CCTV Buying Guide
If you’re considering a CCTV system to help you look after what matters most to you - whether that’s your home or your business - you want to be safe in the knowledge you’ve chosen a setup that best meets your needs. We’ve created these guides to help you understand the differences between the various CCTV systems, cameras, recorders and setups, and work out which is best for you.
Protect your home, loved ones and valuables with an outdoor CCTV kit. Cameras capture footage whenever movement is detected, so if there is any unwanted activity around your home, you will have a recording as evidence ready to make full use of. Outdoor CCTV is a great way to improve your overall home security.
The benefits of outdoor CCTV
CCTV is a great way of deterring criminals, and this is especially true of CCTV used outside homes. Only around 1 in 20 homes have a CCTV system of some kind, so many home owners make use of CCTV simply for its’ deterrent effect, while a home CCTV kit in comparison can only be used to protect a person’s family and property.
Outdoor CCTV can help identify suspicious behaviour, such as individuals trespassing on your land or inspecting your property, helping you to pre-empt criminal action. Home CCTV can additionally be used to identify where a family member or visitor is – to find or to identify when someone has arrived at a gate or front door.
Where to install outdoor CCTV cameras
Front and rear doors, windows
These are the most common access points into the home. An outdoor camera with a wide lens allows you to cover the full length of your exterior walls – capturing footage around windows and doors that are otherwise unprotected.
Driveways are a security priority for two reasons: firstly, as a main approach to the home, and secondly as a parking spot for cars and vans. Cars on driveways are a common target for theft - even as a getaway car after a burglary, as it’s often quite easy to locate car keys after gaining access to the home. A camera trained on a domestic driveway should use as wide-angle of a lens as necessary to get the entirety of the driveway in shot - however, this should be balanced with the need for detail.
If you spend considerable time and money on your garden, you’ll agree that it is a high value target. You might keep valuable garden tools in your shed, or else have a summer house or another exterior building that could be a target for thieves. Install garden CCTV to keep it safe.
Things to avoid
CCTV systems should be operated in a responsible way to respect the privacy of others. It is important to ensure that you are not accidentally filming anything outside your own property. If your cameras are picking up footage from outside your property, for example of your neighbour’s garden or a public footpath, this is considered an invasion of privacy.
Being transparent about your CCTV plans with your neighbours is advised. Inform them of where you plan to place your cameras and consider letting them see evidence of what your cameras are recording.
Talking to your neighbours isn’t just polite – some neighbours find they have mutual security concerns, and decide to split the cost of a CCTV setup that covers both of their properties.
Most people will choose to have CCTV installed solely on the exterior of their homes. But some people install security cameras indoors too. Interior CCTV cameras make an effective addition to your home security system.
Benefits of indoor CCTV
There are several benefits to indoor CCTV.If burglars gain access to your home, indoor CCTV will catch them in the act, providing solid evidence to make your case. Indoor CCTV can also be helpful for families looking after elderly relatives, to keep an eye on them and ensure that they are being well cared for.
These can also act as a deterrent to opportunists who may be tempted by valuables. Cleaners, decorators, carers and other people working in your home will be less inclined to steal in the presence of indoor CCTV cameras – and if they do there’ll be plenty of footage to prove it.
Where to install indoor CCTV
Porch, backdoor and windows
These are the most common points of entry into a home by an intruder. A narrow-angle camera will allow for identification of everyone who enters and exits.
Intruders searching your house for valuables will have to pass through this particular bottleneck. Again, a narrow-angle camera is perfect for such a scenario.
As well as another entry point into many homes, vehicles parked in the garage will be high value targets. In order to cover the larger entryway that a garage door provides, a wider-angle lens may be needed.
Prized jewellery, antiques, expensive electronics and safes are more secure with narrow-angle indoor CCTV protecting them.
Choosing a CCTV Kit
If you’re looking to setup a new CCTV system at your home or business, it can be difficult to know where to start with so many variations of cameras, recorders, displays and cabling to think about. That’s where CCTV kits come in - buying a kit with everything you need to get started, knowing all the components will work together, takes the headache out of getting the right solution for you. You’ll need to look at the following five factors to help choose the right CCTV kit for your needs.
Type of Recorder
- DVRs (digital video recorders) take feeds directly from analogue cameras via coaxial cables and convert them into digital files for easy storage.
- NVRs (network video recorders) store digital images directly from cameras on the same IP network: they record video streams that have already been digitally encoded.
Whereas DVRs need to be cabled to analogue cameras, NVRs can be located anywhere on the network. NVR systems are network only.
Number of channels and cameras
When choosing a CCTV kit, you need one channel for each camera you have in your system. We stock kits that are capable of recording between 4 to 16 channels, and include up to 16 cameras. For businesses, our B2B team can source 32 and 64 channel cameras – visit the Business section of our site for more details. If you’re planning on extending your CCTV network at a later date, be sure to buy a kit that will support the additional channels.
How many cameras and channels do you need?
- Four channels/cameras are usually enough for a typical three-bedroom home.
- Eight channels/cameras should be adequate for small businesses, including offices, and small shops and warehouses.
- Nine to 12 channels/cameras should be considered for large or unusually designed buildings.
- Warehouses and big businesses may require 16 channels/cameras or more.
Quality and type of cameras
Another consideration to make when choosing a CCTV kit is the quality and type of cameras. TVL, or ‘television lines’, refers to the quality of video that a camera can output. You may also see cameras described in terms of HD standards, such as ‘720p’ or ‘1080p’.
- 320, 400 or 420 TVL is suited for most general home monitoring needs.
- 480, 540 or 600 TVL will be sufficient to monitor valuables in your home or office.
- 650 or 700 TVL or 720p will provide identification at long rage, suitable for use in warehouses, car parks, forecourts and other large business premises.
You'll find four types of camera shapes available
- Box - Great value and best used in sight and out of reach, often outside.
- Bullet - compact and more discrete than box cameras. Best used out of reach, often outside.
- Dome - tamper-proof and discrete, can be used within reach, often used in retail or offices.
- Covert - hidden devices that are very discrete, but compromise on video quality.
Like computer hard drives, DVR and NVR storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).
The storage capacity you need your CCTV kit to provide will depend on the following factors:
- Camera stream/compression your DVR or NVR uses for recording - H.264 is more efficient than MPEG4, for example
- Camera resolution - the higher the resolution, the more space it will take up
- Video quality – much like camera resolution, the higher the quality, the more space this will take up
- Number of cameras
- Frame rate per camera
- Length of time you want to store the footage from each camera
CCTV Kit Accessories
When choosing a CCTV kit, you should also consider whether you need any additional accessories outside the recorder and cameras. For example:
- A display monitor - do you need one or can you hook your CCTV kit up to an existing display?
- Smartphone/tablet compatibility - do you need to access your surveillance footage on the go?
- Capability to expand the network - do you need to be able to add additional cameras in the future? Does the kit you’re considering support this?