Residential surveillance equipment ranges from a single camera for monitoring one room to larger, multi-camera arrangements designed as part of a comprehensive, whole-house security system. The essential parts of a surveillance system, whether for one room or a whole house, wired or wireless, are cameras and a recording device.
Once reserved for businesses or high-end luxury homes, new advances in technology have made video surveillance systems an affordable option to help protect and provide security for many homes. This buying guide will explain the different surveillance components and systems available, so you can feel confident you’re selecting the best system to protect your home and family.
Note: If you plan to tie your cameras in with a security alarm system and use a professional security monitoring service, avoid any compatibility issues by consulting with them before installing any equipment.
Factors to Consider
• System Components - Cameras, recording devices
• Wired or Wireless
Whether you opt for a single camera or a full surveillance system, there are common components. In addition, kits, which include everything you need to set up your home surveillance system, are also available.
Different types of home security cameras are available to cover a variety of locations, both indoors and out.
|• Indoor cameras can be useful for monitoring a child’s room, keeping an eye on people who
are working in your home, or just checking to see what the pet does while you’re away.
These cameras can be purchased as single units, if you want to monitor one room,
or as part of a complete surveillance system. Often software comes with the camera
that will allow you to see what your camera sees from any computer or mobile phone
with Internet access.
|• Outdoor cameras can be displayed prominently on your property to deter intruders or
installed unobtrusively for discrete monitoring. Contained in housing protect them from the
elements, some outdoor cameras can transmit images in low or no light.
|• Hidden cameras fit in ordinary objects such as a clock or potted plant and allow you to
record activity in a home or business without detection.
|• Simulated (dummy) cameras are an inexpensive alternative to actual security cameras and
can act as a deterrent to would-be intruders. Keep in mind that if something happens, dummy
cameras will not record the event.
|Residential surveillance cameras only do part of the security job. Without a device to record what the cameras see, someone would have to monitor the cameras 24 hours a day. In addition, if an incident did occur, you would have no record of it. Digital video recorders (DVR) are the most popular option for recording information from home security cameras.|
Features and benefits of DVRs include:
• Flexibility to grow as your system grows
• Remote access from any Internet-connected device
• Easy installation
• Clear images
• Long recording times
• Dedicated hard drive for storing recorded information and
• Option of connecting to a dedicated monitor, TV or PC for viewing
Wired or Wireless
Most single-camera set ups, such as nanny cams, are wireless. If you are considering a whole-house surveillance system, you can choose from wired or wireless systems.
• Wired home surveillance systems are a good choice for new home construction. The surveillance
system can be installed as part of a complete home security system or structured wiring network, with
wires traveling inside your walls from the control panel to cameras throughout your home and outside.
For more information read our Security System Buying Guide and Structured Wiring and Networking
Panels Buying Guide.
• Wireless home surveillance systems are ideal for existing homes. The cameras install easily
without the need to run wires through your walls and are simple to relocate when needed.
Be aware that the term wireless refers to the signals transmitted by the cameras. Most systems
require a power supply or batteries for cameras and the receivers