Security cameras are one of the best options available to help monitor your business operations or your home, thus, ensuring safety and security. Proper security camera installation and the right choice of equipment play a huge role in their performance. The first steps in installing a video surveillance system are choosing the right cameras and then identifying the location to install them.
There are different types of security cameras, e.g., infrared cameras are mainly used in low light locations; bullet cameras, which are highly visible, easy to install, and can be mounted on a wall or ceiling; dome cameras, which are most fashionable for home security; and vandal dome cameras where cameras will be mounted in areas where they are easily accessible or in high crime areas. There are several considerations to make before making any security cameras installation:
• Ensure there is an adequate power source especially for outdoor installations
• Choose the correct lighting options around the camera or choose a low light or infrared camera
• Weather considerations – this issue can be solved by using weather resistant cameras or protective casings for outdoor camera installations
• Using the correct lens for the camera such as wide angle for small hallways or vestibules or a telephoto lens for aiming at longer distance targets.
• Consider using wired or wireless security cameras
Wireless security/surveillance cameras are increasingly becoming a desirable alternative to the wired systems of the past. One of the main benefits of going wireless is the ease of installation and the portability of your cameras should you want to change their location or take them with you if you move. You are spending more money by purchasing a wireless camera, but if it works, you can save hours of installation time. Wireless cameras can either be plugged into a power source or run on a battery.
Here are the best reasons NOT to use a wireless camera:
• Battery life is very short. Only a few hours if you are lucky. Remember, the battery is powering the cameras as well as the transmitter. We get countless customers looking shocked that the wireless cameras don’t last longer on battery. They are used to getting months or years from their wireless alarm components that use very little power to operate and think cameras are the same. They are not!
• You have to wire anyway! If you are not happy with 2 -3 hours of battery life, and most people are not, then you will have to wire the camera to a power source. This means likely drilling through the wall and finding an outlet to plug into. This also means that if someone inadvertently or purposely unplugs the camera from the wall, the camera is no longer working. Keep in mind that most wired installations don’t have this issue as the wire for power is safely run in tandem (Siamese wire) with the video signal back to the control room where the recorder and monitor are located. The only way someone can stop the camera from working in the wired case would be for them to cut the actual wire.
• Wireless reception or interference is another issue. The FCC only allows a few frequencies for wireless cameras. 900 MHz range, 2.4 GHz and 5.8GHz for now. But cameras are not the only items that share this radio spectrum causing huge headaches for customers and installers trying to find a good image. And remember, your DVR recorder is 99% likely recording video with motion detection. This means that each flicker of the screen caused by interference will make your DVR record. This in turn will cause you to review hours or days more video when an event occurs and will eat up your hard drive’s capacity. Where you may have expected 4 weeks of recording capacity, you are now only getting a few days due to the constant recording caused by the poor wireless signal.
• When you send a wireless signal, anyone can pick up the transmission and watch. This means that a wireless signal inside your home gives a voyeur or thief an easy view of what is happening inside. Keep your clothes on and hide the silverware when using a wireless camera indoors. No more HBO needed for your neighbors as the Real Lifestyle of You will be broadcast for as far and wide as your cameras will transmit.
• Transmission distance stated is never the case. Remember that wireless cameras will state a transmission distance of what they measured in the lab. This lab was likely located in a dessert or a remote region where there are no trees, walls, houses, or other transmissions. So your actual results will vary and they will vary very much downward! 300′ now becomes 100-150′ with walls and neighboring transmissions.
But wait! There is hope for the wireless after all. The above problems with wireless have a newer technology that can rescue you from some of these mentioned pitfalls. Digital transmission to the rescue! New digital transmission for cameras will alleviate some of (not all) the poor wireless reception issues. The digital transmission will block some of the wireless interference from wireless routers, wireless phones, etc., by encoding the signal. This creates a much more secure connection and also encrypts the signal preventing a Peeping Tom or Sneaky Pete from looking into your home on the wireless channel. Digital will not ensure you 100% as you are still using a wireless transmission; however, the encryption of digital will prevent the average Joe from becoming a Tom or a Pete.
Even with the higher quality, we will always recommend wiring the cameras unless absolutely needed. There is hardly ever an issue when you wire. Occasionally you can get a cut wire; however, it can easily be repaired. I can confidently say that less than.05% of all installations I have been involved with have ever called on a cut wire.
Bottom line is Wire is King and Wireless is still working at becoming practical. Until then, stay wired!