The Ultimate Guide To IP Cameras

The Ultimate Guide To IP Cameras

Surveillance isn't just for cops and businesses. Recently, the development of IP cameras made it easier for home-based monitoring. Since the cameras connect to the internet, they can be used almost anywhere in your home.

Throughout this guide, we'll describe how IP cameras work. Also, we'll give you tips on how to maintain your IP camera properly. Each of this information is to help you become a better buyer and make a more informed decision when it's time to make a purchase.

Man Installing Dome IP Camera

We want to educate you on IP cameras and how they can benefit you and your family. Plus, they are affordable and easy to set up in your home. By the end of this post, you'll find the right IP camera that's efficient at keeping you safe.

What Is An IP Camera?

An IP (Internet Protocol) camera is a digital video camera that's used for surveillance. IP cameras transmit their data through a Fast Ethernet Link. IP cameras are made for internet use and receives their data from the internet and/or a LAN network.

IP Camera In Living Room

IP cameras require a high-speed internet connection, ethernet cable, and a router. While a computer is needed to see the data, the IP camera doesn't need to depend on the computer to work.

One advantage of IP cameras is its independent usage. Unlike a USB camera that needs a computer to be powered and logged on, IP cameras don't need a specific application to work correctly. IP cameras are great for users who want to do video podcasts, meetings, or conversations, and for home surveillance.

There are two industry standard protocol networks for IP cameras. The Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) and the Open Network Video Form (ONVF). Each is used to give users an open network to stream videos, communicate with others, and provide surveillance security at home.

IP Camera Vs. CCTV

IP cameras give the user the ability to view images in any location. It doesn't matter if you're 10 feet or 1,000 miles away, you'll still have access to the camera. Another advantage is its image quality. Since the camera is digital, users can receive footage from up to 1 MP or higher.

The only disadvantage is its data storage. IP cameras take up a lot of data and require a strong hard drive system to keep running. We suggest getting a hard drive that's over 2TB if you need to record your footage for an extended period.

CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras use either a DVR or a VCR system that holds a lot of data. CCTV cameras are preferred by businesses and individuals for a multitude of reasons. First, they are simple to use since it works like a VCR.

The main advantage that CCTV cameras have is its affordability. CCTV cameras are great for homes and businesses who don't have much money but want to monitor and protect their customers and employees. Because of this, people tend to go for CCTV cameras as a result.

But, CCTV cameras have a few drawbacks. CCTV cameras lose their signal faster than IP cameras. And, the cameras have a lower image quality. That's why CCTV cameras are suggested for basic and simple surveillance.

Illustration Of Analog Vs IP Camera

We suggest getting an IP camera because of its portability. While a CCTV camera is ideal for simple at home surveillance, you're not able to access the cameras when away from home. Get an IP camera to have more control over your home security.

IP Camera Vs. Webcam

While IP cameras are used in similar ways than a webcam, there are a few clear distinctions between the two. IP cameras are for long term image displaying in a specified location. The cameras are used to monitor or watch a location for security, recreational, or for promotional purposes.

Webcams are for casual uses. Like the IP cameras, it's a video capturing device. Unlike IP cameras, webcams need a powered computer to work correctly. Webcams are great for communication and users can chat with each other on software such as Skype and create snapshot pictures for social media sharing.

The main difference between IP cameras and webcam is their ease of use. Webcams are easier to set up and use. IP cameras require a bit more technical knowledge to install and utilize correctly. Also, webcams are cheaper and cost less than $20 to work. IP cameras can cost from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.

Buy a webcam if you want to socialize with your friends, share videos on social media, and create podcasts. Get an IP camera if you're a business entrepreneur or an individual that wants to protect your physical property from burglars and intruders. Mainly, webcams are made for socialization while IP cameras are great for security.

Benefits Of IP Cameras

In addition to the digital nature of the recording media, the cameras offer practical advantages over the alternative closed circuit security systems.

Image Quality

IP cameras come in a broad range of resolutions to display images in a single area. The resolutions are measured in megapixels or MP. The higher the megapixels, the clearer the image. For instance, a camera of 1.3 MP is four times clearer than analog cameras.

IP Camera Image Quality

With this increased resolution, license plates are easier to read, faces are easier to see, and more areas are covered. That's why you should invest in an IP camera because it gives clear footage of your area while you're away.

TCO And ROI

Buying an IP camera provides a high ROI (Rate of Investment). This means that you'll gain more benefits after paying for one. Also, an IP camera has a low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). IP cameras are easy to maintain and don't cost much to keep it working.

When you buy an IP camera, you save yourself money in the long run. Cheaper cameras tend to break easily or become tampered by hackers. That's why when you buy an IP camera, you're paying for a long lasting camera that's worth your initial investment.

Backwards Compatible

Consumers like IP cameras because they allow them to use their existing cameras. You can use video servers to convert older cameras to IP cameras. You can use your older cameras in situations that are best for IP.

There are hybrid recording systems that allows analog and IP cameras to co-exists. You'll be able to reap the benefits of new technology without replacing security systems.

Scalability

One of the main benefits of an IP camera is its easy system configuration. The system can be expanded for multiple cameras or configured for different needs. Cameras are added in increments of one or as much as the user desires.

Since IP cameras are wireless, it's easier to add them to your existing system. Most importantly, you can change the cameras without losing your original network. Get an IP camera if you want something that's easy to implement in your home surveillance system.

Increased Performance

Modern IP cameras have improved performance over analog cameras thanks to the development of innovative imaging technologies. IP cameras have high-performance features like wide dynamic range, optical zoom lenses, and on-board analytics to help security leaders efficiently meet their surveillance needs.

IP Camera Installed On House

Plus, the high-resolution cameras covers a larger area with a few cameras. The images are available in an archived or live format at any time along with your network. This gives you the ability to detect individuals easier and detect and prosecute burglars in the event.

Safety Concerns

While IP cameras offer a lot of security benefits, you need to know how to maintain it. Doing so allows you to utilize the cameras while protecting the network from hackers. Here are a few tips to help you keep your working without the risk of getting hacked.

Secure Your Network

If you're using an IP camera at home, the "network" is your Wi-Fi network. Start by creating a strong password to prevent outsiders from entering your system. View your current Wi-Fi password and change it to something more complicated. This stops outsiders from getting onto your Wi-Fi network and tampering with your cameras.

Use WPA2 Encryption

Only connect your IP camera to a WPA2 Encryption network if your IP camera is wireless. This stops eavesdroppers, hackers, and other intruders from joining the network and getting access to your video feeds.

Password Protect The Cameras

Most IP cameras don't have any password protection for their cameras by default. Unfortunately, people forget to add a password protection system after setting it up. This neglectful action leaves your cameras open for hackers to access the system.

Almost every IP camera model offers a basic form of authentication. While it's not the best, it's better than having no security at all. Create a strong user name and a password to keep your camera feeds from the hands of hackers. Change your password once every two months to ensure your system remains safe.

Update The Firmware

Every IP camera comes with an upgradable user firmware. If there is a problem that occurred in the security, the manufacturer will fix the issue by creating a firmware update. You can refresh the camera firmware from your admin console through a web browser.

IP Camera Firmware Upgrade

Check your IP security camera's website to find the latest firmware update. Make sure that your current version doesn't have a unpatched issue that's exploited by Internet voyeurs and hackers.

Make Local Camera Feeds

Don't connect your IP camera to an internet network. This increases the chances of your cameras being exposed to hackers. Don't connect your camera feeds to the internet if you don't want them to.

Keep your cameras on a local network if privacy is your primary priority. Then, assign them to an IP address that's not connected to the router.

Even if you have a nonroutable IP address, your camera might still get exposed to camera software that uses UPNP or port forwarding to show your feeds on the internet. Look at your IP's website to find out how to place your cameras in local-only mode.

Camera Types

Before investing in cameras, you should have a fair idea about the types of IP security cameras.

Decentralized/Centralized

Centralized IP cameras are more common and are tied together into one main system. Your centralized camera can be connected directly to the Internet. Also, you can record them to an NVR remotely or locally. Centralized cameras are great for applications where the camera needs to be hidden in plain sight.

Decentralized Cameras has its NVR feature built inside the device. These cameras use multiple types of Digital Storage Media (USB Flash Drives, Hard Drives, and Network Attached Storage) to store the video feed data. Decentralized cameras are great for low maintenance surveillance.

Wired Vs. Wireless IP Cameras

Wired IP cameras require the user to run power through the recording device's monitor where it's footage is shown. The wires are used to create a secure connection. Wired methods aren't recommended for home environments due to the hazard of people tripping over the wires.

Difference Between Wired And Wireless IP Camera

One advantage is that wired cameras aren't subject to interference. Wired cameras don't require an online network to work properly. If you're in need of an active offline IP camera, then wired cameras are the best choice.

Wireless cameras gained popularity over the recent years. The devices are easy to set up and are small. The main advantage is that wireless cameras can be concealed due to the lack of wires. These cameras are smaller than wired cameras making it great if you need a quiet surveillance system in your home.

Another advantage is that wireless cameras have a lot of versatility. For instance, users can position them anywhere in the house as long as there is a signal. Get a wireless camera if you want something that's easy to use and gives you accurate readings on intruders.

Fixed Vs. Pan/Tilt/Zoom

Fixed path cameras have no adjustable zoom, rotation or tilt settings. Its main advantage of PTZ cameras Is its stability. You don't have to continuously adjust your fixed camera to display the contents of an area. Fixed path cameras are simple to set and place cameras that easily help users receive proper surveillance with no issue.

Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras are also known as PTZ cameras. PTZ cameras are capable of zoom control and remote direction. A huge advantage is their ability to cover a wide amount of space. Get a PTZ camera if you plan on doing surveillance in large areas such as a backyard or parking lot and want a camera that gives you full control.

Box Vs. Dome Cameras

Box cameras are a commonly used camera that's versatile for long distance viewing. One thing we like about box cameras is its audio feature. For instance, the camera has a microphone that captures sound while its main device captures video.

However, box cameras have a nonthreatening appearance to deter vandals from it. If mounted in a low position, there's a high chance that it will be tampered with. Place the camera in a safe position and find what power source is needed to use the camera. This ensures that you'll have a fully functional camera to help protect your home.

Four Types Of IP Camera

Dome cameras offer the most versatility out of the camera styles. Most IP cameras provide a three axis mounting feature. This feature allows you to mount the camera diagonally, horizontally, and vertically. Plus, dome cameras create a bit of vandalism resistance when it's placed in close arm's length.

But, it's hard to change its point of view once it's mounted. You'll have to remove the dome cover to adjust the camera. Since their lenses are only 12 mm, you have a limited amount of view about the area around you. Get a dome camera if it's your first IP camera and you need something that stays in place.

Night Vision Camera

In a security standpoint, night time is where burglars and invaders attack without provocation. Studies show that night vision IP cameras reduce the chances of a home burglary by 70%. Night vision cameras combine thermal imaging, invisible, and visible light to give a clear view of the assailant before they attempt to invade your home.

How To Setup IP Camera Surveillance

  • Connect your camera to the Local Area Network (LAN) in your home
  • Find your camera's IP address
  • Configure the Wi-Fi connection. Use your internet browser to find the camera's UI with its port and web address
  • Setting up your IP camera is easy and requires little to no effort when installing. Here is a list of steps you need to follow before setting up your IP camera
  • Make your IP address static. Since your IP is automatically assigned, it can change based on the different cameras placed on the system. Convert your dynamic IP address to a static IP address to reduce the chances of your camera becoming hacked
  • Begin using the Wi-Fi connection. Remove the Ethernet cable and move your camera to your desired location
  • Search for the new IP again. Most network cameras find Wi-Fi networks differently than they would find wired networks

Best Place To Store Your IP Camera

When installing the camera, making sure the camera’s viewing angle can cover these entry-points as many as possible or maximize the monitored area.

Garage

While uncommon, your garage is a target for burglars. To prevent this, you need a sturdy camera mounted in the corner of the garage. This ensures that your camera has a clear image of the invader in the event they break into your home.

Front Door

About 34% of burglars enter through the front door of the house. You'll need to train your surveillance cameras to prevent invaders from coming to your home. Place the camera on the second floor level of your house. This prevents them from breaking the camera and protects your home in the event of an emergency.

Yard

Criminals like the backyard because of its easy access and expensive equipment found there. To prevent this, find a motion sensor floodlights and a night vision surveillance camera to achieve the right results. Make sure to place the camera in plain sight. Most of the time, the burglar will see the camera and move to another home.

Maintenance

Camera must be cleaned inside and out, as dust or dirt on either side will reduce the clarity of the image. These cleaning tips also apply to indoor cameras, although they generally don’t get as dirty as outdoor cameras:

Clean The Camera Lenses

Dust and dirt accumulate on your camera if left uncleaned. As a result, your camera loses its resolution quality, and the image becomes blurred. Use a dry rag cloth to clean the body of the camera. Then, use compressed air to remove the loose debris.

Man Doing Maintenance On IP Camera

After that, use a microfiber cloth to get the dust and dirt out of your camera. Microfiber cloths are used to clean the glass surface on the lens. Thus, microfiber cloths prevent scratching on the camera lens.

Inspect The Power Source

Make sure to check your IP camera's power source. Higher quality cameras have an uninterrupted power source (UPS). UPS cameras continue to work even if unexpected power outages occur. Frequently check the UPS battery to make sure that the battery is charged and doesn't show warning lights.

For professionals, use a voltmeter to see if the cameras meet their recommended power requirements. Not following this step causes the camera to fail and it's cheaper to buy a new power supply than buying a new camera.

Inspect Your Wiring

Check the wiring connectors for any signs of corrosion. If you see any corroded wires, replace it because it causes the equipment to short circuit. Inspect your wiring cable's quality and make sure that the wires aren't corroded. Corroded cables result in a degraded image in your IP camera and cause unstable video transmission.

Empty The Hdds

Every DVR/NVR needs at least one hard drive to record the data. But 2 Terabyte camera stores up to 2 weeks of data. Backup and delete your video data once your HDD camera fills up. Keeping your HDD Drive clean ensures your camera's footage works and captures your area effectively.

Inspect The Camera's Housing

We recommend that you use a waterproof camera. The camera's enclosures stay waterproof and can be checked by opening the camera's housing to check for condensation, dust, and dirt. Checking your camera's housing frequently ensures that your enclosures protect your camera from outside contaminants.

IP Camera Waterproof Housing

Final Words

Your IP camera increases the safety of your household. But there are a few things that we've left out. We've created a buying guide to help you find the best camera for you and your family. Check our buying guide to find the right IP cameras within your price range.

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