September is National Preparedness Month, making it an ideal time to talk about how to properly protect your home and family with a security system.
Technology now makes it easier than ever for homeowners to install surveillance cameras both inside and outside their residences. Camera systems are relatively inexpensive, simple to install and allow access to the video footage from Smartphones, tablets and other devices 24/7.
If you are thinking about installing cameras in your home (or small business), here are a few things to consider:
Number of cameras required
The quantity of cameras you'll need depends upon the size of your home. Cameras are sold either as a set or individually. If you require multiple cameras, you can opt for those that are static, meaning they don't move, tilt or pan the area in which they cover. If you are using individual cameras, choose ones that offer these capabilities so that the video will cover more square footage.
Plan for possible expansion by choosing a surveillance system with multiple channels, which will allow you to add more cameras as needed.
Also, though you may only need 8 cameras now, it may not cost much more to buy a system with 16 units. Something to think about as you do your research on the system that best fits your needs.
Do you need indoor only cameras or ones that operate both inside and out? Outdoor cameras have weatherproofing features, and as such, are slightly more expensive. But since they will bear the brunt of heat, rain, wind and cold, this feature is worth every penny.
For condos and townhomes, you may be able to forego outdoor cameras, or at least limit them, but most single family homes will benefit from outdoor surveillance systems. Place cameras at all exterior doors, including above your garage door. Ensure they cover front, back and side yard areas.
Inside cameras should typically cover main livings spaces including family and living rooms, kitchens, halls, home office spaces and possibly even inside your garage. Privacy obviously dictates cameras should be left out of baths and bedrooms.
Hard wired or wireless?
Though hard wired systems are more reliable, they will most likely require pulling cables through walls and floors, making installation a bit trickier and more time consuming. Wireless systems are much simpler to set up; you plug cameras into a power source and using WiFi, they communicate with the main system.
Video storage options
There are a variety of options for storing your video footage. DVR backups offer significant storage (up to a few terrabytes) and are ideal for multi-camera systems. And, the higher the resolution, the more space is needed.
For smaller amounts of storage, a home monitoring system with a flash memory card, small hard drive or network video recorder (NVR) can provide ample space. NVRs often have the advantage of Power over Ethernet (PoE), which enables the cameras to operate without an additional power supply, transmitting video and power via a single, in-wall Ethernet cable.
The ability to access your surveillance system while away from home is a great feature. Many systems support cloud backups, a convenient option that lets you login from any device at any time from anyplace. Do keep in mind that there may be an additional monthly fee for cloud storage.
Many systems allow homeowners to set up alerts when motion or sound is detected. These notifications will appear on your Smartphone via an app. As this feature uses your WiFi, typically no additional fees are incurred for this option.
Night vision is something to consider, especially for outdoor cameras. Having clear video footage in the dark may prove helpful.
Decide if you want a separate monitor or if you prefer connecting the system to your PC or TV. Both will offer you a single source to view what your multitude of cameras see.
If you choose a hard wired system, you may want to enlist the installation assistance of a professional, who can pull needed wiring through walls. WiFi systems can typically be set up by the homeowner.
PC Magazine recently posted an article listing the best in-home security systems. It provides details on storage, video quality, cost, and other vital information that may prove helpful in your search.