Security cameras can be a powerful force against burglars. Just the sight of security cameras might scare off an intruder, because criminals don't want to be seen or leave behind evidence. If your home is burglarized, security cameras can help police identify and find the burglar.
Why Do You Need Security Cameras?
There are two main situations where you'll need a security camera: when you're at home and when you're away. In both cases, there are a variety of ways that security cameras can make life a little easier and safer.
When you're home:
You may not think you need security cameras when you're at home, but you'd be surprised how useful they can be.
- See who is at the front door from any room in your house. (This is especially convenient in the middle of the night or when you're not on the first floor.)
- Use it as a video baby monitor.
- Know what's going on with all family members throughout the house, and monitor areas that are off-limits, like the workshop or cleaning supply closet.
- Care more easily for an elderly family member by setting up a camera in the area where they spend the most time. You can keep an eye on them from another room, or while you're away from home.
- Identify the creepy noise coming from downstairs, without even getting out of bed. If you hear suspicious noises in your home, especially at odd hours, check the cameras to see what is happening before going directly to the source of the noise.
When you're away:
Security cameras aren't just for catching burglars in the act - they can give you peace of mind when it comes to your family, your kids, and your property by letting you see what's going on at all times.
- Catch a burglar or intruder on tape while they try to break in.
- Check on the pets while you're away.
- Know when the kids come home from school.
- See what's going on if your alarm sounds and you're out; then determine whether it's a false alarm or something more serious.
- Keep an eye on the nanny or babysitter while you're away.
- Watch for any suspicious behavior around your house. This may include strangers that have been lingering or scoping out your home.
- Check on the maintenance crew or anyone working on or around the home when you're not there.
Types of Security Cameras
There is a wide variety of security cameras, and each one serves a different purpose. From fixed cameras to pan and tilt cameras, night vision cameras to motion detection cameras, there are security cameras for nearly every scenario.
When researching security cameras, keep in mind that many will have compound features, for example: "outdoor, night vision, pan and tilt cameras" or "fixed, dome IP cameras." The list below will help you understand your options and pick the right camera for you.
Here are the most common security cameras featured on the market today:
Basic or Fixed Security Camera
A fixed camera is a general purpose camera that does not move, change direction, or zoom.
Pan and Tilt or Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera
Pan and tilt cameras can be adjusted quickly, change direction, or zoom, and can even lock in on and follow a moving object that shouldn't be in an area - depending on the model you buy. Pan and tilt cameras have the ability to spin and angle up and down due to a motorized interior mount, and many security companies allow you to remotely control where the camera looks from your smartphone or other web-enabled device.
These days, most security cameras are wireless. Wireless surveillance cameras connect to your security system through an internet connection and are very easy to set up. Usually, you can customize your wireless security cameras and control them from a smart phone or computer. The benefit of wireless security cameras is that they do not have to be wired into the home to communicate with the alarm system.
Night Vision Camera
Night vision cameras use infrared technology to illuminate poorly lit areas and record footage at night.
Exterior or Outdoor Camera
Exterior cameras likely have night vision elements and are weather-proof. These cameras are important for observing who is at the door without opening it, seeing what is going on outside the home, or viewing your front or back yard.
Motion Detection Camera
Motion detection cameras can start recording - or start taking pictures - when they sense movement, so you don't record hours of useless footage. Some motion detection cameras, like some pan and tilt cameras, can lock in on a moving object and follow it.
Fake cameras may scare potential burglars away by giving the impression that intruders are being watched. They're a cheap alternative to actual cameras, but a fake camera may not give you the same peace of mind as a functioning camera.
Hidden / Covert Camera
Hidden or covert cameras, also known as nanny-cams, can be concealed in secret places (bookshelf, cookie jar, centerpiece, etc.) and used to spy on or catch behavior that might be hard to detect otherwise. Keep an eye on your babysitter or watch your kids when they are home alone to make sure everything is alright.
These cameras are dome-shaped and often used indoors. Some dome cameras have infrared lighting and can be designed to be tamper-proof. Dome cameras are commonly pan-tilt-zoom capable and, because of the tinted dome that shields the camera, most people are unable to tell if the camera is currently facing them or not.