Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) has become commonplace in car parks, shops, and business premises over the past few years, and it is now becoming popular with homeowners looking for more effective security measures to protect their homes from the threat of crime. Home CCTV Systems work best when they are combined with other security measures, such as burglar alarms and window and door locks.
How do CCTV Systems work?
There are several different types of CCTV systems available depending on the homeowner’s needs:
Indoor Home CCTV Systems
There are three types of indoor CCTV cameras that transmit images – wired, wireless and powerline networked (plugged into electrical sockets).
Outdoor Home CCTV Systems
Outdoor CCTV cameras should be positioned where they cannot be tampered with by intruders, but are accessible for occasional maintenance and cleaning. Any CCTV cameras that are used outside must be weatherproof to ensure their effectiveness – an International Protection (IP) rating of 66 is recommended. It is possible to have an outdoor wireless camera but it will still be necessary to have a cable running to a power source.
Wireless Home CCTV Systems
This type of system transmits images using either analogue or digital technology, however, they can be interfered with by household items such as routers, microwaves and cordless telephones. Wireless cameras are not recommended unless the signal can be encrypted, as otherwise the images could be viewed by anyone else within range with a suitable receiver.
Most home CCTV systems store the images using either a PC hard drive or standalone digital video recorder (DVR). PC-connected systems are more likely than DVR systems to come with the appropriate software to view the images and therefore can make for an easier user experience. The system must be able to store images in a widely used format (e.g. mpeg) to ensure that if the police need to view them, there will be no issues. Some systems will allow you to check images remotely over the internet using a PC or smart phone, or alternatively to have email or text message notifications if cameras are activated.
Features of Different CCTV Systems
CCTV systems generally work best when they use black and white (monochrome) images, as these are most effective in low light when used with integral infrared illumination. It is possible, however, to buy CCTV cameras that film in colour during the day and in black and white after dark, but these cameras will be more expensive. If the camera footage is to be used as evidence in court, then high quality images will be needed. The minimum resolution recommended for these purposes is 352x288 pixels, however, the higher the resolution, the more storage space will be occupied.
Some cameras contain a sensor that switches them on when they detect movement, which can be helpful to reduce the amount of images that are stored and save energy.
CCTV Systems and Privacy
There are certain privacy laws that you must comply with if you are considering getting a CCTV system for the exterior of your property. The cameras must not be pointed towards public space or at your neighbours’ homes or gardens. Before buying a CCTV system, it is recommended that you speak to your neighbours first to advise them of your plans – it may even be possible to share a system with them to reduce costs.
It is a visible security measure
Outdoor cameras are visible security measures, and therefore should deter intruders in the first instance. A home with a camera is less likely to be a target than a home without a camera, as it will be deemed higher risk for a burglar.
It helps homeowners feel safe
The presence of a security camera helps homeowners to feel safer in their properties. It provides extra peace of mind knowing that the property and loved ones are more protected.
Criminals can be prosecuted
CCTV systems, unlike many other security measures, can actually be used as evidence in court to prosecute thieves.
Installation and use is simple
Many CCTV cameras come with simple installation instructions, and it may not be necessary for security companies to install them – this will reduce overall costs. Most cameras look after themselves with minimal maintenance, and the stored images can be easily accessed and checked by homeowners used a PC, smart phone or digital video recorder.
No reduction in home insurance
Despite the extra security defence for your property, most insurance companies do not offer a discount for customers with Home CCTV Systems.
They can be unreliable
Unfortunately, CCTV systems are unable to cover every square inch of a property, so there is no guarantee that they will record a crime taking place. Also, they can be thwarted by covering them up, or sticking something on the lenses. This is why all cameras should be positioned where they cannot be tampered with.
Issues with privacy
There is sometimes controversy caused with CCTV surveillance. Many people consider constant video monitoring to be an invasion of privacy, and there may be some objections amongst your neighbours.
How long do cameras record for?
The bigger your hard drive, the longer your images will be saved for, so it depends on how much space you dedicate to the images. A 250GB hard drive should record one camera for around four weeks, or two cameras for two weeks.
Can I make the system record for longer?
If you select a motion detection CCTV system then it will only record when motion is detected by the sensors. This will therefore make the storage last longer but it is usually a more expensive option, and depending on how sensitive the system is, it could record when there is rain or wind detected.
Can cameras see in the dark?
Yes, cameras with night vision can store dark images.
What happens if I catch a crime on the camera?
The images will be evidence and will need to be given to the Police. CCTV footage can be saved to a memory stick and transferred to a CD or DVD to be given to the Police.