fitting security cams

Deliberating Domestic CCTV? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!

Published 26th May 2021
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We’re all looking for ways to protect our homes and the things we love most, and one of the most effective steps you can take is installing a personal CCTV system. With one or more cameras watching over your property, you can keep a record of every visitor to your home, expected or not, and rest easy in the knowledge that you’re taking some extra precautions to keep your family and prized possessions safe. 

So CCTV systems are great, but they’re not a simple addition to your home. There are lots of things to consider before buying your first camera, like which type is best for you, what budget you should set, and even local laws and regulations that affect where you can place your cameras. 

Don’t stress out too much though, OnBuy has your back! In this blog post, we’ll be exploring all the things you’ll need to know before making your first CCTV purchase. This must-read article contains a lot of valuable information, and by its end, you’ll feel confident in buying the best security cameras for your home. Smile, you’re on camera!

How much does CCTV cost?

camera on pole

There’s no hard and fast rules for price when it comes to CCTV systems. Before asking how much one of these security systems costs, you need to consider what you need it for and, more importantly, what features you require in order to meet those needs. There are budget CCTV cameras out there, like the A9 Mini Security Camera, that you can purchase for under £50, but these pocket-friendly cameras usually have limited features and unreliable application support. 

On the other hand, you can spend hundreds on a comprehensive multicam wired CCTV system with a separate Digital Video Recorder (DVR) that stores all of the footage recorded in a 24-hour period. Most of these CCTV systems are designed to keep large business premises with multiple entrances and exits safe. For most homes, one or two CCTV cameras is enough to cover your property. A reasonable mid-range budget would be £100-£200 for one camera, and up to £300 for a multi-camera bundle.

Another factor to consider when it comes to money is the cost of subscription services. The major smart security providers, including Ring and Arlo, charge a monthly fee to access some of the features of their apps, including cloud storage. These charges aren’t extortionate but they can add up. You can find more information on the exact costs of common subscription services in our guide to selecting the best outdoor security cameras for your home.

Which is better, a wired or wireless CCTV camera system?

camera on corner of house

As with most modern tech solutions, you can find all sorts of wired and wireless models on the market today. But which one is best for you? If you’re looking for convenience, a wireless CCTV system is certainly a top choice. With no pesky cables or power sources to worry about, they can be much easier to install. They also boast a suite of features that wired cameras simply can’t. Want a camera that you can view and control from anywhere in the world? A wireless system is the only choice.

Alternatively, if reliability is more important to you than convenience, you may be better off with a wired model. We all know how frustrating a dodgy Wi-Fi connection can be, and this is all the more infuriating if your CCTV camera is dependent on it. After all, a wireless CCTV camera system is useless if it doesn’t have access to a strong, dependable internet connection. If you live in the countryside, the required infrastructure might not be there. The solution? Wired cameras! 

Another reason you might choose a wired CCTV system is out of privacy concerns, as your wired cams can only save video onto a DVR that you control, as opposed to a company’s remote cloud servers. If you purchase a wireless CCTV camera system from a reputable company, you shouldn’t have anything to fear, but if the idea that footage of your property could be stored on a server owned by a business, wired CCTV might be the choice for you.

How to install CCTV

screwing in a camera

If you’ve been in the market for a CCTV camera for a while, you may have already seen the high prices tied to professional installation and been horrified at the extra expense. Is there a way to install it yourself and bypass the additional costs entirely? 

Well, your ability to install your own CCTV system depends on the type of products you’ve gone for. A wireless CCTV camera system is far easier to set up by yourself if the cameras are battery-operated, like this Eufy Camera Set. With a battery-operated wireless CCTV camera system, all you’ll need to do is position your camera in the ideal location (more on that later) and attach it to the wall with a set of screws or a mounting magnet, depending on the model. 

Wireless CCTV systems that aren’t powered by batteries, like the Nest Outdoor Cam from Google, are a little trickier. If you have an outside power adaptor, you should be able to plug them right in. Otherwise, you’ll need to wire the camera into a live junction box. As you’re dealing with live electricity, we highly recommend hiring a professional experienced in CCTV installation to do it for you.

The same advice applies to completely wired CCTV systems. You’ll still need to deal with the live electrical power cables as well as the added complexity that comes with the data cables needed for the DVR. If you’re not sure who to call for CCTV installation, many of the top manufacturers offer their own installation services, like Google’s Nest Pro service.

The best location for your CCTV system

cctv planning

Even if you buy the most advanced CCTV system in the world, it’ll be useless if it’s put in the wrong place. Following these tips on CCTV installation and placement should help to optimise the level of security that your cameras offer. 

First, you’ll want to figure out what parts of your property are most vulnerable to intruders. The most obvious location for a camera is your front door, but other locations include your back garden (particularly if there is an obvious rear entrance like patio doors), your garage, and any side pathways on your property, including off-street windows. 

When fitting your CCTV cameras, think about height as well as position. It might be tempting to have the cameras at eye-level so you can easily catch an intruders’ face, but this makes your camera easy to steal or damage. Instead, position it over 2m above the ground, safely out of arm's reach. If your home has eaves, they’ll provide extra protection against snow, wind, and rain - particularly useful if your cameras of choice aren’t the most weatherproof! 

Before finalising your CCTV installation, it’s a good idea to activate the camera and check the footage to make sure the view is clear. This is particularly important if you’re using a wireless CCTV camera system, as you need to check that the cameras can connect to your PC router properly. If they can’t, don’t panic: Try tweaking the placement of each camera slightly - even a few centimetres can make all the difference!

CCTV and the law

camera on street

So far, the advice we’ve given can help you out no matter where you live, but laws are different everywhere. The following guidance about the legality of CCTV systems only applies to citizens in the UK. If you live in another country, we strongly encourage you to read through local legislation thoroughly before setting up your CCTV system.

If you live in the UK, it’s a good idea to position your CCTV cameras so that they can only record images within what’s called your ‘private domestic property’. That covers your home itself, as well as the front and back gardens of your home, any outbuildings like a garage, as well as driveways or pathways that lead up to your home from a public road.

Why stick to those areas? Because you have the guaranteed legal right to record footage of your private property, but not that of public spaces (like footpaths or streets) or the property of your neighbours. While it’s not strictly illegal for you to position a camera so that it covers these areas, any footage that is recorded falls under the fairly strict rules of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Essentially, this means you’ll need to delete the footage you record on a regular basis.

Failure to follow these laws can net you big fines. For more information on the exact rules on CCTV regulations, please consult the Information Commissioner's Office guidance for domestic CCTV use.

See you around!

camera on a grey wall

And there you have it - all of the essential knowledge on CCTV systems you’ll need to make the right choice for you. Once you’ve decided on what security your home needs, you can find the best products for protecting your property on OnBuy! Wired and other basic CCTV systems can be found in our security cameras category, while the latest smart security cameras are available in our smart security and safety department.

There are lots of great security cameras out there, so if you need a few pointers, check out a few of our buyer’s guides! How to select the best outdoor security cameras for your home provides you with a list of fantastic cameras for all budgets, while our guide to creating the ultimate outdoor security system will teach you how to compliment your CCTV cameras with other security products like outdoor security lights. Armed with all the useful knowledge found within our handy resources, you’ll be keeping your home safe and secure in no time at all!

The information in this blog is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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