Choosing the Best Surveillance System for Your Needs

July 28, 2020

Wondering “What is the best surveillance system for my home or business?” Security decisions are critical to your productivity and peace of mind. When searching for or maintaining a place to set down your familial or commercial roots, one thing to always consider is, “How can I protect what’s valuable to me?” A simple answer is selecting the correct video surveillance system for your needs. Choosing a quality video system often involves expert planning to determine the best placement of your cameras and reviewing the available options, including thermal detection, night vision, indoor/outdoor use, and other considerations. It is also vital to understand the features of your equipment so you can feel comfortable using it when you need it. 

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Video Surveillance is Easier-to-Use and More Accessible Than Ever

Like many other areas of technology, video surveillance technology has come a long way! Cameras used to be analog, and their resolution was dismal and grainy at best. There was no zooming in to get a clear image, no freeze-frame capability, no view of the camera from your phone, computer, or desktop monitor. Security cameras used to act as a light deterrent that could be easily foiled.

However, the security industry has seen a revolution in recent years. High definition (HD) analog and fully digital Internet-protocol (IP) cameras are more affordable and more available to businesses and everyday consumers than ever before.

Fully digital or IP cameras have revolutionized the way video surveillance can be utilized. Pairing IP cameras with HD (high-definition) image capacity has created a robust security solution that can be accessed at all times. Each camera becomes its own individually addressed network device that you no longer need a single continuous cable from the recorder to each camera to use them, store the data, recall it as-needed, and more. This eliminates the threat of corroding wires, cut wires, water, or fire damage.

Now that you’ve learned about these technological advances and the benefits they have, how do you determine what type of surveillance system you need?

Three main questions will help you answer this.

1. What are you trying to view?

Think about the places you feel are at risk. Describe them to your security expert. Are you indoors looking down a long hallway? Do you need security in an outdoor lot that needs a 360-degree view? Or perhaps you need something with a broader perspective for a short distance, such as a driveway or backyard? By explaining this to your security expert, they will be able to determine what type of cameras you need, and they will present you with a variety of great options that’ll fit your needs and budget.  

2. What kind of coverage do you want?

Are you looking to see every blind spot or around every corner? Or do you just need more basic coverage for high-traffic or main entry areas? Or perhaps you’re protecting high-value equipment and require more extreme visibility? Evaluating the level of security you need will help your security expert determine how many cameras will need to be installed.

3. What’s your budget?

This question can be difficult because security is often financially undervalued. Many people start with a budget and allow it to dictate the type of equipment they use. With the wrong security ‘professional,’ this can be disastrous for your level of protection. However, trusted security experts in reputable companies will take your budget and ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Do remember, though, in security you get what you pay for. You might have an idea of what you want and what you want to pay but recognize you may be off in your own evaluations. Trust your security expert. 

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Here are some basic types of surveillance cameras:

  • Infrared (IR) surveillance cameras produce high resolution color video during the day. In low light or no light conditions they are the preferred camera type due to their ability to “illuminate” their surroundings by switching from color to black and white. An advantage of IR cameras is that they can withstand hot and cold temperatures without any additional housing.
  • Dome Cameras are typically seen in commercial settings such as stores and areas with high traffic. The different styles of domes include infrared domes (which is a hybrid between a basic IR security camera and a dome camera) , indoor domes, outdoor domes, vandal proof domes, and pan tilt zoom controllable domes. Classic “smoked” dome cameras offer an additional degree of surveillance as friends, customers, employees, and burglars have a difficult time seeing where the lens is actually pointing. The smoked cover does not affect picture quality.
  • Pro Box Cameras can switch from color during the day to black and white in the evening or in low light conditions. A benefit to these cameras is that the lenses can be changed on the pro box camera based on the viewing angle and zoom that is required.
  • Pan tilt zoom cameras can be controlled through the DVR, remote viewing software, and/or a joystick. They can go up, down, left, and right. They also have zoom capability.
  • Hidden cameras offer perhaps the highest degree of surveillance. If you do not want someone to know that there is a camera, use a hidden camera. Fake smoke detectors, motion detectors, clocks, sprinklers, EXIT signs are examples of the type of hidden cameras that are used. Hidden cameras do not have infrared capabilities that limit their performance in low light. They also are not weatherproof, so they are not useful in outdoor areas. The best place to establish these cameras is areas where you benefit from people not knowing there are cameras.

Establishing How You Want to Set Up Your Security System

The placement of the cameras in your surveillance system is very important and should be heavily thought out. Ask yourself once again, “What are you trying to view, and what kind of coverage do you want?” You also need to consider the “how” of placement, not just the “where.” This matters because if your security system is constantly shaking from being installed on an unstable surface, your camera’s view will be blurred and rendered ineffective. Furthermore, if your camera does not have a motion detection sensor to kick it on (quality cameras do; however some dinosaurs still exist that don’t), you waste valuable storage space.

Another thing to consider is whether there are any sources of frequent motion in the camera’s field of view. Traffic on a busy street or trees blowing in the wind can set off motion detection and cause unnecessary recording.

Ask your security expert about the “masking” feature in the recorder software. And remember that even if you mask certain things for the camera to ignore, there will still be other objects like overgrown branches or a bag blowing in the wind that you cannot ignore. If any more than those random instances pop up and disturb your camera, you may have it placed in the wrong area.

Now that you’ve learned why choosing the right video surveillance system is important and some tips on planning how to set it up, schedule a free consultation with an ABCO Security expert to review your options.

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