossing and region protection, you can mark off sections of a room or other area that you want secured. The system will only alert you if that line is crossed or region is breached. Advanced motion detection with a passive infrared (or PIR) sensor means fewer false alarms. With PIR, the system will know the difference between a branch blowing in the wind and a potential thief crossing your yard.
However, digital cameras have their own drawbacks. More features means more things that can go wrong. A wireless camera is useless if the battery fails. Bad weather or Wi-Fi issues can interfere with video transmission. The range of a wireless signal is limited. Sending video wirelessly uses a significant amount of bandwidth. This may lead to delays in the video feed or slow down the whole network. Additionally, a digital system tends to cost more upfront.
Choosing the perfect security camera
To narrow down the options, consider these five questions.
Where will the camera be installed?
- If outdoors, you need a camera rated IP66 or above.
- If indoors, cameras rated IP65 or below are sufficient.
Will someone be watching the live feed onsite?
- If there will be, you may prefer an analog system for faster data transmission.
- If not, consider a digital system that can be checked remotely.
How far does the camera need to transmit?
- For less than 300ft/100m, you can use a wireless system.
- For distances up to 1600-2600ft/500-800m, a wired connection is necessary.
What, if any, extra features will be needed?
- If you need a basic but reliable option, choose an analog camera system.
- If you need better visibility and smart functions, go with a digital camera system.
What is my budget?
- If your starting budget is small, analog is better (but upgrades may cost more).
- If you can invest more initially and expect to upgrade later, you’ll want to go digital.
Ready to get your security cameras installed?
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful, but we would love to help you even more!