The case for professionally designed and installed CCTV over DIY Big-Box store CCTV kits

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Why would a business owner purchase a CCTV System from a professional security company when there are seemingly inexpensive Do-It-Yourself (DIY) install kits sitting on the shelves of Big-Box warehouse stores? Wellington has been hearing this question a lot lately; and we also get calls asking for our help in fixing or replacing DIY CCTV projects gone wrong.

If you are thinking about installing a Big-Box CCTV system yourself, here are a few questions to consider:

1) What is the cost of getting it wrong and not adequately capturing events?
2) Do you have the extra time and energy to divert away from running your business in order to do the installation and learn how to operate the recording technology?
3) Who are you going to call when you have questions or the equipment malfunctions?

There are many nuanced but important considerations to take into account when planning a surveillance system. Using a professional security system installer can ultimately save you time, money and frustration. The value that a professional system designer and installer, such as Wellington Security Systems, can bring to your project typically outweighs the perceived savings of a DIY CCTV kit.

Security systems are not one size (or one box) fits all solutions. When you work with a professional CCTV installer, they will partner with you to design a system that addresses your specific needs and pain points; and they will bring the right tools, equipment and experience to the job.

On the design front, security professionals understand how to address security camera placement, the appropriate number of security cameras, privacy concerns, landscape and lighting challenges, field of view and intent.

Key CCTV design decision points include:

• Awareness of lighting conditions (Day / Night, Bright windows, Dark alcoves)
• Physical Environment – Nearby trees, overhangs and building material of structures
• Mounting height and discreet placement – difficult to reach (vandalize) locations and relation to neighbors to avoid privacy breeches
• Intent – what activities are owners trying to document and how best to capture them
• Lens calculations to achieve the correct level of detail

When it comes to CCTV system product selection, professional installers are well versed in selecting the optimal mix of cameras, cabling (when applicable) and recording technology that achieve owners’ surveillance goals within various budget and scope parameters.

Key CCTV technology decision points include:

• Hard Drive storage calculations – a factor of camera configuration, resolution, framerate and footage retention requirements
IP cameras versus Analog cameras
• ONVIF standards / recording compatibility versus proprietary cameras
• Indoor / outdoor camera mix
• Number of cameras required to achieve the desired intent
• Cabling quality for non-wireless CCTV systems
• Remote access via smartphones / tablets / web browsers

In an effort to help business owners make more informed decisions around implementing a CCTV system, here are some challenges and questions to research and keep in mind as you debate whether to go the DIY CCTV route or to engage a professional design and installation company:

• Most customers that Wellington Security sells CCTV systems to end up adding more cameras down the line once they see the value of the system; CCTV kits sold at Big-Box stores may include proprietary cameras that cannot be re-used or the system may not be able to be expanded to cover more areas.
• To keep prices down, CCTV kits may include out of date equipment. For example, security cameras included in a kit may use CMOS sensors that are now obsolete due to poor low light performance. The picture resolution that you see in demo set up in the brightly lit store is not what you will get in darker lighting conditions when an event is more likely to take place.
• A CCTV kit may bundle high-quality cameras with a low-quality recording device, or vice-versa.
• Big-Box Store kits usually contain one-size-fits-all cameras which may be inappropriate for the intent of the scope. You’re often getting a camera incapable of obtaining the view you want, or you’re paying for more camera than you need.
• Do you have the appropriate tools for the install and do you know how to use them? There may be tools needed to install a CCTV system that need to be purchased, borrowed or rented such as a hammer drill or extension ladder. Some camera installations will require you to route cable.
• Outdoor installations may require additional weatherproofing, caulking or other mounting accessories not included in the kit.
• Do you have the time to install the system – running cable, mounting the cameras and adjusting the cameras’ aim and lens focus?
• Are you aware of industry trends and what technology will be most relevant in the future?
• Do you have the time to learn how to configure and use the system… and troubleshoot it yourself when something goes wrong?
• Does the equipment manufacturer have good tech support to assist you when you run into problems?

There is a lot more to the cost of a surveillance system than just the price of the security cameras. For the vast majority of business owners, a professionally designed and installed CCTV system will provide more peace of mind and will involve far less hassle than the time and energy it would require a business or home owner to teach themselves how to properly install and maintain a DIY security system. If you are considering a new or expanded CCTV system, Wellington offers a complimentary, no obligation security audit and we are happy to help!

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