Surveillance Solutions

Infrared security cameras are also very popular as they allow an image to be seen in
little or no lighting conditions. Most infrared security cameras are bullet style and
can be used inside or out. These cameras have infrared lighting or LED's installed
around the outer edge of the lens.  The more LED's, the farther the camera will see
street lighting or moonlight.   
Click here for more information about infrared
security cameras.

A relatively new type of security camera to the market is the day/night security
camera. These types of security cameras have an extra sensitive imaging chip which
allows it to capture a good picture in low light situations without using infrared
LED's.  Click here for more information about our recommended day/night security
camera options.

The advantage to c-mount security cameras is that the lens can be changed. You'll
want a special camera lens if you need to see further than 35 ft. The color c-mount
security camera allows you to change lenses on the camera giving you the ability to
zoom into a particular area. Varifocal camera lenses allow you to adjust the focus
from 5 to 50 mm. These lenses can be used inside only unless you put it in special
housing for outdoor use. Click here for more details about C-Mount security cameras
or Security Camera Lenses.

Dome security cameras basically provide a different look. Also, if you have any
concerns about tampering, check out our Infrared Armor Dome Security Camera. It
will withstand a 10 lb sledgehammer blow and can be used inside or out, daytime or
at night.
Click here for more facts about dome security cameras.

Digital Video Recorders

There are several factors that are critical to consider when purchasing a DVR,
especially when comparing price. The most important factors to look at are the
number of cameras supported, frames per second (fps), compression technology,
hard drive space, network connection / remote viewing capability, motion detection,
scheduling, and ability to save video and audio to a CD or flash drive. You should
also look for easy and comprehensive search capabilities and audio support. The
setup and user interface should be intuitive and easy to operate. The price range
varies from as little as $599 for a basic 4 camera input DVR up to $4899 for a 32
camera input real time DVR with a terabyte of hard drive storage!

What are frames per second?

The frames per second (fps) relates to how many pictures the DVR will record in a
second. Real time recording is about 30 fps on each camera. To calculate the fps per
camera take the total fps in the system and divide it by the number of video inputs.
For example, a 60 fps digital video recorder with 4 video inputs would result in
about 15 fps per camera. The technology has finally gotten to the point now where
real time recording is affordable. If you are recording cash register transactions or
something similar then you should definitely invest in real time recording.

How big a hard drive do you need?

The amount of hard drive space is very important because it will limit how many
days of recording you can store before the system has to start recording over the
oldest video. Each DVR will have its storage capacity listed in the specifications. But
this calculation is just a rough estimate as there are many factors that affect hard
drive use. The most critical factor being the compression format used by the DVR
(for more info on compression formats click here). But also the type of cameras that
are connected to the DVR make a difference (specifically the chip size and resolution)
and also the features that are selected on the DVR. If you use the scheduling or
motion detection features or tune down the frame rate that will extend the storage
capacity of the unit. Even the field of view (what you are recording) will affect the
storage capacity - the more complex the image, the more hard drive space it will
take to capture the complexity.

What is the difference between a PC-based DVR and an Embedded DVR?

A PC-based digital video recorder is basically a personal computer that has been
modified with hardware and software to work as a DVR. An embedded digital video
recorder is a machine that has been manufactured specifically to work as a DVR. In
embedded DVRs there is typically one circuit board with software burned into the

There used to be significant differences in features between the PC-based and the
embedded machines. But with recent advancements in the embedded DVR
technologies the differences are becoming less. The advantages of an embedded
digital video recorder is that they are extremely stable and reliable since they contain
fewer parts. The software is often written in basic machine code or Linux code which
tends to be more stable than Windows software. The advantages of the PC-based
digital video recorders is that they are easier to interact with because you use the
on-screen menus and a mouse (as opposed to embedded which you interact with
more like a VCR - via buttons). And you tend to have more features and options on
the PC-based machines.

Many cameras can be connected to one DVR. DVRs generally come with 4, 8, 16, or
32 camera inputs. The DVR will allow you to view all of these images at once or one
at a time, and all of the video is saved to the hard drive. Additional switches, quads,
or multiplexor's are not required.

Remote Viewing

You can view camera video over the Internet using a modem which is slow but can
display 1 or 2 frames every 5 seconds.  Broadband would be the preferred
connection which can generally display 1 frame per second. When viewing remotely,
the refresh rate is restricted by the communications medium (your Internet
connection speed). When viewing or playing back locally, the display is dependent of
the unit's frame rate (fps), providing smoother motion video.

Purchase a DVR or Install a Capture Card in Your PC?

It is much better to purchase a DVR system pre-built than to build one yourself.
There are many compatibility issues with DVR cards and related software. They are
very sensitive to the type of motherboard in the computer, the cpu, the memory,
even the video card makes a difference! We had to test many different configurations
to find one that worked reliably. You also don't want to be running any other
software on the computer that your DVR is running on which means you'll need a
dedicated computer anyway. We have had so many customers call us that have had
problems installing cards in their own systems that we won't even sell the cards
separately anymore.
including dome, PTZ, bullet, infrared, covert and
c-mount.  The security camera that will work best for
whether you will use the security cameras inside or
out, during the day, at night, or both.

Bullet style security cameras are the most popular.
They can be used inside or out. These security
cameras come in black and white or color and come
with all of the required mounting hardware. The
security camera casings are weather resistant and
don't require added external protection. Most security
cameras have a fixed 4mm lens that allows you to see
facial features out to about 35 feet and provides a 70
degree angle of view. This is the widest angle you can
have without distorting the picture.
Click here for
more information about bullet security cameras.
Click Here to Learn More About PTZ Security Camera's
Test Drive One of the DVR Surveillance Solutions Offered by Smarthome Systems