2017 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for Business Security Camera Systems

When it comes to security for your business, don’t settle for less than the best. We cover questions that business owners ask us daily.


Informational Topics for Business Security Camera Systems

Maintaining your business takes all your time. Keeping it safe from would-be criminals is just as big of a challenge. We specialize in providing businesses with the best surveillance solutions in the industry. You can focus on running your business.

EZWatch has been in business for more than 15 years. Over 100,000 EZWatch security systems have been installed across the world. Many of these to businesses big and small.

We are obsessed with making great security systems. We are NOT a big box retailer putting out cheap products just to offer the lowest price. We are here to help you find the security system that's right for you. We only sell high quality products. We won't push you on features you don't need. Most of all, we won't disappear if problems arise. When you buy from us you get free lifetime technical support! Our customer service reps are always there, ready to help.

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What should I expect to pay?

Ultimate Buyer's Guide for Business Security Camera Systems
Credit: / EZWatch
Business Security Cameras Ultimate Buyers Guide

There is a major difference between price and cost. Buying a security system because it is the cheapest will cost you more in the long run. You get what you pay for. Example: You buy a basic 4 camera system from one of the large retailers for $300-400. This seems like a great bargain at the time but what is the long term cost? These systems have poor video quality. They will not provide you with adequate image resolution to identify criminals.

If you run into technical issues they refer you to the manufacturer. They will be in another country. Often it is difficult to communicate with the support person. We've seen this time and time again. Customers come to us after a bad experience buying from a big name retailer.

There are several companies that will sell you a cloud-connected security camera for $150-250. The resolution on these cameras is usually 720p or 1080p. Reviewers will paint them as top rated, easy solutions. They won't mention you end up paying between $10-20 a month for the cloud storage. You end up paying in $120-$240 a year for the “simplicity” of such a setup. With a dedicated CCTV security system you have all the footage stored on your DVR.

EZWatch does offer these basic security systems. However, only if the buyer understands the expected performance level. Our 4 Camera Complete Systems start at $449 for the Lookout Plus 4 Camera System. The cost is around $860 for our Guardian 4 Camera Complete System. This depends on the mix of EZBullets and EZDomes you choose. You can always specify whether you would like Bullet cameras or Dome cameras. Bullet cameras can work for indoor or outdoor use. Dome cameras are better for focused indoor use.

Larger systems such as a 12 Camera System of 16 Camera System, will cost between $1,700-$2,000 for an entry level system. A top-of-the-line system will cost $3,500-$4,500. Know your needs and what to look for to find the right security camera system for you.

What should I look for?

Before looking down long lists of product specs, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you want to be able to properly identify a person even in low light or dark conditions?
  • Do you want cameras that are wireless / wi-fi compatible?
    • Be sure to look for wireless IP cameras. In traditional security installations you run coaxial cable from the camera to the DVR. Running the wire isn't too difficult if you install the cameras within 500 feet of the DVR. If the camera is more than 750 feet away from the DVR the video quality begins to degrade. The video will lose clarity and definition. Cable runs this long are common in warehouses or parking areas. IP Cameras resolve this issue by processing the images on the camera. They send a wireless digital signal instead of analog. The cameras can then be connected to a local hardwire switch using Ethernet cable. You can also connect them to a wireless router.
    • Transmitting over wi-fi or Ethernet achieves higher quality digital video. It allows shorter cable runs. It is also easier to install. For wireless IP Cameras, just plug in the wall transformer. You can assign an IP address during the camera setup. The camera can then be wall mounted or placed on a desktop. They can also be moved as your security needs change.
  • Where will you be mounting the cameras?
    • Know that if you're going with indoor cameras, range often won't be much of an issue. For warehouses or large storage facilities you need to know the exact range. If you need clear footage from more than 100 feet away we recommend long range cameras.
  • How far / wide can the security cameras see?
    • The answer to this question depends on your lens size and width. The larger your lens size, the farther you’ll generally be able to see. Our EZBullet VF Platinum has a 2.8-12mm varifocial lens that allows it to see up to 100 feet. Our powerful Ranger PTZ comes with a 3.4-122.4mm zoom lens that lets you see up to 300 feet.
    • How wide of a viewing angle you have is dependent on the image sensor. Common sizes are 1/4” and 1/3”. Larger image sensors allow more light into the picture and give you a wider angle of view. For example, a 3.6mm lens will see almost 80 degrees wide. If you put it in the corner of a room you’ll see pretty much the entire room. A 50mm lens,will only give you a viewing angle of roughly 5 degrees wide. It’s like a camcorder, if you zoom in you can see farther away but your scene gets narrower.
  • What recording resolution do I need?
    • This is a common question when it comes to surveillance systems. Our systems range from 420 lines of resolution up to full HD 1080p resolution. 420-550 lines is enough for indoor systems monitoring a single area within 50 feet. If you are watching longer distances we recommend stepping up to 700+ resolution. 700+ provides a noticeable bump in image quality.
    • If you want the best system available on the market get an HD-SDI Complete System.
    • These systems provide recorded footage equal to your HDTV in full 1080p resolution. That is a 400%+ bump in resolution compared to standard 400-500 line cameras. The image below is a cropped version of two screenshots found here on our site. They illustrate the raw power that HD cameras have over standard definition cameras. The difference is image quality and pixels captured.

    • 420p versus 1080p. The difference between high definition and standard definition security cameras.
  • Do I need weatherproof cameras?
    • If you need cameras to record outdoors it's wise to go with weatherproof cameras. It is worth the extra peace of mind to know your cameras are not affected by extreme rain or wind. You can also place them under an awning or area that is covered and dry 100% of the time. We offer a wide range of outdoor security cameras that are weatherproof. Even in the toughest conditions.
  • Do I need varifocal or fixed lens cameras?
    • For cameras with a fixed length lens, measuring for field of view must be precise. Once the camera in place, what you see is what you get. A camera with an adjustable lens will give you greater flexibility during installation.
    • Not all lenses are made alike. There are three main categories of lenses: fixed focal length with a manual iris, vari-focal length with a manual iris, and vari-focal length with an automatic iris. The iris determines how much light the lens allows in the camera. Manual means the iris setting is constant until you adjust it. Automatic means the camera adjusts itself to lighting conditions.
    • Manual Iris works best inside office buildings where lighting is constant. You only need to adjust the manual iris during installation. If light in the environment changes over the course of the day get an automatic iris.
    • To illustrate the difference, imagine going to the optometrist for an eye exam. When the optometrist dilates your pupils it like seeing with a manual iris. Your pupil, like the iris of a camera lens, forces your eye to allow in as much light as possible. In a dim room, you see clearly.When you walk outside your eyes flood with light. This makes your vision out of focus and creates blind spots within your field of view.
    • Fixed length or vari-focal length: the ability to adjust the camera’s field of view. Vari-focal lenses come in a 3 configurations: 2.8mm-12mm, 4mm-9mm, or 5mm-50mm. These are adjustable.
    • Fixed focal lenses are available in in various sizes. These lenses have a set scope (fixed) to the noted lens size. The smaller the lens size, the wider the field of view. Camera lenses with the same focal length can produce different fields of view. Before you make a camera selection, know how you want the camera to perform.
  • How easily can I set up Remote Viewing on my security cameras?
    • This process will be different for every security system out there. We recommended consulting your instruction manual for details.
    • All EZWatch DVRs are remote viewing capable out of the box. Our EZWatch Evolution software lets you use remote viewing with almost any security camera. You can watch live events and recorded video from any computer. You can also use our apps for tablets and smartphones. This includes iPhones, iPads, Android Phones, and more!
    • All you need is a high-speed Internet connection to your DVR. More specific instructions for remote viewing systems are here.
  • How much storage space do I need?
    • Our handy DVR storage calculator should help you with this step. It will give you a rough idea how much hard drive space you will need to hold your footage. Next you should decide what framerate you want your cameras to record. 7.5 frames per second per camera is the minimum. This will look like a group of photos linked together. But, it will allow weeks of footage on most hard drives. 15 frames per second will be much smoother but still a bit choppy. 30 FPS will look just as good as the footage you watch on television in most cases.

It is important to consider the company you are purchasing a security system from. Do they meets these requirements:

  • Do they deal solely in security products or is it just another line in their business?
    • Big name retailers sell millions of CCTV security systems every year. Then the return period expires. You are stuck with overseas technical support when something goes wrong. Don't settle for that. Buy from a USA-based retailer who sells just security camera systems. This provides the best value for your dollar in the long run.
  • How long have they been in the business?
    • Companies in business more than 10 years are more likely to still be there years from now. You'll be glad if you have problems with your system.
  • What is the knowledge level of the sales person?
    • Do they know just enough about the product specs to try and sell you a pre-packaged system? Do they have a salesperson who listens to your input? Who makes recommendations based on your needs and wants? All EZWatch employees have years of experience in the video security industry. They will help you design the proper system that meets your expectations.
  • Is technical support in house or a foreign call center?
    • We've been over this one already, but don't settle for outsourced call centers. Make sure the system you buy has technical support based here in the USA. A company who offers lifetime technical support such as EZWatch.

Why do I need a security system?

Remote Viewing Your Security Cameras

There are many reasons to have a Video Security System. We believe the single most important reason is peace of mind. Knowing you can always look in on your cameras with remote viewing. Pulling up footage afterwards in the event of a break-in. This gives you peace of mind that you can't put a dollar value on.

Ensure that you will never walk into a dangerous situation. View your live or recorded video from any browser or smart phone before you go. It is easy to view your business or home before you arrive.

For Small Businesses:

In a business setting, a CCTV security system serves several purposes.

  1. First, it helps keep all employees and customers honest. When people know they're being watched with security cameras thefts are far less likely. Criminals want to pick the easiest target possible.
  2. A video security system lets you view the shopping patterns of your customers. This can help you understand where to place merchandise for best results.
  3. Having security cameras at your registers can help solve any disputes. No more fights about the bill denomination used to pay or the change returned. If you have ever worked in retail before, you know how much of a headache these customers can be.
  4. See if any employee is entering incorrect amounts into the register. Prevent employee thefts.
For Factories/Warehouses:

In a factory or warehouse setting, a video security system also serves multiple purposes.

  1. You have 24-hour video footage of the warehouse or any storage area. This might pay big dividends if you have ever experienced inventory shrinkage.
  2. In the event of a break-in you can provide the authorities with a recorded video of the event. This will improve their chances of solving the crime. This makes it easier to report to insurance too.
  3. A full security system for your business provides recorded video of any on-site accidents. Footage of the accident can help determine if the accident was legitimate. Prevent intentional "accidents" attempting to get a cash settlement for injuries.

How do I know I have the right equipment for my application?

Installing your own security camera system

Do you have experience designing video security systems? If not, picking a complete system can be a daunting task. Designing the right system for your application is hard.

You can definitely DIY it. But, your best result will come from working with security experts. Those who have decades of experience in designing the right system for any application. Either way, you should answer the questions below before shopping for system components:

  • Will the cameras be indoors or outdoors?
  • Are the cameras I'm getting outdoor capable? Weatherproof?
  • Do you want to be able to view good quality video in low light or dark conditions?
  • Are the cameras I'm getting night vision/low light capable?
  • What are the lowest and highest temperatures expected where you will mount the cameras?
  • Is the system to be used for a home or business? 
    • If for a home, 400 or 550 lines of resolution will suffice for most installations. 
    • If for a business, our professional grade 700TVL cameras are recommended. You will have high quality video to help identify criminals. 
  • Do you want your DVR to record 24/7 or only to record when detecting motion? This can be set for each camera in the system.
  • What is the best FPS to record in for my situation? 7.5FPS, 15FPS, or 30FPS?
  • How long do you want to keep recorded video before recording over the oldest video? The answer will determine the size of the hard drive needed.
  • Is it important to view your system remotely? Live or Recorded?

Should you get a Hardware-based DVR or a PC-based DVR?

  • Hardware-based DVRs
    • Do not require computer skills and offer a wide range of recording capabilities. 
    • Come with an embedded Linux OS for trouble-free service.
    • Can record up to 16 camera channels at once and to one or more hard drives.
    • Can capture both audio and video at recording rates of 60 to 480 frames per second (FPS). 
  • PC-based DVRs
    • Offer the best flexibility for managing multiple sites.
    • Easy to upgrade. All our PC DVRs are expandable up to 32 cameras. This includes Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) security cameras.
    • They all come with our EZWatch Evolution software. The software supports a variety of recording modes, alarms, and schedules.
    • Motion detection recording allows you to adjust sensitivity levels for each security camera. You can block out areas you want the software to ignore.

If these questions seem daunting, a do it yourself project might not be the best route. If you want help choosing the correct system for your property, home, office, retail store, or warehouse talk to one of our expect security designers.

About Security Cameras

How can I be sure I have everything I need for a complete system?

Surprise, surprise—despite the first two letters in our name, shopping online for a security camera system is not always easy. You know it’s time to make a change but feel a little overwhelmed. Do you have that ache in your gut from having recently been violated by a vandal or intruder? Maybe you worry about how much you can spend in relation to how much protection you need. Worried you might get oversold or under-protected. There are so many factors that must play together perfectly. You need system for your home or business that works (up-and-running). You also need a system that works for you (happy customer), and does so inside of your budget.

Take a deep breath. All of this is normal. We want to help you process the information you need before you buy any equipment. Every complete system out there should include the following:

Everything you need for a complete video security system
  • The number of cameras needed for the application.
  • The correct length of Siamese cable to connect each camera to the DVR.
  • A power supply designed to provide power to all of the security cameras in your system.
  • A DVR with enough channels to record video footage from all connected security cameras
  • Enough hard drive storage to store your recorded video from all cameras.
  • Optional - If you wish to view the video at a dedicated location, you might add a video monitor to the system.

Can I install this system myself?

Mounting Surveillance Cameras

Yes, most security systems are designed to be easy to install. We cover some of the most asked self-installation questions below:

What tools will I need? How do I mount it to metal, wood, concrete, or a drop tile ceiling?

  • If you are mounting to metal, wood, or a drop tile ceiling, a cordless drill is all you need (this assumes your system comes with pre-made siamese cables). Take extra caution when mounting cameras to a drop tile ceiling. Drop tiles can only support a small amount of additional weight. If you are mounting to concrete, you need a cordless drill with a heavy duty drill bit. The hole must be big enough to fit the siamese cable through. Be vary careful when drilling through resilient materials like concrete or wooden studs. Make sure to drill the hole only as big as needed.

How are the cameras mounted?

  • Wondering how to best mount security cameras? Most of ours are made for wall or ceiling mounting. They come with brackets that are adjustable for either scenario. Consult the included installation instructions on the preferred mounting applications for your security cameras.

How hard is it to wire the security system myself?

  • Running the cable from the cameras back to the DVR is the most time-consuming step. You will only have to run one cable from the back of every security camera to your DVR (assuming you are using high quality siamese cable). This does not account for motion sensors or microphones. These will add to your wiring job. Often, you will have to run wires through ceilings, walls, or rafters. We have a helpful "How to Wire" guide that can walk you through this step. Everything else is designed to be plug and play.

How do I align the security cameras once they are installed?

  • This step can be frustrating without a second person to assist. You will likely need a second person to assist in aligning each camera. One person will need to be near your DVR/Video Monitor. They provide feedback to the other person to help get the cameras aligned properly. If youa re working alone, a portable LCD camera service monitor can keep you from running back and forth from the camera to your video monitor to get the picture just right.

If you have other questions during installation, call the retailer your purchased from.

Once installed, where can I watch my cameras live from?

So you have your security system up and running. You now have two distinct options on how to view your live footage.

On-Site:

You can connect a video monitor to your DVRs video output. Then you can view your cameras from a given location inside your home or business. This gives you a centralized location to review your footage. Bigger businesses often prefer this setup. It allows a private space for a security administrator to watch video streams 24/7.

Remote Viewing: EZWatch Evolution Remote Viewing Software

Most CCTV security systems nowadays offer options for remote viewing.

Connect your DVR to your local internet connection. It can then broadcast the live and recorded footage to a wide variety of devices such as:

  • Desktop PC's
  • Macs / MacBooks
  • Laptops
  • Android Phones
  • Android Tablets
  • iPhones
  • iPads
  • Smartphones
  • And more!

People often use remote viewing to watch a facility before entering. Then they can be sure they are not walking into a dangerous situation. Others sometimes use the remote viewing to watch an employee they have concerns about. Regardless of how you use it, remote viewing is definitely essential in buying a security system today. To set up remote viewing on your own home security systems check out our Remote Viewing Help Guide.

How long can I keep recorded video?

How long you can keep recorded video depends on available hard drive storage space. Keeping full 24-hour footage on a multiple camera system will require a BIG hard drive. Our DVR Storage Calculator will give you the best idea on your storage needs.

A few examples:
  • (1) 480p Security Camera recording video for 7 days, 24 hours/day, will require about 146GB under the following conditions:
    • 30 FPS Framerate
    • H.264 Encoding
    • No Audio
  • (4) 480p Security Cameras recording video for 7 days, 24 hours/day, will require about 582GB under the following conditions:
    • 30 FPS Framerate
    • H.264 Encoding
    • No Audio
  • (12) 480p Security Cameras recording video for 7 days, 24 hours/day, will require about 1746GB or 1.70TB under the following conditions:
    • 30 FPS Framerate
    • H.264 Encoding
    • No Audio

The examples above use the maximum possible FPS rate and 24/7 recording. If you need to record less than 24/7 or can accept a lower FPS rate you could use a smaller drive. A 1TB or 2TB hard drive is absolutely required for good quality video on almost any installation.

You can always pull recorded footage off onto a flash drive or portable hard drive. This is helpful if there is a specific incident you need to keep permanently.

Miscellaneous

I want to be able to...

Record in High Definition.

  • If you want to record in high definition, you'll need to install an HD-SDI system. HD-SDI stands for "High-Definition Serial Digital Interface". It allows you to run 1080p video through a standard coaxial cable. The wiring isn't any more complex or expensive than regular cable. HD-SDI provides a huge jump in picture quality. It is equal to HD programming you view on your HDTV at home. This eliminates the frustration of old security systems. Their quality generally fails to identify small details like characters on a license plate. The 1080p resolution that HD-SDI provides is top rated and can help an investigation. The security cameras and DVR must be HD-SDI compliant to record full 1080p footage. HD-SDI DVRs are a great upgrade for pre-existing security camera systems as well. You can replace your standard DVR with a hybrid HD-SDI DVR. You will only need to replace old analog cameras in the locations that are most important. You can simply reconnect the cameras you're not replacing. You can do this in just a few hours.

Analog Video vs 1080p HD-SDI Digital Comparison

Comparison of 420 Line Resolution Analog Video, 700 Line Analog Video, and 1080P HD SDI Digital Video from Security Camera Recordings

Hide these cameras from normal view.

Ways to Hide Security Cameras
  • There are hundreds of security cameras that appear to be something else. Hidden security cameras can look like clocks, smoke detectors, motion sensors and other items. The downside of these "nanny cam" type cameras is that they don’t generally record good video quality. Often they fail to produce a clear enough picture of an intruder.
  • There are many ways you can hide your regular security cameras. You can at least make them less obvious to intruders:
    • Hidden in a floor plant or flower pot.
    • Hidden within a child's toy.
    • Disguised within a bookcase.
    • Placed in a bird feeder.
    • Within a faux smoke detector.
    • Within a box of tissues.
    • Behind a wall clock.
    • Within your Entertainment Center.
    • And hundreds more!

Control the camera myself.

  • Do you want to be able to control the direction and zoom of your camera? You will need a PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) Camera. You will also need a PTZ controller. PTZ controllers require wiring separate from the camera power and video cable. For this reason, installing a PTZ camera is a bit more complex than a basic camera install. This PTZ controller is what grants you full control over the camera once installed. Learn more about the benefits of PTZ cameras.

Hear audio and/or have microphones on my cameras.

  • If you want to hear and record audio, each security camera will need a microphone. The mic can be built in to the camera or external. You must know how many cameras need you need recording audio BEFORE shopping. It is important to plan for this at the beginning. Running an extra wire for audio after you have already wired your system can be a big pain. Run this audio wire along with the Siamese video power cable from each camera to your DVR. You can use zip ties where necessary to keep things nice and neat. Having a clean install makes it a lot easier if you ever upgrade your system in the future.
Night Vision Security Camera

Record during the night.

  • If you need to record video at night, there are night vision cameras available. First, determine the size of the area you need to view. Then consider what resolution of the footage you need. Some night vision cameras come with built-in infrared lights. If you need crystal clear night vision of large spaces, these may not be enough. You can add a dedicated IR Illuminator. They can make your picture crystal clear even in pitch black conditions. These infrared illuminators work with any IR sensitive PTZ camera, Long Range Camera, or License Plate Camera.

About Ben Cornett

Ben Cornett - CEO of EZWatch

Ben Cornett, CEO of EZWatch, is an expert in security camera systems and video surveillance. Ben is recognized as a leader in the security industry and has spent his career growing businesses and greatly contributing to their achievements. Prior to joining EZWatch, Ben served as President of Honeywell Security Group for over 7 years, a $3 billion entity in the security industry. Ben also worked over five years with ADEMCO Group from 1995 to 2000, serving as Executive Vice President of Sales and as President later in his tenure.

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