Buying your first Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) system can be a daunting thing. There are lots of choices to be made. First you must determine why and where you need your CCTV system.
You’ve heard it a thousand times, “there are no stupid questions”. Whether buying in a store or on-line, when you encounter something you don’t understand, ask a question or send an email. Most on-line sites have a FAQ page that will answer your questions. Let’s review some common questions.
Is an Infrared camera a must so that I can see in poor or no light conditions? IR cameras use LEDs to see in the dark, but the cameras are expensive and the LEDs usually last 2 to 3 years. There are circumstances where these cameras are a must, but consider either lighting the area 24 hours a day or installing motion sensing flood lamps. This is a much less expensive option.
Do I need to buy an 8 camera system if I only have need for 4 cameras? Some salespeople will always try to sell you more than you need to get a larger commission. A good salesperson will sell you what you need and only what you need and that is why you plan ahead to know your needs. Cameras and a security DVR is very reliable today and will last many years, so you do not need to buy extras in case one fails.
You should buy your equipment only in a “brick and mortar store”. While this may be a solution for you if you have a store nearby, you can find more options and better pricing on-line. On- line stores usually have more options and better pricing, because they don’t warehouse the products, but instead have them drop-shipped from the factory to you. This way you are not buying old merchandise or having some pushed on you that the retailer needs to remove from inventory. These systems today are easy to set up as a DIY project.
I need some one who will provide tech support. This is true. If your supplier doesn’t give you tech support, then move on to some one that will. Nobody knows everything, and questions may arise that need answers.
Do you need high-speed cameras with 30 frames per second? If you are putting this system in a bank or gambling casino, the answer is yes. A retail store will do fine with 15 – 20 fps, and in your home 5 – 7 fps is fine. Also the less frames per second, the more you can record on your hard drive or memory card.
Get only color cameras and stay away from black and white cameras. False! If lighting is not a problem, than color cameras are nice, but in low-light conditions, black and white cameras work the best as they see contrast in low light conditions. Some color cameras today switch to black and white in low-light conditions.
Do I need a terabyte of memory on my hard drive? If you are running multiple days of recording and 12 or 16 cameras with 30 fps per camera, than yes you need 1 to 3 terabytes of recording space. Most CCTV systems in small business or for home video security consist of 4 cameras and 80 to 60 gigabytes is ample for recording. For a hidden camera with an internal DVR a memory card with 8 gigabytes is enough as you will probably check the camera daily.
Should I buy a packaged deal? The short answer is probably yes. If you buy a packaged deal not only will you get the necessary accessories, but all the equipment will be compatible with each other. Also you’ll find a better price and get more equipment for the money in a packaged deal.
Should I expect warranty on the equipment? Of course there should be a specific warranty to protect against manufacturing defects. Also the seller should guarantee that the products you buy are useable and compatible with your needs or accept a full return.