Posts Tagged ‘ wired cameras’



Alarm System vs. Camera System

Written By:
Monday, September 15th, 2014

alarm panelNVR System

I often get asked by my clients if they should get a camera system or an alarm system?  The answer to that question can be complex because of the differences.  Are you looking for a system that is monitored?  Are you looking for a system that can actually catch the criminal?  Do you want the police to respond blindly and not in a timely fashion?  Do you want to have video of the criminal to be able to prosecute them?  Either way you go your property will have protection.  I am going to go over the pros and cons of both.

Alarm System

With an alarm system you have several different ways you can go.  If you have a home that has existing wiring of all of the contacts, all you will need to do is find a company that will monitor the system for you.  If this is a new installation most companies have gone to the new wireless systems, which are nice because the technician does not have to be skilled with running wires or proper circuitry.  One major drawback with this type of a system is that the initial price you will be quoted is for a motion detector and a couple of door sensors and once you add all the sensors and detectors you are going to need for proper coverage the price skyrockets.  Then you add the cost of monthly monitoring and it can get very costly.  Now having a home that is pre-wired with the sensors on all the doors as well as the windows or at least smash sensors on the windows is the way to go.

This is because you know every entry point is covered and you are not reliant on batteries or a centralized motion detector to try and pick up when someone entered your home.

Some people are concerned with their alarm system needing a landline phone for the system to connect to for communication.  This is not as big of a deal anymore, due to GSM systems on both hard wired and wireless solutions.  This is nice because in this day and age people have shied away from the home phone, as well it offers another layer of protection by preventing someone from just cutting the phone line.   There are also systems available that use an IP style communication device.  The GSM and IP style devices offer home and business owners an alternative to the standard phone line communication, giving greater security when you need it.  Whether you shell out the big bucks for a wireless system or have a hard wired system in your location, you will have a greater sense of security knowing that your property is being monitored by someone.  One thing to be aware of with any alarm system is local requirements for alarm permits.  I say this out of experience, if your municipality has codes in place that require you to have a permit registered with them, make sure whatever company you go with files the proper paperwork.  I had a break in at a property and the alarm company did not have all the paperwork filed correctly and the police would not respond to the location.  I feel that this is a way that some cities and municipalities to have extra revenue, but nonetheless make sure you check your local requirements so you don’t waste your money on your alarm monitoring service.

Camera System

With a camera system you also have several ways that you can go.  You can choose to stay with analog cameras and a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or you can step up to HD (High Definition) IP cameras (Internet Protocol) and an NVR (Network Video Recorder).  These systems come  in both wired and wireless configurations.  I only suggest a wired system due to it’s hardiness.  If you want a further explanation of why I feel this way you can read my article Wired vs. Wireless Cameras.

If you choose to stay with the analog transmission camera system there are several levels of cameras and recorders to choose from on the market.  I personally go with TechPro Security Products’ Ultimate Mini series DVRs, because they offer a great bang for the buck.  They give you realtime D1 recording on all channels, audio inputs, and the possibility for alarm integration.  If you go with an analog transmission system, do yourself a favor and step up to 700tvl cameras to maximize the images you get out of your recorder.  Be careful, not all 700tvl cameras are created equal, with Techpro cameras you are getting true 700tvl cameras that have high end Sony chips inside.  I have found many of times that there are companies out there that claim to have the same specifications as Techpro cameras, but when I have ordered and disassembled them they are far from the same.

Now if you are looking for the absolute best resolution in your camera system, I would go with a Techpro NVR.  I really like the mini NVRs for most applications, because they give you the same recording specifications as the full size units with a significantly smaller footprint while still offering the possibility of alarm integration.  My personal setup preference with my IP cameras is to utilize 2MP (megapixel) cameras on the outside of my structure with 1.3MP cameras on the inside.  This may sound weird to some, but I have found in the outdoor application you will be able to utilize the additional resolution for digital zoom on the recorded image.  You generally have larger areas to cover in the outdoor realm than you do in the indoor realm.

With a camera system ideally you will want to have cameras that crisscross on the front and rear of the property.  You will also want at least one camera shooting down each side of the property, depending on how long of a shot it will be.  Now remember not all structures are created equally, so if there are areas that jut out on the building you will need more cameras to get the coverage that you need.  For the types of cameras that I suggest you may want to read my article Hidden Security Cameras vs Visible Security Cameras.

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The Joining of Forces

Now any properly trained security professional will tell you that a layered defense is the best defense.  While a single layer can get the job done, having more layers will ensure your safety.  I say this because as I have talked about with the camera systems having alarm integration, this helps to build a layered defense.  Now there are several ways that you can go about integrating an alarm system with a camera system.  I am going to talk about the basics, but remember you can get as complex as you want.

One of the main reasons that I like a hard wired alarm system is the fact that it makes integration into a camera system that much easier.  For example, with every contact from an alarm system there is a signal wire coming from the contact to the alarm panel.  With this you can tie into this cable and bring it into one of the alarm inputs of the camera system, allowing you to tell the camera system how to respond with the information it is given.  What I have done at my own home is correlate each contact for specific sections of my house to the cameras that watch those areas.

When one of these contacts is triggered, my DVR takes that signal, emails me the pictures from the cameras I have designated, and the application TechproSS Plus on my phone pushes me the video instantaneously.  This is extremely nice and efficient because even if the perpetrator happens to get my DVR, I still have photographic and video evidence.

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Wired vs. Wireless Cameras

Written By:
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

wireless-camera

One of the most common questions that I get asked is about wireless camera systems. Everyone wants to have wireless cameras.  I guess that Hollywood has done a lot to make people think that a completely wireless camera system is a good viable option.  There are several advantages and disadvantages to both wired and wireless cameras.  When it comes to my personal security, I will always choose the hardwired system over a wireless system any day of the week.

A wireless camera is a camera in which the video is transmitted over the air to a receiver which captures and records the video.  A wired camera is a camera that transmits the video over a hardwired connection to a receiver. The camera generally not only transmits the video over the cable, but with the correct cable can get it’s power source that way as well.

Pros of Wireless Cameras

There are some pros to having a wireless camera system. The biggest pro would be the fact that installation is generally easier.  When you do not have to worry about climbing through attics or fishing wires through ceiling and walls, the job just got easier.  Typically all you need to worry about when installing a wireless surveillance system with regards to the camera is having a power source in a relatively close proximity to the camera.  Once that is done, all you need to do is mount the cameras and set up your recording device.  This sounds great on the surface, but in reality it’s not that easy.

Cons of Wireless Cameras

With wireless cameras there are a multitude of downfalls.  One of the biggest downfalls that I see are picture quality.  With almost every wireless camera that I have seen on the market, the resolution quality is generally less than 702×480.  When it comes to quality surveillance cameras you want a higher resolution to gather as much detail of the image as possible.  I feel that the reason a lower resolution image is used is so that it can transmit the video footage in more frames per second with less latency in the video.  Another downfall with wireless is that they generally are in the 2.4ghz spectrum.  If you look around most places, that spectrum is inundated with use.  Generally speaking there are 14 channels available in this range.  Inside of this range you have everything from wireless B and G networks, some parts of wireless N networks, a new wireless network AD which is in it’s draft phase will still use some of this range, microwave ovens, baby monitors, digital cordless telephones, car alarms, and bluetooth adapters.

This range of frequency is very crowded and the overlapping of channels with their frequency ranges is a recipe for disaster in a security system.  Adding in yet more devices that are on the same bandwidth, you are asking for interference.  With interference you will get lost signal, dropped signals, and lost video.  I don’t know about you, but I want to know that my CCTV system is always going to record when I needed it to.  Lets say you want to put a camera in a spot without a close power outlet, you have one of a few options.  You can either try and find a battery powered camera, good luck finding anything worth it, have an outlet wired closer to the camera location, or move your camera location closer to an outlet.  These all seem to me that they are more trouble than they are worth.  When I am installing a camera, I want to be able to put it where I am going to get the best possible shot, not where power is going to dictate.  If you find good locations with close power, you better hope that there is no major obstructions in the way, like too many concrete walls, or any of the other items that may interfere with the signal.  If you want a wireless Pan Tilt Zoom camera, they are out there, but if the video signal doesn’t come in do you think the control of the camera is going to be any better.

Pros of Wired Cameras

With every type of method, there are pros and cons.  One of the pros of having your cameras hardwired is that you can count on the picture coming into your recorder.  The power and video can be ran on 1 cable, so everything can be centrally located.  No interference from telephones, bluetooth, wireless networks, microwave ovens, baby monitors, or car alarms.  A wider selection of camera styles are available for use.  You can have a Pan Tilt Zoom camera, to allow you to have one camera to look all around.  You can add audio to your security system without major hassles.  No need for the cameras to be mounted close to a power source, the cable will carry it wherever you need, within reason.  If you use a power distribution box up to 16 of your cameras can be powered with one unit, eliminating multiple power supplies.  There are several different types of wire that can be used to wire your cameras.  You can do simple plug and play, separate RG59 or RG6 and 18/2, Siamese, or Cat 5 cable to wire your cameras.  Wired cameras are harder for someone to disrupt the service of the camera system, by not allowing frequency jamming devices to interrupt you video signal.

Cons of Wired Cameras

With every wiring job comes some complications.  When you are wiring a camera system it is no different.  You can run into studs, concrete block, and other obstacles that can not be seen with drywall up.  You typically have to climb around in an attic and deal with insulation.  You will have to fish wires down walls and around other objects in your path.  If you lay the cable on a high powered line you will get interference on the picture of that camera.  If you choose to use any cable other than plug and play cables, you will have to terminate the ends for it to work properly.

Conclusion

There are some advantages and disadvantages for both types of camera styles.  I personally feel that if a wireless option is what you are looking for, you should do an IP solution with access points and an omni directional antenna.  With this type of setup you are getting the highest rate of resolution for security cameras and you are dealing with network based protocol with better transmission than standard 2.4ghz wireless receivers and transceivers.  With this type of a setup you will still need a power supply close to the camera location for the access point and the camera.  Another cool thing you can do is if you need a camera at a location that is too far to run a cable, and there is line of sight, there are access point/bridges that can travel for miles.  This is very useful for gates and remote camera locations but you will still need a power source.  This will save you from trenching a cable all the way to the camera location.

There are some downfalls to this type of setup, you are sending high quality images over the air and most units can only handle a portion of the data at once.  Most access points are limited to 150 mbps (Megabytes Per Second) up and down. When you are talking about a high resolution image you may be able to get approximately eight 2MP cameras before running into network issues.  If you want to get around this you may want to use multiple access points/bridges to communicate with each other and then you will have 150 mbps on each set of units instead of being limited to the one omni directional access point.  By doing this type of a setup you will be limited to the switch that they go into.

You can probably tell by now my which way I lean when it comes to wired vs wireless.  I am a firm believer that if you are going to spend the time and money to do something, you should do it right the first time and not have to do it over again.  I do not want to have to worry about not getting the images from my camera to my DVR, take the trouble to have to have electrical reran just to fit a camera location, or settle for subpar equipment just to make my job easier.  Wireless cameras are still in the infancy and I feel are years away if ever from being perfected.

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