THE PATHFINDER TO YOUR SECURITY CAMERAS
The most important things to know
to choose meaningfully.
Security cameras are devices that register and transmit video, and sometimes audio, to a receiver for surveillance purposes. While traditional security cameras mostly use wires for transmitting both the signal and for powering themselves, the newest versions support the wireless transmission of the signal through a radio band and in many cases are also battery-powered. This simplifies the installation, avoiding in many cases the involvement of an installer, and decreases the overall costs, increasing the accessibility to the creation of more secure homes to more people.
Newest security cameras additionally connect to the internet and with it, the possibilities, among which live streaming stands out, become endless. With connected devices, you can see what happens at your home from wherever you are and whenever you want. Some devices are equipped with intrusion sensors, meaning that they can notify you in case that any activity is detected. You can find some models that integrate a speaker, meaning that you can't just see who is on the other side of the camera, but you can also communicate with whoever it is. And it does not end here. Facial, kids and pet recognition, night vision and media storage are just some of the additional functions available in a security camera.
The use cases associated with outdoor and indoor security cameras are therefore quite a few. For instance, how many times have you thought about contracting a cleaning service, a babysitter or a caretaker, but you have been discouraged by some unfortunate event that you, or someone else, experienced in the past? Have you ever received an alarm notification but have not been able to check what was going on at home immediately? How often do you think about the integrity of your house and premises when you are away for vacations or a business trip? Have you ever been told by a neighbour about someone snooping around your house? Has it ever happened to you that when you return home to encounter a wall painted, dirt on the main door or any other kind of vandalism act?
It is not that you need to convert your home into a cinema studio, but installing security cameras in the most sensible spaces of your home can be beneficial for your security and your peace of mind. Finally, and in case you are privacy sensitive, you can look for devices that allow the deactivation of cameras and microphones when they are not essential or even devices that integrate a physical camera shutter.
Time saved thanks to the possibility of checking specific home situations (like the arrival of kids at home) at the touch of a button avoiding messages and calls.
No direct impact on the physical environment.
Peace of mind increased thanks to the possibility of remotely monitoring your home, your family, your pets or any third party service that enters your home while you are away.
No direct impact on home costs.
Security cameras are usually classified attending the power source used (wired vs wireless), the working environment supported (outdoor vs indoor) and the compatible working day-time (day vision vs night vision). However, their shape, which is sometimes overlooked, has a more significant impact on the pure functionalities of the security camera. The main security camera types are:
These security cameras present a long cylindrical shape similar to one of the bullets. They are usually installed on walls and ceilings, both indoors and outdoors. These cameras typically are fixed, present a limited viewing angle and are an excellent solution when you want to capture what happens at specific points, like entry doors, especially when it is required to cover longer ranges. Although they exist in several dimensions, they are generally visible. This will on one side make your home less appealing to intruders, while on the other it may encourage some acts of vandalism.
These security cameras present a semi-circular shape similar to one of the domes. Like bullet security cameras, they are usually mounted on walls and ceilings, both at indoor and outdoor environments. The main advantage of dome security cameras, apart from the fact of being discrete, is that they make it more difficult for intruders to say to which direction they are pointing. Generally, this type of camera presents a broader field of view than bullet ones at the cost of shorter-range coverage.
These security cameras are usually dome-shaped security cameras that offer the added convenience and control of being able to modify the movement and position of the lens from remote. Pan refers to the horizontal position of the lens, tilt to the vertical position of the lens and zoom to the modification of the focal length that makes an object seem bigger or smaller. These security cameras usually offer the possibility of pre-defining several positionings to be monitored, and when combined with intrusion sensors, they can move automatically to focus and sometimes follow the origin of the activity detected.
Choosing a security camera to make your home a securer place might not be easy, but understanding the main characteristics and functionalities can support you on making an informed decision:
There is not a camera type that is better than the other. A combination of bullet and dome cameras that cover all the sensible areas of your home might be the right combination.
Most security cameras are wired to a power line. This set-up is especially advised for security cameras that may register in continuous mode. Wireless security cameras that run on batteries are also available, and some even come with integrated solar chargers. Their main advantage is the added flexibility they offer when deciding where to place them, avoiding the need of running an extension cord or contacting an electrician to do it for you. As a counterpart, they may need recurrent battery changes.
Security cameras can be suitable for indoor, outdoor or both types of environments. Just make sure to select the correct one. Outdoor security cameras become one of the first security measures that you may want to adopt for your home. Still, if you live in a condominium or you have a video doorbell already in place, you may want to avoid them. When selecting a security camera, especially an indoor one, take into consideration the aesthetics and the use that you are going to make of it. For instance, if you plan to move it from one room to another, you may appreciate a battery-powered security camera.
Take into account fix costs like installation fees and monthly professional monitoring fees. Consider as well the flexibility of the offer, namely, the possibility of contracting professional monitoring during a limited period and the possibility of using a control and monitoring app for free.
While security cameras will allow you to save the registrations for free, either locally (in microSD cards for example) or at your cloud, some other security systems may require you to store the contents directly at the cloud of the brand. In this case, registrations can usually be accessed for free within a limited amount of time and extended through a subscription plan.
To experience an excellent live view, you need a security camera that can offer an excellent resolution. The higher the resolution, the finer and better details will be displayed, and vice versa. So, if the video quality is essential to you, look for devices that can offer HD video. In case you want a higher resolution, you can opt for a 4K UHD, but this will take further storage capacity and bandwidth. As well, if the security camera will be installed in an area with light variations, you might want to look for a device that can offer HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging. This will enhance the level of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene.
Most security cameras support night vision to allow you to see after sunset. Most of them use infrared lights that illuminate the person, being the output a black and white image. Some others instead integrate standard LED lights that illuminate the scene, increasing in this way the visibility level of the camera that will be able to register the images in colour. Coloured images can one side facilitate the recognition of burglars. On the other hand, this technique can lead to overpass some events as the camera only sees criminals once they enter the illuminated area.
This refers to the area that the security camera can see. Cameras with a greater field of view cover a full area with, generally, a lower level of detail. Cameras with a smaller field of view cover a narrower area with, usually, a higher level of detail. For instance, a camera with a field of view of 180º creates a "fisheye" effect that allows covering everything in front of it.
Some security cameras are entirely fixed while others may allow you to modify the pan, tilt and zoom either manually, with your hand, or digitally from remote with a controller like an app. That extra flexibility may raise the costs of the security camera, but at the same time, they may avoid you buying several fix cameras to cover the same area.
Some security cameras come equipped with motion and sound detection that notify you in case they detect any activity. To limit the number of notifications, some devices can distinguish kids, pets and objects from people and additionally, some will let you select the zones of the scene that makes sense to monitor.
Some security cameras come with facial recognition. This means that they can differentiate between unknown people, and therefore potential threats, or family members and friends. Some security cameras offer this feature for free, while others require you to join a subscription plan.
Some security cameras register both image and sound, while others register just images. As well, some security cameras offer non-stop continuous video recording (CVR) while others will record only when some kind of activity is detected.
This refers to the possibility of communicating with whoever it is in front of the security camera, either it is an intruder, the delivery man, your kids or your pets. In the case of noisy environments, and to enhance communication, it may be a good idea to choose a security camera that can cancel the surrounding.
Most security cameras combine different types of alerts to inform you and the neighbourhood about any detected activity like motion or noise. These can be audible alerts (sound emitted through an integrated speaker), visual alerts (light emitted by an integrated light) and remote mobile alerts (push notification, email and others).
Nearly all security cameras in the market offer the possibility of deactivating the camera and the microphone when you consider that they are not essential. Some also integrate a physical camera shutter to provide you with extra peace of mind.