How to build a Home Surveillance System?

Until recently, the installation of a monitoring system was something that was only reserved for specialised CCTV companies. This was because the equipment was relatively expensive, and the assembly and installation of cameras were complex operations. But times change, and with our products you can make a monitoring system at your house, flat or company by yourself. Thanks to our guides, you will choose the type of system suitable for your needs as well as select the cameras and recorder. We will also show you how to easily install and configure your cameras.  Additionally, you will get to know how to feed the cameras without having to call an electrician!

1. IP or AHD cameras? Choosing a home surveillance system

Aktualnie na rynku dominują dwa konkurencyjne (w pewnym zakresie) rozwiązania do monitoringu domu, mieszkania czy firmy. Pierwszym z nich jest system AHD, czyli Analog HD.  Wywodzi się on ze starszych standardów analogowych, ale umożliwia rejestrację obrazu w rozdzielczości Full HD, czyli 1080 punktów w pionie. Dokładnie takiej, w jakiej pracuje większość telewizorów w naszych domach. Drugim rozwiązaniem są kamery IP wraz z rejestratorami NVR. Kamery te dostępne są w szerokim spektrum rozdzielczości, począwszy od kamer z matrycami 2MP  - w górę. W zależności od zasobności budżetu, możemy zainstalować kamery o rozdzielczości od 1080p aż do 4K i więcej.

You will learn more in our guide titled: IP or AHD Cameras? Choosing a Home Surveillance System

2. Which recorder to choose? Should I use an IP camera with SD recording capability?

When choosing a recorder, you should consider the following:

  • The chosen system – AHD recorder cannot be linked to IP cameras and, vice versa, an IP recorder cannot be linked with AHD cameras. However, there are hybrid recorders which combine both these technologies.
  • The number of supported channels – you have to decide how many cameras will be used to view and register the image. You should also take into account a possible future extension of the system.
  • Supported resolution – your recorder should not restrict the cameras, neither in terms of resolution nor frames. It makes no sense to buy very good cameras if the recorder is unable to register the video without compromising on quality. You should read the recorder specifications with a great care; mostly the resolution and frames per channel vary based on the number of cameras connected.
  • Expectations from the video analytics – most recorders can detect a motion (or interpret motion detection signals sent by cameras) and mask certain sections of a video image so that they are not recorded. If you need a more advanced analysis, such as counting the persons entering/leaving, face recognition or detection of objects in restricted zones, you should choose a device adequate for these functionalities.

Many people ask themselves whether they need a recorder to build a small monitoring system composed of only one or two cameras. Some IP cameras can be supplied with SD cards, where they can record the video image.

In some cases, such a camera may be configured in such a way to receive the image from another camera and save it. In theory, this will provide the functionality of a mini-recorder.

You will learn more in our guide titled Which recorder to choose? Should I use an IP camera with SD recording capability?

3. Selection of cameras

You must ask yourself the following question: will your cameras be installed indoors or outdoors? Should they keep looking at the same place or you want to move them?  What area should be visible on a recorded film?  The priority is what you want to achieve, and to achieve that you should choose cameras (whether IP or AHD devices) with specific parameters. Once you read our guide, you will certainly know which IP or AHD camera you should buy to meet your expectations. 

You will learn more in our guide titled Selection of cameras

4. How to arrange the cameras? How to connect them? Which power supply to choose?

The issue of arranging your cameras is actually not a technical question but rather a decision regarding your security policy. You must consider what you want to monitor, how important it is to also cover the building surroundings and to what extent, and which areas should be paid a particular attention. Besides, you should think if you would like to have the zoom and object tracing options. When planning the camera layout, take into account the distance to the object to be monitored. An object located within the angle of view but too far from the camera will be unclear, unless your camera has an adequate optical zoom. Please note that the cameras with the PTZ option are not always capable to record a short-lasting event. An excessively long surveillance path and the absence of analytics make it possible to avoid being recorded by the camera.

As regards the connection, is it a consequence of what system you choose. The IP cameras can be directly tied into an already existing LAN, whereas the AHD cameras will require a separate cabling, or you can use the LAN’s twisted pair cabling. However, it must be separated from the other part of the network. If you use a twisted pair to connect your cameras, you must use the so-called baluns, which will appropriately convert the signal and ensure a physical conversion from a BNC connector (used by the cameras) to an RJ-45 (used by LANs).

You will learn more in our guide titled Jak rozmieścić kamery? Jak je podłączyć? Jakie wybrać zasilanie?

5. Equipment configuration

Regardless of whether you build an IP or an AHD monitoring system, the recorder is the central device which must be configured. Most systems, if made by the same manufacturer, do not require any modification to the cameras. In the case of mixed systems, which include components by several brands, it may be necessary to use integrated camera configuration systems. When it comes to the IP systems, you should first take care that the camera acquires an appropriate IP address, and then log into its interface and make the required changes. Most AHD cameras do not require any change in settings. However, some AHD cameras are fitted with a small cable-mounted manipulator, which enables activation of the screen menu and choosing appropriate options. In general, the configuration using cameras comes down to establishing connection with the recorder, and other settings are already made through the recorder. In the recorder, you can set the quality and method of video recording, including the schedule, e-mail notifications, alarms, etc. 

The recorder can be configured in two ways: directly by connecting the keyboard, mouse and screen, or remotely (via the network), using the integrated WWW interface. In the case of configuring via the network, you must provide the correct IP address according to the network addressing. Therefore, you may initially need to connect the screen, keyboard and mouse to configure the address.

6. Viewing the image locally and online

The access to the video image actually comes down to the access to your recorder. Thus you can view the image:

  • Locally – on a monitor connected to the recorder.
  • Via a LAN  – on a PC or smartphone connected to the LAN (for example a home router).
  • Via the Internet  – from any place in the world where there is an adequately fast Internet connection.

If you would like to access the recorded image via the Internet, your Internet connection should ensure an appropriately fast data upload speed. Most Internet providers advertise their links as extremely fast by stating the download speed, while the upload speed is very low.

7. System building costs – comparison

Let us try to summarise the cost of building a system with eight Full HD cameras in IP and AHD technologies. In each case, we will use cameras in housings of the same type, ensuring a similar quality of video image. Both solutions imply a central power supply and twisted-pair computer cabling. In our estimate, we do not include the cost of buying hard drives, as they are independent of the system. The prices are approximate gross retail prices as at 15/11/2018.

Comparison of both systems:

  IP Cost AHD Cost
Recorder NVRHD-1HDD-9CH 399,0 DVR-1080P-081-1 499,0
Cameras 8xIPEB-2MP-36-1 1519,2 8xAHB-E1080-363-1 711,2
Cabling 305m CLA04-UC5E
16xwtyk RJ-45
350,0 305m CLA04-UC5E
16xwtyk RJ-45
Power supply FEPS-1908 339,0 8xPA12V1.5A 87,2
Total   2607,2   1862,4

The price difference between both solutions is significant – the IP-based solution is approximately 40% more expensive. It requires the amount of PLN 750, which will allow you, for example, to provide the recorder with a more capacious hard disk.

Of course, both systems have their pros and cons, which is described in detail in our analysis above. The selection of a particular solution should be based not only on the price but also on other important elements. For instance, the use of the existing cabling, the distance from cameras to recorder, or the option to extend the system in the future.