CCTV system buying guide: What you should really consider
With CCTV systems gaining more popularity than ever before with the average home or small business owner, choosing the right CCTV equipment for the job is paramount. Whether your are thinking about installing your own CCTV cameras or plan to have a security installer do it for you, always be sure to consider the following points.
1. Consider your surroundings and where the cameras will be installed:
Will the CCTV camera be used in an indoor or outdoor environment?
When installing cameras outdoors it is essential to check if the cameras you are buying are weatherproof. Always ensure outdoor cameras have an IP66 or higher weather rating. The last thing you want is your CCTV camera failing during periods of heavy rain or intense heat!
What kind of lighting is available in your home or business?
If there are low amounts of light (particularly during the night) you should always consider a security camera with infrared (IR) capability. IR LEDs They are able to “illuminate the area” by automatically switching from colour to black and white in low light conditions. The infrared illuminators turn on and allow you to see a much clearer image than the human eye in both low light and no light.
2. Determine what you aim to capture with your CCTV system and the amount of detail you require:
What would you like your CCTV system to capture?
- A scene – so you know if something is happening out of the ordinary (i.e. trespassing)
- An event – so you can determine exactly what is happening (i.e. a car burglary)
- An individual – so you can see who is committing the burglary
Determining your Field Of View (FOV) will help determine if the lens on the camera will cover the area and detail you wish to capture.
What image or video quality do you require?
With the above in mind, a CCTV camera’s resolution must also be considered as this is the measure of noticeable detail that you see in an image. Resolution is represented by the number horizontal TV lines or TVL. Below is a comparison of various CCTV camera resolutions. The higher the TVL reading of the camera the more detail you will be able to see from your CCTV images.
All of the above factors including indoor/outdoor environment, lighting, field of view and resolution are absolutely essential in determining the kind of cameras and their positioning in your home or business for maximum security.
3. Now its time to decide which CCTV cameras are a right for you…
Full body or box cameras
- Known as a full body camera or “box camera”due to its rectangular shape
- Most commonly installed in large well lit areas such as car parks, jails, sports grounds, outside corporate buildings
- Can be used in an outdoor environment when placed inside a housing
- Flexible in terms of altering field of view (FOV) and focus depending on the size of lens being used.
- As these cameras do not have a IR illumination, these are best installed in areas which have existing lighting.
- Wide range of lenses can be used to suit the environment
- Great for providing a very clear picture of a small area i.e. A “mugshot” at point of entry.
- A lot more noticeable/obtrusive to the human eye
- Do not have their own IR illumination and must be paired with an outdoor weather-proof housing if being installed outdoors
- Provide a good picture only in well lit areas
Dome or ball cameras
- Dome Cameras are best installed in places where CCTV needs to be made less obvious
- When used in a home, dome cameras are most commonly installed at the front and back entry points as a minimum
- For a business, dome cameras are best installed in the inside or outside of an office building, restaurants, pubs and clubs
- When installed outside they should be made from a strong vandal-resistant metal to ensure they are less prone to damage
- Some dome cameras have a vari-focal lens, meaning they can be zoomed in/out to suit the desired environment.
- Stylish and visually appealing design
- Can provide a clear picture during day and night (with built-in IR illumination)
- Comes with built-in lens
- Great all-in-one solution (night vision, vandal resistant, weather-resistant)
- Usually cannot cover a long distance without compromising on total area
Tube or bullet cameras
- Tube cameras combine characteristics of both full body and dome cameras
- Can usually be installed in much the same areas as dome cameras depending on visual preference
- Large IR tubes are most effective when installed in large outdoor areas such as car yards, large paddocks, stock warehouses and various work sites
- Include weather-resistant housing and hood to reduce solar glare
- Can cover larger areas than dome cameras and box cameras at night (due to more IR LEDs)
- More flexibility in terms of camera size to fit different environments and cover varying distances
- More obtrusive than ball cameras
- Can be vandalised more easily than dome cameras due to their shape
CCTV camera systems and the environment they are installed in must be considered together, not in isolation of one another. Taking the time to understand characteristics such as available lighting, detail required from CCTV images, and the type of CCTV cameras available to you, will always ensure your system performs its key purpose in providing safety and security for your home or business.