In an effort to provide people with all the information they need to make an educated decision about whether they need home security cameras, what type of cameras to purchase if they do need them, and how to best use cameras if they already have them, we are publishing this short guide to security cameras that addresses these and other commonly asked questions.
The Biggest Mistake People Make Regarding Security Cameras
One of the single biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to cameras is that they hear through the media about how some burglar got caught on camera, and they just think, “Well, that is the solution. I need to go get some cameras for my house and that’ll protect my home.”
The reality is that all security cameras do is capture an image of something that happened. The problem is, it already happened.
Don’t get us wrong, cameras are a great thing and we do install a lot of camera systems. They give an awful lot of piece of mind, and–sometimes–they really do help out the police, a community, or a neighborhood. But the reality is the single most important way to protect your home is with an alarm system rather than security cameras.
If you just go out and get a camera system without an alarm system and then someone does break into your home, even if the security camera footage results in the arrest and successful prosecution of a suspect, the fact of the matter is the person still broke in and stole your stuff.
You can talk to almost anyone that’s ever had a break in–the biggest scar from a break in is not the loss of property, it’s the fact that someone broke into your home.
So, cameras are a wonderful thing, but only as an addition to a home security system.
Plus, if someone breaks into your home and then they realize once they’re inside that in fact you do have security cameras, guess what one of the things they steal will be–the recording device that stores the footage from your camera.
Potential Pitfalls of Wireless Security Cameras
Many customers ask us about wireless security cameras and whether they should purchase these types of cameras. We don’t usually recommend wireless cameras for a couple of reasons.
Number one, most so-called “wireless” cameras are not truly wireless. They have to have power, so you still have to plug them in somewhere. One of the biggest mistakes we see made, either by homeowners or other security companies, is plugging security cameras into an outdoor outlet. This means that a burglar can disable the camera simply by unplugging it.
The other problem with wireless cameras is that if someone cuts your phone or cable line before breaking in to your house, then your internet won’t work, which of course means that your wireless camera won’t work.
You’ll only get the footage that was recorded up to the point that the line was cut, and since most people don’t think to point a camera at their phone line, that footage probably won’t have the burglar on it.
Finally, a third problem with wifi cameras is they have very limited range. One of the single biggest complaints that we hear from people right now with these cameras is that they’re able to view the cameras one minute, and then 10 minutes later they’re looking at a black screen because the wifi just drops out.
The range on most cameras is only about 35 feet, and when you put them outside a wall, it cuts the range dramatically. You’re much better off wiring those cameras back in, unless they’re indoor cameras.
Using wifi for indoor cameras is fine, especially if you’re just trying to check in on your kids, or your pets, or an aging parent, or something like that. But we don’t recommend wifi for outdoor security cameras.
The Value of Having Security Cameras Professionally Installed
There’s obviously a lot of good camera systems out there, and a lot of good camera manufacturers. It’s possible to get some great deals on cameras online. However, when it comes to installing the cameras, that’s where a lot of people have trouble.
Many people have called our office and said, “Yeah, I bought this camera system from XYZ company” (we won’t mention any names), or they bought something online, or from a big box store. They try to put it in themselves, and they have issues.
Either the cameras didn’t all work, or the camera quality was really grainy or wasn’t very good, or they couldn’t get it online so that they could view it remotely from an app on their phone or from sort of internet-enabled device offsite.
Typically, the equipment that you buy over the counter from a big box store or through the internet is just not the same quality as you’re going to have installed by a professional installation company like ourselves.
We do this a lot, so we know what to do to get it set up for you. It’s just turn-key. Whether you use us or any other company, we would urge anyone that is looking to really do it right to get it done professionally. In other words, do it right the first time so you don’t have to do it a second time.
It’s a lot less expensive to do it right the first time than to have to do it twice. Even though you may pay more the first time, at the end of the day, you’re going to be much happier than if you just try to do it cheap, especially with camera systems.