Caught on camera

Layout 1

Matt Parton, Product Development Manager at security products supplier, ESP, answers some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of CCTV, and provides valuable information to help wholesalers stock and sell the right products.

Q. What is included in a CCTV system?

A. There are four main components:

  • DVR – Digital Video Recorder (the brains and storage device of the system)
  • Camera (the eyes of the system)
  • Cable (to connect the cameras to the DVR)
  • Monitor (to connect to the DVR for initial set-up and accessing the menu/ playback functions)

Q. What’s the best type of system to go for?

A. This will depend on what the end user and operator of the system expects and will require a thorough examination of the requirements. The installer can then assess the coverage and the image detail that is required. A system can be built by selecting the individual components or purchasing a CCTV kit that contains everything required.

Q. What should I look for in a DVR?

A. The record resolution of the DVR is very important; this will dictate the quality of the footage. For High Definition quality, 720p and upwards is recommended.

Hard drive capacity: this will identify how much footage can be stored.

Functions such as the schedule record and motion detection record facilities are not only beneficial for utilising storage space on the Hard Drive, but also useful when the time comes to play back an incident that has been captured.

Q. How long will a DVR record for?

A. There are a few variables to consider – the hard drive capacity; how many cameras are on a system; whether the system is set to record continuously 24/7, or is on motion detection record.

As a general guide 1TB (Terabyte) should be plenty to cover a 4-channel system with 720p capability on motion record. The idea is to cover the length of time the property will potentially be vacant e.g. a two-week holiday. Are DVRs simple to use?

Most systems now are mouse/remote controlled and have user-friendly menus to assist the user.

Q. What are the key things to look for when selecting a camera?

  • Resolution – this should match the DVR’s record resolution to achieve the required footage quality.
  • Lens size – the smaller the lens size, the broader the image that can be achieved.
  • IR – Infra-Red measures the capability of the camera for nighttime use and is typically stipulated in metres. If you wish to achieve 10 metres at night then it is best to select a camera with 20-metre capability. Also, standard security floodlights will greatly assist for nighttime viewing.
  • IP rating – if the camera is to be used externally the IP rating will provide a guide for its suitability. Typically IP66 will be a good option for most external applications.

Q. What are the best positions for the cameras?

A. Generally cameras will cover doorways, windows and anywhere on the property that is vulnerable. There may be different applications, for example, covering a car, an outhouse or monitoring staff or a relative.

If there is a specific target to be covered make sure the target takes up a minimum 25% of the view of the camera.

Q. What type of cable is best?

A. Typically, RG59 shot gun cable – this will carry the video and power signal to the camera. Pre-terminated cable is also available for quick plug and play installations. Alternatively Cat5e cable with Baluns can be used.

Q. How far can I run a camera from a DVR?

A. Most systems can achieve 300 metres plus, but this is dependent on the cable type and power location.

Q. Can a DVR be connected to a normal TV?

A. Yes, the majority of systems will have outputs such as HDMI which are suitable for most televisions. But it’s important to install the DVR in a secure location, not next to the TV /DVD player, for example, as this will make the system vulnerable.

Q. What is remote viewing?

A. Most CCTV systems can now connect to the internet. The system then can be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world via smartphone, laptop or PC as long as there is data connection.