We need cameras to provide us with video. There are a bewildering number of video security cameras available, some really cheap ones (don’t bother), mid-range cameras with fair resolution, higher-end cameras with very good resolution, and top-shelf cameras that have PTZ features (Pan, Tilt, and Zoom).
A primary requirement for me was that the cameras have IR (infrared) emitters so that they can provide a useful image in the dark. If your cameras don’t have IR capabilities, you’ll need to provide lighting so the camera can “see”. Not an attractive option.
So far, we want very good resolution images and video, and we want IR emitters so the camera can provide images and video without ambient light. There are other decision to make as well.
There are may styles of cameras – bullet cameras, dome cameras, eyeball cameras, etc. I chose eyeball cameras. They provide good wide-angle images, and are not affected by ambient light reflecting from the dome enclosure. Bullet cameras don’t typically have the same wide angle viewing as dome and eyeball cameras, so they are better suited to monitoring a specific location, such as a door or sidewalk.
Now we need to consider how we will connect these cameras to the software. There are cameras that communicate over wifi – they are easy to install because you don’t need to wire them into your network, but they might require a wired power connection. Battery-powered units (even those with a small solar panel) are frankly just more trouble than they’re worth. The other main type of camera is wired using an ethernet cable, sometimes called cat5 or cat6. There are other designations also. Some of these require separate power connection, but there is a sub-type of wired cameras – those that connect to a POE switch. POE is Power Over Ethernet, which allows the same cable that handles the video stream to supply power to the camera. This is probably the best way to connect a robust video surveillance system.
I chose an eyeball camera with very good video and still image resolution, and a POE connection for both power and data. Now that we’ve made that choice, let’s look at how we might put this together.