It is often said that the most important part of a home security system is the alarm company signage that is prominently displayed letting everyone know your home is being monitored. What may be even better than that? Home security cameras recording the sights and sounds of everything on or near your property. Few things will deter someone approaching your home with bad intent more than the sight of security cameras. Criminals know that modern home security cameras record video, instantly alert homeowners and provide clear images to law enforcement.
Home security camera systems are not only effective, they are affordable and easy to install. Four major components make up most home security camera systems. Components are as follows:
- Wiring (Power & Video Signal)
- Video Recorder
- Management Software & Monitoring
We will be discussing IP camera systems, not older, analog systems that run over coaxial cable. IP camera systems offer many advantages, are most common for home security camera systems and run over your home network.
Security cameras come in many variants. Fixed cameras, as opposed to pan, tilt and zoom cameras (PTZ), are most common for home use. Fixed cameras are available in a bullet or dome shape. Both types are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications. However, bullet cameras and dome cameras each have their pros and cons. Things to consider include:
- Bullet Cameras:
- It is easy to tell which way a bullet camera is pointed. Use bullet cameras in locations that you want people to know that a camera is pointed at them.
- Bullet cameras are easy to mount and aim, as there is no dome to remove for access.
- Ball joint mounts on bullet cameras allow for easy installation on a wide variety of surfaces, including surfaces with angles and uneven surfaces like stucco.
- Dome Cameras:
- It is hard to tell which way a dome camera is pointed. Use a dome camera in locations that you don’t want people to know which way the camera is pointed. Dome cameras are popular in retail settings for this reason.
- Dome cameras are visually appealing and may be painted to match your exterior.
- Because the mounting hardware and camera lens are enclosed in a high-impact dome, dome cameras are more secure against vandalism. For the same reason, dome cameras require more effort and care to install.
Wired vs. Wireless (Power & Video Signal)
Three basic options exist for getting power to the cameras and video signals to video recorder. In order of preference, wiring options are as follows:
- Wired Power over Ethernet (PoE): PoE runs over what most of us know as computer networking cabling, RJ45. This type of cabling has 4 pairs of wire. Two pairs are used to carry data (video) and the other two can be used to carry power to the cameras. The cameras must be plugged into a central PoE switch, which feeds the power to the cameras. Using PoE allows one cable to be run to the cameras, which carries both power and data. Power over Ethernet switches are economical and provide a clean, efficient way of installing home security camera systems.
- Separate Wired Power & Wired Video Signal: This type of wiring requires two wire runs to each camera, one for the video signal and one for the power. This can be costly and time consuming to install.
- Wired Power & Wireless Video Signal (WiFi): Unless getting a video signal to the to video recorder is not feasible wiring, WiFi cameras are not recommended. WiFi signals can be unstable and are not nearly as reliable as the wired solutions above.
This article is focused on IP-based camera systems, those that run over your home data network. The video recorder needed is what is called a “network video recorder” or NVR. IP cameras encode the video and send it in IP data packets to the NVR which stores the recordings. A NVR is a software program that stores the video data in digital format to a mass storage device. Network video recorders are economical, store a lot of video and can be configured to be extremely reliable.
Management Software & Monitoring
With high-speed data available anytime, anywhere via cell phones, watches, tablets and more, monitoring has become trivial. Most management software is very sophisticated and has a broad feature set. Everything from setting motion detection to alerts can be easily achieved. If you have any internet-enabled data network to which your camera system is connected, you will have a view into your home wherever you have internet connectivity.
Home security camera systems are affordable, easy to install and are a great deterrent. With this in mind, security cameras are a key component of a well-rounded home security plan.