If you’re searching for the best way to protect your home or apartment, look for an alarm system that includes security cameras. A video monitoring system enhances your peace of mind, helps the police catch criminals and provides a great way to stay connected to your home, family and pets.
Options in Security Camera Systems
Security camera systems fall into two basic categories: those that are part of a monitored home alarm system and those that are self-contained. There are advantages to both types, but if home protection is your primary goal, we definitely recommend a comprehensive security system that provides a 24/7 monitoring service in addition to security cameras.
A typical stand-alone camera system usually includes 1-16 cameras, and a device on which to monitor the video feeds. Many include a DVR that stores the footage for on-demand viewing. These systems operate on CCTV – closed circuit television – so the system is entirely self-contained and you are the only one with access to the video footage. Some systems may offer an audio (listening) device as well.
When security cameras are integrated with alarm systems, you have the advantage of whole-home, monitored protection. The best and easiest alarm systems are wireless, with advanced features that include home automation as well as home video security. These systems are completely interactive and customizable. A monitoring team of trained professionals watches over your home every minute of every day. It’s important to note, however, that the monitoring team does NOT have access to your video footage. As with the stand-alone CCTV systems, all video footage is for your eyes only. The wireless security cameras utilize your home broadband to stream live video to any device you choose – such as your laptop, tablet or smartphone. These are sometimes referred to as IP security cameras, because of their connection with the internet.
Benefits of Integrated Security Camera Systems
The two greatest benefits of an integrated system (home security + cameras) are 1) better safety and 2) more features and flexibility. In order to explain these advantages, let’s review how a security system works.
The home alarm system consists of 4 basic elements:
- Security sensors
- A control box
- Security cameras and other advanced features
- 24/7 monitoring
Security consultants at the alarm company will advise you on the best way to place the sensors and cameras strategically throughout your home. Both cameras and sensors communicate (wirelessly, preferably) with the control box. The cameras are also connected to your home internet, to send you a continuous live video feed, which you can view any time of the day or night, from anywhere. The alarm system will notify you anytime a sensor detects a sign of danger – whether it’s intrusion, fire, water leaks, carbon monoxide, etc – so you can immediately check your video feed. The best security camera systems will also automatically record and store video clips when a sensor triggers, for your viewing convenience.
The safety advantages of integrated systems are probably obvious. A security system is much more effective if it has sensors and cameras working in concert. It also offers a team of professionals, trained to take immediate action to protect your home, round the clock, whether you’re there or away. You have a life – you can’t monitor your security video footage 24/7. But that’s what security sensors and the monitoring center are there for.
These advanced security systems also give you the advantage of interactive features, for convenience and flexibility. Features include free mobile apps, instant text or email alerts, unique user access codes, remote arming and disarming, customizable sensor names, home automation, etc. When combined with the immediacy and personalized nature of video monitoring, your home alarm system keeps you always aware, always connected and always in control. Since both the alerts and the video footage come directly to your laptop or smartphone, there is no need to purchase additional superfluous equipment, such as the monitoring device and DVR needed with stand-alone camera systems.
Security Camera Systems Features
Here are some features to consider when comparing security cameras:
- Range of vision
- Night vision
- Indoor vs. Outdoor
- Color vs. black-and-white
- Picture quality, up to HD resolutions (1280p)
- Remote control
Remote control is a feature worth highlighting, with qualities sure to please the video enthusiast. Use your IP connection not only for remote viewing, but also to adjust the angle and positioning of the camera itself. Often referred to as “pan-and-tilt” cameras, these devices have lenses that can swivel to pan an entire room, or tilt up and down, for an amazing field of vision.
Using Your Security Camera System
Ideally you should place video surveillance cameras both inside and outside your home. The more cameras you have, the more complete your security system will be, but in most cases it is not necessary to buy an entire army of cameras. Many people opt to position their indoor camera for viewing the front entry way, and their outdoor camera to view the driveway or back yard. Another option is to position an indoor camera in the main living area, and team it with a motion sensor, so you’ll receive both notification and a video clip anytime someone moves in that area. If you have a pan-and-tilt style security camera, you can use your computer or smartphone to control the lens to zoom in on the activity, regardless of where the motion is in the room.
In addition to the security aspect of home camera systems, most users really enjoy the chance to keep an eye on pets and family members while they’re away. Did the kids just get home from school? Check out who they’re with. See who ate the last piece of cake – the housekeeper or the dog! These systems also make great nanny-cams.