Questions you MUST ask before purchasing an IP Camera

Posted by ifihomes on 31st May 2017

Once you choose to go with an IP Camera as a surveillance device, you must find answers to following questions to choose the right model of IP Camera(s)

What is the Purpose of the IP CAMERA? What challenges do you want to overcome with video surveillance?

  • Baby/ Maid/Elderly/ Pet Monitoring for working couples
  • Road traffic control
  • Surveillance against to vandalism/unwanted solicitation/ possibility of burglaries
  • Vacation/Long absence from home
  • large layout/ corridor /common area/ office monitoring
  • Many IP Camera brands have Baby monitoring specific IP Cameras that can do more than just audio & video of the area, FOSCAM models have ability to check temperature, humidity of the room and also capable of playing lullabies for the baby.

Will the security cameras be used indoors or out?

As outdoor cameras require weather proofing, they are solid metal based IP65/66 material. Using Indoor cameras outdoor may result in damages to heat, rain.

Do the cameras need to be discreet or act as a visual deterrent?

Sometimes all you need is a sign that says this place is monitored to make the place safe, sometime you need to make sure they are actually hidden/unreachable to save the camera from being stolen

NOTE: Business/office environments need to keep in mind that IP camera installation cannot compromise individual’s privacy, every installation has to be absolutely visible to all the people working in the environment.

How large an area do you want to cover?

Simple rule, larger the area to be covered more cameras are required or higher resolution cameras have to be opted

IP cameras these days come with very wide angels (>115degree) and long distance vision even in nights but if you want to cover every angle without any blind spot results in higher number cameras to be installed

How much image clarity and detail do you require?

A simple home environment can use a 1MP resolution camera to cover living area but in case you are looking at face/name plate recognition then you may require a higher resolution.

It could be simply a personal choice to have best camera installed.

NOTE: Higher the resolution higher the cost, also higher the resolution needs high internet speeds and higher the data consumption

What are the lighting conditions during day & night?

What are the environmental conditions to be monitored during night, if they are dark and no source of light, go with night vision camera. Take a note of the night vision distance that an IP camera can cover. Indoor camera typically cover around 25 feet

Outdoor IP cameras typically cover up to 60 feet but there a model that can go up to 100 Ft

NOTE: Camera Night vision is Black & White like the picture

How will I power my cameras?

Like all electronics products, IP cameras require 24X7 power to function, most of the IP cameras come with their own power adaptor with approximate 1 meter length wire.

Exceptions: Few brands to provide the option of in-built power bank for emergency purposes

Alternate modes of power supply: USB, many cameras come with USB connector with an adapter in case of possibility of power disruptions; especially in developing nations like India, an external power bank can be used to power the camera, while the power bank gets charged with regular power simultaneously

POE: Power Over Ethernet, mostly used for outdoor cameras, more can be read about it here

Challenges: While it could be relatively easy to provide power points in Indoor areas for a camera but providing un-interrupted power supply at outdoor locations can become a challenge and has to be thought through before choosing a camera

How much network bandwidth & Wi-Fi signal strength will my surveillance system require?

IP Cameras require Internet connectivity to provide live feed. Providing sufficient network bandwidth is as much important as power for an IP Camera. This a challenge that needs to thought through before choosing a Camera and narrowing down on resolutions

Having a good internet connection with good UPLOAD speed – Many customers complain about unable to view live from outside in-spite have good internet connection on the phone. Live video can only happen when Camera able to push the video via upload and phone able to download.

Having good Wi-Fi strength at the camera location

In case IP Camera is using Wi-Fi for data transmission it is a must to have good signal strength near the camera. Placing the cameras very far away or in other floors may result in weak signal resulting in disruptions, connection failures.

Solution: In case of Outdoor cameras draw a line (LAN wire/RJ45) to the camera or use range extenders/repeater

Additional reading - ISPs or Office Networks blocking P2P traffic

Do you need video recordings?

Do refer table below for various recording option available and when to choose what method

Method/Feature Cost Reliability Security Not suitable for? Suitable for?
Micro SD Card Low High Low High theft areas Alert Based recordings
NVR(Network Video Recorder) Medium High Medium When recording >10 cameras Continuous (24X7) recording
Cloud Recording High Medium High Continuous Recording High Theft possible areas
Blue Iris Software High Medium High High number of cameras up to 64 Cameras

Except Blue Iris method all other options allow the user to access the recorded video from anywhere by using the mobile app/software

How much hard drive storage space will I need?

Two modes of video recording happens in IP Cameras

Event Based – Takes less space in home setup

Most of the IP cameras support up wards of 64GB space which is good enough for homes

Continuous 24X7 – Consumes higher storage space

Done by using NVR, storage space can calculated using below link

Is audio important?

All IP Cameras come with two way audio features but with limitations, they are built with mic and speaker phone that are inside the camera casing. While speaker phones can be heard easily at camera location but receiving sound from the camera can be challenging based on the noise levels/distance from camera etc.

If Audio is a MUST, search for IP camera that has the option of audio in & out sockets EX: FOSCAM 9821P, this will allow you to add additional speakers and mic to the camera for better communication

Note: Outdoor IP cameras don’t have the two way audio feature, unless specified.

What devices do I need my video security system to integrate with?

IP Cameras are integral part of Home security and Home Automation systems and IP cameras have to integrated with third party systems/software platforms

Ensuring the IP cameras are compatible with your software platform or IP cameras software has open APIs for integrating. This is very essential for choosing the IP Camera. Many market variants of IP cameras are rigid software that can’t function with third party software platforms

FOSCAM cameras provide open APIs for integration & SDK for development. Home Automation platform’s like Cubical Home Automation.