Video Monitoring 101

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As technology advances at a rapid pace, so do our options when it comes to video monitoring systems. But with all the changes it can be hard to know where to start, or how to keep up. Here are the top 3 things to consider in choosing a video monitoring system.

  1. Positioning the cameras: inside or outside?
  2. Wired or Wireless?
  3. Beyond HD Quality: Megapixels Matter!

Positioning the cameras: inside or outside?

Stats show that 79% of all home invasions begin at the front or back door, or a ground-floor window.

If your budget allows, weatherproof, outdoor video cameras should be monitoring all exterior doors and first-floor windows. Outdoor cameras also often face other areas of concern such as the front street, driveway, or backyard. Oh, and when we say weatherproof, we mean it. Many camera models have been developed that simply can’t withstand Canada’s cold winters. Weatherproof cameras are rain and snow-resistant, and some models even have built in heaters for the extreme cold.

For inside video cameras, the family rooms or common areas are a great place to start. Imagine being able to check video notifications on your phone to see that the kids got home safe and which friends tagged along. Or, what if you are out with your spouse and want to check that things are going okay with the babysitter back home? No problem, pull up the video feed on your smartphone and then you can go back to enjoying yourself.

Wired or Wireless?

While both have the ability to connect video footage to your smartphone, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option.

Wireless Video Monitoring

If you are picturing something totally wire free, the term “wireless” can be deceiving. Although these are not fully wired in the traditional sense of the word, they do still need to be plugged in to get power. These are not fully battery operated systems and require a power wire, but they do send their video signals wirelessly which is why they are referred to as wireless. Just keep in mind when picturing where these will be positioned in your home that they must be positioned near a power outlet. Once the technician gets there, he will have to run a wire from the camera to that outlet.

Wireless video monitoring connects through Wi-Fi. What does this mean for you? Well, it impacts your internet upload speed. Check with your security professional to ensure your internet package will support cameras. Basic internet with any provider won’t cut it. Here at AlarmTek, we also provide our customers with a powerful router to improve video quality and ensure the cameras don’t tax your current Wi-Fi network with extra traffic. Quality wireless systems don’t interfere with your phone or other devices.

Wireless video is new to the market and has advantages and disadvantages. We are experiencing the first versions of a new technology. Currently, wireless video has the advantages of lower upfront costs, saving to the cloud and only one small power wire to connect the camera. The disadvantage is that the video quality is typically lower than that or a wired system and there may be additional fees for online storage depending on your camera usage.

Wired Video Monitoring

Whereas wireless systems send their recordings straight to the “cloud” (stored on the internet), wired systems store footage on a physical box in your house – typically referred to as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Network Video Recorder (NVR). This box is basically a computer with a large amount of storage that can hold many days of footage.

Wired systems do require a little more effort to install because you need to run a wire to each camera that connects back to the recording box. Quality wired systems have higher upfront costs compared to wireless. The big benefit, as the current technology sits, wired systems have better-quality footage.

Beyond HD Quality: Megapixels Matter

How do we go about determining the quality of our footage? If you want a video monitoring system that can zoom in and identify faces or license plates consider the HD Quality and Megapixels. Many systems these days will display something like “Full HD 1080p”. That’s great, we want 1080p HD quality, but there is more we have to look for.

Lots of systems use cheap cameras that can technically meet these “full high definition” requirements, but when you go to review the footage, it’s grainy and zooming in on an area means you can’t really see what you need to. Often these lower end systems don’t measure megapixels but you can ask about the resolution. Resolutions over 1280 by 800 would be decent for overall picture, but the zoom in options may be fuzzy.

 

When you’re investigating high quality video systems, ask how many megapixels the cameras are and look for at least 3 Megapixels. Megapixels combined with HD quality can help you understand what kind of video quality to expect.

You can see there’s no one-size-fits-all to video monitoring. The system you choose will be based on your budget, your home and your security concerns.

As always, any questions – give us a call for some sound, secure advice!