Cameras are a vital part of any security system. They can deter criminals from even considering attacking your property knowing that there will be video evidence later to help the police track them down. Should criminals choose to attack your property anyway, well that video is there to help police find the criminals and recover any losses you experienced.
When looking at security cameras there are so many options out there, it can be hard to know what is important and what the best system is for you. Every different option gives unique benefits and drawbacks, so you really need to know what you are looking for and what your whole security system will be so that you can find an option that will work will with it.
Your first choice will probably be to choose between a wifi or hard-wired camera. A wifi camera connects to your wifi network and uses that connection to transmit the video to either a storage device on your network or to the cloud. A hard-wired camera has a data cable that directly connects it to your data storage or the internet.
Here are some considerations to think about when making this decision:
- Wifi cameras are much cheaper to install since there is no need to run additional cables, which often require holes to be drilled into walls. Hard-wired cameras are often less expensive as well since they don’t need the additional wifi electronics built into them.
- Hard-wired cameras provide a stronger and more reliable connection to the data storage device. With a wifi camera, you need to make sure that the camera has a consistently strong signal. It’s never fun to try and pull up a video from your camera only to find it lost its wifi connection right when you needed it the most. So if you go with the wifi camera, you might need to invest in your wifi network to ensure reliability.
Next you’ll need to choose whether you want the video saved in your home or on the cloud. Many of the more popular systems, like Ring, Nest, or Arlo, all provide cloud storage of your videos. This allows you to easily access the videos anywhere you have an internet connection. Other systems, primarily hard-wired ones will store all of the recordings on a device inside your home. The cloud storage is often considered to be easier, though there are concerns about privacy, access to hackers, and loss of control over your data. The storage in your home offers more privacy and control, but can be lost should your house experience a fire, flood, or significant electrical surge.
Then you’ll need to decide whether your cameras will be battery powered, solar powered, or directly connected to your home electric wiring.
Battery powered cameras, when matched with a wifi connection, offer the significant advantage in that you can place it anywhere it gets a wifi signal. No wires need to be run to it, so you can install it with little cost in minutes. Unfortunately battery powered cameras might need frequent battery replacements, and generally don’t have the performance of wired cameras. These cameras can be much cheaper initially, but can be more expensive in the long run.
Solar powered cameras are typically just battery powered cameras which are designed to also receive power from solar panels. This helps you avoid all those potentially expensive battery replacements, but add some restrictions concerning placement to make sure the solar panel gets enough sunlight to power the camera. The performance is generally on par with other battery powered cameras.
Cameras which are connected directly to your home’s electrical system might be more expensive to install, but offer the best performance. Since there’s no concern about battery life, they can have more powerful electronics which provide higher quality images, better features, and faster response time. These cameras can also offer some features, such as lighting, which a battery powered camera is unable to.
Once you have made all these decisions, you likely have a pretty good idea of the camera you need and a much shorter list of options. Though even this shorter list of options will still offer many different options. Here are some to consider:
- Indoor/Outdoor – Will your camera operate inside a building or outdoors? If outdoors, you need to make sure the camera is rated for outdoors so that it can withstand the potential extreme weather that the climate in your area will throw at it. This can include rain, extreme heat or cold, wind, and dust.
- Motion triggered recording or always on – Do you want your camera to only record video when it detects motion, or do you want it always recording? If your camera is always recording you are guaranteed to never miss anything, but you’ll need significant storage space. A motion triggered system might only record once someone enters your property and only record for 30 seconds or a couple minutes, but will likely retain videos for weeks. An always recording camera might only be able to store a few days worth of video.
- Mobile phone app and notifications – Is it important to you to be able to access your videos easily from your mobile phone, and receive notifications whenever your cameras detect motion?
- Two way audio – Do you only want video or do you want to record sound as well? Do you want the ability to speak to someone through the camera directly from your mobile phone?
- Field of view – Does your camera need to watch over a large area like a driveway or front yard, or a small area like the front door or gate?
- Doorbell – Do you want a camera which also functions as your doorbell?
- Camera movement – Is it ok if your camera is fixed in place, or do you need the ability to remotely turn the camera to look in a different direction?
- Quality of video recording – do you need high definition video from your camera, which might be important when viewing a large area, or is standard resolution ok, which might be sufficient when recording a small space since people and objects will be much closer to the camera.