Beginners Guide to Buying an IP Security System

Security cameras have become one of the most useful, yet confusing pieces of technology on the market today. Between the different brands, technologies, and resolutions. There has got to be a million and one different solutions for a single security system. Luckily, A1 has a team of security experts to make your decision as simple and cost effective as possible.  We have compiled a list of what we feel is necessary to build the most budget-friendly and best performing system available.  Let’s get started!

What Do You Need in a Security System?

Security systems really only have four main requirements. A recording unit, cameras, cable, and storage. Monitors and other perks are nice to have, but other than the initial set up of your system, they are not going to be required. We are going to tackle the four main requirements and if you have any questions about other add-ons, you can contact one of our security experts at the end of this article. 

Budget 

First, something to keep in mind is the total amount you want to spend on your security system. If you have a budget in mind, follow this article and choose the path that stays within your numbers. Prices will be included so you can add as you go. The last thing you want to do is build the system of your dreams and then realize it is out of your budget. In this process, we included a few different options for you. One being very affordable, one being the middle ground, and one being a higher end brand. Luckily, we are going to go in depth on each of them to see which brand is best for you. 

Picking A Recording Unit

A few things to keep in mind before we begin is that all 3 brands we include in this article are all excellent brands that we recommend to our customers daily. Even the most affordable brand compared to the high-end brand, quality might not be as distant between the two as you think. When picking your recording unit and cameras, A1 recommends staying loyal to a single brand. Mixing two different brands within a single system can cause compatibility issues, certain analytics not to work, and sometimes the cameras won’t work at all. For this reason, if you for example choose an Oculur recorder, A1 would recommend going with Oculur cameras and vice versa for the two other brands. Now that you have a budget in mind, let’s consider the total number of cameras for your property. The main recording unit is where the all the cameras will run directly to for storage and power (in most cases). This unit will ultimately determine the number of cameras you will have in your system. Recorders come in 4 channels, 8 channels, 16 channels, 32 channels, and 64 channels. Each channel represents a location for a camera to be added. A larger system is possible, but we would recommend contacting one of our security experts, so we can ensure compatible components for you. If you ever plan on having a larger system, say for example 16 cameras total, but you can only afford 4 cameras now. Then we recommend purchasing the 16-channel recorder up front to save money down the road. The last thing you want to do is buy two recorders, replacing the smaller recorder because you’ll want to upgrade eventually. Pick the maximum number of cameras you want and get the corresponding recorder. We have selected our top 3 recommendations by category below to make this as simple as possible for you. Each are listed with their total amount of channels which again, determines how many cameras can be added. 

Pick Your Recorder

Affordable

4 Channels

Sold out

8 Channels

Sold out

16 Channels

Sold out

32 Channels

Sold out

64 Channels

Sold out

Middle Ground

4 Channels

Sold out

8 Channels

Sold out

16 Channels

Sold out

32 Channels

Sold out

64 Channels

Sold out

High End

4 Channels

Sold out

8 Channels

Sold out

16 Channels

Sold out

24 Channels

Sold out

32 Channels

Sold out

Picking Your Cameras

Did you pick a recording unit above? Be sure the recorder you chose has enough camera channels for your desired number of cameras. Next, we are going to look into the resolution of your cameras. Resolution or the clarity of your security cameras will be the biggest decision you make in this entire process. Picture quality is generally everyone’s main concern and for good reason too. The difference between 2MP and 8MP can be drastically different and can sway a decision just by seeing the difference side by side. Things to keep in mind when it comes to resolution and the way the image will look are Megapixel count, field of view, and type of camera. Let’s start with megapixels!

Megapixels 

IP cameras generally range from 2MP, 4MP, 6MP, and 8MP. You can follow the resolution chart below to get an idea of what megapixels range from. We also included pictures from one of our cameras showing each resolution to show you the difference between them all. Please note that each camera won’t look the exact same across different brands, but the idea of the pictures below is to give you the best vision of clarity possible. 

 

 

2MP

1920 x 1080

4MP

2560 x 1440

5MP

2560 x 1920

6MP

3072 x 2048

8MP

3264 x 2448

megapixel guide

Field of View

Field of view determines how wide and narrow your cameras capture zone is. This relates directly to your cameras clarity because depending on how wide or narrow your lens is, will depend on how far your camera can capture an object. Wider angle lenses are great at capturing and identifying objects closer to the camera since it can capture a greater horizontal view. Cameras with a narrower lens have less overall coverage horizontally but can see at a much greater distance. This of course depends on the camera and how narrow of a lens it has, but the importance is to know the difference between the two. The cameras we included below are almost all 2.8mm wide angle lenses. This is our most popular selling camera lens size and works well in almost all situations. Other cameras we carry come equipped with 180-degree and even 360-degrees lenses. These are called fisheye and pinhole cameras and we will discuss these more under the “types of cameras” section below. 

Types of Cameras

Pinhole and fisheye cameras were built with a very specific lens in mind to capture very specific surveillance footage. Pinhole cameras are typically very wide and are used to capture people up close without them noticing. Common examples in day to day life where these types of cameras would be useful are drive-throughs, ATM’s, or somewhere where a small, covert, and discreet camera is needed. We also have fisheye styled cameras. These cameras have extremely wide-angle lenses typically ranging from 180-degrees to 360-degrees. These cameras are often used in conference rooms or put on the ceilings in very small rooms or corridors to capture the entire room with a single camera.  Luckily, none of the cameras listed below are specialty cameras like pinholes or fisheyes, so you do not have to worry about these extremely wide angles. 

Choosing Your Resolution 

If you are looking for a complete recommendation, we typically recommend going with either 4MP or 8MP cameras. 2MP has been the industry standard for a while now but with the better resolutions being just as affordable, there really isn’t a reason besides saving bandwidth to go under 4MP anymore. Below is the chart of cameras that we would recommend using. Please note that we only recommend using the same brand camera as the recorder you picked above. We do not recommend mixing and matching brands as you then run into compatibility issues. For example, if you picked an Oculur XNR8K-2, then you would need to choose any of the Oculur cameras below, and vice versa with the two other brands. 

Pick Your Cameras

Affordable

2MP

Sold out

4MP (2K)

Sold out

5MP (3K)

Sold out

6MP

Sold out

8MP (4K)

Sold out

Middle Ground

2MP

Sold out

4MP (2K)

Sold out

5MP (3K)

Sold out

6MP

Sold out

8MP (4K)

Sold out

High End

2MP

Sold out

4MP (2K)

Sold out

5MP (3K)

Sold out

6MP

Sold out

8MP (4K)

Sold out

Cable

Now that you have both your recorder and cameras picked out, the next thing you want to add is cable to your system. The cable used in IP security systems are CAT5/CAT6 ethernet cable similarly used when connecting your computer to your LAN internet connection. These cables come in pre-determined lengths that stretch between 6 feet – 150 feet. The length from your camera to your recorder will ultimately be the deciding factor with what cable length you choose. The chart below includes all the different cable lengths available. If you are not sure which cable lengths you need, contact one of our security experts at 214-948-1300 and we get give you our recommendation based on your property layout and installation details.

Sold out
Sold out
Sold out
Sold out

Storage

The last thing you need to include in your security system is storage. Storage is what allows you to keep your recorded video for days, weeks, and even months at a time.  The total amount of time will depend on many things, including frames per second, resolution, compression rate, and number of cameras. Since there are so many factors when it comes to storage, we won’t be able to give a set amount of time for your system unless you let us know exactly what equipment you plan on using. If you need a help with storage selection, give us a call at 214-948-1300 and we can get you our recommendation. The chart below will range from 1TB of storage to 8TB of storage. Something to keep in mind when picking storage is that certain recorders can only hold a certain amount of TB (Terabytes). We would recommend visiting the recorders product page that you plan on using and look at how many Terabytes of storage it can hold. Another thing to consider is that recorders sometimes split the total amount of storage space into two different SATA slots. For example, if a recorder can hold 8TB of storage and has 2 SATA slots, then you need to get two 4TB hard drives to fill it out completely. This is by no means a requirement, but that would be the case if you wanted your storage at full capacity. Below is a chart to select a hard drive for your recorder. If you have any questions about storage time, give one of our security experts a call and we would be happy to help!

1 Terabytes

Sold out

2 Terabytes

Sold out

3 Terabytes

Sold out

4 Terabytes

Sold out

6 Terabytes

Sold out

8 Terabytes

Sold out

Congratulations!

You have now created a fully loaded IP security system. We are confident that any of the three brands you could have picked are going to perform exceptionally well for you. As discussed in the beginning of this article, whether you went with the affordable brand (Oculur) or the high-end brand (Axis), the quality of the three are all high end commercial grade products that we as a company trust in all situations. Whether it be hospitals, school facilities, military bases, or for a home owner. These systems are designed to perform!

If you have any questions about your system, we encourage you to give us a call at 214-948-1300 or send us an email at sales@a1securitycameras.com as we would be happy to assist you! We also have a live chat service if you need immediate assistance. 

Jun 7th 2021 Matt

Recent Posts