A Little Added ProtectionWhether you want to protect your home from intruders, your office from robbery, or just important documents like birth certificates and passports, a proper security system can be of great help to you. A complete system - combining cameras, DVR, and a safe - is indispensible, but the many different options can be a little daunting. Let us help you on your way to protecting what's most precious to you.
There are several types of security cameras from which to choose. But each has its own specialty outside of just capturing an image. You should also be aware of what type of indoor or outdoor camera is best.
Dome: Ideal for security in places such as department stores or where discreteness is required. Not only does the dome conceal which direction the camera faces, but is also small and inconspicuous.
Bullet: These types of cameras are perfect for harsh outdoor environments, ideal for both homes and businesses. They're waterproof and have a small design for aesthetic purposes.
CCD Box: Perfect for high security purposes and retail store fronts. One advantage is that the camera and lens can be purchased separately so you can fit the environment depending on the picture quality that you want.
Other than the 3 basic types, there are many other forms of security cameras to take advantage of.
Infrared/night vision: Good for both indoor and outdoor use, these cameras provide a quality picture in both light and total darkness. They also have a high durability.
Dummy: These are not actual cameras, but act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.
IP Network: These special cameras give you the ability to monitor and record over an IP network such as LAN, WAN, or the Internet - meaning you can access live video at anytime, anywhere.
Telephoto: These lenses increase the viewable distance of both large and small cameras.
Wide Angle: These lenses increase the viewable angle of large and small cameras.
Wired vs. Wireless
Even though the world of wireless has taken off in recent years, wired security cameras still offer advantages that their wireless counterparts don't have. However, which one suits your home the best is a depends on several criteria, including the size of the property and the placement of the cameras.
Wired cameras have a major advantage of wireless ones: you don't have to worry about something obstructing the signal. Because the camera is directly connected to the monitor, outside sources don't interfere with the video signal. They also don't need to be recharged like a wireless camera does. Once installed, you can leave them alone and not worry about the battery dying.
The disadvantage to a wired security camera is that they cannot go virtually anywhere. Placement of the camera is limited by cord length and the connecting cables.
Wireless cameras do have their advantages. Because there are no wires, you can place a wireless camera virtually anywhere, pending the distance that the signal can travel. This also makes them less noticeable. Another big advantage is their portability. If you don't plan on staying someplace for too long, wireless is better.
However, the battery on a wireless camera must be recharged frequently and the video signal is subject to interference from outside noise, such as telephones or air conditioning. You must also worry about the hard-disk space because the higher compression rates of a wireless camera means the space is filled faster.
Security Cam Glossary
The specs on camera sheets can be confusing, but it's important to know the terms so you can find the right system to fit your needs.
CCD: Charge coupled device. This is a type of technology used to capture digital images. A CCD sensor causes every pixel's charge to be transferred though a limited number of output nodes. In laymen's terms, these provide a high image quality, but also require a large system.
CMOS: Complementary metal oxide semiconductor is another technology for capturing digital images. With a CMOS sensor, each pixel has its own charge-to-voltage conversion. This means you can have a smaller system. However, you sacrifice some of the image quality.
Resolution: Refers to how detailed a picture the camera can see. It is measured in TVL (horizontal TV lines). A normal camera is around 350 - 400 TVL, and a high resolution is from 480 - 500.
Lux: Measures sensitivity to light. A higher lux means a lower sensitivity. For instance, a camera with 2 lux can see fairly well with a 40W bulb. A camera with 0.5 lux can make out images in dimmer light.
Just as with security cameras, when it comes to choosing a video recorder, you have plenty of options.
PC-based: Turn your PC hard drive into a DVR with a cost-effective PC card. Easy to use and flexible when it comes to upgrading, they also give you more options and a friendly interface when it comes to playing back videos. However, because they're computer-based, they're more susceptible to viruses and you must have at least an average knowledge of computers to work them.
Standalone: If you're not entirely comfortable working with a computer, these DVRs give you complete control at the push of a button. They're easy to operate, are stable, and have low maintenance requirements. You still get a high resolution for great picture.
After you've decided on which type of DVR you want, there are still many other aspects of surveillance that you need to think about.
The media from your security system is stored on a hard drive within the DVR. An 80GB hard drive stores about 5 - 8 days of full-motion from 1 camera. A 120GB or 250GB is a worthwhile investment for large systems. Another way to boost the capacity of your DVR is an additional hard drive, which can be bought as needed and give you the added bonus of storing data separate from the main system.
You also need to know how many cameras you want to be able to connect to the DVR. The number of cameras is the channel number. An 8-channel DVR can connect up to 8 cameras.
A surveillance DVR doesn't do much without cameras to hook up to it and vice versa. So why waste time trying to find cameras that are made for your DVR? Stop shopping around and find your perfect security system with a bundle. Starting at $290, you get a DVR, several cameras, and gadgets like remotes and USB mice to make using the system a breeze.
Types of Safes
There are two basic types of safes: media and anti-theft.
Media: Typically known as a fire safe, they are designed to protect your property from fire. To do so, these safes are made of thin layers of heat-insulating materials. However, they aren't meant to protect against theft. The type of media (documents, CDs, etc.) will determine the level of heat resistance that is appropriate. Because Different types of media can resist only so much heat, it's important to know exactly what you want to protect.
Anti-theft: These safes are very different from media safes. They are constructed of steel and iron, making them difficult to break into. However, this also means that they are far from heat-resistant. In fact, the metal acts as an oven and causes what's inside to heat up faster in the event of a fire.
You can also find safes made specifically to be hidden, like in-floor or wall safes, which can be easily covered with things like rugs or mirrors.
Types of Locks
Your choice of lock will depend on the investment you're willing to make to protect the items in your safe.
Key: The lowest form of security for a safe, but key locks work perfectly well. However, you'll want to be sure to store your keys in a safe place away from the safe itself, and possibly keep a spare set.
Combination: Most are 3 or 4 digits that allow quick access. You can find some safes with both combination and key locks for added security.
Electronic: Some can be programmed with more than one combination. They all allow you to change the combination quickly and easily. Like combination locks, you can also find safes with both electronic and key locks for added protection.