Budget is a funny word because it has no practical meaning. Once I had a customer call me looking for a modest CCTV system. During the conversation he reminded me many times the he had a budget; when I finally asked what the budget was, he said $10,000. Another time I had a customer call for a big and complex system and tell me the budget was $600. When talking to a CCTV expert that you trust, make sure that you let them know what you want to spend. I know it is hard to trust a sales person, but we all have to take a leap of faith. Basically CCTV is an industry in which you get what you pay for. So, if you are prepared to spend $5, make sure you get $5 worth of stuff. *You will need more than 5 dollars.
Don’t be like this guy…
CCTV can read a license plate and record the number in a data base. It can count the number of people entering and leaving an area. It can send a text message to your phone during a break in. CCTV can do a lot of things but it is not free. We have to be realistic about what we want and what we want to spend.
I know we want to see everything all the time, but that is expensive. For example, a homeowner is really only worried about break-ins and vandalism of their home. They do not need to know every license plate of every car driving by the street they live on. Instead of trying to create a CIA style surveillance system to monitor everything in the world, think about the real areas of interest. It is cheaper to buy a camera that can see just the front door. That is what we really care about.
When you see a CCTV system on TV they always show a control station with a bank of monitors and a person watching all of the action. In real life most CCTV systems are not monitored unless an event takes place. So do you need a separate monitor or can you find a way to hook the system into your regular television? Or do you have a spare monitor lying around at home? That is always an option to lower the total cost.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a CCTV system is installing it yourself. We have plenty of videos on our YouTube channel that show you how to set up a DVR and how to connect a camera. There are videos by other channels also that show you how to run a wire through a finished wall.
When it comes to the DVR, you have two options: a standalone or a PC-based DVR. If you are on a tight budget, you’re going to want to go with a standalone. But you are losing a lot of features. The standalone has a great graphical user interface, and does the basics: recording, storing video, and makes video available upon request. If you’re willing to spend a little more for a more advanced standalone DVR, you will get more features, like alarm inputs, PTZ controls, hybrid-capability, etc. An advanced standalone still doesn’t compare to a PC-based, which allows for upgrades by installing more cards.
Traditionally, analog cameras use coax cable, or siamese cable for data transmission. Another option you can do is use CAT5 cable. It is much cheaper, only 65% the price of siamese cable. CAT5 is reliable, and if you have an IP camera, it runs both the power and the data to and from the camera and the DVR/NVR, saving you money on power supplies (for IP cameras only).
When you install a security system, it will save you money in two ways. First, talk to your insurance company. They will give you a discount when they know you have installed a security camera system (some companies require that you also install a burglar alarm, deadbolt locks, and reinforced perimeter entry points). Another way a security system saves you money is by deterring crime. Imagine the hundreds and thousands of dollars you end up saving when a robber sees a security camera observing him, and decides to rob another place. If you own a business, security cameras will reduce theft or inventory shrinkage as much as 30-50%, according to national statistics.
As a homeowner, there are many ways to save money when buying a system. If you have a high or low budget, there are some extra features that aren’t considered necessary. Installing a system can also save you money in different ways. When talking to your salesperson, give them your budget, and they will help you out and stay close to your budget.
I went through our other CCTV articles to find more money saving tips. I also added a link back to the full article if you’d like to read in full….
DVR Capture Card Guide: Choosing a DVR Card – If you’re thinking of investing in a PC-based DVR, and you’re looking to pick out a DVR capture card, you can save money by picking one that has less than real-time frame rate.
DDNS & Dynamic IP Addresses for DVR Security Systems – When looking for a router, look for one that will give you the option to host the DDNS’ Internet Domain name on the router web configuration page, this will save you some money also.
CCTV Resolution 101 – Analog vs. IP – If you want to record an area with short distances, i.e. your backyard, then you should buy a low resolution camera. It will capture everything and save you money.