According to recent statistics, crime is on the decrease. We are safer than ever living in the UK, but many don’t feel safe, especially at home.
Burglary is still one of the most common types of crime.
If you know someone who has been burgled, you’ll know how distressing the experience is.
Technology can be of assistance when it comes to protecting your house from unwelcome attention.
One of the best security measures is having a CCTV system installed to provide monitoring over your property at all times.
Being on camera is enough of a deterrent alone to get most burglars to move on to an easier target.
If they do still break in, the film evidence gives a better chance of catching the thieves. But is the cost of home CCTV systems too expensive for the average domestic property?
Is CCTV Something You Need Inside Or Outside Your Home?
CCTV cameras have become commonplace. There are an estimated 2 million CCTV cameras in the UK, and although most of these are in public places or on public buildings, an increasing number of cameras are appearing on residential properties. This growth is mainly down to the fact that CCTV systems are now cheap to buy and have installed, and the new wireless systems allow homeowners to monitor their properties from anywhere in the world. But does the average homeowner need cameras outside their property as well as inside?
Best location for CCTV cameras
Traditionally, CCTV cameras have been positioned inside a house to cover the points of entry, and to capture the images of anyone who tries to get into the property. Interior cameras don’t have to be weatherproof, and can either be wired to the recording unit, or operate on the home’s wifi system. Some homeowners might also choose to place a camera in a room where there are lots of high value items. But is this the right way to go about placing cameras? The experts in this sort of thing are the installation companies and the Police, and both will perform a home security audit to point out any weak spots in your existing security which might benefit from a camera being added, whether inside or out.
Do I need special cameras for outside?
Outdoor cameras tend to be slightly more expensive than internal cameras as they have to be more durable and robust to withstand the British weather. You can expect to pay around £150 for two outdoor cameras and a recoding box. Remember that although cameras designed to be used outdoors can be positioned inside, you can’t use indoor cameras outside the property. Remember to consider the strength of the wifi signal if you are installing a camera on an exterior wall, or the costs of getting an electrician in if you are going for a wired version. Remember too that a low resolution camera might provide a very grainy picture; it’s usually worth paying extra for a more expensive unit with a crystal clear picture.
Don’t get on the wrong side of the law
The boom in home CCTV systems has brought about an equally large boom in complaints from neighbours that their privacy is being affected by the cameras. You can’t point cameras into someone else’s property or garden, so it can be tricky to position cameras to catch a potential intruder, and keep your neighbours happy. Get advice from your local Police Crime Prevention office, who will be able to advise on both positioning the cameras, and the legalities of recording footage.
Can I Fit Outside CCTV myself?
Wireless CCTV is relatively easy to fit, given that you don’t have to drill holes through exterior walls for cabling. You’ll want to mount the cameras high on the wall though to avoid tampering, and you’ll need a head for heights and long ladders to do so. If you’re going to get a professional security company in to do the work for you, remember to get at least three separate quotes to make an effective comparison.
Crime Prevention Audit
The first step in buying a CCTV system for your home is to undertake an audit to work out how many cameras you need, and where they should be located.
A poorly-positioned CCTV camera, not focused on weak points of your property is almost as useless as no CCTV at all.
Local Community Police Officers offer free crime prevention checks in your home to identify weak points and suggest appropriate security measures.
They may give guidance about how many CCTV cameras you need, and where to locate them.
Companies which sell CCTV systems provide a similar service, but bear in mind their aim is to maximise your spend so might not be as impartial.
Once you have a general idea of how many cameras you need and where they should be located, you can shop around for the best deal.
Camera Cost Of Home CCTV Systems
Your first cost is the cost of the cameras. Prices range from basic cameras with infra-red night vision costing £30, to high definition cameras at £150.
The very basic cameras are probably best avoided by you as picture quality is rarely good enough for crime detection.
At the other end of the scale, the very high resolution cameras can add to your costs considerably when you are buying several of them.
A mid-range camera is probably sufficient for most standard domestic installations.
You should ensure whatever type of camera you choose it is vandal proof. Footage should be time stamped to prove the time an event happened.
There is so much choice on the market that it can be baffling, and trying to work out whether you need an alarm, CCTV, smartphone apps, remote monitoring or a combination can be hard work.
Remember you’re an individual
No two homes are the same, and when you’re looking around online trying to answer questions about which home security is the best or which monitoring company to use, it’s almost impossible for you to find an example or quote which will exactly mirror your circumstances at home.
Remember that a CCTV company is going to tell you that you need cameras, just as an alarm company will tell you that you need a new alarm.
It’s best you look for a company which offers a wide range of different security solutions rather than concentrating on just one type as they won’t want to push just one solution, or get your local Crime Prevention Police officer round to give genuinely impartial advice.
Best Home Security System - Best alarm systems
Most home security systems start with you selecting a house alarm.
The best sort of alarm system is one which is professionally installed, regularly maintained and which is easy for you to operate.
Look for one which will allow you to set the alarm in one part of the house when you’re asleep in another, and which comes with a box you can put on the outside of the house to let everyone know you’ve got an alarm.
The next thing you should consider is how likely your neighbours are to respond if your alarm is triggered; if they are unlikely to investigate, then look for an alarm which will ring a programmed number such as your mobile, or which is monitored remotely by a security company.
Best Home Security System - Best security cameras
You should always buy cameras which offer as sharp and good a picture as you can afford within your budget.
We’ve all seen those CCTV pictures which are so grainy that they are useless, so you should look for cameras with high resolution which can work in the dark.
You should think too about the recording equipment.
You should check whether you need more server storage capacity if you are regularly away from home as most digital video recorders (DVR) can record 7 days of footage.
Most DVR units can record images from a number of cameras simultaneously, so you should check that you are not buying too large or small a unit.
Don’t forget the basics
It’s all very well investing in security cameras and alarms, but you shouldn't forget basics such as locks on windows, a hefty padlock for the shed and a multi-locking system for your front door.
You should let would-be burglars know you’ve protected your home by putting security stickers in windows and doors. You should make sure your alarm box and security cameras are easy to see from the street.
Wired or Wireless?
Traditionally, CCTV systems were hard wired. Every camera was connected to the house’s electricity supply for power, and pictures fed down wires to a central recording box.
Modern technology means wireless CCTV digital cameras are available for homeowners.
These are easier to install and less disruptive too as wireless systems mean you don’t need wires running around the walls inside.
A wireless system is more expensive for you though as cameras cost more than standard wired ones and can be prone to interference from your other home electronic devices.
A digital system which saves footage to a hard drive or computer in your home could let you access the system when on holiday or away from home.
With limited server space, you should think about motion-sensor cameras which start recording when someone walks past.
You should get professional advice from a range of CCTV providers before choosing a system appropriate for you, given budget and type of property.
Gone are the days when having a CCTV system installed in the house either meant having unattractive cables running around your walls, or huge costs for having the wires buried in the walls.
Modern CCTV cameras operate using your home wi-fi network in the same way as your laptop, smartphone or printer connect to your router.
There are a number of advantages to this sort of CCTV system, but a few important drawbacks too.
Advantages of Wireless CCTV Systems
Wireless CCTV is cheaper to install. Because there is no need for a physical, wired connection between however many cameras you have chosen to install and the recording box or monitor, this makes installing wireless CCTV far cheaper than conventional wired systems.
The actual cameras and monitoring equipment are around the same price, so expect to pay around £100 for a basic recorder and a couple of camera, plus an extra £50 for each additional camera.
You can watch your footage wherever you are. As the system works over the internet, most systems will allow you to log into your home network from your laptop, tablet or smartphone, wherever in the world you are.
This can be very reassuring for people who like to check in at home while away, and also allows security companies to log in and view the footage on your behalf if an alarm is triggered.
You can move cameras easily. As your cameras are not wired to each other, it is a very easy task to move new cameras around, add extra cameras into the network, or upgrade cameras to the latest models.
You could even potentially take the whole system with you when you move house.
Disadvantages of Wireless CCTV Systems
The speed of your broadband can affect the system.
If you are already on superfast, fibre broadband for your internet connection, your bandwith will be more than sufficient to stream movies, download music and run your CCTV, all at the same time.
If however you are in an area with slower broadband speeds, you might find the speeds are just not high enough.
The signal might not be strong enough.
This is particularly a problem in older properties, or those with very thick walls, where the signal from the camera to the monitoring box just isn’t strong enough to get through, especially when cameras are mounted on exterior walls.
Cordless phones, some lights and other electronic items can also interfere with the signal.
You can boost the strength of the signals or hard wire your cameras rather than relying on wifi, but this cancels out the benefits of a wireless system in the first place.
Always take advice from a professional on the system which is most appropriate for your property.
The internet might go down. Power cuts are thankfully pretty uncommon nowadays in the UK, but internet service interruption is far more common.
If the internet goes down, so does your CCTV coverage.
So is wifi CCTV worth it?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this one.
Look at the advantages and disadvantages, think about the specifics of your property, and seek advice from the professionals if you’re still not sure.
DIY Option for Installing your CCTV
You can buy basic CCTV systems with a couple of cameras and recording equipment from main DIY stores for around £250.
If you have tools and knowledge needed to put the cameras up (and recording) in the right locations then this could be all you require.
If you live in a block of flats with a CCTV system inside then an additional couple of cameras for inside the property could be sufficient.
If you audit your property and find you need something complex such as motion sensitive or night vision cameras, get specialists in to supply and fit equipment for you.
Overall Cost Of Home CCTV Systems
The cost of getting home CCTV systems installed in your house will vary. This depends on whether you opt for analogue or digital system, wired or wireless,
The number of cameras needed and their location will have a role to play in costs of your home security system.
It is important you speak to a few local security companies to get quotes.
Ask them to survey your property and submit formal written quotes.
This process makes it easier for you to compare costs for your home CCTV system and decide best value for money offered.
You can expect to pay upwards of £1,500 for a CCTV system for a 3 bedroom semi-detached house, plus installation and recording equipment.
If your home is larger, or you need state of the art equipment and the best cameras on the market, expect to pay much more.