Home Surveillance Camera Basics

IR Technology

An IR or infra-red camera uses a set of special lights around the camera lens so that it “sees” moving objects in the dark. While you do not see any of this light being emitted, the surveillance camera does. To the camera, the viewed area literally looks as if a floodlight is shining down. You may have seen this type of technology being used by law enforcement agencies looking for criminals at night. Now, this technology is available to homeowners who want a high level of security.

Dome Cameras

Another type of home surveillance camera is the dome type system. You have most likely seen these in high traffic areas such as casinos. The security camera is hidden inside a darkened dome that is mounted to the ceiling. The nice thing with these cameras is that they can be tilted and provide a 360 degree view. Remote controls can make things even more efficient.

Automated Systems

Owners with just a little technical savvy may choose a more advanced system, such as those produced by X10. Automated systems can be integrated with other home security systems. Many of these packages can call preset numbers and deliver a message to them when an attempted break-in is detected. Such advanced systems can provide functionality that is equivalent to ADT and other providers without a recurring cost. The system can call you, a neighbor, and 911 automatically. That’s a tremendous benefit if you’re monitoring a vacation home or you travel a lot and worry about something happening while you’re gone.

Viewing and Recording

When you go to store to look over home surveillance cameras, the store will most likely have some cameras hooked up to monitors. Similarly, in most all cases, you can use your own home television as your security monitor.

Attaching a DVD recorder to one of these systems can bring increased peace of mind because, if a crime occurs, you may have the criminal recorded, ready to turn over to police. You can also download the footage to your computer.


Before choosing to install a system, you must decide how many entrances you want to cover, and purchase enough cameras for them. Large bay windows may also merit their own camera. Power outlets must be available, unless you want a battery-powered system and are willing to handle the additional expense and time to change the batteries. If your home doesn’t have any outlets near entrances, consider installing an additional outlet instead of using a battery-powered system. It is likely be worth it.


Security cameras are no longer just for shopping centers and multi-million dollar mansions. Prices have come down a lot, and just about anyone can afford a surveillance system. It’s a smart move. Introductory security systems with a single, basic camera are inexpensive and widely available in the electronics department of most major retailers. An entry level system could include two water proof, night-vision cameras/speakers and a small monitor. Even advanced, customized systems, sold by security specialists are affordable. While there is more to know about home surveillance cameras, I hope that by covering the most commonly asked questions, I have helped you get closer to building your own, effective, home security plan.

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