How To Buy The Right Video Surveillance System

Posted by: on May 24th, 2012 | 16 Comments
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Video Surveillance Kit


The need for video surveillance systems goes far beyond simple security. These days, video surveillance can also give you piece of mind by allowing you to monitor your home, keep an eye on your kids and monitor the inventory in your small business. Imagine the reassurance of being able to remotely access real-time or archived footage of your residence or business. And maybe you’ll catch a neighborhood cat up to no good.

But with all of these capabilities come many choices and options, and determining which system is the right one for you may seem tricky.


Here’s what to consider in choosing a video surveillance system:

  • Wireless vs. Wired -Wireless camera setups are typically used in homes, easier to install, and give you the flexibility to change camera locations without having to run new wires. Larger homes and business may need a more complex solution, so they typically choose wired camera setups. These require cable being run from camera to DVR through low voltage lines, so you won’t necessarily need a contractor for installation.
  • What kind of DVR? – A system may come with a few cameras, but you may want to add more for maximum coverage. The limiting factor is the DVR, or recording device, included with the system. It has a maximum number of channels it can accept video feeds from, so the number of available channels determines the maximum number of cameras you can use with the system.
  • Analog vs. IP Digital CamerasAnalog security cameras send the images via an analog signal to the DVR. The DVR can transmit it over the Internet as one IP (Internet Protocol) address stream. This makes efficient use of  bandwidth, and it typically costs less per camera as well. IP digital cameras broadcast every camera stream separately with its own IP address. Businesses typically already have IP networks in place, so that can greatly reduce the need for additional cabling or hardware. IP digital cameras are capable of higher resolution than analog cameras, so if image clarity and motion capture is paramount, then analog may not be the ideal choice for you. IP digital cameras are also less susceptible to interference from other wireless devices.
  • Enable Remote Access - Will you want to use a smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer to monitor your video footage? How about receiving text alerts wherever you go? If yes, choose a system with remote access capabilities.
  • Recorder Capacity –  Consider  how much footage you’d like to record and keep archived. Also, what kind of video quality do you need? This determines the size of hard drive you’ll want on your DVR. For example, if you wanted to be able to store five days of video (with no audio) from four separate cameras at a standard frame rate, you’d need around 50GB of storage capacity. It’s also possible to set your cameras to record only when motion is detected to greatly increase your active recording time. Some systems provide video compression, which can increase memory capacity even further.
  • How Many Cameras? – How many cameras do you need, and where should they go? Do you need weather resistant cameras for outdoor use or night vision capabilities? It all depends on the needs and size of your site. The higher the resolution of your camera, the more area you can cover and with more detail. A digital “PTZ” camera can pan, tilt and zoom around an area instead staying on a fixed position. Additionally, digital/IP systems are far more scalable, so you can expand to meet additional needs.

As a general reference, a four channel DVR is a good size for small businesses and homes under 2,000 square feet.  An eight channel DVR can more adequately cover small businesses such as a small retail operation that wants to monitor inventory, and for homes up to 3,000 square feet.  Sixteen (16) channel DVRS are good for small businesses, homes over 3,000 square feet, and those interested in expanding their systems in the near future.

With a broad selection of video surveillance systems, The Home Depot will have exactly what you’re looking for.

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  1. John says:

    I’ve always preferred wireless home security systems for the fact that they can be taken with you should you ever decide to move. In this type of setup an IP camera does seem more appealing.

  2. sharon.wilson says:

    For my home, I use Asante and Vivotek cameras – these megapixel cameras are easily available online and at a reasonable cost. The software is Security Monitor Pro, an excellent video surveillance software and I love it. It has time based recording and motion detection alerting, remote viewing, along with many other features that are useful. Easy to use and reliable.

  3. Dennis Neftleberg says:

    I wonder if Home Depot has Installers who install these systems. I am in the Long Island NY Area. How would I become an Installer?

  4. Janet H says:

    We purchased a Uniden UDS655 to watch our miniature horses when close to having foals. I had to return it since we couldn’t get a signal in the house. We have a metal barn and the garage doors are at the end of the house which also may creat more signal interferance. I would like to puchase a wireless system that can be seen on my computer and on my smart phone. I am in a quandary about what I can do to make this work. Is there such a system that’s wireless and will work under these conditions without costing a fortune? I was told if you have a transmitter outside of the barn it can work for you but I’ve not found a system like this which can be seen on the internet & smart phone. It may be out there but cost way to much money. Someone mentioned a Wifi extender but I already returned the Uniden to meet the return policy time factor. We did try using 9dpi antenna’s rather than the camera antenna but they just helped some but not enough to make it into the house with the garage doors down.. Any idea’s would be appreicated, it’s confusing and I’m tired of searching so if you can help that would be great!

    • Craig Allen says:

      That’s a tricky one, Janet. But I think we can come up with some suggestions for you.

      I took your question to our online Forums, where our home improvement experts can take a look at it and offer up their ideas.

      I posted it under the title, Can’t find wireless security camera with enough signal strength. Just click on the title to go there.

      Thanks for the question. I can’t wait to see what our experts have to say!

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  5. This is a good starting point. I have created some basic steps for individuals who are interested in doing this at their home or office.

  6. Andy Smith says:

    Thanks for your informations, It give me the suggestions on how to get the right video surveillance system.It is great.

  7. HuskieHust says:

    I was actually looking to sound proof my office, and I stumbled upon your post, good tip. I’ll try to apply the same bathroom tips to my my office setup.

  8. Tommy la Guardia says:

    Hedllo Gidon,

    Kindly advise the difference between the Infodraw and the Vsense and what is more applicable among the 2 for residential only..
    Thanks a lot.

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  10. John says:

    IP cameras have a number of advantages over analog, particularly the remote access but also the ability for each independent camera to send email or FTP alerts without the need for a DVR/NVR.

  11. Gidon says:

    As an employee in a security company, we use surveillance for remote locations and for trucks and cars for loss prevention. From my experience it is better in these cases to use Cellular technology, especially today when the Cellular internet is becoming faster and faster.

    We have two different Cellular-based systems where I work, which work fine, one is from Infodraw and the Other is from Vsense,

  12. james says:

    when choosing a surveillance system you need to considered a few thins : first if its for a house or business , more than that you should go with brand name + good supplier to install it and provide the right assistance when you will need .

    there is a lot of private company’s that offered a free quote to the customers and always to have some references is never bad .
    this is one of them

  13. what type of cable is needed for a model R8D2BB4B-1000 SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM INTERNET# 203144353 and can i buy it at home depot

    • Hello Rodney. Thanks for the question.

      Can you be a bit more specific? There are a number of cables including power, A/V, and ethernet cables that this particular system can use. The essential ones come with the system, but I can advise you about additional ones if you tell me specifically which part you’re referring to. Thanks!