Home surveillance systems provide homeowners with a comprehensive way to monitor a home at any time of day, offering a sense of security and well-being. While some homeowners turn to service companies to install a home surveillance system, a DIY-friendly homeowner can retrofit a system on their own using IP network cameras. With a few tips on selecting and installing these cameras and the right retail options, including shopping for products on eBay, homeowners can set up their own security system in a few simple steps.
Selecting IP network cameras
As a first consideration, it is important to select the right type of IP camera for a surveillance system. Issues such as resolution, compression standard, and the performance features of a camera all factor into this choice.
Considering image resolution on IP network cameras
While traditional security cameras capture footage on PAL with a lower quality resolution and slower frame rate, IP network cameras use higher digital resolutions. Homeowners can find standard definition, megapixel, and HD cameras to use in a home surveillance system. In scenarios where attention to detail is a priority, higher definition cameras are more likely to capture quality footage.
Standard definition is a good solution for well-lit interiors or to create a more cost-effective surveillance system. Oftentimes, a more powerful HD camera can do the work of two standard definition cameras and help save on overhead, provided it has a wide-angle lens.
Another factor to consider is the video compression used by an IP camera. This is essentially the digital format the camera uses to capture and store footage. Typical options include:
- Motion JPEG
Each format offers its own array of advantages. MPEG4 is diverse format, working well with low-resolution and high-resolution applications. Motion JPEG is the most robust option since it uses a series of images to create the "video" footage — if one image is lost or damaged, the rest of the images remain intact. H.264 is the most efficient, taking up the least storage space on a hard drive and requiring the least bandwidth.
Camera features to consider with IP network cameras
There are a number of camera performance features to consider when selecting IP cameras for home surveillance. IP cameras can be fixed, meaning they point and shoot in only one direction, or may be pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, which capture a wider area but require additional programming. Homeowners may also want to look at cameras with night vision, especially when setting up cameras in an exterior setting.
Cameras with housings that block out moisture, dust, and other contaminants are a good idea when installing in an external area. To save on energy, look for cameras that use motion detection to turn on only when there is movement in an area, saving on bandwidth and storage space.
Where to place cameras around a home
Once homeowners settle on a particular camera or design, it is important to determine how many cameras are necessary and where to place them around the home. Placement options to consider include:
- Entrances and exits
- In visible spots on the exterior as a deterrent to intruders
- Around the perimeter of a property
- Near valuable possessions
Most cameras come with mounts that homeowners can use to put cameras up in almost any location around a home. CNET recommends housing the power feed for an IP camera through a PVC pipe so that intruders cannot easily unplug and disable a camera.
Networking the IP cameras
Once homeowners mount cameras around the home, the next step involves networking the cameras into a central laptop or desktop that serves as the control centre for the system. IP cameras typically come with companion software that homeowners should load onto their control computer. Hardwiring a camera to a computer via an Ethernet cable is often part of setting up a system as well. After the initial setup, homeowners can mount the camera back in its place. Once homeowners establish the initial connection, it is not necessary to hardwire a camera to a computer unless they want to change its settings.
How to buy IP network cameras on eBay
DIY enthusiasts can find a wide range of IP network cameras through reliable sellers on eBay. To search for a type of camera, look for the search bar on any page of the site and run a keyword search. Use a general term to get an overview of options or a specific term such as "night vision IP camera" if you have a particular feature set in mind. Thanks to the wireless networking and enhanced functionality of IP network cameras, anyone can set up their own home surveillance system.