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Home > Home Security > Home Video Surveillance

Home Video Surveillance

Homeowners can improve the safety and security of their family and home with a home video surveillance system. Cameras can be placed in strategic areas of the home to provide complete coverage both inside and outside. Homeowners can watch the camera video streams from a connected TV or monitor. You can also monitor your home cameras while at the office or on the road through your office computer, iPad, PDA, or smart phone.

Uses of a Home Video System. You can use your home video system to deter or detect criminals, keep an eye on children, check on your pets, keep tabs on your home while at work, on the road, or traveling, and to see who is at your front door.

CCTV Cameras. A home video system can have any number of closed circuit TV cameras - from one to as many as needed.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR). A DVR is a specialty computer with software, hardware, and storage for video sent to the DVR by the cameras. When using a DVR you can store from one week to several months of video; the more capacity you have the more it costs. These video events can be downloaded from the DVR onto a separate computer if needed. DVRs come in many different sizes depending on how much video you want to store (period of storage and number of cameras are a factor). DVRs are the most common video management system but are seeing competition from more advanced systems such as NVRs (supports IP cameras), HDVRs, or IP systems. You can have up to 4 TBs of storage in a DVR.

Video Splitter. A video splitter will depict more than one camera view on a monitor. The basic model will show four scenes; some will show many more than four scenes.  Some splitters will allow sequencing of the video scenes.

Outdoor Lighting. Some cameras will require outdoor lighting to enable them to film video at night. There are some cameras that have an infrared capability so "white lights" will not be needed but infrared lighting will need to be installed.

E-mail and Phone Call Alerts. Some home video systems have the capability of sending you an e-mail alert or calling / texting your phone when something is not right and an alarm is activated.

Insurance Claims. Should your home become victimized by crime or vandalism your home video surveillance system may help solve the crime; and more importantly help you validate your insurance claims with your video evidence.

Home Video Surveillance Options

The challenge associated with purchasing a home video surveillance system are diverse amount of options one needs to decide on.

Professional Installation or Do-It-Yourself (DIY)? If you are handy with electricity, electronics, cameras and gadgets then you might be able to self-install a home video system on your own. A DIY system will save you some money. But if you go into a panic using your DVD then a professional will save you time, ensure the job gets done right, and provide you with the right amount of security.

Wired or Wireless? There are several factors to consider here. First of all you need to determine the camera coverage needed. If you don't want to see the camera's wires then you should choose a wireless camera. If you want a camera to be mobile - moveable from place to place the best option is wireless. If you need to transmit a camera signal through structures (floors or walls) then wireless should be chosen. If you are putting a camera in a fixed location and the wires are not a problem then go with a wired camera. You can choose to have a mix of wired and wireless cameras depending on location.

Camera Locations. In order to determine the number of cameras needed you should decide what you need to cover. One way of doing this is to identify important assets and entryways into your home. A camera covering the garage door and driveway will keep automobiles and equipment stored in the garage under view. Cameras should cover entrances to your home to include basement bulkhead or door. You might want a camera covering the children's play area or where your expensive boat is stored.

Types of Cameras. There are a couple of choices with cameras. You can decide on fixed or PTZ. PTZ is a pan, tilt, and zoom and are very expensive - however they can cover a larger field of view. Color cameras are the way to go unless you need to cover areas at night with low light - then black and white are a good option. Camera choice and placement can get complicated quickly - as in camera viewing angles and lens focal length. This is where a professional can apply his knowledge that you may not have.

Night Camera Capability. For cameras to operate at night you need to choose between regular cameras that cover a lighted area (think flood light for front and back yard) or installing infrared cameras with IR lighting (a more expensive option). You can use a combination of regular and IR lighting and cameras. Although extremely expensive, thermal cameras are a high-end option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
on Home Video Surveillance

How does a Home Video System Work? Video is captured by cameras located outside or inside of your residence. The video receiver collects the video images and stores them - at the same time transmitting them to a monitor (whether in the house or at a remote location). The images can be viewed on many different types of devices by the customer while he/she is traveling, at work, or on the road.

What Firms Offer Video Surveillance Solutions? There are a lot of firms - both large and small - that offer video surveillance solutions. Some of the bigger firms are nationwide - such as ADT. Smaller firms exist on the local or regional level such as the security systems firms found in Maine.

What about "Do It Yourself" (DIY) systems? You can buy home video surveillance packages and self-install them. Most of the major store chains offer these systems to include Home Depot, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Sears, Walmart, Target, and Amazon.


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