CCTV systems are a key player in home security, helping keep our spaces safe. This friendly guide is here to make choosing and setting up the perfect CCTV system for your home a breeze. We'll walk you through the ins and outs of IP-enabled products, and we'll chat about the benefits and drawbacks of wireless cameras, those classic analogue cameras and DVRs, as well as the cool tech behind computer/server-based VMS products and cloud-based CCTV solutions.

What Camera Technology to Implement?

IP Cameras vs. Analog Cameras

IP Cameras: Offer high-resolution video, easy scalability, and network connectivity, allowing remote access from virtually anywhere with internet service. They transmit data over the internet and typically support Power over Ethernet (PoE), reducing installation complexity.

Analog Cameras: Lower resolution compared to IP cameras and require a direct connection to a DVR for recording. They are often less expensive but offer limited features and scalability. They are also prone to signal degradation due to aging, leaked coax cabling.

Wireless Cameras: Pros and Cons


  • Flexibility and Portability: Since they don't require cabling, wireless cameras can be easily moved and repositioned to cover different areas as needed. This makes them ideal for evolving security needs.
  • Scalability: Adding additional cameras to a wireless system is typically straightforward, as it doesn't require additional wiring. This makes scaling up a security system more convenient.


  • Dependence on Wi-Fi stability, potential for interference from other devices, and generally lower reliability and security compared to wired solutions.
  • Battery Life: Cameras that rely on batteries need regular charging or battery replacement, which can be a hassle and lead to gaps in surveillance if not managed properly.
  • Security Risks: While advances have been made, wireless transmission can be more vulnerable to hacking and interference compared to wired connections, potentially compromising the security of your surveillance footage.
  • Video Quality and Lag: The video quality of wireless cameras can be affected by bandwidth and signal strength, potentially leading to lower resolution footage or lag in live feeds compared to wired cameras.
  • Power Requirements: Despite being "wireless" in terms of data transmission, most wireless cameras still require access to a power source, whether it's through traditional wiring, batteries, or solar panels. This can limit placement options and require additional planning for power access.
  • Battery Suitability: consumer battery powered cameras are prone to battery damages and power loss in extreme weather situations
  • Cost Over Time: The cost of maintaining battery-powered cameras can add up over time, especially if the system relies on disposable batteries. Additionally, the initial cost might be higher for high-quality wireless systems that offer reliable performance.

Wired Cameras: Pros and Cons


  • Reliability: Wired cameras provide a stable connection because they are directly connected to the recording and power supply, minimizing the risk of signal interference or loss that can affect wireless systems.
  • Quality: They often support higher video quality and larger bandwidth without depending on the strength of a Wi-Fi signal. This is particularly important for systems that require high-resolution surveillance footage.
  • Security: Wired systems are generally considered more secure than wireless ones because they are less susceptible to hacking. The direct connection to a network means that there's no wireless signal that could be intercepted.
  • Scalability: For large properties or commercial installations, wired cameras can be more easily scaled with the addition of more cameras without worrying about the bandwidth or the strength of a wireless network.
  • No Batteries Required: Since they are connected to a constant power source, there's no need to worry about changing or charging batteries, which is a significant advantage for maintenance and reliability.


  • Installation Complexity: Installing wired cameras can be more labour-intensive and costly, particularly in buildings where running cables is difficult without damaging walls or ceilings. This might require professional installation.
  • Inflexibility: Once installed, wired cameras are not easy to move. If your surveillance needs change or you need to adjust the camera's position, it can be cumbersome and may require additional work to re-route cables.
  • Power Outages: While they are generally reliable, wired systems can still be vulnerable to power outages unless they are connected to a backup power supply or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
  • Aesthetic Impact: For some homeowners, the visible wiring and the need to drill holes for installation can be a drawback, affecting the aesthetic appeal of their property.
  • Cost: The initial cost of a wired camera system, especially considering installation, can be higher than that of wireless systems. This is something to consider for those with budget constraints.

Understanding Video Management Systems (VMS)

Computer or Server-Based VMS

  • Offers robust features and control over your CCTV system, with software installed on a dedicated computer or server. The VMS software, when installed on a powerful PC or server, essentially becomes your NVR! To power the cameras and connect them to the PC/server, you'll need to acquire a PoE switch.
  • Some VMS products can be installed and used at no cost, though support from the vendors may not be provided.
  • Provides scalability and customization but requires maintenance and potential upgrades to the server or computer. It is advisable not to run VMS on a PC that is used for regular daily computing tasks.

Cloud-Based CCTV

  • Enables easy access and management of video footage from anywhere, eliminating the need for onsite storage solutions. The video content cannot be stolen by an intruder. While the intruders can take the NVR and cameras, access to cloud content is limited to the account owner and can only be deleted with the correct login credentials.
  • Usually operates on a subscription model, making it crucial to assess the security and reliability of the cloud provider.
  • The cost associated with regular downloading of footage for playback can be significant and requires careful management.

Selecting the Right Product

Assessing Your Needs

  • Determine the areas most in need of surveillance, considering both indoor and outdoor spaces. Have a conversation with your neighbours who already have a similar system, and also engage in a brief chat with Security Cameras Online sales representatives.
  • Assess the required camera resolution, field of view, and night vision capabilities.

Considering Connectivity Options

  • Wired vs. Wireless: Weigh the reliability of wired systems against the installation ease of wireless systems.
  • Internet Requirements: Ensure your internet connection can support the bandwidth demands of IP cameras, especially if opting for high-resolution or multiple cameras.

Installation Tips

Planning Your System Layout

  • Map out camera positions to cover entry points and high-traffic areas. The required coverage will dictate the selection of specific lens sizes and types. It is recommended to use minimum 2-3 cameras with fixed focal lengths of 2.8 or 4.0mm, or varifocal cameras, to ensure there are no blind spots.
  • Consider the need for power sources (especially for wired cameras) and the placement of the NVR/DVR. In modern settings, owners prefer a silent-type (fanless) NVR installed in common areas or entertainment rooms for easy monitoring of the perimeter using their own TV via HDMI input. Some customers may prefer to hide the NVR from view. This requires careful consideration, as PoE-driven NVRs supply power to cameras 24/7, and overheating can occur if the NVR is placed in enclosed, non-ventilated cabinets.
  • ‘Quiet’ NVRs are ideal for basic CCTV requirements. More advanced NVRs with fans can produce an audible humming noise in quiet rooms. Please consider this when choosing your products to avoid disappointment.

Installing the Cameras

  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for mounting cameras, considering the height and angle for optimal coverage.
  • For outdoor installations, ensure the cameras are weatherproof and equipped with adequate night vision.
  • Consider mounting the cameras at a height out of reach for an unequipped intruder, with the minimum recommended height being between 2.7 to 3.5 meters. For single-story houses, maintaining this height could be challenging, and customers may opt for installation under the eave at 2.4 meters above ground level. 
  • Safety first when using a ladder! The risk of fatality increases depends significantly with height, but even falls from as low as 1 meter (about 3 feet) can be deadly. Remember: No safe height!
  • Internal wiring is typically routed through roof spaces and wall cavities. Exercise caution when working in roof spaces or drilling into walls or studs. Since all homes have mains AC power cabling, we strongly recommend that all security cabling tasks be performed by a qualified electrician or data installer. They must ensure a safe working environment, which includes turning off all power before starting work in such areas.

 Setting Up the Network

  • For IP cameras, configure your network to allow for remote access while maintaining security. This may involve setting up a dynamic DNS service and adjusting your router’s settings. Specific vendor port forwarding for the camera's TCP port numbers needs to be enabled in the internet router, unless it has plug-and-play settings that automatically learn such ports when a connection request is made. This could be straightforward or the trickiest part to get working. In a nutshell, the NVR needs to register its serial number with the vendor’s cloud-based server for your smartphone app to sync up with the NVR.
  • Remote apps on phones accessing the NVR via 4G/5G require that step to be completed first before they can fetch live streams from cameras or playback content.
  • The local home wired or WiFi network doesn’t require such verification. You will be able to access the NVR and cameras easily using your home data network.
  • When setting the frame rate and resolution for camera live streaming, be mindful of the potential for excessive mobile data usage, which increases with higher frames per second (fps) and video quality. Find a balance that still allows for recognizable video.
  • When configuring Video Content Analytics (VCA) and camera profiles, referring to the vendor's manuals and reviewing your initial requirements can be beneficial. You may discover features you weren't aware of and are eager to try. Start with the basics, see how they fit your home setting, test them, and then explore more advanced features.
  • Don’t use the default passwords provided out of the box for logging into the NVR; always change them and keep them secure. Never share the Admin (owner) credentials with any external assistance of any kind. Create a new user with specific permissions as needed and delete this user after their work is completed.

Testing Your System 

  • Test camera angles and settings during both day and night to ensure complete coverage and optimal image quality.
  • Test line-crossing, areas of interest, motion detection, or any other VCA settings and features you prefer.
  • It's always advisable to enable motion detection when hard disk space is limited.
  • Pay attention to network changes between home WiFi and public 4G/5G networks. Ensure that, when switching off WiFi on your phone, the mobile network activates and still allows access to the cameras. Perform this switch-over a few times to confirm reliability.
  • Finally, back up the tested configuration and enjoy safer home!