When you make the decision to add or upgrade a security system, choosing a high-quality surveillance system at a reasonable price can be difficult. Just Google "residential security camera systems" - you will be bombarded with advertisements from big box stores, systems promising high-quality video at a too-good-to-be-true price, or unrealistic technology or installation models that won't work for most homeowners or small businesses.
When researching and choosing a new security system there are a few key items to consider. How serious are you about your surveillance system? What kind of customer support are you looking for? If the worst should happen, will your security system have captured the details you need? How easy is it to use and access recorded video? Do you really want to pay a monthly service fee?
Let's break it downâ€¦
Quality of Surveillance System
Before you do anything else, determine how serious you are about your security system. Are you just looking for a visual deterrent such as a sign in the front yard or stickers on windows and doors? Do you want blatantly visible cameras that will and do record but don't keep and playback high-quality video when it's needed? Or do you want to be able to see details such as facial features, hair coloring, license plates and more?
Security camera systems from big box stores are readily available and come with a too-good-to-be-true price tag. Guess what - they really are too good to be true! Almost all systems will either be extremely low resolution (420TVL) or an unrealistic technology for your home or small business such as wireless or IP. Cameras and DVRs should record in at least 600TVL (analog) using coaxial cable but even that is still fuzzy and will not retain details like systems that record in either 720P or 1080P. Wireless or IP systems do record in 720/1080P but require setting up a network, running CAT5 or CAT6 wire, assigning IP addresses and complicated system set-up.
Luckily, there is now a new technology that allows for High Definition 720P or 1080P video recording and playback using the same easy to use and easy to install coax cable that analog systems use. This new high quality surveillance system technology is called HD-over-Coax. High Definition surveillance systems can be purchased as kits, containing both camera and DVR, or security cameras and recorders can be purchased separately from a reputable security store.
Product Customer Support
If a problem arises, you may need help understanding something about the product, or assistance in set-up. What kind of customer support are you looking for? Don't trust your set-up to a giant corporation whose primary product is Heating & Cooling (HVAC) or Cable TV. Purchase your security products from people who have a proven history in the security industry and who offer comprehensive, in-house customer support.
A professional security store can also provide names and contact information for trustworthy local companies who can install the products right the first time. Get a feel for the type of customer support offered by the company by calling in, speaking with the sales staff and asking questions.
Ease of Use
How easy is your system to set-up? Does it come with easy to use software that allows you to view multiple cameras at the same time? How easy is it to retrieve video footage or adjust camera settings?
When you choose a security system from security industry professionals, they can walk you through how to use the system and benefit the most from your investment. They can show you how to access recorded & saved video files and back it up or save to a thumb-drive for evidence. Choose a company who you will be able to have a continuous relationship with, who'll have a detailed record of the products you purchased and the knowledge to speak with you on your level without using all the technical lingo.
Last but not least, price. The price of the security system runs hand-in-hand with the quality received. The pricing structure should actually be broken down into three separate components - the upfront cost, installation cost, and any ongoing fees.
Investigating the Cost of a Security System
The upfront cost is the cost of the equipment itself. Relatively straightforward, sure, but be sure that software and video storage comes included in your purchase for accessing recorded footage. Without the recording software and enough hard drive storage, video can only be viewed in real-time and will not be able to play-back footage in the case of an event.
Installation cost will vary greatly depending on a few things. If you are upgrading a system and using the same infrastructure (switching from Analog to HD-over-Coax and using the same cables) then installation should be as simple as swapping out the cameras and DVR and doing the initial software set-up. However, if you're installing a system where no system has been installed before, pricing will depend upon the complexity of your desired security layout, number of cameras and more. Call your professional security product supplier for help locating trustworthy, local installers.
Although there are many home or business security surveillance system companies out there, many will charge a monthly usage fee in addition to the cost of the equipment. Cost is usually broken down into monthly installments for ease of affordability but once you choose to stop paying, many companies will require the equipment (that you've paid for) to be turned back in.
Avoid a monthly fee by making the equipment purchase upfront from a security product supplier. Ensure you have the camera monitoring software (CMS) and hard drive space needed to save your footage. You or your installer will set up the cameras and video recorder and you'll be good to go!
The Big Picture
Don't risk your home, business, property or loved ones to inferior quality surveillance systems or customer support. Call professional security product companies and speak with them directly to find out about the best technology, products, installation plan and support for your individual needs. There is no "one-product-fits-all" security solution and if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Dig a little deeper and look at the big picture before committing yourself and your hard earned dollars to your new surveillance system.