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The Homeowner’s Guide to CCTV Systems

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Many homeowners are investing in security systems and CCTV cameras to deter burglars from breaking-in. The system can also capture video evidence for police and insurance purposes.

But with the huge range of home surveillance solutions, what type of CCTV cameras should you get?

Older CCTV cameras are analog, meaning they don’t create digital video files. Analog cameras are cheaper to install and work just fine. The video can be converted to digital using a digital video recorder (DVR).

With the internet, wireless CCTV cameras just need a power cable to start working; these cloud cameras let you view your feed in real-time via your mobile phone.

Where to Install Your CCTV Cameras

The most common areas to monitor are your front door, sliding door, front porch and side garden. These are the favourite points of break-in.

If you install a camera outdoors, it must be weatherproof. The location will also determine the resolution of the camera.

If you want to monitor your front porch and capture details such as car license plates, you will need a higher-resolution camera. Today’s industry-standard is 2.1 megapixels to capture 1080p video (full HD).

How to Power the Cameras

All surveillance cameras need a power source, including wireless CCTV cameras. The options are to plug them into an electrical power outlet (AC) or buy battery-powered cameras.

For AC-powered cameras, the challenge is finding an outlet to plug it in, especially if you are going to mount your camera high up at the corner of your wall or ceiling.

Alternatively, you can buy battery-powered cameras that don’t need to be plugged in, so you can mount them anywhere, and even re-position them later.

The limitation of battery-powered cameras is that they need to be recharged or have the batteries replaced every few months.

You will not be able to do a continuous 24 hour recording with battery-powered cameras. They are only capable of recording when activated or when they detect movement.

Where to store the footage

Modern surveillance cameras store recorded footage digitally in one of three places:

1. Store in a digital video recorder (DVR)

The cameras send videos to the DVR, which converts them into a video file and saves it. Using a hard drive lets you store much more footage.

You can also install digital cameras (IP cameras). These are modern cameras that record digital videos and sends them to a network video recorder (NVR).

2. Store all footage on the camera itself

Your IP camera will have an SD card slot. Because an IP camera produces digital video files, you can store footage on the device itself on a micro SD card.

Depending on the size of the micro SD card and the resolution of the video, the storage card may fill up in a day or two.

Even with a 64GB SD card, it may only be able to record six days’ worth of continuous video. Then, new footage will overwrite the older footage. This method is recommended if you have fewer cameras.

3. Store all footage on the internet

Some IP cameras provide cloud storage for your footage, so you don’t need an NVR in your home.

All recorded footage is uploaded to your cloud storage over your home router, without the need for additional cables.

Your footage is stored for as long as you want, and you won’t lose any of it. But, all this footage can eat up your bandwidth, slowing down other services like movies or games.

How to access the surveillance footage

How you access the footage will depend on where you stored it in the first place. If you stored it on a DVR or NVR, you can plug in a monitor to the DVR or NVR.

Or you can plug the DVR or NVR into your home router, so that it can be accessed through your phone.

If you stored it on an SD card in the IP camera, you can view the contents on your laptop.

If you have wireless IP cameras, you can connect to them through your home WiFi network.

If the camera is also internet-enabled, you can connect it to your home router to view the recorded footage from anywhere.

Accessing your IP cameras over the internet also gives you live monitoring, so you can use your phone to view what your cameras are transmitting in real-time.

If you upload all footage to the cloud, you will be given access to their website to view your footage.


There are many CCTV solutions in the market, but you will have to make your decision based on factors such as the location and number of cameras, as well as how you want to access and record the footage.

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