Cameras are just about everywhere in today’s day and age. There are few places you can go in public that you are not being recorded by a camera. From the streets to the local fast food restaurant you are likely being recorded. Surveillance systems have also been part of the security systems for the wealthy for many years and now they can be an affordable part of your homes.
There are several things you must consider when choosing your camera system. Just like most technology you can get more features for more money. Choosing a system will require you to consider budget along with wanted features and find a happy median of the two.
The first step is deciding how many cameras you plan to use. A system for just one camera can be set up for very little cost and be very effective. If you choose to have more cameras like 4, 8 or 16 then there are complete packages available that make cameras more cost effective. Once you know how many cameras you want, you will need to decide if you want to run wires or not. Most cameras are available in wired or wireless versions and normally the wired cameras are much more cost effective.
Surveillance cameras can come with many different functions including night vision, covert, color, black & white, weatherproof, high power wireless, pan tilt zoom cameras and many other options. If you need special application cameras they are likely available at a cost. Currently the most commonly used cameras for homes and businesses are dome cameras, bullet style cameras and hidden cameras. The type of camera will greatly depend on the application.
Next you will need to find a way to record your cameras. Recording is not necessary and it is possible to just view the cameras using a monitor, but you will find that having a recorded system has many advantages. The cost of recording can vary greatly depending on your choice of recorders. Below are the different recording options you have to choose from.
VCR -The cheapest may be an extra VCR you have lying around. Most cameras can be plugged directly into a VCR or TV’s video input. If the connection is not the same then there are adaptors available. You may be limited when using a VCR to just one camera. You can split the video of more cameras and use them with a VCR if you purchase a quad. A quad splits video inputs so they take up just a portion of the screen. Most quads are 4 channel, but more channel quads are available. VCRs can’t be viewed over the internet.
Surveillance Software and Hardware – This method of recording can also be a very cheap way to record. You must have a computer with some extra RAM and a USB port . This software will turn your computer into a feature rich DVR or digital video recorder (more on this later). To connect a camera to the computer you will need a analog to digital video converter. Just plug the camera into one end and the other end into the USB port on the computer. Most software will be able to see the camera as soon as it recognizes the video converter. If you have more cameras, you will need more converters and more free USB ports. You can also use a quad between the cameras and the video converter cord to increase the number of cameras you can view using this method. This is a great economic way to go if you only have a few cameras. These systems can be connected to the internet and viewed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.
DVR Card – a DVR card will need to be installed into one of the PCI ports in a PC in order to work. If you can’t add a card to the inside of your PC, then this may not be the best solution for you unless you can get some help. There are many people that have the ability to install a PCI card so help should be easy to come by. These cards range from 4 to 16 cameras and some can be used in sets for systems up to 36 cameras. The exposed part of the card on the back of the computer will allow you to connect the number of cameras the card allows. Most DVR cards will also allow audio microphones to be connected along with the cameras. DVR cards can be full of features and can compared with a high end DVR. DVR cards usually can be connected to the internet and viewed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.
DVR – is a digital video recorder. This device basically allows your cameras video to be recorded onto a hard drive or internal disk. There are 2 types of DVRs, windows based and embedded. Windows based DVRs are similar to a computer and use the Windows operating system to run surveillance software. Most people find Windows based DVRs much easier to use than embedded DVR. The embedded DVR does not use any software and all functions are embedded on software encoded computer chips. Embedded DVRs are cheaper than Windows based DVRs in most cases. DVRs are generally the most expensive way to record your cameras. Both types of DVRs allow you to connect the cameras directly to the back of the DVR. Some DVRs can be connected to the internet and viewed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.
You may also want to hook a monitor up to your system. The monitor will allow you to review the recorded video and also watch it live. Depending on the system you are setting up, the monitor may be a TV or may be a computer monitor. Monitors are available in all different sizes and qualities. If you plan on building a surveillance system you may want to consider one of the many systems available that provide everything you need in one discounted package. For the beginner it is many times easier to purchase a complete surveillance system then to try to piece together each thing individually.
These basics should be enough to get you started on finding a home surveillance system to meet your budget. Many times if you speak to a surveillance expert you can simply tell them your needs and your budget and they will put together a system that will work well for you. There are a lot of options for you to protect your home and family, be sure the system purchase will meet your security needs.