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Larches

Considering CCTV - lots of questions

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Larches

I'm considering getting CCTV installed and have a load of questions whizzing around my head. First of which is - do I really need to pay a stack of cash for someone to install some fancy kit from Hikvision, Dahua or wherever, when I could put up a couple of WiFi cameras (e.g. Ring, Netatmo, Arlo etc) for maybe half the cost (or less)? I realise it's comparing apples & pears to some extent, but if anyone has thoughts or experience to help me figure out the pros and cons then I'd be grateful to hear about it. Especially when it comes to experiences with the mobile apps, as I'd hate to shell out for a fancy system and then find the app is barely usable (e.g. badly designed, or won't stream videos well or whatever).

 

I have actually already invited a few quotes to get a feel for the cost of a professional installation, and as ever, no two people seem to agree on the best approach, e.g. how many cameras, where to place them, what spec, continuous or motion-activated recording and more. On that last point, I feel like a system that alerts me to unexpected visitors is way more useful than one that just sits there quietly recording until something else prompts me (or doesn't) to fire up the app and take a look. Especially if it's recording constantly, in which case there's presumably no indication in the recorded video of when anything interesting might have happened. Some folk seem to swear by IVS / 'Tripwire' (etc) and others just swear at it and turn it off because it creates too many alerts. So any views (no pun intended) on that are welcome.

 

Recorder capacity is baffling me, as I've been told by a couple of people that 1TB should be fine for 3-4 weeks' footage with 4 x 5MP cameras attached, but then others have said I'd need 2TB and would only get 2-3 weeks with that... makes no sense, unless this comes down to individual installers' approach to configuration (e.g. back to the continuous vs motion-based recording).

 

Next point of contention - where to locate the DVR / NVR / recorder. Some people say loft, others say no way (due to heat, dust, damp, spiders, mice, etc). Some people say study or sitting room, others say no way as a burglar would just find it and go off with the evidence. One person said garage, which has its advantages (in my house at least) but doesn't seem terribly secure. I would have thought one consideration is not having miles of network cable trailing throughout the house, as our router is in the sitting room and it would be awkward to relocate it (and we're already using a powerline with it for the PC upstairs). Also, it seems a lot of systems rely on the recorder alone, rather than backing up to the cloud, so that seems a big disadvantage as any evidence could be lost if the kit gets stolen or damaged. But I suppose any cloud backup options probably come with a hefty (ongoing) price tag.

 

One other thing I spotted is that some people seem more concerned about concealing wiring than others. I've seen some incredibly neat installations where there is no wiring visible at all, so they've presumably done a good bit of drilling. But the guys I've spoken to were talking about running wires along edges of stuff or behind drainpipes, or the option of using trunking, and the sample pics I've seen from one guy, the wires are just simply run along the wall in full view, or even up and over the fascia in the case of a bungalow (so within reaching distance) - am now wondering if I should worry about this guy's approach, as that seems pretty vulnerable to being cut by some bloke with a balaclava.

 

Which brings me neatly onto one last point (for now 😉) and that is accreditation - so far I've seen some prices from an NSI-accredited installer (eye-watering), an SSAIB installer (OK) and one who has no security-specific accreditation, just something like NAPIT or ELECSA (quite competitive). Not sure if this is a typical scenario, but I'd be interested to hear people's views on how important it is to go with an NSI/SSAIB-approved installer for CCTV or indeed for intruder alarms (as I've a bit of work needs doing on that too).

 

And finally there's the question of ongoing maintenance / servicing. One installer told me it's money for old rope, and it really winds him up how some companies squeeze easy money from their customers each year for very little in return. Others unsurprisingly do their best to push the customer in the direction of a maintenance contract, to prolong the warranty and avoid high call-out fees or servicing & repair costs. The costs seem to vary massively - e.g. I've seen anything from £35 for an alarm service up to £120 or even more for 'priority callout', parts & labour included, and so on. Seems to be more or less the same situation for CCTV. I'd be inclined to look somewhere in the middle (i.e. don't want to pay for inclusive repairs I may never need, but also don't want to get stung unreasonably if I do need to call someone out). Again, views welcome.

 

I realise I've covered quite a bit there, so to summarise the points I'm interested in:

  • 'Professional' wired CCTV vs DIY 'smart cameras'
  • Pros and cons of motion-activated configuration
  • Recorder spec & recording duration
  • Location of recorder
  • Cloud backup
  • Placement of wiring
  • Accreditation
  • Maintenance

 

Any hints & tips much appreciated!

 

Edited by Larches
Realised title wasn't quite right

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SPECIAL LOCATION

Basic rule you have to remember is..

(and this applies to all sorts of equipment.. CCTV, Alarm, Heating Control.. etc..)

 

Anything wireless is quicker easier and cheaper to install..

But if it doesn't work.. fault finding can be a real Sod!!

(and be more expensive labour & material costs).

 

Anything wired takes longer and is more expensive to install..

But it is normally more reliable and fault finding is easier.. 

(quicker & cheaper to fix if a component fails).

 

Although some cameras may be wireless signals..

they often still need a wired power supply..

So if you have got to wire a power supply..  It may not be that much more hassle to wire a signal cable as well..

 

If it is purely wireless..   Battery lifespan will be an issue..

 

If the wireless aspect is using your broadband wireless router signal..

Then you need to be thinking about what parts of your property has 'dead-patches'..

 

As the camera signal will be naff if your router signal is poor..

If you know you have numerous wi-fi dead points with your mobile phone..

Then you will probably have camera problems.

Guinness 

Edited by SPECIAL LOCATION

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Murdoch

Forget buying cheap and parts that "might" work together is my advice.

 

As above wireless have issues - a few years ago a customer asked me to install 4 high level cameras - so I looked a them and they were wireless BUT each needed a 13A socket nearby. 

 

When we had our extension 5 years ago I ran extension cables, which carry power and signal from the ground floor to the loft - then added a Swannview system - the only gripe I have is that it doesn't update the clock from the internet - but apart from that its easy to use, you can set alerts, zones which it senses, times etc BUT remember if somebody is breaking in or damaging your car, if they are wearing a balaclava, CCTV won't help much. 

 

Hope this helps

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Badger

Our hikvision CCTV system is fully wired from day one and has been really reliable wired is deffo the way to go not wireless and most CCTV engineers are experienced at getting the cables through areas with out anything on show 

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Larches
4 hours ago, Badger said:

Our hikvision CCTV system is fully wired from day one and has been really reliable wired is deffo the way to go not wireless and most CCTV engineers are experienced at getting the cables through areas with out anything on show 

 

I thought that might be the case (re wiring). It's this kind of exposed wiring that made me a bit dubious.

 

example.jpg.e4f51d185837a681f0b197060b4f33c9.jpg

 

Anyway, thanks everyone for some useful points there.

 

Edited by Larches
Img

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Larches
13 hours ago, SPECIAL LOCATION said:

As the camera signal will be naff if your router signal is poor..

If you know you have numerous wi-fi dead points with your mobile phone..

Then you will probably have camera problems.

Guinness 

 

Our WiFi hasn't always been that great, although it's a fair bit better since I upgraded the router - still by no means perfect, but passable most of the time. So quite a few good reasons there to steer away from WiFi cameras, although I'm still a bit apprehensive about getting a fancy cloud-connected wired camera (and maybe alarm) system installed and then finding that the smartphone app takes an age to open and load video, whether over WiFi or mobile data if I'm out and about (hah, remember those days...😷).

Edited by Larches
clarify re wired cams

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SPECIAL LOCATION
1 hour ago, Larches said:

 

finding that the smartphone app takes an age to open and load video, whether over WiFi or mobile data

 

Guaranteed to happen at some point..

 

Just like every other service provided over the internet...

 

e.g. TV program occasionally buffering..

Delays accessing e-mails..

Overdemand trying to log on to a web-page for some various reasons..

(such as the recent on-line shopping sites having traffic issues)

A site taken down for service updates / maintenance..

App needed updating because a device operating system has been updated..

Repeated retries due to poor or week signal at your current location.. 

etc..

etc..

 

Any cloud based service is not immune to the common occasional delays due to all sorts of internet related problems.

 

Some of these fancy apps and devices are great and have their uses..

But I don't think anything internet related should be considered a guaranteed top quality reliable signal 100% of the time..

 

Its just that gamble if it throws a paddy at an important time when you need or want a fast download response. 

 

Guinness 

  

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Badger
2 hours ago, Larches said:

 

I thought that might be the case (re wiring). It's this kind of exposed wiring that made me a bit dubious.

 

example.jpg.e4f51d185837a681f0b197060b4f33c9.jpg

 

Anyway, thanks everyone for some useful points there.

 

As a professional contractor in the industry I would. Not be happy. With an install. Of that especially as the soffit are easy to get through with the right fishing cable rods and knowledge 

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Badger
1 hour ago, Larches said:

 

Our WiFi hasn't always been that great, although it's a fair bit better since I upgraded the router - still by no means perfect, but passable most of the time. So quite a few good reasons there to steer away from WiFi cameras, although I'm still a bit apprehensive about getting a fancy cloud-connected wired camera (and maybe alarm) system installed and then finding that the smartphone app takes an age to open and load video, whether over WiFi or mobile data if I'm out and about (hah, remember those days...😷)

Some pictures of. Installations I've done within the last 2 years inuding the top. Picture and the cabinet picture before I upgraded our Internet switch system from. 3 years ago top. Picture and bottom pictures are from. My. Own home 

Screenshot_20201118_141441_com.google.android.apps.photos.jpg

Screenshot_20201118_141534_com.google.android.apps.photos.jpg

Screenshot_20201118_141223_com.google.android.apps.photos.jpg

Screenshot_20201118_141148_com.google.android.apps.photos.jpg

Screenshot_20201118_141132_com.google.android.apps.photos.jpg

Screenshot_20201118_125725_com.android.gallery3d.jpg

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UNG
16 hours ago, Larches said:

I realise I've covered quite a bit there, so to summarise the points I'm interested in:

  • 'Professional' wired CCTV vs DIY 'smart cameras'
  • Wired is the best option, there are a number of POE ethernet systems around now that can reduce the amount of cabling needed. Wireless cameras can be compromised by frequency jamming although some have the facility of onboard storage that helps overcome that
  • Pros and cons of motion-activated configuration
  • Using motion activation can be beneficial when searching through recorded video as it is easier to see motion and other alarm events in the timeline with regard to text  / email notifications no matter how well the motion detection is setup you will be swamped with event notifications as the slightest change to the picture will ping a notification and after a week or so most tend to disable it
  • Recorder spec & recording duration
  • Recording duration depends on the number of cameras, whether you use continuous or event only recording  and the quality of the pictures you want, higher resolutions and frame rates need more disc capacity it is not unusual to fit drives of 3TB+ these days to get 30 days of video
  • Location of recorder
  • Choice of location is very subjective, and can depend on a number of factors such as cabling, availability of power and how accessible it is or isn't to being found by an intruder
  • Cloud backup
  • Can be a useful option if there is a possibility of the DVR / NVR being vulnerable to being taken
  • Placement of wiring
  • It can be quite easy to hide cabling when you are equipped with the right tooling, how well it is hidden all comes down to price the customer is prepared to pay as something has to pay to cover the wear and tear of the specialist drills and other tooling that can be needed
  • Accreditation
  • Any accreditation doesn't determine what the quality of the install will be, it will only check that the necessary regulatory standards are met. I have some years back been involved with NSI (NACOSS) and the SSAIB and was never happy how their rules could be quite openly be bent to suit the situation
  • Maintenance
  • With today's camera and recording technology and the equipment reliability there is less need for maintenance these days, most of the maintenance is clearing cobwebs and spiders from around the cameras

 

Any hints & tips much appreciated!

 

 

Edited by UNG

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Larches

Site won't let me add another 'thanks' reaction today, but anyway... thanks @UNG - that's really helpful and raises a few things I hadn't thought of. I did vaguely wonder if there was such a thing as jamming for WiFi cameras and also wireless alarm systems as they seem to be all the rage these days (no doubt because they're easier to install, as mentioned above). Guess it's not a major issue for most domestic scenarios though.

 

On this point:

 

Pros and cons of motion-activated configuration

Using motion activation can be beneficial when searching through recorded video as it is easier to see motion and other alarm events in the timeline with regard to text  / email notifications no matter how well the motion detection is setup you will be swamped with event notifications as the slightest change to the picture will ping a notification and after a week or so most tend to disable it

 

- I suppose a compromise would be to use motion activation but disable notifications... but I remember now that someone cautioned against using motion activation altogether as recording may not be instantaneous, so could miss something important, not to mention a period prior to activation that may be significant. That does seem a major drawback, but then so does the idea of having no markers in the timeline if you go for continuous recording. I know some Ring doorbells get around this with a 'pre-roll' function - if I've understood that correctly, it records constantly in a lower resolution, and then if motion is detected it triggers full recording and presents that footage along with the previous x seconds (which is presumably otherwise discarded). Not sure if an equivalent function is available in 'pro' CCTV systems though.

 

Regarding accreditation, it sounds like there may be modest benefit to the consumer in terms of standards assurance and maybe a certificate to wave at insurance companies, but on the other hand, shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

 

On the maintenance point, I read that you can get spray-on spider repellent which sounds worthwhile (assuming it actually works!).

 

Edited by Larches

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Murdoch
5 minutes ago, Larches said:

On the maintenance point, I read that you can get spray-on spider repellent which sounds worthwhile (assuming it actually works!).

 

 

 

Wasn't aware of that - any links?

 

I find occasional use of a soft broom very effective

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Larches
4 minutes ago, Murdoch said:

Wasn't aware of that - any links?

 

I find occasional use of a soft broom very effective

 

This is the one I've seen mentioned, although I imagine others may be available: https://spiderex.co.uk/

 

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Murdoch

CCTV.jpg.d1172d6e2fa017eb4f6c1a28b47a6df9.jpg

 

I chose to put this aged monitor in place should I need to adjust the settings - must do something about the 4 way extension!

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Larches
1 minute ago, Murdoch said:

I chose to put this aged monitor in place should I need to adjust the settings - must do something about the 4 way extension!

 

Ah yes that's another thing, some installers seem to assume you want a monitor, others that you don't. If you can do everything (e.g. viewing & configuring) on a PC on the same network (as I had assumed, correctly or otherwise!) then I think I'd settle for that, especially if the recorder's in the loft (or somewhere else awkward, as is likely). I'd still have a monitor I could connect directly to the box in the event of connectivity problems.

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Murdoch
31 minutes ago, Larches said:

 

Ah yes that's another thing, some installers seem to assume you want a monitor, others that you don't. If you can do everything (e.g. viewing & configuring) on a PC on the same network (as I had assumed, correctly or otherwise!) then I think I'd settle for that, especially if the recorder's in the loft (or somewhere else awkward, as is likely). I'd still have a monitor I could connect directly to the box in the event of connectivity problems.

 

Odd - surely its up to you to plug in a monitor in or not - I just try and make sure that the space is available to accommodate the box and monitor plus there are 13A sockets available. I don't think my system will allow me to connect to the box remotely from my laptop 

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UNG
1 minute ago, Murdoch said:

 

Odd - surely its up to you to plug in a monitor in or not - I just try and make sure that the space is available to accommodate the box and monitor plus there are 13A sockets available. I don't think my system will allow me to connect to the box remotely from my laptop 

You can connect to most internet connected systems via the units IP address from within the local network or if the site has a DDNS or an external fixed IP you can connect from a remote site . Usually most systems GUI's are optimised for Internet Explorer 11 and other browsers quite often won't let you access or program all the functions of the unit

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UNG
1 hour ago, Larches said:

Site won't let me add another 'thanks' reaction today, but anyway... thanks @UNG - that's really helpful and raises a few things I hadn't thought of. I did vaguely wonder if there was such a thing as jamming for WiFi cameras and also wireless alarm systems as they seem to be all the rage these days (no doubt because they're easier to install, as mentioned above). Guess it's not a major issue for most domestic scenarios though.

With the technology some thieves deploy to steal cars these days anything is possible and it is not that expensive to do

 

1 hour ago, Larches said:

Pros and cons of motion-activated configuration

Using motion activation can be beneficial when searching through recorded video as it is easier to see motion and other alarm events in the timeline with regard to text  / email notifications no matter how well the motion detection is setup you will be swamped with event notifications as the slightest change to the picture will ping a notification and after a week or so most tend to disable it

 

- I suppose a compromise would be to use motion activation but disable notifications... but I remember now that someone cautioned against using motion activation altogether as recording may not be instantaneous, so could miss something important, not to mention a period prior to activation that may be significant. That does seem a major drawback, but then so does the idea of having no markers in the timeline if you go for continuous recording. I know some Ring doorbells get around this with a 'pre-roll' function - if I've understood that correctly, it records constantly in a lower resolution, and then if motion is detected it triggers full recording and presents that footage along with the previous x seconds (which is presumably otherwise discarded). Not sure if an equivalent function is available in 'pro' CCTV systems though.

Some systems have options to use either a rolling recording and will only save a few minutes either side of an "event" this saves disc space and means smaller drives can be used or continuously record in a lower resolution and record at higher resolution when an event occurs this obviously needs more drive capacity to give a rolling 30 day recording

1 hour ago, Larches said:

 

Regarding accreditation, it sounds like there may be modest benefit to the consumer in terms of standards assurance and maybe a certificate to wave at insurance companies, but on the other hand, shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

 

On the maintenance point, I read that you can get spray-on spider repellent which sounds worthwhile (assuming it actually works!).

 

The discount insurance companies give isn't worth the cost of the certificate

 

With regard to the spider repellent there is a "recipe" to make your own that I found a while ago

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Larches
2 hours ago, UNG said:

With the technology some thieves deploy to steal cars these days anything is possible and it is not that expensive to do

 

Argh, yes, so we either have to accept that risk and have a convenient hybrid, internet-connected house alarm or we forget the idea and stick to good old-fashioned wires and sirens (which of course tend to get ignored...).

 

2 hours ago, UNG said:

Some systems have options to use either a rolling recording and will only save a few minutes either side of an "event" this saves disc space and means smaller drives can be used or continuously record in a lower resolution and record at higher resolution when an event occurs this obviously needs more drive capacity to give a rolling 30 day recording

 

Now that sounds potentially useful, will look out for that. Probably the closest thing to 'best of both worlds'.

 

2 hours ago, UNG said:

The discount insurance companies give isn't worth the cost of the certificate

 

I suspected as much!

 

2 hours ago, UNG said:

With regard to the spider repellent there is a "recipe" to make your own that I found a while ago

 

Ah interesting! (Although I'd want to be careful about what I'm spraying onto several hundred quids' worth of camera equipment. 😄)

3 hours ago, UNG said:

You can connect to most internet connected systems via the units IP address from within the local network or if the site has a DDNS or an external fixed IP you can connect from a remote site . Usually most systems GUI's are optimised for Internet Explorer 11 and other browsers quite often won't let you access or program all the functions of the unit

 

Ugh, IE 11, very quaint. But useful to know - thanks!

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SPECIAL LOCATION

Re the "Home insurance" -VS- "Official registered installer" benefits...

 

I always thought it was more in relation to commercial than domestic installations..?

(Or maybe unless you have some additional non-standard cover due to some very high values items kept at your property).

 

We have just renewed our home insurance last month..

been living here for 35years now...

so that's 35x annual renewals over the years..

with numerous insurance providers..

 

And other than a basic yes/no question.. "Do you have a security alarm"..

I don't recall ever seen anything about registered alarm or CCTV installers on our domestic home insurance?

 

Basically you need to go and check your house insurance policy and terms and conditions to see if there is any benefit by using a company who is a member of a particular trade association.

 

:C  

Edited by SPECIAL LOCATION

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Geoff1946

Whilst I have an alarm on my house I've never claimed any insurance discount offered, (they are fairly minimal anyway).   My logic being that they could potentially decline a claim if It wasn't set at the time of an incident.

Same with car insurance back in the day when they were accessories rather than factory fit.

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phil d

I always advise clients not to bother with insurance discounts, they are a potential nightmare, we've all done it with our alarm systems, don't put it on because we're only popping to the shop 2 minutes away, we get there and they've not got what we want so we go into town.Now if we're unlucky enough to be broken in to while we are out that's bad enough, but to then find out your insurance won't pay out would be the end.

I once quoted for an alarm system for a pensioner, he asked if I was NACOSS regd, which I wasn't, he then said that he needed a registered firm to install it as he'd get a discount off his house insurers and showed me some of the quotes he'd had.

I sat down with him and did some calculations, his discount would be sommething like £15 a year, now forgetting the annual increase in premiums it was going to take many many years to recoup the cost of the system. In the end he didn't bother and chose a cheaper sytem from me. Everyone is looking for a get out these days and I don't think that a potential saving of £10 or £20 is worth the risk.

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Larches
4 hours ago, Geoff1946 said:

Whilst I have an alarm on my house I've never claimed any insurance discount offered, (they are fairly minimal anyway).   My logic being that they could potentially decline a claim if It wasn't set at the time of an incident.

Same with car insurance back in the day when they were accessories rather than factory fit.

 

An interesting point. I know some people feel the same about dash cams (I mean in the sense that they may or may not want to provide footage to an insurer!).

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Doc Hudson

Not sure if it has been mentioned yet but any movement sensor used to trigger a camera or light can be susceptible to false alarm or nuisance operation. Some people forget to take account of things like warm air extracting from boiler flues that can trigger sensors. Or how many metres range the sensor has to detect movement. I know of properties with just a couple of metres to the pavement then within 4 or 5 metres you have the road itself. So if you install a device which has a sensor with a 12m range, you find it picking up people on the opposite pavement as well. If you have little or no control over the direction or sensitivity of the detector then you need to be more careful selecting your installation positions.

 

With any type of electrical work, the easiest position to install something, is not always the best position for optimum performance and long term reliability. As with other sectors such a solar, there are some contractors who just get in, fix the kit to to the most convenient position, then get out. Leaving the customer to find all the, could have been done better if, problems later.          

 

Doc H.

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UNG

With regard to insurance discounts I was asked by a potential customer if I was NACOSS or SSAIB as he wanted me to takeover his maintenance contract and maintain his insurance discount his current maintenance contract was £95 per year plus parts if needed for one visit and his discount on his insurance was £12.50. He was quite embarrassed when I pointed out how much he wasn't saving

 

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