As crime increases so does the apprehension of the property owners to their vulnerability.
Security cameras have, over the last decade, become increasingly reliable and effective in preventing theft or property damage and more importantly catching the criminals.
Having read this you run out of the house and head down to the electronics store to buy a security camera, STOP. Lets just chew the fat a bit and toss some facts about because there is so much to choose from and for what application requirements and price. Put a stocking or balaclava on and take a recce around your property as a thief intent on mischief. You’ll need to find an entry point (door vent or window) that is out of sight from the neighbors. Now have a look around as to where cameras may be best sighted. Properties with multiple facets, nooks and crannies, those blessed Architects, require more surveillance. BUT most important, the cameras need to be placed so that good profile pictures can be captured whilst the thief is getting to the break in point. Consider a simple rectangular building and work from there. A camera under the eaves outermost on each corner, i.e. 4 cameras, with tilt, zoom and at least 270 degree panning arc will have the ability to have a person covered by 2 cameras for the entire circumference, even when standing beneath one. A recess may have to be covered by a single camera. This may be adequate as a fixed unit (not panning or tilt).
For a comparison of whats possible, my cell phone fits in my shirt breast pocket, has an 8 megapixel video camera with 16gb of memory, ability to transmit around the world, and most of the size is keypad and battery. Awesome technology today. The beautiful thing is, that if you choose outdoor security cameras that are wireless units there is no hindrance as to where can wires be run. Sounds too good to be true. Almost is. Battery life! Be careful. Solar powered, hmm, wires and transformer/regulators etc. More and more to go wrong. Oh and almost forgot, place the cameras high enough so that a 6ft person can’t reach up and immobilize it, otherwise consider a secure housing for it. But if battery powered you have to replace the batteries on a fairly regular basis. Not too high then.
Outdoor Surveillance Cameras with wires through the ceiling spaces terminating inside the house at a fixed mains power wireless transmitter is a good option. Then you can have your computer or laptop seeing the images anywhere inside the house. Some units can transmit to TV sets if you prefer. Have you a trailer boat with bimini top, or caravan, or does the furniture van need to get past the perfect camera spot. Make sure its not obstructive. The camera, for outdoor use, will have a robust non-corrosive body, insulated and weather proof AND PROPER MOUNTING BRACKETS!! Nothing worse than the thing hanging off its wires after a storm, or rust stains down your nice stucco wall. Do not buy powder coated or nickel plated (which is not hot dipped galvanizing) iron/steel brackets. Use cast non-ferrous alloys, (shy away from “gun” metal,) or 316 stainless steel. Other stainless steels tend to create rust stains. The mounting screws should be stainless or silicon bronze. You may gather now that I belong to the grey power gang, been there done that. Take my advice and do it once and do it right.
Next thing is you need a receiver unit to accept the feeds, multiple channels and software to control robotic type units. Then you should, or must, have cameras with at least 0 lux i.e. can still capture a picture at dusk, and better still infrared capable, i.e. will function in the dark, but don’t be trapped, infra red requires high resolution to obtain any sort of clarity. Security cameras should be motion activated and you need sufficient data space to record. Especially if you have a big energetic dog on the loose. And then you may like to be able to haul out the laptop on a Bermuda beach and see your house in New Zealand. All is possible with money. So with that mouthful, to summarize, for $ 50 you can have a camera that looks at one spot, i.e. now you see me, now you don’t to the full suite for over $ 1500 and any combination in between. CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS CAREFULLY. The normal truth reigns, cheap does not last, physically or emotionally. You can normally tell by looking. If its worth doing its worth doing properly.
Jim Rentoul is a retiring self employed bloke. Came from farming to industry, then owned a Charter boat, now working part time and interested in giving away my knowledge earned from the school of hard knocks.