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Buyers Guide

When considering a CCTV system, selecting the right cameras, recorder, cables, price that fits the budget and understanding terminology is more important than ever before.

Basic things to consider when selecting a CCTV system:

1. Avoid

Consider new HD or IP Technology, avoid analogue technology like 700TVL and 960H.

2. Buying on Budget

Don’t get lured into buying old technology or a system that will not serve the purpose based on price alone. Ask the supplier to help you select the right system to suit your budget. Having a budget is important but consider your options before you make that final choice.

High definition cameras are very reasonably priced. Consider resolutions such as 1080P, 2MP, 4MP, 5MP and above.

3. Consider the type of cameras

Where will they be used indoor or outdoor?

Do they need to be discreet or would visible be a better deterrent?

Do you need night vision capability, if so what range does it need to cover?

Types of CCTV Security Cameras
4. Consider Camera features

Consider the area each camera needs to cover and then select the most suitable lens! Remember unlike human eyes, camera lenses do not auto adjust;

For night vision, consider the area infrared needs to illuminate at the night.

Cameras may look the same but the image sensor can make all the difference. A branded image sensor will produce higher quality pictures with true colours and clearer picture for both day and night. Do not be mislead by some manufacturers; any doubt talk to the supplier before making a purchase.

CCTV Security Camera Features
5. Consider CCTV Recorder features

A CCTV recorder is known as DVR (digital video recorder); it records to hard disk drive.

Storage capacity of DVR; how many days of recording it can hold before it auto overwrites? Consider your longest holiday period to make sure there is footage for the entire period.

How will you record; continuous or on motion? If motion, does the recorder support motion mask? Motion mask can help increase storage time.

Do you need "privacy masking" for privacy of others? Not all recorders have a "privacy mask" feature.

Do you need computer, mobile phone and tablet access? Most recorders have computer and smart phone access, but level of access and features vary. A connection from recorder to broadband will be required.

Do you need MAC compatibility? Not all DVRs are MAC compatible.

Other features to consider, number of camera inputs, smart search, supported technologies (future proof).

DVR Recorder features explained

6. Types of cabling available.

Pre-made leads - these leads have video and power connectors already on the cable. Makes installation very simple as you don't need any special knowledge; it's all plug-n-play.

RG59 Coaxial cable - Coaxial cable used for cctv video signal. Usually supplied as 100m roll; BNC connectors are required (like TwistON BNC or Crimp BNC) to terminate the ends.

RG59 Coaxial Cable with power - Coaxial cable with 2 core power cable; also known as RG59 shotgun or combined cable. Used for cctv video signal and power. Usually supplied as 100m roll; BNC connectors (like TwistON BNC or Crimp BNC) and DC power connectors are required to terminate the ends.

CAT5/6 Cable - Multi core twisted pair. Normally there are 4 pairs of twisted cable inside cable. Mainly used for networking but can be used for CCTV video signal and power. Video baluns and DC connectors are used to terminate the signal.

CCTV Cabling options explained

7. Monitor

A monitor will be required for initial setup of CCTV system installation. A computer monitor or TV can be used as a monitor. With high definition CCTV, check monitor can support the resolution; not all HD ready TV's are suitable for HD 1080P video signal, likewise with computer monitors.

8. Support

With any cctv system, there will be times when support is required and being able to email or call someone will be very important. Remote access on PC, smart phones and tablets may require configuration of your broadband router. Confirm that suppliers will provide support, ideally not on a premium rate telephone.

Supplier - Beware there are a lot of small companies who may appear large online and are not UK based. Check that the system comes with at least 2 years warranty; confirm actual shipping and returns address (you may be surprised with a lot of online suppliers).

Good support for CCTV product is very important