How to choose the best outdoor security camera
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
Selecting an indoor camera is an easy process for most systems integrators (SI) and end customers. There is often adequate lighting, the locations are more or less well-defined depending on the nature of the building, and the choice of cameras is quite straightforward.
Outdoor security cameras, on the other hand, require slightly more careful consideration. If someone decides to intrude into your premises, the cameras outside are your primary line of defense. No one would want to wait until an intruder enters their house to know about it. So, a fully-featured outdoor camera protecting the perimeter is essential.
That said, some customers may not be familiar with the features that are necessary for an outdoor security camera. That there are so many brands out there now offering various specs complicate the decision further.
So, here is a list of things to look for when buying an outdoor security camera:
You cannot keep watching the visuals from a camera round the clock for intruders. You need to be alerted when there is something that needs your attention. A camera with motion detection capacity is able to detect when there is a movement in its field of vision. This is also an energy-saving (read cost-saving) function, as cameras could be set to record visuals only when they detect a movement, saving power and hard-disk space. Click here to read more about the various kinds of motion detection technology
being used by manufacturers.
Outdoor cameras may not have the luxury of proper lighting as indoor cameras do. Often during night times, these cameras have to operate in close-to pitch dark environments. Hence, they require a night vision function. There are different kinds of technology being used to enable cameras to see in the dark. Read more about them here.
Weather- and vandal-proof
Outdoor cameras are exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, dust, heat, or anything else depending on where you live could damage them. As if this was not enough, intruders may also try to vandalize the cameras before breaking into your place. This means that outdoor cameras must be weather and vandal resistant. They could be installed with a housing for extra protection as well, although it will add to your overall expense. Additionally, a thermostatic control feature would help in making sure there is no condensation clouding the lenses during warm, humid weather.
Field of view (180 to 360 degree)
Outdoor surveillance cameras often have to cover large spaces, and this requires the widest possible field of view. Depending on how big an area you plan to monitor, you can choose between the fisheye lens or single/multi-lens panoramic cameras. In some cases, for a more focused view, you may choose pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras that can scan the whole area from one end to another.
Not all cameras offer audio, but this feature could prove invaluable in some instances. Audio can work two-way, as in it can pick up what’s happening outside as well as help the owner communicate with people outside through speakers. This will help in warning intruders away before they can create problems for you.
Power and data connectivity
None of the features mentioned above will help if you don’t have proper cables in place that ensure uninterrupted power supply and data transmission. Many of the rules that apply to cameras, especially in terms of being weather and vandal resistant apply to the connection infrastructure as well. Some customers may prefer Wi-Fi, and while this is a great option to get around the hassle of using long cables, if your wireless connection is unstable, the camera will not work properly.
These are some of the most essential factors to consider when buying an outdoor camera. Apart from this, there are other features that you can look at, like facial recognition which helps you identify people, options to integrate with third-party devices for home automation, and remote viewing capacity that should allow you to access the videos on your mobile or other devices connected to the internet. Finally, an obvious point to look for is the resolution of the camera. The higher the quality, the better it will capture details and this would prove critical if videos are needed for forensic evidence.