Security Cameras and home monitoring

What you should know about security cameras for your home.

Choosing the right security cameras is as essential as choosing the right front door lock. Choose badly and you may regret it. Yet many clients have little interest in the cameras that they rely on for their security until it is too late.

Cameras and monitoring is often a bit of an after-thought on most projects. Yes, we all agree there will be an IP camera on each corner of the building and intercom at the gate – it will be sorted out at some point in the project. But nobody is really interested in what cameras, and why, least of all a busy client.

Start With Design

Before we start looking at different cameras and their pros and cons, the very first thing we need to ask is “what do you want to see?” To establish this we need to delve a little bit deeper with the client. Do you want to see 100% of the property perimeter or are you just interested in being able to check on the kids playing in the pool?

We can have security cameras monitoring your property, but do you want the footage to stand up in court if required? It may be that all the client wants to to be able to see who is coming up the driveway, in which case, something like a Ring doorbell may do the job adequately.

If, on the other hand, the client is someone in the public eye, or a high-net-worth client, then security will likely be a higher concern and they may require a different level of camera.

Once we have had a conversation with the client and established what their requirements are then we can start to look at what products will provide the level of security and monitoring that they need.

Home security design

Security Cameras and Network Bandwidth

Security cameras and home monitoring systems that sit on your network use up network bandwidth. With the resolution of cameras getting higher and higher – 4k cameras are easily available now – you need to consider how much of your internet bandwidth your security cameras are going to use.  As a rough rule-of-thumb you can reckon on one camera using about 5-6MBpS in good light. In low-light, the demand on bandwidth can increase to 6-7MBpS. Even an average home will use perhaps 6 cameras externally so it’s easy to start to see how bandwidth can become an issue.  There are all sorts of factors to consider, resolution, frame rate and the type of compression used.

One way to deal with systems that have large numbers of cameras is to put the cameras on their own network. We can put all the cameras into their own dedicated network switch, which then connects to the NVR’s input 1. We then use input 2 to connect the NVR to the main network switch. This way all the cameras are protected behind the NVR and not using up bandwidth on the main home network. This is not a solution of every home. In fact most home security and monitoring systems will not need to worry, but in commercial environments – hotels, warehouses etc, where the camera count is high then managing bandwidth consumption is a primary factor in the system design.

Some Camera Types and When To Use Them

Bullet Cameras

Bullet cameras are the traditional kind of camera that you see on the side of buildings. Shaped like a bullet(ish) it’s a great choice of camera if you don’t mind how they look. They come with loads of technology packed into them. IR is standard on most. ANPR (automatic number plate reading) is a great feature to link with a gate, so it opens as your car approaches.

Dome Cameras

 

Generally, dome cameras are considered to be more aesthetically pleasing than bullet cameras. In particular mini domes are very discreet and can be fitted on the soffit of a roof to give great coverage. Of course, you need to consider whether you want a potential burglar to know that you have security cameras as a deterrent. In which case you may prefer larger, more visible cameras. Another possible downside of a dome camera is that, because the camera and the IR emitter are within the dome, the IR range can be restricted slightly, and any marks on the dome will show up in your recordings.

Wireless Cameras

Wireless cameras should only really be used if you really can’t get a cable to the camera location. As with everything we do in the home technology industry – if you can get a wire to the hardware then this will always be a better solution. It is a more reliable connection and in most cases offers more bandwidth which of course means speed.

360-degree Cameras

These are usually a fish-eye lens camera that, when placed in the centre of a room, can show everything in the room. Now, we all know what a fish-eye lens will do to an image, making it all distorted. Well, there is software available now that sorts all that distortion out and gives you a normal image recording. These cameras are a little prone to blind spots, simply because they are a single camera. But in certain situations they are a great choice. A pool for example, where there are not many obstructions to block you seeing everything. A gym or garage could also be good places for a 360-degree camera.

Multi-imaging Cameras

These cameras are becoming really popular. They are essentially 4 cameras built into one unit. Each individual camera can be positioned and zoomed as required to give great coverage where you need it. One of these on the corner of a house could have a camera position down each side of the house, one covering the front of the house and the final camera zoomed in on the gate. The really great thing is that they only use one network cable, so they are not using up space on your network switch or NVR.

Construction Site Security

With site theft on the increase, a couple of cameras mounted on poles could be all the deterrent you need to stop opportunist theft. It’s a really cheap solution to materials going missing from a build site and has the added benefit of allowing the client to view progress on-site without having to visit a cold, wet, muddy location.

Give us a call to discuss a solution for your site.

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