As the use of smart home technology expands, so does the prevalence of home security surveillance cameras. Modern homeowners see the value in being able to see their home on demand and are regularly looking at these products as a feature of their security system, whether through a security dealer or a DIY solution.
There are hundreds of camera options available on the market, so how do you know which one is the best option for you? The answer varies depending on how and where you are planning to use it. But there are some good considerations to keep in mind when you are making your decision.
First, it’s helpful to understand some of the more common types of cameras:
- Bullet: probably the most familiar silhouette for a surveillance camera, usually about the size of a soda can. These cameras are wall mounted and often used outside.
- Dome: Ceiling-mounted cameras with a dome cover. They can be stagnant or remotely controlled for panning and zooming.
- Live streaming: An indoor camera designed to sit on a piece of furniture and feed a continuous signal to a computer or mobile device.
- IP: Plug-and-play cameras which can work with existing home automation and security devices.
- Hidden: Cameras which are camouflaged to look like ordinary objects for the purpose of stealth surveillance. These cameras tend to not be utilized as often in home security.
So what kind of features should you consider when shopping for home security surveillance cameras?
Resolution counts, especially if there’s a good chance law enforcement will be viewing your footage. Standard-definition cameras measure resolution in TVL (TV lines). The higher the TVL number, the better resolution the camera has. But high-definition cameras are quickly becoming standard technology, with resolutions measured in megapixels, like a digital camera. Of course, better resolution can mean a higher price tag.
Night vision capability (infrared technology) may be an important feature for you, especially for cameras which will monitor the area around your home. Being able to visually pick up a prowler in the darkness of your yard adds to the effectiveness of your home security system.
Motion detection is also a desirable feature, especially if you only want the camera to record based on movement. However, choose a model with adjustable sensitivity so you can help it distinguish between Fluffy the cat wandering by and an actual intruder.
Outdoor cameras must be able to withstand the elements! If your camera is going to be used for outside monitoring, make sure you look for a quality, waterproof model. Cameras listed as “water-resistant” may be able to withstand a light summer shower, but may be rendered useless by a torrential downpour or even extreme temperatures.
Having movement capabilities (pan, tilt, zoom) could be a desirable feature, but may only be practical for you if someone is going to be present to monitor the video feed on a regular basis. Without manual interaction, the feature would not get used regularly.
Wireless security cameras add an element of simplicity by not requiring a physical connection to your network. They also are more difficult to disable without a network wire which could be cut. However, keep in mind a wireless camera may devour your Internet download speeds depending on the frequency it uses. Cameras and receivers which run on 2.4GHz may be at odds with your home Internet connection.
Another important feature decision when you choose a surveillance camera is determining where your video footage will be stored. Some devices store your footage locally, through a DVR recorder, microSD card or hard drive, some of which you may have to purchase separately. This method of video storage gives you the benefit of always having control and possession of your recordings, but also requires you to manage and protect that data. Other devices are designed to store video footage in the cloud. The camera automatically saves your footage to a cloud-based account and gives you online access. Cloud storage usually requires a subscription service at a monthly cost.
This is just a small sampling of features you should consider when choosing your home security surveillance cameras. Before you make a decision, do your research, read through features and reviews, and ask for referrals from family or friends who use the products. With a little due diligence, you’ll find the perfect camera for your needs.