Security Camera System Design Best Practices – Dealer Guide

Designing a security camera system for your customer’s home or business can sometimes be as easy as throwing up a couple of cameras and setting them to record. However, more often you’ll need something different and more complex than the “typical” or pre-boxed system. In this article, we’ll go over choosing the right NVR, camera, and identifying when it is best to use other accessories, like brackets and back boxes. We’ll also explore different camera types and capabilities and some common tools that are must haves on every job. Let’s jump right in!

Choosing The Right NVR

Choosing the best NVR for the job goes beyond just knowing how many channels/cameras your customer needs. In this section we’ll explore the features of our NVRs and how those will help you meet your customer’s system requirements.  

Channels

The first and most obvious step is to determine how many cameras the NVR will need to record, but one thing to always consider is that the client may want to expand their system and add more cameras in the future.  If you have a homeowner that wants you to install a 7 or 8 camera system, then it may be prudent to upgrade them to a 16 Channel NVR instead of an 8 Channel for ease of expansion (not to mention additional revenue) at a later date.

Bitrate

You’ll also want to take into account the Incoming Bitrate of the NVR and how much of that bandwidth each camera will utilize. The largest factor in determining your bitrate requirement is resolution, but Frame Rate and Compression will also affect recording retention times. For example, A 2 Megapixel Camera will require about 4-5 Megabit of bandwidth, 4MP about 10 Megabit, and 8MP about 16 Megabit. While most systems use all the same resolution, in some cases you may find your customer needs higher resolution in some areas and can save money by going down in others.

Once you determine the number of cameras and at at what bitrate/resolution and settings they will be recorded, you can calculate the required hard drive space to meet your customers recording time needs. Record time is determined by how long footage be archived before the Hard Drive(s) hits capacity and the oldest footage is overwritten with new footage. In other words, the larger the Hard Drive, the longer the record time. But, how do you determine how much record time your customer can expect?

Maths

The exact formula for determining record time can be fairly complex, but you can quickly estimate how much Hard Drive space you’ll need by following this simple equation: 1TB will cover 30 days of recording for 1x 2MP Camera. Double it for 1x 4MP camera and quadruple for an 8MP camera. So 4x 2MP Cameras will require approx 4TB to retain 30 days of recording. There are other specs and settings that can lower your storage requirement like Video Compression, Codec (h.264, h.264+, h.265, h.265+), frame rate, etc., but the formula above is a good starting point.

Hard Drive

Once you determine how much hard drive space is required to meet your customers recording needs, you’ll need to make sure the NVR you select has adequate Hard Drive slots. The largest hard drive we carry is 8TB, and our NVRs range from 1 slot to 24 slots. The charts below outline the different basic options available in each of our NVR series.

Carbon: Carbon 40 Carbon 80 Carbon 160
POE Ports/CH 4/4 8/8 16/16
USB Interface 1 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 1 2 2
Alarm In/Out 0/0 4/1 4/1

 

Obsidian: Obsidian 160 Obsidian 256 Obsidian 320
POE Ports/CH 16/16 16/32 24/32
USB Interface 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 1 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 4 4 4
Alarm In/Out 16/4 16/4 16/4

 

Titanium: Titanium 320 Titanium 400 Titanium 640
POE Ports 0/32 & 0/64 0/128 0/256
USB Interface 2 USB 2.0 & 1 USB 3.0 2 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 2 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0
HDD Slots 8 16 24
Alarm In/Out 16/4 16/8 16/8

 

Choosing The Lens for the Job

Our most commonly used cameras are Fixed Lens 2.8mm and 4mm cameras,  They generally do a great job covering areas indoors and out. The 2.8mm lens, with it’s ~100˚ Field of View, is great for covering small to medium sized rooms, areas in close proximity to a building, or other areas where you want to cover a broad zone.  

However, there are times when a wide Field of View isn’t ideal for the camera location.  Cameras looking down hallways or focused on objects that are more than 50 feet away would benefit from a lens with a more narrow Field of View.  A 6mm lens with 45˚ Field of View or even a 12mm lens with a ~25˚ Field of View would allow you to see an object that is farther away more clearly while cutting down on the peripheral view. If you’re unsure of what lens would work best or just want more flexibility, our varifocal line allows you to adjust the lens (most commonly from 2.8mm ~ 12mm) and dial in your field of view. As and added feature, our 4MP and 8MP Varifocal cameras are all motorized, so you can make these adjustments at the NVR.

When to Use a Bracket

Wall Mount Brackets for dome and turret style cameras not only make the installation look cleaner and more professional, they can also serve a functional purpose to help you get a better view with the camera by pushing the camera away from the wall. Most wall brackets come equipped with cable management boxes with conduit ports so all your connections can stay protected from the elements.

Back boxes are also very helpful when using conduit, or just as extra insurance that your camera is sealed off from the elements.  Most cameras have a corresponding back box available which provides a threaded hole for a 1” conduit, and in some cases an optional cable gland for ¾” flex pipe.

Pan Tilt Zoom Brackets come in a wide variety of configurations to select from when purchasing a PTZ.  PTZ Cameras can be mounted on a wall, a ceiling, a parapet, a pole, or the corner of a building.  When planning your job, select a location for your PTZ camera that will maximize it’s view through all degrees of rotation.  

Specialty Lens Cameras

You may often run into situations that require something different from a standard view camera, like a fisheye or panoramic camera.  

Fisheye Cameras

Fisheye cameras have one extremely wide angle lens and are great when you need a top-down perspective of something, like monitoring an entire warehouse, retail store, or monitoring operations of machinery.  Features like Heat Mapping, which is available on our Bullseye 4K camera, can actually help retail store owners tell where the most foot traffic occurs on their floor and stock high profit items accordingly.

One thing to consider about them is that the objects close to the edge of the picture may appear slightly distorted, it can also be hard to identify people from a top-down perspective in security situations.  These cameras perform best when paired with 1 or 2 fixed lens cameras monitoring the same area.

Panoramic Cameras

Slightly different from a Fisheye lens, a Panoramic camera has a similar wide angle view of 180˚ or 360˚, but with multiple lenses stitched together.  In the case of our Rampart 4K camera, it is comprised of 4 different lenses that generate a 1080p image each. These images are then stitched together in the camera and recorded as 1 in the recorder.

Panoramic cameras are great if you want to capture a broad view of an area like a parking lot or large room.  

PTZ Cameras

Pan Tilt Zoom cameras can be very beneficial in just about any installation scenario, and they’re a whole lot of fun for the customer operating them.  PTZ cameras can spin 360˚, be maneuvered up and down, and can usually zoom in and out via controls on the NVR or the Guarding Vision Mobile App.

If installing outdoors, a pole would be the most ideal mounting location as it would only obstruct a small portion of the rotation area.  If you don’t have a pole, the corner of a building is the next best thing, which will give you 270˚ of rotation. While most PTZ cameras are utilized outdoors, when mounting one indoors, it would be ideal to mount the camera in the center of the room to ensure you are able to utilize the full 360˚ rotation.

License Plate Recognition Cameras

LPR cameras are typically varifocal bullets with the added feature of being able to perform Character Recognition of any license plate the enters the view of that camera. Mounting position and angles are critical to getting proper reads on plates, so make sure you consult our documentation and guides before selecting a mounting location for this camera. Once setup, an LPR camera can be invaluable for gathering information on each and every car that enters your customer’s facility or campus.

Other Tips and Tricks

Having the right tools on the job make a huge difference. We suggest always having the following with you on every job:

A Laptop with and ethernet port. While most, if not all, configuration can be done on the NVR screen, we highly suggest performing these tasks with a computer of some kind. On this machine, we suggest having both the SADP networking scanner tool and the latest version of Guarding Expert Desktop Edition.

HDMI screen. While 99% of system configuration can be done via web browser or remote configuration in Guarding Expert Desktop Edition, there are a few small options that are only available on the Recorder itself for security reasons.

POE switch or POE injector. It sometimes may be necessary to access a camera directly independent of the recorder. While there are ways of configuring your laptop NIC to access cameras plugged into the back of the NVR, it’s far easier to just put the camera on the network and access it via a switch.