In today’s security-conscious world, homeowners and businesses are investing more than ever in CCTV and remote-view security camera systems.
While some of these setups are affordable, most security camera systems start at $1,000, which includes installation and activation costs.
DIY security camera systems could be more or less expensive than this depending on the kind of equipment purchased and any additional services needed, such as remote live-view.
With that said, installing a DIY remote-view security camera system is more about the fun that comes with doing something techie. Nonetheless, while there are advantages, it doesn’t go without some disadvantages as well. We’ll cover a few of those below.
Advantages of Building a DIY Security Camera System
Since security camera installation companies often mark up the equipment they sell you, doing it yourself allows you to search for discounted or liquidated items. This allows you to mix and match the equipment as you wish, especially when it comes to brands.
For example, when it comes to surveillance cameras and other related equipment, liquidation websites or outlet stores are known to carry top-quality brands for nearly 50 percent or more off the original price.
Most security camera companies are only authorised dealers of a few brands and must abide by contractual agreements made with their suppliers, which includes only using their equipment and not mixing it with other brands.
Though there are some benefits to using a single brand throughout an install, you may find bigger benefits in designing and installing the video surveillance system yourself. Some of those benefits are:
- A DIY video surveillance system is highly customizable.
- You will be able to make and control a budget instead of trying to meet the budget of someone else.
- By doing the job yourself, you won’t need to invite some stranger into your home for however long it takes to get the project done.
- You can get a warranty on a DIY security camera system (despite what some websites claim). Usually, warranty programs that cover such things fall under “systems.” You might have to do some shopping around, but be sure to explain that you want a warranty for a DIY video security system.
Disadvantages of Building a DIY Security Camera System
Like any DIY project, it’s something that you’ll have to make special time for. A large percentage of DIY projects, no matter how small or large, get neglected because the homeowners don’t have time.
If you’re new at doing this type of work, be prepared to make a few mistakes here and there. If you have found out that some measurements are wrong, installing a security camera system might turn into repairing sheetrock or other structural parts of your residence or business.
Tools are also an important thing to consider if you’re considering installing a security camera system yourself. Even though installing security camera systems requires minimal electrical work, you’ll still need to run wire. Not having the correct tools means additional time and money spent collecting them.
Once the project is finished and you test the system, you may find out it’s not working correctly. When professionals run into similar issues, they usually know from experience how to trace the problem and fix it. However, being that you lack that industry experience, it might be difficult for you to trace the problem.
Basic Equipment Needed for Wired and Wireless Video Surveillance Systems
Installing a DIY video surveillance system isn’t difficult as long as you keep things simple and don’t attempt to do something too sophisticated. And, honestly, the system installation doesn’t need to be complex or fancy to be high-quality. Below is a list of items you’ll need for a basic CCTV DIY project.
Cables and Wires Designed for CCTV
While it isn’t necessary to purchase branded cables and wires marketed specifically for security surveillance, there is an industry standard you should follow.
It’s important to use coaxial cables “that have an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield.”
This transmission cable is designed to carry high-frequency electronic signals via copper cable, gold cable, and fibre optics with a diminished loss in the signal. Such technology isn’t only used in the CCTV industry but in high-speed computer data busses, cable television, broadband internet networking, among other things.
Using any other type of cable might work temporarily. However, there will be a gradual degradation of the audio and video quality over time. No other shielded cable type provides the same precision and consistent conductor spacing required for an efficient transmission line.
If you purchase a spool of coaxial cable without connectors, then you’ll need to purchase the correct BNC (Bayonet Neill–Concelman) connectors from a site such as RS Components.
These style of connectors are important to use with sensitive frequency cables because they allow for quick and easy connect and disconnect motion, rather than having to twist and possibly damage the cable.
Other related equipment includes:
- CCTV Ground Loop Isolators
- CCTV Camera Housings (internal and external)
- Mounting Brackets
- CCTV Power supplies, Battery Packs (for portable cameras or a backup power supply during power outages), and Converters (for converting a 12VDC camera to a 24VAC power supply)
- CCTV Surge Protectors (protects your system from power fluctuations)
- CCTV Twisted Pair Video Baluns (allows the traditional 75-ohm coaxial video cable to be replaced by Category 5E/6 [or better] twisted pair in the CCTV) – muxlab.com PDF
- CCTV Video Converters (converts, Splitters (allows multiple cameras on a single monitor), and Amplifiers
Choosing the Best Equipment for Your Needs
The security camera industry offers an enormous array of products, ranging from military grade equipment like the Super IR Night Bullet Camera (offers 300 feet of clear night vision) to cheap novelty “spy” cameras.
If you live in a somewhat well-lit urban area, chances are you won’t need an expensive night vision security camera set up. As a matter of fact, night vision-enabled cameras don’t perform well in areas with too many lamps, with videos having a lot of background glare. This has been known to set law enforcement back and impede investigations.
Here are a few types of video surveillance cameras:
- Static-view camera: This type of security camera is one of the most common since they’re cheaper than models that allow you to swivel and pan in and out. The term “static” means that it only covers a single range of area, and can either be housed in a dome or in a traditional box design. While most individuals and small businesses choose thrifty models that run $35 or so, there are more pricy models featuring extremely high resolution and sophisticated optics.
- Pan–tilt–zoom camera (PTZ): The PTZ model is another very popular security camera among normal consumers and businesses. Like the above mention model, PTZ cameras feature varying qualities of video. And similarly to static-view cameras, you can find cheap models starting as low as $30 and high-tech models running in the hundreds of dollars. Casinos are known to have some of the most sophisticated PTZ cameras on the market, with the ability to zoom in and read the date of a coin lying on the floor from a long distance.
- Covert cameras: Security camera manufacturers offer covert camera models in a large selection of disguises. You can find basic and infrared spy cameras housed in common household objects such as clocks, photograph frames, tissue paper boxes, plant pots, and more. If you’re looking to monitor an office space, covert cameras can also be in the form of smoke detectors and thermostats.
What do you think about building your own security camera system? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.