Installing a CCTV system at home
Catching a burglar red-handed is challenging, and they know it. Wouldn’t it be satisfying then to have undeniable evidence to take to the prosecution team?
Closed Circuit Television – commonly abbreviated to CCTV – has been used to monitor public places in the UK since the 1960s. However, as CCTV systems have gradually become more affordable and easier to use, their popularity has grown and an increasing number of people are now installing them to enhance their home security. With nearly half (43%)1 of all burglaries in the UK taking place when properties are empty, it’s no wonder that more and more of us are turning to CCTV to monitor our homes.
If you’re planning on joining the big brother society, we’ve put together this brief overview of all the things you should keep in mind when looking for and installing a CCTV system.
Where to install a CCTV camera
Whether you’re looking to stop your property from being vandalised, or simply want to keep a watchful eye on your home while you’re out, some preliminary planning will help you make the most of your CCTV system.
According to recent data, over half (54%) of burglars enter through the front door, while two in five (38%) gain entry via the back. This means that monitoring these areas, as well as other obvious entry points such as ground floor windows, should be a priority.
Although CCTV works best when used in tandem with other forms of home security, it’s one of the first lines of defence and can be an effective deterrent in itself. Always make sure your cameras are visible, as this will help discourage any potential burglars.
Installation height will also play a crucial role in how effective your outdoor cameras will be. Although the exact logistics will depend on your property, as well as the type of camera you’re setting up, it’s generally best practice to install these around eight feet from the ground. This has the dual function of enhancing the cameras’ field of view (FOV), as well as making it more difficult for criminals to disable it.
How do home CCTV systems work?
There are an array of CCTV systems available on the market; while they all serve the function of detecting and recording an event, they work in a variety of different ways.
As the name suggests, wired CCTV systems use a cable to carry the signal from the camera to the monitor.
- Tend to be cheaper than their wireless counterparts.
- Signal is generally more reliable, as nearby devices don’t interfere.
- Great for outdoor placement, as they aren’t affected by bad weather that can cause signal loss.
- Installation can be a little tricky.
- Once installed, these systems can be difficult to move or reposition.
- Image and sound quality won’t be as crisp compared to wireless systems.
Wireless systems, on the other hand, transmit their feed using analogue (radio) or digital (WiFi) signals; the latter are also known as IP cameras, or Internet Protocol cameras. Although these types of cameras don’t require a signal transmission cable, many still need a power cable to work – this limitation can, however, be overcome fairly easily with an adaptor that allows the camera to use battery power.
- Easier to install.
- You can install them practically anywhere (within signal range).
- You can monitor the feed remotely via a phone, laptop or tablet (digital systems).
- Image and sound quality is far better compared to wired systems.
- At risk of interference from a variety of sources, such as cordless phones and microwaves (analogue).
- Could potentially be hacked – anyone who has a receiver and is within range could view the images (analogue).
Important elements to consider
When it comes to choosing a CCTV system, you want to make sure it meets your specific needs. We looked into some of the most important features you should bear in mind to help you choose the right system for your home.
Some CCTV cameras have sensors that activate the camera when movement is detected within their FOV; this can be beneficial if you want to cut down on the amount of data you’re storing. Certain models will even send you a notification when activated, so you can remotely monitor the situation in real-time.
Although most of us associate CCTV cameras with visual monitoring, some types also record and emit sound. This is a handy feature in terms of keeping track of what’s going on outside the cameras FOV, as well as being a great way to startle an intruder mid-act.
Resolution is an extremely important element to think about; no matter how much footage you have of an incident, if the quality isn’t up to scratch, it cannot be used as evidence. Ensure you go for systems that offer the highest resolution possible, even though these tend to be more expensive and are likely to use more bandwidth and storage space.
Considering a large number of burglaries happen after dark, it’s crucial that your CCTV cameras are able to record images in low to no light. Certain cameras will automatically switch to night vision when needed, others require you set how and when this feature comes into play.
Field of view
A cameras’ FOV regulates the area it’s able to monitor, and can help you figure out the number of cameras you’ll need and where you’ll need to place them.
CCTV and privacy
Knowing the rules and regulations around how CCTV should be installed and used is essential, as breaching these can lead to unexpected legal issues – mainly around privacy. Here are a few points to bear in mind:
- Ensure that your cameras are pointed towards your property, and yours alone.
- Make sure you inform your neighbours about your CCTV system.
- Put up signs on your property that clearly indicate CCTV is in operation.
- Footage should be used for no purpose other than security.
- Don’t share recordings with third parties.
If you want to find out more information about laws relating to CCTV, head over to the dedicated Government page.
Installing CCTV at home isn’t only a great way to deter opportunistic thieves, it could also help identify criminals following an incident. As effective as it may be, however, it’s always worth ensuring that even if the worst were to happen, you’re protected and covered.
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