Installing a CCTV (closed-circuit television) system will help to improve home security, however with the array of products available on the market today, finding and installing the right security system for your home can seem a little overwhelming. For that reason, we've put together an introductory guide to help you install a CCTV system and stay protected.
Selecting the right system
The issue of home break-ins is unfortunately just as pertinent as ever when it comes to your property so it is necessary to make sure you are as prepared as possible. Having a basic lock on both your doors and windows and leaving the light on when you go out may not quite be enough. CCTV is a feature that has been around for some time and although they were once more closely associated with businesses and high-profile buildings, you can now find them in numerous homes.
Most homeowners' intentions when they set about finding a CCTV system surround warding off the very unwanted attention of thieves. Aside from acting as a visual deterrent, Camera systems can offer homeowners' the ability to keep an eye on any activity that takes place in the immediate surroundings of their property, as well as the ability to visually check the identity of visitors. Video Systems can also be used internally, for example to check in on young children, pets or make sure your valuable assets are still secure.
Once you are clear on why you want your CCTV you should be able to make a decision on the specifications your system will have. The capabilities and complexity of monitoring systems can vary a great deal, from a single 'dummy' camera placed outside the house to a remotely monitored wireless system covering the entire property.
Kits vs Components
Kits are ready to use and come with everything you need to set up a basic CCTV system. This may be ideal if there is no major security risk present and you just require an entry level system. However, it's worth checking that the system and components included within the kit will indeed meet your requirements before purchase.
Wired kits will often come with pre-made cables of 18 metres, which may be too long or too short, depending on the layout of your property. Pre-made cables, as the name suggests,will come with the connectors pre-attached, meaning that you will need to make larger holes in the walls than if you were to attach the connectors after installing the cables. The capacity of pre-made cables may be lower than the 75 Ohm required to power the LEDs used to capture video during the night, resulting in poor quality footage which may not be useful to police or insurance following a break in.
Kits may also contain unbranded, lower quality components when compared to buying individual components from well known manufacturers. Unbranded components can be difficult to identify, making any future maintenance or repair work troublesome.
If you require some level of customisation, specific features for added protection, then a kit may not be right for you and it might be better to purchase separate components tailored to your requirements. However, if you simply require a visual deterrent or basic surveillance and live in a low risk area, then a pre-made entry level kit may be sufficient.
IP vs Analog
Another decision to make is whether to go for an analog camera, which will use a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) system to store the footage or an IP camera, which will use a NVR( Network Video Recorder) system.
Digital Video Recorders (DVR) are the older of the two systems and work with analogue cameras, which send video data to the DVR for processing via coaxial cables. DVR systems are more affordable and easier to use than NVR systems, however image quality and framerate will be lower, a separate power source will be required and audio can not be captured.
Network Video Recorders (NVR) work with the more modern IP cameras, which have the ability to capture and process both audio and video data before sending it to the NVR via a wired ethernet cable or WiFi Network. NVR systems provide higher quality images and only need a single cable for power, audio and video. These systems are typically more expensive than DVR systems and may be more complicated to use.
Configuring your own system from individual components will allow you to select the optimal camera type for maximum coverage of each section of your property. You may for example want a short distance, low resolution camera to cover your front entrance in order to identify visitors and a high resolution, long range camera to monitor the exterior of your property.
Camera lenses can be either fixed or varifocal. Fixed lenses have a set focal length (distance) and field of view (angle). An increased focal length will improve image clarity but lower the field of view. while a lower focal length will increase the field of view but lower image quality.
Varifocal lenses will allow both the focal length and field of view to be adjusted, either manually or automatically with an internal motor. For the majority of home installations, a manual varifocal lens should be sufficient.
It's important to think carefully about camera placement to ensure important areas are covered. You will want to cover all possible points of entry such as doors, windows and gates. You should also cover any valuable assets, for example the driveway for cars and the garden shed to protect bikes and tools. During this stage of working out where to place the cameras, it can be very helpful to draw a floorplan of your property with potential camera placements. You can use this diagram to decide which lens type is required for each section in order to maximize coverage and reduce blindspots.
If you are a UK resident, you will be required to follow certain data protection laws when using CCTV. If your system only captures images within your property, for example within your home or garden, then data protection laws will not apply to you. However, if you are capturing images or people outside the boundary of your private property, for example a neighbour's garden or a public footpath, then data protection laws will apply.
In order to comply with data protection laws when capturing images of people outside your private domestic property, you will need to:
- Place signs to inform people that CCTV is in operation and the reasons why
- Do not capture more footage than needed
- Ensure footage is stored securely and only accessible to authorized personnel.
- Regularly delete footage when it is no longer required.
- Do not misuse the systems.
- Respond to Subject Access Requests(SARs)
- Delete footage of people if requested
- Consider any objections from people when capturing their image.
For complete advice, please refer to the government's regulations here.
Can I install a CCTV System?
Depending on how comfortable you are with DIY, a simple system intended for additional home security can be installed yourself. Homes which require more comprehensive security can still be installed yourself although they may benefit from professional installation to ensure optimal performance. The only instance where installing a CCTV system yourself is not an option is for systems which are integrated with a police response alarm system. This is to ensure systems are correctly installed and minimise the possibility of a false alarm.
Installing a home CCTV system is a guaranteed way to improve home security and reduce the likelihood of an unfortunate break in. These systems can be installed relatively easily by first considering your security requirements and then purchings a system which meets these requirements. If you would like professional advice on CCTV installation or would like to install a police alarm system, please contact our expert team at Sygma for a free consultation.