This is a follow up to our post “5 Most Common Mistakes in Security Camera System Design” outlining additional common mistakes…
1. Buying cheap equipment
There is plenty of poorly made equipment on the CCTV market these days. We know this because we reject 90% of the manufacturer samples that come across our test bench. If you buy the cheapest equipment on the market you are more likely to have these kinds of problems:
- Equipment that doesn’t work out of the box
- Cameras that work for a while then stop
- Cheap brackets and connections that won’t hold up
- Outdoor cameras that leak
- Infrared that is ineffective
- Poor image quality
- Missing features on your DVR
- DVR software that is buggy and incomplete
Some of the big box stores are now offering “complete” CCTV setups. However, these systems are usually not very good quality and they are not designed to your requirements. The other problem with these pre-packaged systems is that they often have proprietary connections so you cannot mix and match components from other manufacturers. Furthermore, if you have a problem or question about the product they are not likely to have the expertise to help you.
Solution: Buy from a reputable company that specializes in CCTV. Look for reviews and references that indicate that the products are good quality. The sales staff should know their product and be able to help you design a system that suits your application. Look for good support, warranty and return policy. Make sure that the cameras and DVRs all have BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) type connections for the video.
2. Using one PTZ camera to cover too large an area
PTZ (pan / tilt / zoom) cameras are great because they allow you to remotely move the camera up-and-down and side-to-side and to adjust the focus (zoom) in and out. So theoretically you can cover a lot of area with one PTZ camera. However, unless the PTZ camera is being monitored by a human it will only be focused on one area at a time just like any other camera. We often get reports of incidents not being recorded because it happened outside the current view of the PTZ even though it was within the PTZs viewing range.
Solution: Unless you have a human actively monitoring and adjusting the PTZ do not use them to cover a wide area. Instead use multiple cameras to cover the area effectively. The good news is that you can usually purchase several non-PTZ cameras for the cost of one PTZ.
3. Not having enough bandwidth to view cameras remotely
In order to view your cameras remotely you must connect your DVR to a network and set it up to broadcast to the Internet. The trouble is that homeowners often do not have the internet upload speed to support real-time viewing remotely. Businesses don’t have as much trouble with this because commercial Internet service is usually faster. Typical commercial Internet speeds are 12 mbps (megabit per second) download and 5 mbps upload. For residential sites, it’s often closer to 3 mbps download and 0.5 mbps upload. That’s 1/10 of the typical upload speed than you are used to seeing on commercial sites.
Solution: If you want to view your cameras remotely over the Internet or on your phone, make sure you arrange with your Internet Service Provider to get at least 1 Mbps upload speed.
4. Using an analog “wireless” camera system
The name “wireless camera system” is somewhat misleading because although you don’t need wires to transmit the video you still need wires to power all of the components. So, wireless systems do not solve all of your cabling dilemmas. There are two types of wireless technologies: analog and digital. Because the government regulates which frequencies analog wireless devices can run on and how strong the signal can be, interference is a very common problem. Other wireless devices such as cell phones and microwave ovens can cause the video to be unsteady, distorted, and noisy. Analog wireless transmission also does not have any security encryption of the video data – so anyone with a receiver in range utilizing the same frequency can view and record your camera’s video.
Solution: Use a hard-wired analog security camera system or a digital wireless camera system.
5. DVR does not allow adequate number of remote viewers
DVR software will often limit the number of users that can remotely view the camera system at one time. This can present a problem for schools, day care centers and other businesses that are marketing this capability as one of their assets. In addition, bandwidth needs to be considered in these situations as well. The more people that you have connected remotely – the more bandwidth that will be used on your network.
Solution: If allowing multiple people to view the cameras remotely at one time is an important requirement, then you must double check for any limitations in the DVR software. One trick to address the bandwidth issue is to set up your router to disconnect any users that are connected to the DVRs IP address for more than a specified number of minutes. For example, if a person views the camera system remotely on their computer and then leaves the screen open, the router will automatically disconnect them after 15 minutes (or whatever time limit is appropriate).