Choosing a CCTV system

Keep an eye on what matters most

When it comes to protecting your home, a CCTV surveillance system is one of the most significant investments you can make.

CCTV (or closed-circuit television) is a camera (or number of cameras) that only record to a specific device (so they don’t use an open network that others can access).

The range of options on the market is extensive, so we've put together some tips to help you choose the right option.

Security or surveillance camera?

These may sound like the same thing, but they're not. Surveillance cameras can only record what happens, whereas security cameras can send alerts when an event occurs, like a break-in.

Indoor or outdoor cameras?

This largely depends on your property. If you have a lot of outdoor space with any concealed entrances (for example, a back door that’s not visible from the street), you might need to monitor them, but if you live in a tower block with a shared entrance, indoor cameras might be more suitable.

Fixed or PTZ cameras?

Fixed cameras are secured to monitor a specific spot, while PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras can move and focus on different areas. Again, it depends on the area you want to monitor and be aware that PTZ cameras are often more expensive due to the increased functionality.

Bullet or dome cameras?

You’ve probably seen both types of these cameras when you’re out and about. Bullet cameras are visible camera kits that you often see in town centres, whereas dome cameras are often less visible (like the kind you might see in a shop or hotel lobby).

Both systems have their own advantages. Bullet cameras are the most visible and are potentially a better deterrent to burglars. Dome cameras are more discreet and it's harder to tell where they're pointing (making them harder to avoid).

Wired or wireless cameras?

Wired cameras are typically harder to place and install, but are more reliable as they don't rely on a wireless (wi-fi) connection that can be more prone to variable signal strength. Wireless cameras can be installed anywhere, but may experience signal interruptions.

IP or analogue cameras?

This option refers to how you access the camera's footage. IP cameras allow you to access the footage on different devices, whether you’re at home or not. So this option could suit you if you work late at night or are often away from home. However, they are more expensive than their analogue cousins.

Analogue systems record to one device, so you’ll need to be with this device if you want to access the footage. This could suit you if you keep to regular working patterns.

Comparing specifics

Once you’ve decided on the type of CCTV you’d like to install, you’ll notice that different brands offer different levels of specification.

Here are some quick tips on what to look compare.

  • Image resolution

Generally speaking, the higher the resolution, the more detail you’ll capture in your images. Most homes don’t need extremely high resolution, but it can be useful if you need to identify specific people from the footage.

  • Field of vision

This is the size of the area that the camera can monitor. If you're buying a single camera, you’ll want to make sure it can cover the area you want to monitor.

  • Night vision

Infrared cameras can capture video in the dark, when burglars might think they can't be seen. So if you’re thinking of installing outdoor cameras, this is probably a feature you’ll want.

  • Audio

Some cameras are fitted with microphones and speakers, so they also work as an intercom. This can be useful if they’re placed at your front door, for example, or to make sure anyone vulnerable at home can check who’s outside.

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