Choosing your CCTV System
A step by step guide to help you
select the perfect CCTV system for
• What kind of system and how many cameras are you looking for?
• Wired or Wireless Cameras?
• What design of camera do you need?
• What resolution do the cameras need to be?
• What type of recorder do you need?
• Do you need Internet connectivity?
• What cable type and lengths do you need?
• Completing your system.
What kind of system and how many
cameras are you looking for?
In this slide we will go over what possible systems you could look at. The main questions are; how many cameras you
need? And what type of recording method you are going to use? CCTV Systems mostly consist of 1,2,4,8 and 16
camera systems. This is because recorders generally have 1,2,4,8 and 16 inputs. The recorder determines the
maximum number of cameras you can use in your system.
There are 2 main recording methods; a stand alone digital video recorder (DVR) or a PC connected system via IP
cameras or USB recording.
A DVR based system is the most common solution, mainly because a DVR puts all your recording features in one
central location. DVR’s have lots of great features such as motion detection and internet streaming. 4 Channel and up
DVR systems are all controlled using a mouse and very comprehensive on screen display.
PC connected systems are often far more complicated but could potentially save you money if you already have a PC
that you can use as a recorder. The main downside of using a PC is that you have to leave the computer turned on all
the time you want to record. If you’re looking for a round the clock CCTV system then this means you’ll need to leave
your PC on 24/7. Most customers use PC systems for just 1 or maybe 2 cameras that aren’t permanently
recording, such as wildlife cameras in the back garden.
Wired or Wireless Cameras?
At SpyCameraCCTV we sell a range of wired and wireless cameras. Below we will look at the pros and
cons of each.
Wired cameras can give you a much better quality image than wireless cameras and for equivalent
quality are actually cheaper than using a wireless camera. Obviously with a wired camera you have to
run a cable back to the recorder, this cable carries both power and video feeds so they are very easy to
setup. We would always recommend using wired camera where possible.
Wireless cameras are generally lower quality, but in some situations it’s is unavoidable, such as longer
range cameras up to 400 metres or where running a cable isn’t possible. Bear in mind the fact that ALL
wireless cameras still require a power source, this is generally via a plug socket, but some wireless
cameras can be run off battery packs. The other big negative with wireless cameras is possible
interference from other wireless devices such as WiFi routers and cordless telephones. Digital wireless
cameras don’t suffer from this as much but it can still be a problem. Before considering a wireless
camera it’s worth looking at how many WiFi networks are around your house, if you’re in an area with
4 or 5 WiFi networks using wireless cameras may be a bad idea.
What design of camera do you need?
There are 3 main types of camera:
Bullet Camera: Dome/Eyeball Camera:
Hidden or Camouflage Spy Cameras:
What design of camera do you need?
The 3 main types of camera are shown in the previous slide. Here we will look at each one in a bit
Bullet Camera: These cameras are great for outdoor use as they have fully adjustable extended
bracket, this means they will mount to an external wall very easily. Bullet cameras are the most
common form of camera.
Dome Camera: These cameras are great for indoor use and mounting to a ceiling. Dome cameras can
be adjusted so they can look in a 360 degree arc around where they are mounted. Dome cameras are
great for shops or offices.
Hidden or Camouflaged Spy cameras: These cameras are either very small pinhole cameras or cameras
disguised in other household objects, like PIR sensors or smoke detectors. These cameras are great if
you are looking for a completely hidden system.
What resolution do the cameras need
The resolution of the camera is very important. The resolution determines the quality of the camera,
the higher the resolution the higher the quality. CCTV cameras use TV Lines (TVL) to describe there
Wireless CCTV cameras start a 380 TV Line resolution and go up to 700 TV Line.
Wired cameras start at 420 TVL and also go up to 700 TVL. A basic home camera system would be fine
with 380/420 TV Line cameras as generally the distance monitored is fairly short. Business grade
cameras start at 540 TVL and professional grade start at 700 TVL.
The other factor that affects the image quality of a camera is what type of imaging chip is inside. Low
quality cameras use CMOS chips, these are generally quite cheap and give poor colour reproduction.
More expensive cameras use CCD chips, Sony being the best. Sony have a range of CCD imaging chips,
the EFFIO range is currently the best on the market.
Depending on what situation your system is in we have a range of cameras that can help.
What type of recorder do you need?
We have a range of digital video recorders (DVR) and PC USB based systems. Below we will outline the
2 main differences.
A DVR can come in many different sizes depending on how many cameras you are going to use.
1/2/4/8 and 16 channel DVRs are the most common. At SpyCameraCCTV we have 2 types of 4 channel
DVR, one with internet connectivity and one without. Our 8 Channel and 16 Channel DVRs come in
two variants, one that does real time (25 frames per second for each camera) recording and one that
does lower frame rate recording. Real time recording is useful if you want smooth high quality
recordings. The slower recording speeds will appear jerky or stuttering but these recorders are still
great for identifying criminals. Real time DVR’s are aimed at professional setups.
A PC based system will generally be a 1 or 4 camera setup with a small box that connects to your PC
via a USB connection. As we said at the beginning the biggest downside is that the PC has to stay
turned on for it to record.
Do you need Internet connectivity?
A lot of CCTV systems and cameras can now connect to the internet, this allows
you to monitor your cameras from anywhere in the world. Some CCTV systems
even have compatibility with iPhones/iPads and Android devices.
All you need is an Internet router and connection in your home or business and a
wired connection to your DVR or a Wireless IP Camera. Once you have performed
the internet setup on your DVR or camera you will then be able to view your
system from anywhere in the world on any PC.
What cable types and lengths do you
Depending on what cameras you have chosen you will have to select the
For wireless cameras you will only need a power cable to the camera, most of our
cameras come with a 1 metre power cable so you may need an extension.
For wired cameras you will need to measure out the length of cable needed for
each camera. The cables comes in 2 variants, BNC or RCA. Nearly all CCTV
cameras use a BNC connection, some smaller hidden cameras do use RCA so
make sure you select the correct cable. The wired cable carries both power and
video so you don’t need to run 2 separate leads.
Completing your system.
Now you have selected your cameras, recorder and cable it’s time to install it and
get it all setup. At SpyCameraCCTV we have a dedicated technical team that can
help you get everything running smoothly.
If any of this presentation has confused you then please contact our sales team to
discuss your requirements. We have been selling CCTV systems for over 5 years
and have lots of experience with even the most bizarre scenarios so please feel
free to give us a call. Please see the contact us page on our website or blog for
our telephone numbers and contact eMail addresses.