Monthly archive for March 2009

Best Uses of Outdoor Security Camera Housing

Outdoor security cameras are usually placed in very physically demanding environments. The security camera will probably need protection from elements such as rain, extreme hot or cold, dust, corrosive substances, vibrations and vandalism. If the outdoor security cameras you employ are not built to handle the specific environmental challenges you put them in, the easiest and cheapest solution is to provide a separate enclosure to protect your investment. Other options are designing built-in special-purpose camera enclosures, and/or using intelligent algorithms that can detect and alert you of a change in the cameras’ operating conditions.

In most cases, housing enclosures for your outdoor security cameras are required. Camera housings come in different sizes and qualities and with different features. For controllable cameras, dome camera housings are available and fixed camera housings for fixed position cameras. The camera housings will be composed of either metal or plastic.

Several key considerations have to be made when selecting camera housings. For fixed cameras you have to choose between side or slide openings. Dome camera housings come in clear or smoked bubble form. Of course mounting of the housing is something to consider as well as cable management including power supply, level of vandal resistance, and special features like temperature control systems. If you have wireless outdoor security cameras in metal housing, an external antenna is usually included. A wireless security camera placed inside a plastic housing will work without the need of an external antenna.

Extreme temperatures cold and heat will be the main threats to your security camera along with water and dust. Some camera housings come with heaters or fans for cameras used in high heat or extreme low temperatures. For water and dust, higher rated housing units are carefully sealed and where acids may be involved, there are stainless steel housings available.

The level of protection your camera housing enclosure provides is often indicated by classifications set by such standards as IP, which stands for Ingress Progression and is a worldwide standard. If the camera is to be used in a potentially explosive environment, IECEx is the global certification and ATEX is the European certification that you should be focused on.

While a camera or housing can never guarantee 100 percent protection, the design, mounting, placement and use of intelligent video alarms can greatly reduce the chances of your outdoor security camera being destroyed as well as the amount of damage suffered.

Outdoor Security Camera W/ Night Vision

Practical and commercially available night vision security cameras use Image Enhancement or Image Intensification technology. It is built with a special lens that can detect light at a slightly higher frequency than thermal-infrared. When light hits an object, it emits a thermal frequency which is how true thermal-infrared works. Thermal-infrared is great for complete darkness while Image Enhancement picks up more reflective higher frequency than thermal-infrared. In short, light photons are converted to electrodes, amplified, and converted back to photons to display a visible image on your camera screen or monitor.

The details that your night vision camera picks up can be enhanced with what is known as infrared illumination or infrared LEDs. It’s the technique of flooding an area with reflective infrared light. Very similar to shinning a light so you can see better, it shines infrared light so the camera can ‘see’ better. In fact, despite popular perception of blurry red-green blobs, the image quality is actually very detailed and clear. The only compromise when you choose to use a night vision security camera is color. It will show up as shades of green. Most devices were manufactured this way because our eyes can detect more shades of green than any other phosphorus color.

For commercial use, the range of outdoor night vision cameras will serve well. In optimal conditions you can typically get anywhere from 30 to 300 meters depending on the quality of the camera.

When picking out a night vision security camera, you will notice two main specs to focus on. The Lux rating, also known as the minimum illumination rating, is the minimum amount of light needed for the camera to pick up something. The closer the camera’s Lux rating is to zero, the less light the camera needs to ‘see’. Some security cameras have a minimum illuminations rating of 0 meaning it can perform just fine in complete darkness. There are color day/night cameras that switch to black and white or phosphorus green when lighting conditions hits the minimum illumination requirement.

There is also this notion of generations of night vision cameras. This refers to the advancement of the technology used for detection. Gen 0 was used about fifty years ago and was nothing more than an infrared spotlight with a receiver. The technology advanced through Gen 1, 2, 3, and 4. Don’t go buying a cheap Gen 1 camera. With today’s technology the performance is going to be crap.

Power options are similar to any other outdoor security camera: adapters for wall socket, battery pack options, and other creative power source adaptations you electrocuted yourself to invent.

Pros and Cons of a Wireless Security Camera System

A wireless security camera works much the same way as any wireless device. There is a transmitter and a receiver that will usually come together in a package. Most wireless cameras come with built in transmitters which sends the video signal to the receiver that is connected to a security monitor, some recording system, or whatever monitoring system that may be set up in more complex security systems.

The upside to a wireless camera system is great if you can make the little details work. Its great not having to deal with extra video cables, we live in a world of cables galore as it is with all this technology. Wireless cameras are also much more covert which works when you don’t need people to be aware they are being monitored. Such as babysitters, or leisure activities like parties and get-togethers.

But wireless on almost all cameras only means wireless video transmitting. Cameras still need to be powered by a cable, unless you want to save the environment at the same time and go solar. Unless you go solar, the camera will be powered by an AC plug or a battery pack. Most battery packs can’t be mounted with the camera so you still have a cable from the battery stored somewhere nearby. Don’t forget the transmitter, if not built into the camera, would need to be powered as well. If the transmitter is not built in with the camera there would be a video cable connecting the camera to the transmitter.

Another downside is the limit number of frequencies. Most wireless security cameras are limited to four frequencies per range meaning the maximum number of cameras in your system is limited to four. That number can be expanded by buying wireless camera systems that are on different ranges. Commercially common ranges are 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz; combining the two will allow up to eight cameras in one system.

As with your cell phone, or any wireless device, thick walls or metal objects will severely hinder the signal strength and range of your wireless transmission. Keep this in mind when planning your security camera system.

If you already have a wired camera, you can buy transmitters and receivers separate from the camera and turn your camera to a wireless. The camera will hook up to the transmitter instead of your monitoring/recording system and that in turn will be connected to a receiver. Remember to buy a transmitter and receiver together as they will ‘talk’ to each other much more reliably.

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