IP Cameras: How they work and their benefits

IP cameras seem to have become a standard addition to the modern home and business. Do you need such a system? Let’s find out!

What is an Internet Protocol (IP) Camera?

We all know that installing CCTV cameras around your home or business is an excellent deterrent against potential security threats. Not only do they prevent crime, but they are also a useful tool for settling insurance claims or health and safety disputes. However, not all cameras are equal, so it’s imperative to choose a security camera that can provide quality imaging. A grainy, indistinct image is no use to anyone, and that’s where IP cameras save the day.

An internet protocol camera is a digital video camera that records and transmits footage in the same way as a webcam via the internet. Using an IP network, this network camera uses the local network for recording rather than a local recording device as with closed-circuit television (CCTV). IP Cameras have their own IP address and only require an internet connection to transmit video footage.

How Does an IP Camera Work?

While CCTV requires a cable to send and record footage, the IP Camera does this via a wireless connection.

IP cameras can connect to the NVR (network video recorder) in two ways:

  • Wirelessly using a WiFi router
  • Wired network using an ethernet cable connected to a router or modem

IP cameras like CCTV cameras also capture analogue images, but these images are converted into a digital format and sent wirelessly or via ethernet cable to the local area network (LAN). The data is recorded and broadcast from the NVR (network video recorder).

IP cameras can be configured to transmit real-time viewing, continuous recording, or start recording when suspicious activity or movement occurs within its field of vision. In addition, footage captured by an IP camera is in high definition due to its high-resolution capabilities.

Their wireless capabilities make them an extremely versatile security camera system. This is because they can be placed anywhere without the need for lengthy cables that are often unsightly and impossible to disguise. Furthermore, live footage can be accessed via your PC or mobile device as long as they are connected to the internet.

Benefits of IP Cameras

Aside from the apparent cable-free bonus, choosing this type of camera as a security system comes with many additional benefits. For example, remote access is a huge drawcard for many business owners wanting to keep an eye on production or processes while absent from the premises.

Logging in to the surveillance cameras and viewing live footage of the premises while on holiday creates peace of mind.

Live audio streaming and remote control functionality also allow remote repositioning, listening and communicating via the camera.

Other benefits of IP cameras include:

  • Automated features reduce the time and cost of monitoring and managing video surveillance.
  • Improved security as footage can be encrypted using WiFi Protected Access (WPA)
  • Better picture resolution. Most IP cameras provide more than four times the resolution of analogue cameras used in a CCTV system.
  • IP cameras stream data to Network Video Recorders (NVR)via a local area network (LAN) rather than the digital video recorder (DVR) found in analogue systems.

Types of IP Security Cameras

When choosing an IP security camera for your security system, it’s best to select one that suits your home or business requirements. Let’s take a look at the types of cameras currently available.

  • PTZ IP Camera:

PTZ cameras are also known as Pan-tilt-zoom cameras. This is because the camera’s angle and field of view can be adjusted remotely, allowing users to monitor events easily and at their convenience. As a result, this camera is excellent for large areas that require surveillance, such as outdoor and public places.

  • Fixed IP Camera:

Unlike the PTZ camera, the Fixed IP camera requires less bandwidth capacity. They operate in a fixed position, focusing on a specific area of interest determined when setting up the system. They are predominately used in office buildings and retail stores but can also be used in outdoor areas.

  • PoE or PoE+ IP Camera:

Instead of using separate cables for electric power and data, POE IP cameras utilize an ethernet cable for both simultaneously. Because they obtain their power over the ethernet, fewer wires are required, making this type of IP camera system more cost-effective in terms of setup. This is because they are easier to install and maintain than traditional systems that require large amounts of hardware.

Both PoE and PoE+ systems can power IP cameras. However, the difference between them is the amount of electricity they are able to transmit. Standard PoE systems transmit 15 watts of electricity while PoE+ systems transmit 30 watts and are used for high-powered cameras fitted with temperature control mechanisms.

  • Wireless IP Camera:

Unlike conventional cameras that require a power cable, internet cable and copious amounts of hardware, the Wireless IP Camera is precisely that, wireless! This type of IP camera collects and sends data via a WiFi router, which is then stored on the camera or cloud storage.

How to Choose an IP Camera

Selecting the right IP camera for your surveillance system doesn’t need to be confusing or break the bank if you consider some fundamental factors.
Firstly, set aside some time to write down precisely what you need from your IP camera. The needs of a large corporation protecting itself from potential security breaches will definitely differ from Mr Jo’s blog, which simply wants to keep his car and garden tools safe from theft!

So without further ado, let’s dive into the pertinent questions you should be asking yourself before doling out the cash on an IP camera.

  • What type of camera fitting would suit your property?

Depending on the type of functionality you require from the camera, you can select fixed, PTZ (Pan, tilt, zoom), dome or wireless. Remember to take into consideration the power supply and internet connection. Placing a wireless camera too far from the WiFi router will result in poor internet connectivity and zero camera footage!

  • What picture quality do you require?

As with all cameras, picture quality differs from camera to camera. If you require a video stream with sharp detail, you need to look for IP Cameras that provide a higher resolution or level of megapixels than standard camera models.

  • Where will the camera be located?

Depending on whether the camera is intended for indoor or outdoor use, you should ensure the lens and camera housings are suitable for each environment. For example, exposing an indoor camera to the outdoor elements may result in poor image quality and damage to the camera itself.

  • What is the camera’s purpose?

Most people use IP camera systems as a means of security, but they can also be used as a form of identification. For example, employees entering a business or warehouse. Many IP cameras can detect movement or specific objects in their field of vision, but when coupled with the appropriate software, these surveillance systems can use facial or vehicle recognition to allow or prevent access to certain areas and alert users of intrusion. This type of video analytics is also known as artificial intelligence.

  • Do you need a warranty?

Purchasing a cheap IP camera can have consequences in the long run, especially in the case of warranties and future repairs. If the brand disappears off the market in years to come, you may find you have no recourse should the camera become faulty or require servicing.

Therefore, when investing in an IP camera, choose a trusted brand to ensure you have the help and support you may need in the future.

Now that you have determined what you need from your camera, below is a list of must-have IP camera features we recommend when making your purchase.

IP camera must-haves

  • Sufficient storage capabilities

Having sufficient storage space for your data is essential, especially if the footage is required for review later. Most IP camera systems store their data onto cloud storage, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid-State Drive (SSD).

Advanced surveillance systems can also use a combination of cloud storage and local storage for greater security. This ensures the data is accessible for as long as is required or as long as the law permits.

  • Accessibility

Most top-quality IP cameras are compatible with mobile apps, making them super easy to access from your smartphone. Check that the IP camera you choose has this capability so that you can access your security system while on the move and not only from your desk!

  • Two-way radio function

Many quality IP cameras provide this two-way radio function, but cheaper versions may not. It enables you to listen to audio over the camera’s microphone and speak through the speaker on the camera. It’s an excellent function to have should you need to advise would-be intruders they are being watched or simply talk to family members or delivery drivers near the camera.

  • Night vision

Some IP camera models can automatically switch between day and night mode; however, they may be restricted when it comes to the range they can offer. This means that at certain distances, the footage may be unclear. Therefore, we recommend you check your IP camera has good night vision range capabilities to ensure it can spot intruders from far away!

Surveillance to Suit Your Business: Install High-Resolution IP CCTV

Business owners everywhere agree that installing a top-quality surveillance system is possibly just as important as making a profit.

We at Satori Risk understand that protecting your business from potential threats, both internal and external, is a guaranteed way of protecting your hard-earned profits!

If you are looking for a surveillance system that suits your business right down to the proverbial ground, we recommend installing high-resolution IP CCTV; it’s the best!