Video Surveillance System Buying Guide –

  • Video surveillance can protect your business from theft, intrusion, fire, flood or burglary.
  • Before you evaluate systems, think about what types of cameras you want, what type of storage you need, and the areas of your business that need protection.
  • The two main types of surveillance cameras are Internet Protocol and analog.
  • This article is for small business owners considering purchasing a video surveillance system who want to know what type of system they should purchase and how much they can expect to spend.

security is imperative for any commercial enterprise. After all, how can you be profitable if you can ’ thyroxine protect your assets ? Video surveillance systems are more intelligent and effective than ever, with cameras that offer computer-like functions such as movement sensors, remote viewing and mobile notifications. Some systems tied contact law enforcement instantaneously with the advertise of a button. Technological development has besides led to more efficient methods of record and storage. Small business owners have access to vastly powerful surveillance systems at relatively low-cost prices. If you ’ re in the market for a video recording surveillance system but not certain where to start, read on for our video surveillance system buyer ’ s guide.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right video surveillance system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs. Tip Tip: Check out our best picks for television surveillance systems to see our recommendations for your business.

What to consider before purchasing a video surveillance system

You should consider several factors before deciding on a video recording surveillance arrangement for your business .


If your occupation is modest and you don ’ t have many areas to monitor or multiple cameras to set up, you can install your surveillance system yourself. Larger businesses with respective locations and complicated setups should have a master do the installation .


pricing besides is dependent on the size of your business and how many cameras you require, deoxyadenosine monophosphate good as the type of storehouse you want, how retentive you want to store video, and the types of features you want, like video analytics or motion detection. Generally, television surveillance systems start around $ 50 per month for simple one- or two-camera systems, but you could pay up to $ 5,000 for advance systems with many cameras .

Type of camera

There are two chief types of cameras for video recording surveillance systems : Internet Protocol ( IP ) and analogue. traditional analogue cameras are being phased out in favor of IP cameras, which offer more features and capabilities. IP cameras are network devices that capture images in a higher resolution and enable automatic alerts, video analytics, and other advanced functions .

Type of storage

You can choose from three types of video data memory for your television surveillance organization : NVR, DVR and hybrid. DVR, which stands for “ digital video recorder, ” uses analog cameras. NVR, which stands for “ network video recording recorder, ” is used with IP cameras. loanblend systems allow you to combine analogue and IP cameras .

Amount of storage

Your coveted quality and the duration of your videos determine how much storage your surveillance system needs. If you plan to record and archive high-quality footage, you ’ ll want to allot a boastfully come of storage space for your system. You besides need to determine if you ’ ll storehouse the footage locally on the camera ’ s internal memory drive, on a intemperate drive, or outwardly on a cloud-based platform .


Most vendors allow for a high degree of customization, meaning you can easily tailor a system to your business ’ second needs. Whether you need a far-flung system to cover multiple locations or a few cameras to watch your shopfront, there ’ s a solution for everyone .


Myriad features are available for video surveillance systems, like night sight, smart movement detection and pan/tilt/zoom ( PTZ ). Evaluate which features your occupation needs and select your cameras and surveillance organization consequently. For exercise, if you need a system primarily to monitor your business at night, choose a system with solid night imagination and 24/7 alerts .

Areas of business that need protection

Know precisely where you want to place your surveillance, because this will determine the type ( second ) of television camera you need. For example, if you need to keep an center on your back doorway, you ’ ll probably want a weatherproof outdoor television camera with PTZ functionality and motion alerts. Key Takeaway Key takeaway: You need to consider several factors when purchasing a video surveillance arrangement, including television camera type, repositing character, features and pricing .

Top video surveillance system providers

Protection 1

protective covering 1, which we ranked as the best overall television surveillance system in our review, has a wide-eyed range of features that make it a versatile choice for any organization. The system offers 24/7 professional monitor from its agents, while besides allowing you to watch over the system yourself. It besides provides a wide choice of storage devices for your arrangement. For more information, read our fully review of Protection 1 .


ADT remains a great surveillance organization for small businesses looking to increase their security measures. It offers three types of television camera options – wireless, indoor color and attic – so any character of business can install ADT products. The system besides offers digital video record, allowing different security officers to watch the lapp prey from different locations .


For businesses on a budget, Amazon ’ sulfur Blink is a competitively priced security system with a user-friendly interface. Blink offers both local and cloud storage options, and it integrates with Amazon ’ south Alexa and other Amazon Web Services products and platforms .

Tyco Integrated Security

Tyco Integrated Security gives small businesses a variety of customizable surveillance solutions, including closed-circuit systems, remote web management, and viewing and recording hardware. It besides offers a wide range of television camera options you can use to outfit your spaces. Tip: Before committing to a surveillance organization, take advantage of free trials or show of these systems to decide the best choice for your clientele .

Benefits of a surveillance system

not entirely can surveillance cameras deter criminals and help law enforcement cursorily catch any manque thieves, but these systems can besides improve accountability among your employees, help you monitor productivity and potentially reduce your indemnity premiums. While the upfront costs of installing a television surveillance system can seem steep, the long-run return and the peace of mind may be worth the expense .

IP cameras vs. analog cameras

hera ’ s a look at the differences between these two types of security cameras .


IP cameras are more mighty than analogue cameras, normally shooting footage ranging in settlement from 1 to 5 megapixels. That makes for incredibly clear prototype quality, specially compared to the farinaceous analogue footage, which is 0.5 megapixels. IP cameras broadly have a larger field of vision than analogue cameras deoxyadenosine monophosphate well .

Video analytics

IP cameras have extra features that analog cameras don ’ thymine offer. One exercise is video recording analytics, which allows for mobile notifications and automatic rifle commemorate if there is movement within the camera ’ s plain of vision. This is particularly utilitarian for times when your clientele is closed and person is moving around inside the premises. You can configure the system to flag events like this and send notifications directly to your smartphone, along with read footage of the event. Some systems besides offer a direct, one-touch connection to local law enforcement .

Network video recorders

IP cameras are compatible with NVRs, which offer several other benefits compared to the older digital television recorders. We ’ ll explain those in more detail below. In short, NVR records higher-quality video recording and allows for systems to be scaled up much more easily than can be done with DVR .

Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches

PoE switches are a feature of IP cameras that both send datum from the television camera and provide power to it. Analog cameras, on the other hired hand, require a trade to run the bespeak from the camera, vitamin a well as a discriminate world power generator, meaning a more complex setup and more wires. PoE switches are besides generally regarded as a more procure way to transmit data .

Comparable system cost

While IP cameras generally cost more than their analogue counterparts, the sum price of a entire IP system tends to be slenderly lower than that of a comparable analogue system. Since IP cameras besides have a wider field of sight, an IP arrangement can much work with fewer cameras than an analogue system. Did you know? Did you know? IP cameras offer better resoluteness and promote features like automatic alerts and video recording analytics .

DVNs vs. NVRs

All security cameras in a given system require a central video fipple flute to transmit and archive the footage they are capturing. DVRs evolved from the older VCR models, while NVRs represent the following step in the development of video recording recording technology. here ’ s a expression at how DVRs and NVRs comparison .

Resolution of recordings

DVRs by and large offer what is known as D1 resolution, which is the traditional video recording quality used in closed-circuit television receiver systems. D1 equates to a resolution of 720 ten 480 pixels, which is considered standard resolution. NVRs, though, can record in 1080p, which is high definition. NVRs besides offer a significant improvement in video recording quality over a DVR system. For comparison purposes, 1080p equates to a resolving power of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This results in a much clearer image.

Camera connections

Connecting analogue cameras with a DVR arrangement involves plugging a BNC cable from the DVR into the camera. Connecting more cameras to the DVR system requires extra cables. DVR systems are difficult to scale up because once every BNC connection is occupied by a camera, you need to purchase an wholly newly DVR before adding another camera to the system. DVRs besides require that the connected cameras be near to the fipple flute ; otherwise, video recording choice degrades. The NVR eliminates these problems because it is connected directly to a network. IP cameras that are connected to the like network, normally by room of a PoE switch, can then transmit footage to the NVR. NVR systems are much easier to scale up than DVR systems, merely because they can accept a new television camera once it is added to the net. At most, all that would be required is an extra PoE switch. Some IP cameras are besides radio receiver and air footage to the NVR over Wi-Fi. There are no proximity limitations equally hanker as a television camera is connected to the same network as the NVR. The largest downside to an NVR system, however, is that not every IP camera works with every NVR. You ’ ll need to verify that your cameras are compatible with a given video recording recorder before buying them .

Hybrid video recorders

Hybrid television recorders ( HVR ) are video recording surveillance systems that run both IP cameras and analogue cameras. The versatility of HVR systems makes them desirable ; if you are upgrading an old arrangement and don ’ metric ton want to do away with your old analogue cameras, for exercise, an HVR can help you make the transition and train for a full IP system in the future .

What to look for when choosing a camera


This is one of the most important considerations when selecting a camera. For sharp images, you want a camera that shoots at least in 720p high definition, which means an IP camera. If you want to guarantee that your camera will have a clear, identifiable trope, don ’ metric ton cut corners here .

Frame rate

This is another key expression of a television camera – the higher the frame rate, the politic the video. Video is a series of still images stitched together to create a motion picture. The lower the frame of reference rate, the less frequently a silent is taken, which results in choppy footage. For reference, real prison term is typically measured as 30 frames per second .


There are many types of security cameras. Some of the most common are bullet train cameras, which are the orthogonal boxes you might see protruding from a wall ; dome cameras, which are often attached to a ceiling and housed in a tint cover ; and PTZ cameras, which offer remote-control capabilities to adjust the battlefield of vision. Based on your security needs and where you plan to install the cameras, consider which types of cameras will provide you with the quality of footage you ’ d like with your system .


Some security cameras are made specifically for the indoors and won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate stand up to Mother Nature quite american samoa well as their outdoor counterparts. If you plan to use cameras outside, leverage weatherproof models. differently, water or soil will interfere with the clarity of your video feeds or worse, cause the television camera to malfunction .


many security cameras shoot in what is known as low-light infrared ( IR ), enabling them to capture clear footage in darkness conditions. The more IR LEDs that a television camera has, the better able it is to record crisp, clear footage at night. If get footage in the dark is a priority, make sure your camera has plenty of IR LEDs .


Some cameras don ’ triiodothyronine pick up audio at all, while others do. Some even enable bipartite audio, so a person watching the television camera on the other end can communicate with a subject in the camera ’ s field of vision .

What to look for in a video recorder

Storage capacity

The measure of repositing you need hinges on the number of cameras in your system, each camera ’ second resolution, the total of archive footage you intend to store, and how long you plan to keep record footage. If multiple cameras are shooting in a higher settlement, the footage will quickly eat up repositing outer space. You can set a video recording fipple flute to overwrite the oldest footage once you reach the system ’ randomness capacity, but if you ’ ra not careful, the system might overwrite archive footage that you still need. There are on-line tools to help you calculate how much storage distance you ’ ll need based on the details of your system. For exercise, according to the Supercircuits calculator, a four-camera system that runs 24 hours a day using IP cameras, each with a 2-megapixel resolution and a frame rate of 5 frames per second, with television compressed into MJPEG files on an NVR, would require 2.79TB of storehouse space for footage. That ’ s quite a bit of data for a moderately size system, so determine what kind of capacity you ’ ll actually need and plan accordingly. Maintain a bit of a cushion beyond that forecast number so you can store any particularly matter to footage you might need to refer back to .

Cloud storage

You can store record television in the defile in addition vitamin a well as on your video recording fipple flute. There are a few clear-cut advantages to doing this, including distant access to your videos and superior memory volume. Storing video in the cloud besides means that even if your hardware is damaged, stolen, or tampered with, you ’ ll placid have archived footage. however, make certain this won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate consume up all the available bandwidth and slow down your network. The best direction to use cloud repositing is to either schedule uploads to the cloud or upload them after extremum business hours. many mottle services charge a subscription fee, specially if you want to store video files in perpetuity. To make sure you ’ re getting the most out of your money, ask the repositing company what cybersecurity measures it takes to protect your data .

Camera compatibility

not every television recorder is compatible with every television camera. DVRs require analogue cameras, and NVRs use IP cameras, but the compatibility question extends beyond that distinction. Some NVR systems, for example, are compatible with IP cameras entirely from certain manufacturers. When buying a video fipple flute, ask whether the device is compatible with the cameras you ’ ve purchased. If you ’ ra working with a surveillance system integrator to configure your system, the cameras should be able to tell you the necessary information .


compression eliminates unnecessary data from the footage transmitted to your video recording recorder, thereby saving space. Two of the more coarse compression techniques used for high-definition video are MJPEG and H.264. You can besides use MPEG4, but the quality tends to be lower. Compression methods are relatively building complex, and their applications depend on your needs and hardware .

PoE switches

These apply only to NVR systems, but they cut out other components that would be necessity for a DVR system, like extra power sources and the BNC cables used to connect cameras to the DVR. rather, when you connect a PoE switch to your network, it acts as a might reservoir and a mean of transmitting data to your NVR all in one package. The biggest consideration when choosing which type of PoE interchange to buy is the number of cameras that will be on your arrangement. The adjacent consideration is how likely you are to scale up in the future. Some NVRs have a handful of PoE ports built into them, while others do not. If you buy a PoE switch, the smaller ones start at around $ 40 to $ 50 and offer about five ports. Each port represents a data connection and a power source for one camera. If you plan to scale up and implement a very large system, some PoE switches feature a many as 48 distinct ports. These solutions are well more expensive, like this PoE switch from Netgear, which costs $ 539 on Amazon. There are besides wireless IP cameras that require little more than wax, but those might be less batten than wire connections. If you go radio, you ’ ll need to make sure the signal can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be well intercepted. Again, it all comes back to your particular needs and the type of system you ’ re trying to construct. Key takeaway: When choosing a surveillance organization, pay stopping point attention to your cameras, video recording recorder and PoE switches .

Pros and cons of video surveillance systems

Discover the pros and cons of installing a video recording surveillance arrangement at your business .

Pros Cons
The system provides security for your staff and customers. Video surveillance could feel invasive to employees.
Surveillance reduces workplace crime. Workplace surveillance could instill a false sense of security that makes employees and security officers less vigilant.
A surveillance system can monitor employee behavior and prevent workplace harassment and violence. Purchasing, installing and maintaining a video surveillance system can be expensive.
Employees tend to have a better work ethic if they know someone is watching. The added surveillance may make employees feel as though they’re not being productive enough and become stressed to the point of workplace burnout.

Tip: When installing a new video security organization, discuss the decision with your employees. talk to them about why you ’ re installing it, what its features are, and what it will be used for .

Video surveillance laws

Companies investing in surveillance systems should research and understand their express ’ s surveillance laws. Sixteen states have specific laws regulating the function of television surveillance in businesses. generally, businesses are allowed to film people in settings where a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like an agency or a memory floor. Businesses can not film in places where a person has a fair right to privacy, like a toilet or changing room .

Video surveillance system FAQs

many clientele owners ask the come questions about video surveillance systems :

Do business security cameras require contracts?

Some video surveillance providers require contracts, and some don ’ metric ton. Research this gene before you make a leverage, specially if you are moving business locations in the future year or don ’ thyroxine want to be locked into a contract .

How often are security cameras monitored?

This besides depends on the provider and your subscription plan. Some providers include 24/7 professional monitor with your subscription, while others require you to pay extra and others do not offer it at all.

What are the pros and cons of security cameras?

security cameras can help protect your clientele against larceny, intrusion, fire, flood, or burglary, significantly increasing your peace of mind. They can be expensive, depending on your occupation ’ south needs, but generally are worth the investment .

How long does footage stay on security cameras?

You can pay for long-run or even countless storage, depending on your provider, or use external storage devices if you want a long-run backing copy of your data. many surveillance systems store footage for 14 or 30 days. Adam Uzialko and Kiely Kuligowski contributed to the writing and research in this article.

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