CCTV Camera Systems – It’s just like buying sweets, isn’t it?

I mean, surely you can just ask for quotes over the phone and get the best deal that way. Right?

Well, in the way you would accept “blind” quotations from house-painters for the refurbishment of your home, Ye-ess. You could, but would you really want to make use of a company that can offer to “beat any price” without at least doing a thorough site inspection and client consultation? What about the waterproofing? The paint-stripping? How many days to fill the cracks in the wall that appeared shortly after the budget builder left?painter

Let’s face it. Just like anyone who has helped dad around the house could probably pick up a brush and have a go at re-coating your home, anyone who has connected a TV set to a DVD player can plug in the bits that make up a DIY CCTV kit. If you’ve bought the “Deluxe Premium New Improved” little kit off the shelf at your local department store though, you kinda accept what you get. Unless the cameras fall on your head when you slam the front door, your installer can’t really be held responsible for any design or manufacturing issues.

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Typical DIY CCTV Kit

Most informed home and business owners though want a camera surveillance system that fits their requirements, and takes into account the different environment of each home or business premises.
An experienced consultant will want to know things like:
What precisely do you want to see on your monitor and on a recording?
Do you need to identify faces clearly, or just shapes?
Do cameras need to be fitted with IR illuminators to see at night, and if so how far? 10M, 25M?
What length of time do you wish recordings to be kept on the hard drive before being over-written?
Would you like to have remote access from your work computer or         smartphone?

Then, a knowledgeable consultant would;

Calculate the lens and camera characteristics needed for the different areas to be viewed –
For example your rear garden may be adequately covered by a standard ccd camera with 4mm lens and 10M infra-red, but your driveway may require a WDR camera that doesn’t “white-out” uselessly every time a car’s headlights shines onto it. The vulnerable alleyway outside your kitchen would probably need to be fitted with a narrow 6mm lens so it sees more detail and not just nearby walls.
Ascertain what degree of weatherproofing is needed for cameras and cabling junction boxes –
If your home or building is near the sea, connections will corrode at a much faster rate.
Determine if older, less-expensive analogue equipment will be sufficient to meet the client’s needs, or if newer technologies like IP network or HD analogue devices are necessary to provide the high-resolution or (with IP) the high flexibility required by the client.

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Many homeowners on the Cape’s West Coast seem to firmly believe that they can put out a request on the local Facebook pages for say, 5 cameras, and some emailed quotes later, someone will arrive with a box containing 5 cameras and some odds and ends, which after some drilling and shuffling of stepladders will give them the custom, well-configured camera surveillance system they paid for.
Well, that’s not very likely.

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What you get.

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What you thought you were getting

Often there is a huge difference between what the installer can provide, and the client’s perceptions of what their CCTV system will provide.
Since the early 1990’s, we have seen clients, from huge corporates to homeowners, refuse to pay for systems which didn’t meet the expectations they had been sold. “But I can’t make out the face of someone stealing a child from our school!” “Everything is so tiny on this wide view!” “What’s the use of this system if I can’t see the registration plates of the lorries at each loading bay?!”
Then, one party usually has to shell out more money, and the relationship between client and supplier has started off on a bad note.

As security systems installers, we understand that like alarm systems, CCTV surveillance is often a grudge purchase for homeowners. A bigger TV or boat may have to wait a while because a family needs to be made safe and secure. Mostly this is after something scary has occurred.

It’s natural that clients may not want to dwell on the ins and outs of a system they Need to get, as opposed to one they want. Yet, like anything else, you get what you pay for. Its worth taking some time to think about what exactly you need a CCTV system for, and definitely worth consulting with your expert about what options you have and how an installed camera surveillance system can make your family safer. You aren’t buying sweets 🙂