You won’t need all of these, but they are some things to look out for if you want a camera which can do more than record:
Motion sensors – they only start recording if there is movement sensed, and will send you a notification in case you need to check it out
Noise sensors – less widely available, but will alert you to any sounds which may be concerning such as car alarms, breaking glass or talking
Night vision – mainly essential for outdoor cameras. Most have infrared capability, but some are better than others
Two-way communication – not only will you be able to hear anything suspicious, but you could also talk to anybody. Great for deliveries or checking in on the dog
Indoor Or Outdoor Cameras?
Even though there are a few options on this list which will cover both, mainly with most outdoor cameras being suitable indoors, there are a few reasons why your decision has to be a careful one.
Outdoor cameras need to be a lot sturdier, able to handle the weather and the changes in temperature. They may also need a better quality picture, better infrared night technology and will need to be fitted to the external wall easily.
Indoor cameras will usually cover a smaller area, and you’ll probably have more freedom in terms of positioning and fitting. There will still need to be good video quality, but they won’t need to be quite as hardy.
If you’re looking for a setup and kit which will cover both, an outdoor pack may be best.
CCTV Or IP Camera?
A CCTV camera is a closed circuit television camera. They are analogue, wired devices, and the typical outdoor security cameras you may be used to seeing. They often require two wires, one for power and one for recording capabilities and storing the data, although more modern models only see you need one.
So with that, what is an IP camera? Simply put, an Internet Protocol digital camera will send information and data to a computer system via the internet. They can either be wired or wireless and are set up using your computer’s IP address and WiFi signal. They are also referred to as network cameras, as they are seen as a good option for anyone after an entire home security system full of smart appliances.
IP cameras are the latest technology, and therefore often provide you with the best results in terms of picture and flexibility. They do face their problems, however, as with all technology, such as connectivity issues and poor signal quality.
Even though traditional CCTV cameras are being phased out and replaced, there are still a few available for anyone after complete reliability. The good news is that they’ve been brought up to date, with most of those now available working with an app so you can have a 24/7 view of your property. They just don’t rely as much on the internet and being ‘smart’.
Home security is something you should take quite seriously, so it isn’t recommended you just settle for the cheapest option if you want the best quality.
A complete home security system will likely set you back upwards of £300. This will probably include the DVR/router and at least two cameras, as well as any wires or fittings you need.
There are individual cameras which work without hubs and wires available for just over £100 if you want something which is there ‘just in case’ or to check in on your dog/child.
Gone are the days the footage was stored on an old VHS tape, and you had to watch the whole recording to spot any suspicious activity.
Nowadays, a lot of cameras offer cloud storage. Basically, your footage is kept on a secure server. It often comes at a price, with subscription packages generally starting at around £5 per month for basic support. Some do offer free storage, such as Blink from Amazon, but it will be limited to a few days or hours of footage.
Bear in mind no two cloud systems are the same, and services are offered in tiers so the upper level of unlimited support could set you back around £20 a month.
Other cameras may give you SD card storage, which can result in longer footage but also more instant access through your computer, and it could be easier to move to long-term storage.
Some systems will rely on a DVR, which is a more permanent storage solution.
The choice is up to you but think carefully about what and where you want to store your footage if at all, and if you want to pay for the privilege.
Battery-powered cameras are great for flexibility in placement and are generally easier to install. Most have rechargeable batteries and the option to connect a solar panel for more continuous charging.
Wired cameras are seen as more reliable, but if they are outdoors, the either require drilling through the wall or an external power socket which means more work and possible professional electrician installation. The connections may also mean they aren’t fully waterproof.