Home CCTV - DIY Guide
Long gone are the days were only the privileged are able to protect their family/premises with a CCTV System. Simplified packaged CCTV systems now mean that anyone competent enough to wire up a home cinema system is able to successfully select, install and configure a CCTV system at a truly affordable price.
With the Internet and cctvkits.co.uk you will find all of the information you will need enabling you to make the right choice.
Our range of products includes camera and DVR (digital video recorder) bundle deals that are suited to the most common domestic and small business requirements, of which many now allow remote viewing over the internet.
To learn more take a look at the following simplified guides and if you have any questions please contact us for a speedy email response!
There are a wide variety of CCTV cameras suited to different purposes and budgets. Make sure that you take the following into account when choosing:
- Camera form and function? The first thing is to decide where and how you want to position a camera and what you want sufficient coverage of. The most common types are a fixed bullet or dome camera, suitable for both indoor & outdoor use (weatherproof) with discreet styling. Other cameras provide more advanced functions such as remote pan/tilt/zoom control while smaller hidden cameras are suited to catching thieves indoors.
- Analogue or Network IP camera? Analogue cameras have been around for years and are now very affordable. The main difference when it comes to performance is that IP cameras are capable of providing an image with greater detail (Megapixel IP cameras). However with increased resolution is increased cost and for small business/home use if you require a multi-camera system that is suitable for indoors & outdoors with night vision, then an analogue system will offer sufficient monitoring and recording capabilities at a very affordable price.
If you require only a single camera to monitor/record through your local PC network (router) or wish to monitor multiple locations via the internet then this is where IP cameras can be more cost effective as they do not require a DVR to do this.
- CCD/CMOS sensor & resolution? A camera with a CCD sensor generally produces a better image with a higher resolution. Analogue camera resolution is measured in TV Lines (TVL). 420TVL and above is ideal with 600TVL being about the most you can benefit from with a standard monitor. 420TVL equates to about 500 x 582 pixels. Pixels is the digital resolution measurement used with IP cameras.
- Lens, viewing angle and vari-focal cameras: The lens determines the viewing angle and zoom of the camera. Typical fixed lens cameras provide around a 50 degree viewing angle, however wider angle options are available which are a little more 'zoomed out'. A vari-focal camera provides an adjustable lens enabling you to perfectly alter the angle, zoom and focus on install!
- Colour/Black & White? Nearly all cameras no provide a full colour image and revert to black and white for low light/infra red viewing
- Night time viewing with infra red? Many cameras come equipped with a ring of infra red LEDs enabling black and white viewing in complete darkness. Night vision capabilities vary as some cameras are able to see much further than others, ranging from 5m to 50m!
- Audio? If you require audio capabilities, certain models do come with an integrated microphone. However a separate/discreet microphone is often used.
- Wired/Wireless? Wireless cameras provide a quick and easy solution without the signal wires. The problem with analogue wireless though is the susceptibility to interference. However newer models are now interference free (such as the Swann ADW range) although the image quality is not too good and suitable for general observation and low risk applications only. More expensive wireless IP cameras are the only way to achieve good quality interfierence free wireless CCTV coverage.
Once you have decided upon your requirements you should be able to confidently select the right camera(s) for your needs. Unless you are going for an IP camera setup you’ll need a DVR (digital video recorder) to view and record your camera output, or even view over the internet.
CCTV cameras (unless IP network cameras) output a signal via a traditional analogue connection, which can be plugged directly in to your TV without any further special equipment. However should you wish view more than one camera or record footage then you’ll be requiring a DVR (digital video recorder).
Until a few years ago viewing and recording multiple cameras required a switcher (to switch between channels), a splitter (to view all channels on the same screen) or a multiplexer (to record all channels). Now though a DVR combines all of these features into one affordable package with added capabilities including:
- Large capacity hard drives for many hours of recording
- Easy playback
- Remote viewing
- Motion detection to record only when there is movement
- Scheduled recording
- USB Connection and/or DVD recorder to extract footage
As well as the varying features available, be sure to determine the amount of camera inputs you require and allow for expansion. DVRs also differ in the way they record and let you view the camera footage.
Until recently the two most common compression types have been M-JPEG (High quality and larger file size) and M-PEG4 (Lower quality and smaller file size). Luckily now we have H.264 video compression, offering high image quality, while maintaining lower file sizes. This is the recommended compression type as it offers the perfect performance balance.
Recording resolution and frame rate
The other important factors to consider that will affect the quality of the recordings are the recording resolution and frame rate per camera. The recording resolution is the size of the image that will be replayed back to you (measured in pixels), so the higher resolution will always contain more detail.
The frame rate is measured in frames per second (FPS), which determines how smooth flowing the recordings are. It is often a trade off when setting the resolution, as a higher resolution usually means a decreased frame rate.
Ideally a CCTV DVR should be able to record up to about 704 x 576 pixels per camera (D1 resolution) at 6 frames per second. Higher priced models can retain a frame rate of 25fps at D1 resolution.