Make your house less attractive and more risky to burglars so they are less inclined to choose your house to break into. If they do choose your house, with the latest technology, you can actively do something about it!
CCTV = Closed-Circuit TeleVision, also known as video surveillance.
The three most important and basic aspects of an effective surveillance system are high quality video, high reliably and coverage of all the areas that you need protected. You don’t know when trouble will strike so you don’t want your system to let you down when something does occur. This is why commercial systems are typically wired rather than wireless and why we recommend a wired system as the foundation for your surveillance system too. There are many new and clever wireless security gadgets coming to market for consumers. We recommend installing a high quality reliable core Wired CCTV Surveillance System covering your entire house and add wireless gadgets, if desired, to enhance functionality.
Issues with wireless video gadgets:
- Produce much lower video quality due to low bit rates regardless of resolution. 1080p (Full High Definition) video on wireless is not the same as 1080p on wired and wireless do not have 3MP, 4MP and 8MP (4K) options.
- Have signal strength and connection reliability issues
- Are susceptible to interference, deliberate jamming and hacking. Here's a Google Nest Dropcam example.
- Can quickly saturate your frequency spectrum if multiple cameras are used
- Requires ongoing servicing if cameras are battery operated
- May not be able to consistently operate 24/7 without trouble
- Uncertain service & support with new companies
A Wired CCTV Surveillance System becomes a part of your house, quality and functionality can vary considerably so it's worth taking a moment to get an understanding of what to look for when looking at options. Here are some tips:
For a core Wired CCTV Surveillance System, your first decision is to either hire a professional to supply and install it or Do It Yourself. Unless you are very technically inclined, very handy around the house, and have a lot of time for a big home improvement project, then you'll be like most people and hire someone.
|Dimension||Hiring Professionals||Do It Yourself|
|Quality||High||Low to Med|
|Functionality||Med to High||Low to Med|
|Ongoing Service & Warranty||High||Low|
|Skills Required of You||None||Very High|
|Time Required of You||Low||Very High|
|Installation Speed||Fast||Very Slow|
|Cost (basic 1080p system)||$2000-$5000||$1000 to $3000|
Quality: You can have access to a wider range of equipment, including commercial grade, that can translate into higher quality visual results and system reliablity. A quality professional will assess your home's unique surveillance challenges and optimize the visual result by mixing and matching different specification cameras per position to give you a better end result. Each camera position should be considered for full field of view, distance, lighting condition and desired image quality. Professional installation of a wired system will ensure a well functioning, pleasant result without damaging your house and creating eye sores. This is a difficult job that requires skill and experience due to the drilling, fishing of wires and optimal positioning of equipment .
Functionality: You can have much higher and wider functionality than Do It Yourself kits because quality professionals can offer you many more options beyond just video recording such as integration with fire, flood, motion, alarm, switches, internal & external audio, control panels, A/V equipment, specialty cameras, door bells, medical, panic, temperature etc...
Ongoing Service & Warranty: It is highly recommended to hire one well established and reputable company to design a system, supply the equipment, install, and provide ongoing service and warranty. This provides you with clear accountability that this company will ensure that the system works as intended and you will have timely help when you need it. Avoid splitting the job up between equipment & labour because service & warranty can get messy when finger pointing begins.
Skills Required of You: Hiring a professional means that you don't have to become an expert on equipment functionality, manufacturer reliability, application suitability, system configuration, integration with other gear, camera performance, installation techniques, options, anti-burglary considerations, and troubleshooting.
Time Required of You: Just choose the vendor and options then let the professionals do the rest versus 50-100 hours to do it yourself from start to finish plus ongoing self-help tech support.
Installation Speed: Professionals can have a system installed a matter of days depending on availability vs. weeks and months if you choose to do it yourself.
Risks: Hiring someone reputable protects you from most risks like; Using unsuitable equipment for the situation. Damaging your house - what is behind those walls? An ugly installation. Low quality video. Unreliable video. Remote access via the internet not working. Not knowing how to operate the system. Troubleshooting the system - it is a dedicated computer, network, set of cameras all connected to the internet, the cloud, your compute or TV and your smart phone. Wiring and installation issues. Equipment issues. Camera connectivity.
Cost: The cost is higher when hiring a reputable professional but it ensures that you quickly and simply have a well functioning system that you won't have to struggle with.
After looking at the vendor landscape for the Greater Toronto Area, one stood out - SafeTech Security. Since 1995, they have been committed to providing full service loss prevention for homes, businesses and institutions Nationwide. Here is why they stood out:
This can be a good option if you are very technically inclined, very handy around the house, have a lot of time for a big home improvement project and don't mind being your own technical support. You would essentially be researching, shopping, testing, configuring, installing and supporting a dedicated video-based computer system and network with special cameras that are hard wired inside and outside your house. If that sounds like fun, read on.
Quality: Unless you wish to do an extreme amount of research, testing and learning like an ongoing hobby, then you're likely limited to purchasing Do It Yourself kits that are sold online or at retailers like Costco. These kits can be well priced but limit your ability to install different specification & higher quality cameras for each location which is the key to a high quality system that provides the appropriate level of coverage and clarity which is the main point of a surveillance system. Quality installation is part craft and part science that is achieved through training and experience. Being able to do a clean and quality installation through brick and drywall is very challenging and risky with hidden gas lines, electrical, insulation, water, ventilation, drain as hidden landmines you need to avoid.
Functionality: You will probably be limited to deploying video recording & playback without integration to other security related functions. Figuring out how to integrate with your alarm, fire, flood, motion, switches, internal & external audio, control panels, A/V systems, specialty cameras, door bells, medical, panic, temperature is extremely challenging.
Ongoing Service & Warranty: If you buy a system package, you will have a parts warranty if a component fails. You need to be comfortable with troubleshooting and fixing technical issues that arise related to the equipment, network, wiring, installation, internet, client applications and your smart phone. If you find someone to help you install a system package that you buy (hybrid do it yourself), it is difficult to find a reputable installer who will also provide you with ongoing support and be accountable for any issues that arise.
Skills Required of You: For a quality job done, you should become proficient at equipment functionality, manufacturer reliability, application suitability, system configuration, integration with other gear, camera performance, installation techniques, options, anti-burglary considerations, and troubleshooting. If not, then there will be compromises and difficulties.
Time Required of You: You'll need about 50-100 hours from start to finish plus ongoing self-support and may take weeks to months depending on how much time you can commit.
Risks: It's on you if you do it all yourself. If you find an installer willing to install gear that you purchase, then the installation related risks are reduced. Beware though of 'lone-wolf' installers who may not accept liability for damaging your home and be available after the job is done.
Cost: This is the lowest cost option.
Break-ins typically begin with a burglar approaching your door to check if you are there. They may pose as a salesperson or pretend to look for someone and ring your doorbell or knock. Internet video doorbells let you answer your door with 2-way audio from anywhere in the world using your smartphone and detects motion near your doors to disrupt this burglary cycle, create an illusion of occupancy and helps you decide if the police should be called in real-time before they break-in! To enhance your illusion further, internet smart switches and smart home hubs can be integrated so lights and sounds can come on automatically when someone approaches. If the doorbell video is wi-fi based, the video quality and reliability will be lower than wired systems due to low data rates, high compression and wireless conditions. It is especially noticeable when there is motion and when it is dark out. It is difficult to see facial and other identifying details well which is why we recommend this as a complement to a wired CCTV surveillance system covering the door areas. The biggest security value-add here is the interaction & awareness.
Ring is the market leader in this evolving space and this model supports 1080p resolution. It is available from Canadian retailers and can be returned if it doesn’t perform as expected (depending on retailer). We did experience setup issues related to smartphone compatibility and WiFi but Ring has superb technical & customer service support 24/7. For our situation, a WiFi range extender was needed and Ring support sent one for free. A useful feature is the ability to temporarily share your doorbell access with a trusted neighbour so they can respond while you are away say on vacation!
Ring uses a cloud service that saves video footage from the doorbell motion, live-view and doorbell press events to view after an event. Note that after the initial 30 day trial period, Ring requires a subscription for US$30 per year or US$100 per year for an unlimited number of Ring devices at your house. This doorbell plus their Ring Floodlight Cam is an excellent combination.
INSTALLATION: The Ring Doorbell Pro is moderately straightforward to install for anyone who is handy. If you would like someone to professionally supply/install and service this and live in the Greater Toronto Area, SafeTech can help.
Similar to an Internet Video Doorbell, Internet Video Lights integrate a wireless internet camera, motion detection, siren and two-way communication into an outdoor motion sensor light fixture. This is a good interactive enhancement to your wired system and Internet Video Doorbell to expand your interactive coverage especially for your backyard patio door - a favourite area for burglars. Any unexpected activity here is highly suspect so interactive coverage for this area is particularly valuable.
This floodlight cam shares the same features as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro with the following key differences. No doorbell button (obviously). Addition of 2 LED flood lights that are motion sensor activated and a loud 110db siren that you can activate remotely. The build quality of this floodlight is top-drawer. If motion is detected, the lights come on (if it is dark out), get notified on your device(s), see who is there, speak and/or listen and optionally trigger the siren or just call the police if it is an intruder, wherever you are. This is a highly recommended companion to the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all-around interactive protection that is easy to use by all family members.
INSTALLATION: This is designed to replace an existing outdoor light fixture or connect to a new 120V junction box. If you have an existing fixture, remove it and connect this in its place then add it to the Ring app. Installation is straightforward for anyone who is handy. If you would like someone to professionally supply/install and service this and live in the Greater Toronto Area, SafeTech can help.