There was a time video surveillance systems were only seen in large corporate offices, retail stores, and government buildings. Now you can see video cameras everywhere you look, whether you are at a restaurant for a family dinner or at a friend’s house for an overnight stay. Video surveillance has become a necessity for all businesses and is becoming more popular among home owners as well. Technology has become cheaper, and it is often more affordable to have a video surveillance system in place than hiring security guards for the protection of your property.
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Video surveillance systems can range from a single camera and monitor to complex systems consisting of tens and hundreds of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, digital recorders, and several operators. Depending on your business or housing needs, video surveillance systems may employ different types of commercial grade cameras with varying resolution and other specifications.
Types of Video Surveillance System
Video surveillance systems can be broadly categorized into two types, depending on the technology used to connect the CCTV cameras.
Hard-wired Video Surveillance Systems
Even though wireless technology has largely replaced cables and wires everywhere, wired installation still remains the most popular form of connectivity for video surveillance systems because of their reliability and cost effectiveness. There are three main types of wiring used in hard-wired video surveillance systems:
- Coaxial cables – This is the most common type of wiring used to connect CCTV cameras and DVRs. Using coaxial cables eliminates the need of media conversion or baluns, which reduces the cost of installation of a video surveillance system.
- Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables – These are used as a replacement of coaxial cable to limit the interference caused by electrical currents. Certain systems also utilize a combination of coaxial and UTP cables with the help of switching devices, called baluns.
- Fiber optic cables – Installing fiber optic wiring can considerably improve the bandwidth. Also, fiber optic cables provide enhanced security because they cannot be tapped without disrupting the signal.
Wireless Video Surveillance Systems
Wireless video surveillance systems have their own advantages and disadvantages. These are not suited for placement in a location where there is a high degree of interference cause by wireless telephones, air conditioners, fluorescent lighting, etc. Also, they have a limited range and do not offer the same level of reliability as the hard-wired systems.
However, there are certain circumstances where wireless technology is the optimal choice of installing a video surveillance system. For example, in rural areas where there is little or no presence of interfering resources or in a busy street where digging a trench is not a practical solution.
Components of Video Surveillance Systems
There are three main components of a video surveillance system, including CCTV cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), and monitors. Depending on the type of technology used, a video surveillance system may or may not employ the fourth component: connecting cables.
Closed Circuit Television Cameras
CCTV cameras are the major component of a video surveillance system and there are several factors to consider when determining the type of camera you want to install to safeguard your home or business. The three basic questions to be considered include:
- Will your camera be used outdoors or indoors?
- Is there a particular style you prefer?
- Should it be discreet or visual deterrent?
After considering all three factors, you many choose any of the following types of CCTC cameras used in video surveillance systems.
- Pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) Cameras – These are one of the most versatile cameras available today. They can move right and left and up and down, providing you a 360 degree view of the picture. PTZ cameras can also zoom in or out to provide a more focused, clearer image.
- Box Cameras – These are comprised of a lens, camera body, and power supply. Box cameras are HD cameras commonly used for commercial purposes.
- Mini Dome Cameras – Just like PTZ cameras, dome camera offer a 360 degree view. Also, the lens is hidden so no one can tell if the camera is aimed at them. Concealed wiring makes dome camera tamper-proof, providing a greater degree of reliability and security.
- Bullet Cameras – Bullet cameras can be used indoors or outdoors. These do not have a wide angle lens but they are good for surveilling small stores and backyards.
When purchasing a monitor for your video surveillance system, keep the following important points in mind:
- Select a monitor that complements the resolution and image quality of your camera. Purchasing a black and white monitor for a surveillance system using color cameras is simply a waste of your money.
- Consider the screen size. If you plan to combine images from several CCTV cameras on a single monitor, go for at least a 15” monitor.
- Purchase energy-efficient monitors that generate less heat. Prefer flat-panel LCD screens over CRT monitors because they are smaller in size, have excellent resolution, and generate less heat.
Digital Video Recorders
The most important consideration of buying a digital video recorder is its storage capacity. A DVR with a 500 GB hard drive can store about 500 hours of video from a single camera. You may buy additional hard drives to expand the capacity of your DVR to several terabytes.
Do not forget to consider the number of cameras you want to connect to the DVR. Buy a high-grade model if you want to connect several cameras or plan to expand your video surveillance system.
The Cost of Installing a Video Surveillance System
The total cost of purchasing and installing a video surveillance system depends on a variety of factors such as the type of cameras, monitors, DVRs, technician fee, etc. The following prices are an estimate of an 8-camera video security system.
- Setup for small to medium sized businesses, low functionality – $300 to $1,000
- Setup for industrial purposes, high functionality – $13,000 to $14,000
- Residential setup, moderate functionality – $1,000 to $1,700
Cost of CCTV Cameras
|Type of Camera||Average Cost|
|Basic CCTV Cameras||$80 to $160|
|Hidden cameras||$100 to $160|
|PTZ Cameras||$300 to $2,300|
|Bullet Cameras||$300 to $800|
|Dome Cameras||$300 to $500|
|Square Cameras||$80 to $400|
Cost of Camera Peripherals
|Type of Camera Peripheral||Average Cost|
|Fixed focal length lenses||$20 to $25|
|Variable focal length lenses||$30 to $50|
|IR-corrected lenses||$40 to $60|
|Motorized zoom||$300 to $350|
|Camera housing||$40 to $400|
Cost of Digital Video Recorders
|Type of DVR||Average Cost|
|4-camera DVRs||$500 to $1,400|
|8-camera DVRs||$1,800 to $2,500|
Cost of Monitors
|Screen Size of Monitor||Average Cost|
|17” to 22” LCDs||$200 to $300|
This is a general guide about prices of different components of a video surveillance system. The exact cost of installing a video surveillance system depends on various factors, which should be carefully considered by a buyer.