Understanding Security Surveillance Cameras

In the market for a security surveillance camera system and don’t know where to start?  Confused about what constitutes a wired camera versus a wireless camera? Red River Consulting recently provided consultant support on such a project with a condominium homeowners’ association.  The HOA wanted to acquire and install a security surveillance camera system that could provide real-time coverage of the complex parking area, the swimming pool, and the entrances to each stairwell in the four buildings.  After assessing the HOA’s requirements, surveying the complex for camera locations and viewing angles, and evaluating the options of wired or wireless systems, we provided our recommendations to the HOA board for approval. As a result of this consulting project, we realized that we could share the insights we gained from this project. These insights would be beneficial to anyone considering purchasing a single camera or a complete security surveillance camera system.   Please read on to gain valuable insights for your prospective purchase.

As most of you know, the wireless security camera market has exploded over the last five years with companies like Amazon, which owns Ring and Blink, Google, which bought Nest, and Arlo.  These companies produce a wide array of products for home and business customers, and all can be purchased via Amazon.  These products are easy to install and connect to your wireless network but require some thought about their respective power sources and the difficulty of recharging them if needed.  I recommend that you research these camera options and look at reviews that other people have posted before you make a purchase. 

The other category of security cameras is those connected and powered by an ethernet cable, known as power over ethernet or POE.  These cameras are the ones that you usually see in businesses, and they are connected by ethernet cables back to a video controller for control, review, and monitoring. The power for the cameras is fed through the ethernet cable to the camera, and the video feed from the camera comes back to the video controller via the same line, simplifying installation.  You can use either Cat 5e or Cat 6 ethernet cables to connect these cameras to the video controller, depending on your requirements for data transfer speed and mitigation of interference. These technical topics are beyond the scope of this blog post.  Our recommendation for the condominium HOA was to use Cat 5e ethernet cables because they are easy to install and more than capable from a performance standpoint for the seven-camera system.  Most of these systems consist of several cameras connected via ethernet cables to a video controller device that supplies the power, the software to operate the cameras, and storage for the video files. Many of the video controllers we reviewed for the condominium project could be accessed remotely if the controller was connected to the internet via an ethernet cable.

Most home security systems, whether one camera or five, can be wireless and relatively easy to install.  However, other projects require wired cameras because of their size and scope but can be installed by the average user.  Please contact us if you have questions concerning this blog post or if we can consult with you on your security camera project.  We enjoyed the condominium security camera project challenge and stood ready to assist you similarly.