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Set up a IP Security Camera System: Essential Components Needed

Security camera system uses live streaming, continuous recording and convenient playback to serve effective property damage prevention and ensure human safety. Sourcing IP cameras to build security and surveillance systems at worksites guarding property or capturing visual proof of crimes has become a common solution nowadays. Basic doubts like how to set up an effective IP security camera system, in other words, most users or installers want to know the key components are needed and choose tips. Today, follow this article, you definitely will get a clear frame and know what to do.

What are IP Security Camera Systems?

IP security camera systems to some extent are not so familiar for those implementing for the first time, and sometimes they may get confused about this concept truly, so let’s take a step back for a moment and go to the more popular phrase, aka CCTV(closed-circuit television) surveillance system. It was the main way of achieving perimeter surveillance for home or business in the past. The IP security camera system can simply be regarded as a digitized and networked version of CCTV. IP security camera systems utilize advanced technology and is deemed to be the highest performing video surveillance system available up to now.

The IP security camera system relies on IP cameras to record video footage, and the captured content is distributed over an IP(Internet Protocol) network. This feature makes it superior over CCTV and brings benefits to meet modern requirements on security camera system, such as:

  • High resolution video footage capturing
  • Remote monitoring
  • Motion detection and tracking
  • Flexible and simple installation
  • No degradation of quality with distance

Essential Components of an IP Security Camera System

The constitute of an IP security camera system mainly divided into four parts, including cameras, video recording, video display devices and networking as well. In the following we will break down the details.

1. Cameras: the Most Critical Component

For the foremost, cameras are supposed to be the most crucial component in the system. Security camera is a more effective way to achieve greater monitoring which by hiring security guards can not replace. Despite the use for surveillance, for business usage, it seems like a 24/7 non-stop working eye on the premises, employees as well people with ill-intentions. And as stated earlier, we know that the IP security camera system makes use of IP cameras to get enhanced video surveillance. IP cameras, aka network cameras, work over Ethernet cable for transmitting power and data, which is unlike CCTV analog cameras mostly using coaxial cable. Ethernet cables like Cat5e/Cat6 permit a higher data rate in transmission. Additionally, encryption is a key advantage of IP technology and this makes it optimal for prevention of hacking behaviors.

It is easy to imagine that when you have the plan to get a security camera system setup, and try to type “security camera” over Google search engine, then there are thousands of and even millions of results presented. At that moment, I guess the majority of beginners lacking basic fundamentals on security cameras will feel overwhelmed and lost as there are so many types of security cameras for your option on the market today. If you’re a bit overwhelmed, we’ve got you covered.

Wired or Wireless?

IP cameras unlike traditional CCTV are only limited to using wired connectivity, they are capable of utilizing LAN, Wi-Fi and even cellular. To help make decisions on choosing the suitable types of cameras, you should consider from your needs and installation conditions, that being said, to figure out which way to send data. Cellular cameras, in most cases, are applied at remote places where it is hard to access LAN or WiFi networks. For business uses, these cameras are needless in most cases.

In a nutshell, the essence is to depend on using wired or wireless connection for video footage streaming. That is to choose wired or wireless cameras. Wired security cameras normally transfer the video footage through wired connections to the recording devices. Whereas wireless cameras transmit data through the air in wireless. Below we are going to help you learn the pros and cons of the two versions of IP security cameras respectively, then you are able to get a conclusion.

Most residential and business owners choose wireless security cameras to monitor their premises because of their location flexibility. Wireless cameras collect and stream data over the wireless network and store data on a cloud server or PC software so that users can view live or recorded video on their smartphones or tablets. Compared with that of their wired counterparts, installing wireless cameras is less labor-intensive and more straightforward (no complicated wiring involved). And they are relatively cheaper with reduced costs in the initial investment (fewer cables and supporting devices required). Considering that the wireless cameras depend entirely on networks for data transmission, they are more susceptible to signal degradation and bandwidth fluctuations, suffering severe image degradation. And sometimes radio frequency interference (RFI) would occur. Worse still, they are more subject to hacking for direct connection to the Internet.

Comparatively speaking, wired security cameras normally transfer the video footage through wired connections to the recording devices. The most advantageous aspect of the wired surveillance system mainly lies in its reliability, for it’s nearly impervious to signal degradation or any type of interference except the damages to cables or the cameras. And in some advanced surveillance systems, if the burglars try to disconnect the cameras by cutting off the cables, the alert system will be automatically activated to deter the unwelcome intruders. Additionally, it will not suffer image degradation caused by bandwidth fluctuations. But the wiring design also puts a damper on its applications in long-distance deployments. And professional installation might be necessary, which increases the costs of investment.

Types of Security Cameras

In general, security cameras can be categorized into various types in line with functions and features, here we roughly highlight three of the most prevalent: bullet cameras, dome cameras and Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras. 

  • Bullet Cameras-Long, cylindrical bullet cameras are probably the most traditional surveillance devices used in surveillance systems. They feature fixed or varifocal lenses designed to target a specific location with a substantial viewing angle. It can accommodate larger lenses compared to other cameras, making it ideal for covering large areas (parking lots, airports, intersections, etc.) and for greater detail. In addition, its eye-catching appearance also serves as an effective visual deterrent for thieves and thieves.
  • Dome Cameras-Dome cameras are more low-profile encapsulated in an inverted dome casing. They can be attached to the ceiling or wall to offer a more discreet way of surveillance. Some dome cameras, albeit stationary, have a tinted encasing to prevent the intruders from knowing which direction the camera is pointing. And they’re vandal-proof as well.
  • PTZ Cameras-The PTZ cameras, as their name implies, are cameras that can pan side-to-side, tilt up and down and zoom in and zoom out via remote control to provide a comprehensive field of view (360°). These types of cameras are intended to be used for applications with the need for a large coverage surveillance. They are high-resolution cameras with great scalability and flexibility. Some support auto tracking functions to realize effective follow-up when people or cars enter the monitoring range.

Can You Mix Different IP Security Cameras?

Some wonder if different types of security cameras can be mixed and matched? The answer is positive. From the above information, we know that cameras vary from function and features, according to your specific surveillance demands, certainly you can choose to implement different security cameras to meet your own requirements exactly.

Even if mixing security cameras from different brands, in most cases, it works, but you’d better make sure you get all the software downloaded before mixing if you plan to control various cameras remotely by mobile devices worldwide. And it’s worth bearing in mind that not all the brands can work compatibility, some brands use their own protocols or technologies, so it is recommended to turn to an expert for help before your final purchase.

What’s more, if you want to mix different types of wireless security cameras, remember to ensure they’re adopting the same frequency band, otherwise signal interference issues may occur.

Choosing Security Cameras: What Features to Look for

Having known the camera types serving your needs mostly, the next step is to pick up security cameras properly. Today, there are a plethora of options available on the market to choose from. Here we will walk you through some essential features that are worth taking into consideration.

High Resolution

Let me start with the resolution of security cameras, which determines the video quality can be captured. Video quality pertaining to security cameras, some kind of gadgets providing visual proof, is one of the most important features. You might be surprised to find that the days of grainy, choppy video footage gone ever, as nowadays majority of modern IP security cameras offer at least 720p, and you will find several common key words like 1080p(≈2MP), 5MP, and the ultra 4K when you are searching on Amazon or in google search engine. The “MP” refers to megapixels, the larger the number before it, generally it means the cameras supply a better or clearer video footage.

I’m not saying that choosing the highest resolution is the best decision and to get the optimal performance. A higher resolution means the cameras require higher bandwidth to stream video footage, in short, this affects the upload speed of video footage. If you make up your mind to use multiple IP security cameras under the same network, you are supposed to make sure if your internet bandwidth can handle it or not. For business security and surveillance, 2MP can meet surveillance needs basically, for those with special applications with demanding needs, you can invest more to use better ones. Only to follow one rule: making clear your specific needs and the acceptable range of budget, it is easy to know the best option to choose from.

Viewing Angle (Field of View)

Viewing angle impacts the monitor range and size of the objects in the range. The phrase “field of view” officially describes viewing angle, which is a significant factor to look into. It defines the area where the camera can see and monitor. Security camera with a narrow field of view, that said, less things are captured and seen, but with more details, as things appear larger. While a wider field of view allows a further monitoring with more objects presented within range saving hassle of reposition or rotation for the cameras.

Read about the specification of the lenses, and it will tell you the degree of viewing angle, we suggest looking for cameras with at least 110°. If you have no idea how much degree is suitable, or if the cameras may apply at different places considering future conditions, some IP security cameras with vari-focal lens permit custom adjustment on camera’s field of view over digital zooming.

Infrared night vision capability of security cameras plays a useful role in guaranteeing a continuous 24/7 effective monitoring for the reason that these kinds of cameras are capable of recording clear images at low light conditions or in complete darkness. As you know, such a situation is the ordinary state when employees are off duty, so using security cameras with infrared night vision function gives an enhanced security protection to business premises. Needless to say that most crimes like theft happen when the time of day turns black under most circumstances.

Many of infrared night vision security cameras can’t supply high quality images with much details like facial detail as it only provides gray-tone images. One key thing to note is that considering the distance of the cameras. Infrared night vision cameras come with its limitation on distance, and as a general rule, the closer the better. If you require better image quality in low night conditions, you need to turn to higher level types for help, and certainly, they are more expensive accordingly. And if your budget allows, security cameras supporting colored night vision should be the best choice.

Motion Detection

Motion detection or motion activated cameras show their full superiority on video recording and  playback. As its name implies, once any movement(motion) is detected by the cameras, namely, when something enters the camera’s monitoring range, the camera will be activated and start recording the footage. In this way, it is a good solution to save the storage space if your security camera system connected to local storage, because a 24/7 recording fill up the storage space soon, and according to the common sense, video footage without motion is useless, so it is no need to record all the time, and this also save a lot of work for video playback if some suspicions or crimes waiting for confirming. To meet different surveillance needs, if you want to use a security camera to monitor people only, then you can look for those that adopt person detection, which works in a different way that captures video only when people enter in the viewing range of security cameras once the person-like shape is detected.

Remote Viewing and Control

The ability to view security cameras remotely sometimes is necessary. We just talked about motion detection features, and IP cameras can do more once you get it connected to the Internet, that being said, they give the users convenience of real-time surveillance with its remote viewing and control over smartphones, PC or other mobile devices when you are not present on site.  These cameras enable you to access all the connected IP cameras on an app or through the web.

What’s more, for a safe and qualified surveillance system, the feature to get user alerts is important. When any motion is detected, you certainly want to receive a notification on your mobile devices, so that you can perceive in real-time and act fast. Some security cameras allow instant email or message alerts to be sent to smartphones.

Some other features can be taken into account, for more information, you can refer to the guide to help learn which cameras you should choose.

2.Video Recording Basics

The recording function is a critical part to a security camera system as it is a reliable method to save camera feed as visual evidence for future use in case an accident or crime occurs. The recording devices used in the surveillance system are the digital video recorders (DVRs) and the network video recorders (NVRs), which capture the footage transmitted from the cameras and store the processed files for later review.

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)

The DVR system processes the data at the recorder by converting the analog signals to digital signals. The cameras used in the DVR system must be analog cameras, and every camera should be connected directly to the recorder via a coaxial cable for signal conversion and data storage (point-to-point connection).

Network Video Recorders (NVRs)

In the NVR system, on the other hand, the footage is processed at the camera where there is a built-in chipset to deal with the processing and transmits that stream to the recorder, while the recorder is only used for storing and viewing the footage. In this manner, the NVR will only suffer less signal distortion and image degradation during data transmission. And it features high-resolution image quality with improved functionalities like remote control and dual-monitor display (HDMI & VGA).

NVRs vs DVRs

The biggest difference between these two devices is how the data is processed. Also note that DVRs are designed for wired surveillance systems, while NVRs are applicable to both wired and wireless systems.

The recorder should be installed near the outlet. The size and rigidity of these cables is also a major installation challenge. In addition, image quality deteriorates above 90m/300ft, severely limiting its use on long haul missions. Due to its limited capacity, DVR system is more affordable than its counterpart, featuring simple and straightforward operations.

Most NVRs are used in IP cameras over a single Ethernet cable for both data (video and audio signals), as NVRs only work with digital signals when compared to their counterparts. Ethernet cables are easier to handle due to their simpler plug-and-play design compared to coaxial cables. In addition, the NVR itself is more convenient because you don’t have to connect the camera to the recorder. Instead, it should only work on the same wireless network. However, it is relatively more expensive than an equivalent DVR system. Also, not all cameras are compatible with all NVR systems, so you’ll need to buy cameras and recorders from the same manufacturer for a perfect match. In addition, NVR systems suffer from signal loss in congested networks.

Storage-Hard Drive

If you choose DVRs or NVRs to obtain mass local storage, you should consider the vector offering storage space——hard drives. A hard drive is basically a memory box of the NVR, it is important to choose the correct hard drive for your NVRs or cameras. Most situations, a hard drive will be pre-installed. Due to a hard drive having its limit on capacity, for some cases, you may need to add some external hard drive. Think of the period of recording circle, look into the brands and compatibility, try to avoid cheap unbranded hard drives.

3.Video display

The next thing is the media to display video footage. A display unit is a display screen that allows you to watch live or recorded video running on a DVR or NVR that can be connected to your TV or other HDMI-compatible device via the HDMI port. You can also connect the camera directly to your PC to eliminate complicated configuration. Some companies may need to use more specialized display units, and only authorized personnel can view the video.

4.Building the IP Camera Network

IP security cameras cannot be set up without an effective network. Wireless security cameras mostly need a router to get WiFi Internet network. Powerful mesh WiFi may help according to the numbers of cameras and surveillance scale of your property.

While for wired security cameras, a router is not a necessity to the system. Networking devices like NVR, Ethernet switches,  NVR switches(PoE NVR) and something alike are the brains of the system. You need to get a LAN network for cameras and use Ethernet cable like Cat5e, Cat6 to make cabling for data and power transmitting. For commercial applications, you also can think about whether a separate network is needed for the security camera system for security reasons. To meet the requirement, managed network switches are needed.

Simplify Camera Installation with PoE

Advantages of PoE

As previously stated, IP cameras use Ethernet cable to transmit data, but remember both WiFi and wired security cameras require power to work. PoE technology makes the way for camera’s power supply different and more convenient. Because it utilizes Ethernet cable to deliver power, that is, only using one Ethernet cable can deal with the data transmitting and power supplying issues for cameras.

Making use of PoE on security camera systems bring benefits on installation and system stability.

  • No need to run extra power cable separately
  • Installs cameras flexibly with less constrains on power outlets
  • Enables a back-up power source at control centre
  • Safe low voltage reduce hazards and labor investment

What are PoE Security Cameras?

If you have interest in using PoE to get your setup done simply and fast, the key thing, however, is that to pick up PoE cameras if you haven’t made your purchases.

PoE cameras are PoE compliant IP cameras, they can work directly with network devices like PoE switches, there won’t be a problem to receive power and data over a single Ethernet cable. What if you want to implement PoE for your non-PoE IP cameras, you still have a chance by adding devices like PoE injectors and PoE splitters. We have a post to help get more details on how to mix PoE and non-PoE.

How Does a PoE Security Camera System Work?

There are various solutions for building a PoE security camera system in consideration of specific needs and installation environments. We are going to list three common methods roughly.

Method 1: IP Camera and a PoE Switch

Using a PoE switch to connect IP cameras is the same as using the Ethernet switch, but this time, easily plugging into only one Ethernet cable is enough. PoE switches are equipped with more than one port, you can connect multiple cameras under the same network. 4/8/16/24/48 ports PoE switches are commonly available on the market.

Method 2: IP Camera with NVR Switch(PoE NVR)

Seemingly, this is a more convenient way for networking as the PoE NVR makes the work of recording and networking processed over this integrated unit. It only meets applications requiring a small scale surveillance, such as home or office meeting rooms as it only can supply several network ports for connecting security cameras. And since the NVR and PoE switch is built with one unit, that means a higher maintenance cost to some degree.

Method 3: IP Camera with a PoE Injector

Putting out a PoE injector is the most effective practice if you have an existing networking system using Ethernet switches, and maybe you only want to get one or two PoE cameras set up to get enhanced security. PoE injectors are generally equipped with one PoE output port, and to a certain extent, this also shows higher stability on system operation.

If you have interest to know deeply about building a PoE security camera system, we suggest you read this comprehensive guide.

Other Things Should Pay Attention to

  • Attach importance to privacy violations. Video surveillance has always been a controversial topic looming over our heads when it comes to privacy issues, and thereby it is essential to know the regulations in your state or country before implementing the cameras because privacy violations caused by unauthorized or improper placements will eventually land you in court.
  • Remember to make provisions for the camera installation environment. If installing at places under harsh conditions, like outdoors, choose the outdoor type security cameras to resist physical impacts like rain, dust, surges and so on.
  • Notice distance limitations and save time. Undoubtedly, wireless cameras get short installation range due to the inherent limits on WiFi technology. Although wired cameras can reach longer distances, it still has its limit because of signal and data loss in line. Ethernet cable can only deliver PoE at a maximum of 100 meters(328ft), therefore, there should be some extension devices, like PoE extenders to get PoE extended. Read this post, and get more information about installing IP cameras beyond 100 meters.
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