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Cameras can do much more than deter unwanted intruders

Customer guide to CCTV camera systems

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CCTV security cameras can act as a powerful deterrent against burglars and other intruders.

Criminals will usually think again if there is a chance of being identified or having activities recorded with their faces known and perhaps used as evidence in a court of law.

If burglars do break into your home or your business premises, then CCTV cameras can not only detect their presence and issue an alert, but they can also capture images that could be employed to bring them to justice.

The many uses of security cameras

Home security cameras are obviously best utilised when your home or business premises are empty, but they also have security advantages even when the building is occupied.

You may not have thought of how useful a CCTV camera can be when you are at home, but they can have a wide variety of applications not directly related to security.

A well-positioned camera can allow you to observe who is at the front or back door, especially at night or when you are upstairs.

CCTV can be used as a baby or child monitor, allowing you to watch over your family at any time, day or night.

A camera can also monitor areas of the house that are ordinarily off-limits to young children such as a private study, workshop or garage.

CCTV can be installed to observe the elderly or sick at all hours without them being repeatedly checked on or disturbed. Elderly and frail relatives can even be overseen while you are away from home.

We have all heard strange bumps and noises in the night. Cameras can usefully be used to keep an eye on empty rooms and give you the heads-up before physically setting out to investigate.

And CCTV can have other functions than just deterring would-be intruders while you are away from home. Modern technology allows a variety of ways to inspect your home of business while you are absent.

Cameras can allow you to detect when your children get home from school; they can keep an eye on the babysitter if you are out of the house for the evening, or they can monitor pets before you get back.

For businesses too, CCTV cameras offer any number of useful functions in the day to day running of a company, especially those where there is a lot of activity throughout the day.

Sensitive areas, from private offices to car parks, can frequently be monitored for visitor activity while cameras can also offer another layer of security in areas where staff belongings or valuables are stored.

Delivery drivers and their vehicles can be security-checked visually before they enter or leave the premises and vulnerable doors and windows get extra protection at all hours with discrete video surveillance.

Types of security camera

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There is a very wide variety of CCTV security camera on the market today, from fixed-view systems to pan-and-tilt cameras that may easily be equipped with night vision or motion detection.

With so many types to choose from, it can be difficult to pick the right one for the job. That is why it is often best to get professional advice before installing a CCTV security system in your home, office or business premises.

Many cameras also come with multiple features and different functionality. Innovative designs come onto the market very regularly so it can be hard to keep up with the latest developments, but here is a quick run-down of some of the principal surveillance systems available on the market today.

Basic fixed security camera

These are often the cheapest of the general purpose cameras, and they come with a single-direction, fixed viewpoint. They are not able to pan or tilt, and they may not have a zoom lens. It is vital that sightlines are thoroughly tested before installation of this type of video system and that the focal length of lenses are correctly set so that images will be bright and sharp.

Moveable CCTV camera

These CCTV cameras are fixed with a motorised rotating mount bracket so they can pan to the left and right and can tilt up and down. Some can even lock on to a subject and follow it around. Many are now operated remotely from a smartphone or other web-enabled device. It is essential to ensure that monitored areas are well lit at all times of the day.

Dome cameras

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These cameras are dome-shaped and offer the widest coverage, often with 360-degree visibility of the surrounding area. Most have tinted shields, so it's not possible to tell from the outside which way the lens is pointing. Others also come equipped with infrared motion detectors. They are often mounted on poles or the corners of buildings thus offering the best coverage.

Wireless camera systems

Most modern security camera installations are now wireless, and they connect to a security system through the internet. Wireless systems are easier to install and maintain than wired systems, and they can be controlled from a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Night vision lenses

A night vision camera uses infrared detection technology to 'see' movement in poorly lit areas. The price of this technology has dropped in recent years, and it is now quite affordable. The primary value is in being able to capture clear images at night or in poorly lit environments. Again, the positioning and lines of sight are crucial for effective security with these types of camera.

Outdoor CCTV cameras

These are built to be weatherproof and tamperproof. Exterior cameras are also best installed by professionals as they will need to be out of reach and yet able to record clear images even in poor light. Sightlines and lighting of the environment can play a vital part in their effectiveness.

Fake cameras

Fake cameras are cheap and easy to install. While they may deter potential burglars they have no other practical use and won't give the same peace of mind as a functioning camera.

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