Home Surveillance Camera System Buying Guide

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Home Surveillance Camera System Buying Guide

With a video or camera surveillance system, you can watch over your home even when you're far away. Whether you want to discourage burglars, see who knocked on your front door, make sure the babysitter is really keeping an eye on the kids or find out what your pets do all day while you're at work, a surveillance camera system lets you monitor what exactly goes on in or around your home. When choosing a surveillance system, there are quite a few questions to answer.

Wired or Wireless?

If you have a small home and want to install the system yourself, a wireless surveillance system doesn’t require any complicated knowledge of wiring or cables. Just install the cameras where you want coverage, and program them to the system receiver. Wireless cameras are easy to reposition and are also good for locations that aren’t easily accessed or where the appearance of wires is a concern.

If you have a large home, want to avoid possible interruptions of transmission or are looking to keep down costs, a wired system is the answer. You will need to run a cable from each camera to the receiver. Many DIYers can handle this on their own, but if you want the wires to run through drywall, you will probably need to pay for professional installation.

What Type of Cameras Do You Need?

There are many types of cameras available. Box and dome cameras are the most common types used in homes and are available for indoor or outdoor use, with infrared lighting for nighttime vision and with different types of lenses. Box cameras have the additional benefit of being highly visible, thus deterring would-be burglars.

If you want to know what’s going on without making your surveillance obvious, a covert camera provides an eye on your home without giving away the presence of the camera. These hidden cameras are often disguised as an everyday object like an air purifier or smoke detector.

How Many Cameras Do You Need?

You can only install as many cameras as there are ports on the DVR that monitors your system. Four ports is a common size and are sufficient for a very small home. An eight-port DVR lets you add cameras if you want to expand security or provide coverage for a larger home. There are 16-port systems, but most residences will not require such a large security system.

Do You Need Outdoor Cameras?

If you want to monitor your front door, backyard or other outdoor areas, you need security cameras that are designed to withstand the elements. Outdoor cameras won’t be damaged by rain or temperature extremes, and many are sturdy enough to withstand a vandal with a baseball bat.

Though most homeowners want obvious outdoor cameras to warn potential burglars they are being watched, sometimes you need a camera to discreetly prove illegal or disruptive actions are being carried out on your property. A camera that is disguised as a common object like a bird feeder can help crack the case on a neighborhood thief or vandal.

Color Or Black And White?

A color camera lets you see details that help in identifying a criminal, such as hair color and clothing. Black and white cameras, however, are often less expensive and give better pictures in low-light areas. An outdoor camera might be best in black and white, while you may want to use color cameras inside the home.

Want To Monitor From Your Phone?

Many surveillance systems let you monitor your home over the Internet or even from your smartphone. This is an especially nice feature if you want to watch your children from the office, see which dog is regularly feasting on the family's shoes or keep an eye on your home while traveling on business.

Want A Microphone With Your Camera?

If you want to be able to hear, as well as see, what is going on in your home, look for a system that includes a microphone with the camera. These are particularly good if you want to be able to use your system as a baby or child monitor.

Where Should You Put The Cameras?

When setting up your system, think about the likely points of entry for a burglar. The most common points of entry are downstairs windows, the front door and any side or back doors. For the most security, you should have cameras positioned to survey these vulnerable locations.

Inside the home, place cameras high enough to obtain a good view of the entire room, especially the windows or doors. If you have particularly valuable items in the room, be certain the camera includes those in the scope of vision.

Though nothing is failsafe, a video surveillance system adds a strong measure of security to your home. You can feel peace of mind wherever you are, knowing that your children and pets are safe inside the home, the outside is secure and your family is protected.

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