Security Camera Systems

Posted on 2024-04-26
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Ordinary Wisdom

[Debby] I am starting my search to have security cameras at my home. Don’t want a contract or pricy equipment. Wi-Fi vs Wired?  Suggestions? What do I need to learn to make a good decision?

[Karen] Debby, we use Arlo and have been satisfied with them. We installed them last July and they made it fine through a Montana winter. You have the ability to add solar panels to charge the batteries. They are wireless.
[Eric] I used a ‘cheap’ solution by Night Owl, available at many box stores. The model I choose uses local storage, so no subscription and no requirement to connect to a network for service. You may have different requirements, but I found comfort Knowing that I could pull the plug for privacy and still have the security features. So yes, I do currently connect to the Internet, which allows me to view the cameras on my phone or other devices. I could still view them if connected to the same local network at home, even if disconnected from the ‘cloud’.
As for wired vs wireless, this really depends on your ability to connect & route wires in your application. Besides wireless, there are two main wired technologies, digital video or networked. Networked uses CAT cabling, IP addresses and a Network Video Recorder or NVR as your interface, while analog uses RCA (power) & BNC (75 ohm video & audio) to a Digital Video Recorder or DVR. Mostly the interface and capabilities are all similar experiences, but the tech is fundamentally distinct, so either one or the other and accessories (cameras) need to be confirmed as compatible.
For the wireless piece, some DVRs and NVRs will accept wireless cameras, though NVRs are more WiFi friendly being already networked. My DVR is capable of adding 4 wireless cameras to the 8 video channels already running. Though I’ve found the compatible wireless cameras are hard to source, and are not the typical WiFi cameras offered by the company.
One benefit of the wired cameras are that they have DC power supplied by the same cables carrying the video signal. Wireless cameras for either system typically need an AC source or outlet nearby, which I found to be both a nuisance and a vulnerability. I suppose you could supply direct DC either wired or through a solar/battery combo without converting to/from AC.
Camera quality – I was skeptical, as these cameras are clearly sourced from low cost overseas manufactures, some appear to be little more than older cellphone camera quality. (Hilariously large camera body, with a tiny pinhole phone camera on the end). I worked to find one with cameras of at least slightly larger optical characteristics, and while I can’t really compare to others, the viewing quality is certainly acceptable and very usable in most cases I’ve come across so far. There is digital zoom in the review interface, which does pixelate and blur, but again it’s mostly usable for my purposes.
Other similar suppliers to Night Owl would be Euffy and Swann, also at many box stores. Once you get into fully IP solutions like Arlo, Ring and Nest, I think those are all network dependent which introduces other privacy concerns. Maybe they can be operated in an isolated network and be just fine, I’m not sure.


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