On first glance, choosing a surveillance system is easy. Pick something in your price range, set up your cameras, and you're done. The problem is that the best surveillance system for one business may not be what's best for another.
Why are surveillance systems so different? Some systems are wireless and cloud-based, while others are hardwired into a monitor or recording unit. The number of cameras you need will vary depending on the size and layout of your business. And you'll need to consider whether you need infrared cameras, weather-proof casings, or even motion-sensitive recording.
So with all this to consider, how do you choose the best surveillance system for your business needs? Here are some tips to help you narrow down the choices.
1. Determine your need
There's a lot to consider in this simple statement. At the most basic level, however, your decision comes down to a few questions. Do you have multiple buildings? If so, you'll probably want a network video recorder. According to HS Tech Group, if you need a large array of cameras or significant video storage, a network video recorder is a better choice.
If you're looking for basic observation, theft deterrents, and security enhancements, digital video recorders fit the bill. For most small businesses, the DVR option is sufficient as they are less expensive, usually offer remote access, and can accommodate up to 16 cameras.
2. Determine coverage and placement
Security cameras have different capabilities, and your camera placement will help determine which camera is best for you. For instance, a camera with a wide dynamic range is ideal for viewing entrances as it can handle the change in light as the door opens and closes.
If you need coverage in a dimly lit area, look at cameras with infrared capabilities. As an example, the CleverLoop indoor camera system gives you a 115-degree angle and free cloud storage.
3. Decide which system you prefer
The Analog versus IP argument is kind of like asking if a flip phone is better than a smartphone. While it may be for some people, most of us would probably opt for the smartphone. Similarly, an IP system is often more user-friendly, gives you the ability to upgrade easily, may be entirely (or mostly) wireless, and can be installed easily.
If that's not enough, you can access an IP system remotely, they can have much better resolution, you have the option of cloud storage, and some even come with video analytics. An IP system will cost a little more, but if you're buying a brand new system, you may find that it's a worthy investment.
4. Which camera is best
There are a variety of surveillance cameras to choose from. Like the coverage decision, the camera you choose begins with your needs.
If you'll have cameras outdoors, be sure to get a weatherproof camera. The Uniden GC45S Wireless Outdoor camera has a 40-foot range for night vision and a built in microphone.
For indoor use, you have a few options. A bullet camera is a good option if you want to cover a specific area, like in front of a cash register. For a wider field of vision, a dome camera is your best bet.
If you want to go for a truly high-end experience, a dome camera with pan/tilt/zoom capability and motion tracking is an option. For most small business, however, the best surveillance system isn't going to have bells and whistles like that since that's an extra expense you may not need.
Somewhere in the middle lies a system like the SecurityMan iSecurity system that comes with its own monitor (which doubles as a digital video recorder if you add an SD card).
5. Recording device
Most surveillance systems will need either a recording device or a monthly subscription with a service provider if you choose to record directly to the cloud. More cameras and higher resolution require a network video recorder (NVR) with higher storage capacity.
If you purchase an all-inclusive system, the NVR is part of that, along with the Ethernet cables you need to connect the cameras to the device. Some, like the Lorex 1080p High Definition IP security camera system, are easy enough to install yourself and only cost a few hundred dollars.
Unfortunately, choosing the best surveillance system for your business isn't a simple matter of running to a department store and plopping down the least amount of money you can for a system. You truly do get what you pay for. And sometimes, that cheap system is just that - cheap.
The good news? High-end home surveillance systems can work well for most small businesses, and thanks to technology, it's not too difficult to set up a system yourself. It's really up to you to decide how much risk your business faces and what steps you want to take to help minimize that risk.
Let us know if you need help.