CCTV Buyers guide

Picture Credit: Elena Pleskevich

CCTV Buyers Guide & FAQ’s

We have written this CCTV Buyers Guide and FAQ to help you understand the options available so that you can make the right choice. It’s long because we wanted to provide a really useful and comprehensive guide. If you have a question that’s not covered, we’d love to know so that we can continue to develop our CCTV Buyers Guide! Please use the form on the right of this page and we will do our very best to answer your query. Also, if you don’t want to read it all use the links below to jump the part you need.

We are happy to discuss your requirements and advise on the best system to suit your needs – please call us on 01663 719520 or fill in the form on the right of this page and we’ll get in touch. Areas covered by ESI

Why should I have CCTV?

We always advise our customers to view their security in layers of protection. The first thing you should always consider is a burglar alarm (see our Burglar Alarm Buyers Guide). Once property is protected by an alarm, many of our clients add an extra layer of security in the form of CCTV. The aim is to act as an extra deterrent (Burglary tends to be an opportunistic crime), to identify and deter offenders who are targeting specific property and, in the case of external remotely monitored CCTV, to stop potential intruders by issuing an audio warning before they attempt to break into the building.

There are some situations where an alarm isn’t suitable. We have clients who use CCTV to protect sites where valuable equipment is kept outside (e.g. building sites, lorry yards, garden centres), sites with extensive grounds and equestrian sites.

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Where do I start when choosing a CCTV system?

There’s a lot of choice, and the technical jargon can be confusing, but as a starting point the installation should meet with BS7958:2009, BS8495:2007, BS 8418, BS EN 50132-5:2001

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we are happy to discuss the options and help you chose the right solution for you – please call us on 0800 082 5500 or fill in the form on the right of this page and we will get in touch.

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What are the Different Types of CCTV?

  • Analogue – These are older systems. To record more than one camera they also require additional equipment such as a switcher, quad or multiplexer. There are newer and better technologies now available.
  • PC Based – Again these tend to be slightly older systems. They use the computer hard drive to record the images. However in our experience they are not a robust solution.
  • Digital – Advantages are that it provides an all-in-one solution with the facility to record multiple cameras and having inbuilt motion detection. It’s very easy to access a recording from a known date and time with enhanced playback, fast forward, reverse and frame by frame playback available. Taking copies is easy, and there is no loss of quality on copies. It can be connected and controlled via a broadband connection to a remote monitoring station. Finally, it is a solution that easily connects to networks and the internet for remote viewing
  • IP Based – This solution makes every camera an “Ip Address” rather than just the Digital Recorder they go back to. This technology has come on leaps and bounds over recent years. It is best suited to large Office blocks who have an IT infrastructure in place.
  • Remotely Monitored – This is an enhanced option available with digital CCTV. Using a broadband connection your CCTV system can be remotely monitored by you or by a Monitoring Station.
  • Covert – Hidden “spy” cameras. These are pinhole cameras that can be discretely located to watch an identified threat to your security. If you have a requirement for covert CCTV please call us on 01663 719520 and we will be happy to advise you in confidence. Quotes and installation can be arranged “out of hours”.
  • Video Analytics- the latest technology has the “intelligence” to identify what it “sees”. It can differentiate between potential threats; cars, vans and people, and can be programmed to ignore wildlife etc. The cameras can follow any movement from camera to camera. It’s not as expensive as you might think- call us on 01663 719520 for a demo.

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I like the sound of remotely monitored, tell me more…

Using a Broadband connection your CCTV system can be remotely monitored either by you and/or by a remote monitoring station. A system which is monitored by a monitoring station has detectors and speakers integrated into the CCTV system. When the system is armed the detectors send an alarm signal to the monitoring station if movement is detected. The operators will then “dial in” and look around the site. Quite often they see that the activation has been caused by wildlife or maybe the postman! However if they spot potential intruders they will issue an audio warning. This is clearly not a pre-recorded message as the operator can give specifics (e.g. “I am speaking to the man wearing a blue sweatshirt”). In our experience this usually results in the intruder turning tail and running away!

If you are interested in remotely monitored CCTV and want to know how it could work for you please give us a call on 0800 082 5500 and we can offer a demonstration.

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Can I “dial in” from elsewhere including my smart phone?

Yes! With a DVR and a broadband connection it is possible to view your CCTV from elsewhere – from Home, from Head Office, from Holiday or simply Out and About. It is also possible to control your cameras and review footage.

Want a demo? Please call us on 01663 719520 or email the form on the right of this page and we will be in touch.

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How is my privacy protected – will the monitoring station watch me at home?

No! If your system is unset then signals will not be sent to the monitoring station. We understand that your privacy is paramount.

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How much will it Cost?

Our basic systems start at £950+VAT for 3 cameras
Monitored systems start at around £10,000 for 2 speed domes & all control equipment

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Do you offer maintenance cover for CCTV systems?

Yes! The price and frequency depends on your individual requirements. Call us on 01663 719520 or fill in the form on the right of the page and we will be in touch.

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What are my obligations under the Data Protection Act?

As a business you must ensure that your company is registered with and complies with the Information Commission. You need to ensure that CCTV is included in your notification. This is simple to set up and we found the Data Protection Commission representatives really friendly and helpful when we called the helpline on: 01625 545740. If you are already registered and simply need to add the CCTV category this can be done via email (notification@ico.gsi.gov.uk) and is free. Again the helpline above can advise you.

You need to display signs to warn employees, visitors and members of the public that CCTV recording is in operation. We can provide signage if required.

There are strict rules about what you can and cannot record. For example you can’t let your cameras look into your neighbours’ property. If you ask us to install a CCTV system for you we will advise you. On installation we can mask areas that are “out of bounds”.

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Will the cameras record at night?

Yes! You have two options if you want to record at night. The best solution for you may include a combination of the two.

  • A popular option is to install Day/Night cameras. These are cameras with Infra-red LED technology enabling them work 24/7. These cameras record in colour during the day and then automatically switch to black & white when light levels drop below a certain level. This allows the camera to continue recording good quality footage even when it’s dark. The distance the cameras will see at night is dependent on the strength of the LED’s.
  • The other option is to install sufficient lighting for the cameras to work in the dark. This can be in the form of conventional lighting, however the preferred option for most sites is via additional Infra Red lighting. This is lighting that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but that provides a good level of light for the CCTV camera to “see”. This is the preferred option for larger installations requiring coverage over greater distances, and also for situations where pan/tilt & zoom cameras are the best solution.

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How long do the recordings last?

This depends on many factors such as the frame rate, number of cameras and size of recorder. If you ask us to quote for a CCTV system we will ask how long you need them to last and then design your system accordingly.

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How clear are the images? Will I be able to read number plates?

We always use High Resolution Cameras (Which typically now have at least 520TV lines of resolution). If Number plate Capture is the requirement then we can achieve that, however it will normally mean fitting a camera specifically to record number plates. The important thing is to use a large enough lens to capture the plate. It is also important to record the images at a high enough resolution on the recorder.

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Tell me about frames per second

Frames per second are the number of “pictures” the DVR records per second per camera. A movie is recorded at 25 FPS. Casinos also record at 25 FPS per camera, but most standard CCTV installations record at 3 to 6 Frames per second. In our experience this is high enough to capture small movements (shop lifters) without being too expensive in terms of Hard Disk space usage. It is worth explaining that if you record at 6 FPS/camera you will use 2x as much Hard Disk space compared to 3 FPS/camera. If you ask us to quote we can demonstrate the differences in frame rates (we think it’s better to explain with pictures!). We will discuss your requirements with you and recommend the best set up for you.

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How many cameras can I have on a system?

Digital Video Recorders come in the following sizes: 1, 4, 8, 9, 16, 32 or 64 cameras.

However the most common are 4, 8 or 9 & 16. It is normally more economical to buy two 16 channel DVRs than one 32 channel recorder. We also consider it safer on very large systems to “spread the risk” rather than risk loosing all 32 cameras if a DVR became faulty.

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Can I have a covert camera installed?

Yes, but dependant on certain conditions; As a business you must have identified a reason for covert CCTV, and it must only be used for a limited period of time.

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How do I stop spiders spinning webs over my cameras?

You could try a great product called Spiderex. At Electronic Security Installations ltd we use it to spray CCTV cameras during a regular service visit. We also sell Spiderex in spray cans for £9.95 incl VAT. Call us on 01663 719520 to find out more.

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Do you install CCTV in Business premises and private homes?

Yes! Electronic Security Installations Ltd have happy clients from all sectors; Offices, shops, bars warehouses, garden centres, Public sector such as schools and hospitals as well as private homes small and large.

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What areas do Electronic Security Installations cover?

Our offices are in Whaley Bridge, and from there we cover The North West; North Derbyshire, Cheshire, South Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Central Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Buxton, The Hope Valley, The Peak District, Cheadle, Hale, Altrincham……

If you’re not sure whether you are in our area please give us a call on 01663 719520 or fill in the form to the right of this page and we’ll be in touch.

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What should I consider when choosing an installer?

  • Check that ALL staff have been security vetted to BS7858:2008 and the police have confirmed that they are considered suitable for employment in the security installation industry.
  • We would always advice that you obtain at least 2 written quotations. You might chose 1 from a national company, and we would recommend choosing a local company for your second quote as in our experience smaller organisations offer good value for money and better levels of customer service. Also many people prefer to entrust their security to a local company. At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we love the fact that we can give a great level of customer service; we are big enough to have the expertise and manpower, and yet small enough to see all of our customers as individuals.
  • Ask whether you would be buying or just renting the equipment. If you chose Electronic Security Installations Ltd all equipment is usually sold to you outright. If this is not the case we make it clear in the quote.
  • Ask if there is a “tie-in” period. What will subsequent years cost, and what is the minimum contract term. If you choose a remotely monitored system from Electronic Security Installations Ltd the first year costs are shown on the quotation. We hope that you will be delighted with us and will renew with us year after year, but if you change your mind just let us know a few months before the end of the 12 months. Once you get into Year Two we are happy to take the payments by monthly standing order to spread the cost, and if you want to cancel at any time all we ask is for 3 months notice. That’s all, no high pressure sales or complicated conditions, just an email or phone call!
  • Ask friends, neighbours and colleagues – there is no better recommendation than personal experience! Check out the testimonials on the website too. At Electronic Security Installation 89% of our business last year came from existing clients and recommendations – confirmation that we’re getting it right!
  • At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we take your security and privacy very seriously. Look at our testimonials and you will see that we never disclose our client names or addresses. You won’t find examples of our installations on our website, not because we are not proud of our work, but because client confidentiality is paramount.

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How long does it take to install a CCTV system?

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we allow time to ensure a neat and professional job. For a basic system assume it will take 2 days, longer for a larger or more complex installation.

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How quickly can you come and install my new CCTV system?

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we usually work on around a 4 week lead time. However, if it’s an emergency we will always do our very best to help secure your property as quickly as possible.

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Jargon Buster

  • DVR – Digital Video Recorder.
  • Day/Night Cameras – Cameras with Infra-red LED technology enabling them work 24/7. These cameras record in colour during the day and then automatically switch to black & white when light levels drop below a certain level. This allows the camera to continue recording good quality footage even when it’s dark. The distance the cameras will see at night is dependent on the strength of the LED’s.
  • Frame rate – Denotes how many pictures per second are recorded. Higher rates will give better quality recordings. Lower rates will give “jumpy” recordings.
  • IR Filters — these filters will move into place behind camera lenses when conditions get dark enabling the system to make the best quality recordings in situations where there is little light.
  • Lenses — there are various lens options with CCTV cameras that can affect the quality of the images taken by it. A camera with an auto iris lens, for example, will automatically adjust when light conditions change. One with a varifocal lens can be manually adjusted.
  • LUX – this term is used to show how sensitive a CCTV camera will be to light. If a camera has a LUX of 0 then it will be able to record even when it is pitch black.
  • Motion detectors — these detectors see movement as pixel changes. When this happens in front of a camera then it will automatically start recording.
  • Mounts & Poles – these are brackets and stands that hold the CCTV cameras.
  • Multiplexer – this is a CCTV monitoring system that allows multiple cameras to be viewed at one time on various screens or split screens.
  • Pan tilt & zoom camera- This is a camera which can be moved remotely by a joystick or a keypad. You can even use the controls on your smart phone!
  • Resolution — resolution refers to the number of lines that a CCTV system can show on a monitor. Typical entry level camera resolution is 330 TV lines, with high resolution cameras producing better than 480 lines.

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