7 Common Mistakes to avoid When buying a remote solar camera system

1) Buying a cobbled together solution from a company with little or no experience with remote cameras

Security companies have to offer a wide range of solutions to a wide range of problems. They take off the shelf systems that meet the needs of their clients. But what happens if there isn’t an off the shelf solution?

Security companies often take this as a challenge and build their own solution with off the shelf parts.

The problem with this approach is that off the shelf cameras often aren’t designed for outdoor use. Outdoor sites have to cope with a whole raft of extraneous movement. Trees, bushes, even the shadows from clouds can cause so many false alarms that the system becomes virtually useless

Security cameras used in ad hoc systems are usually designed for indoor use. They don't cope well with nature!

Cameras designed to be mains powered can be power hogs. This isn't a problem when they are plugged in to power, but it is an issue for cameras powered by solar. A day or two of poor weather means that the backup batteries can run out of power and the cameras go offline. That means no security cover.

2) Using low resolution cameras

There are systems currently on offer as remote solutions that use very low quality cameras. VGA cameras produce tiny images, that when expanded to a useful viewable size, pixelate and lose all of their detail.

If you are looking for a system, make sure it is at least full HD (1080).

The other main issue of low resolution cameras is the range. As they have so few pixels ( a VGA camera has 100’s times less pixels to work with that full HD cameras) they cant see into the distance. So you might only be looking at a few meters of coverage. Look for a system that can give you at least 30m of range.

3) Systems that use a “sleep mode” to save power

A sleep mode saves power, which an be an advantage.

The disadvantage of a sleep mode is that the system can take upto 30 seconds to “wake up”.

External sensors can be used to wake the names up, but by the time images are being collected and recorded it’s too late. The person, or vehicle you are looking to capture, is long gone. Just count up to 30 to see how long this delay is. A lot can happen in this space of time. Look to buy a system that is constantly awake and running.

4) Systems that cannot stream live footage

There are solar systems on the market that can send alerts if activated, but don’t give you the ability to logon to your cameras to view in real time. This is an essential and valuable feature. It adds a management tool to the cameras benefits.

Being able to live view cameras means you can be in two places at once. In your office, and watching your building site camera for example.

And in the case of an alarm, the ability to live view the cameras means you can see what’s happening as it happens on your remote site. This information can be passed onto Police or patrols in real time.

5) System that store all recordings on board the camera

Storing recorded data on board isn't always a wise idea. The biggest drawbacks are:

  • that you have to travel to the camera to retrieve data.
  • you don’t know if these been a crime unless you visit the site to check
  • if the camera gets damaged or stolen, your recordings go with it.
Look for a solution with offsite, cloud storage.

6) Cameras that record but don't send instant alerts

It’s great to get recordings of crime. But they don’t actually help that much in reality. A recording of a criminal on your property is often useless. They will have a hat or hoodie obscuring their face. Vehicle regos can be covered up or removed. When you do take your recording to the police, even if there are identifiable people or vehicles, it is HIGHLY unlikely that they will drop everything to start a nationwide manhunt to get the person that’s stolen a few brass fittings.

Systems that send out instant alerts are the best option. That way, police or patrols, or you, can get to the site and catch thieves red handed.

7) Cameras that use IR light.

A lot of crime happens at night. So lighting becomes an issue.

The most commonly used lighting at night is Infra Red. This only gives cameras the recordings in black and white which limits their benefit.

Systems that use white LED light means cameras can record in full colour. So rather than seeing a grey car pull up, and a thief with a grey hat, get jacket , grey pans and grey shoes, imagine how useful seeing a red car, with a person wearing a green hat, orange jacket, blue pants and yellow shoes will be. Go for a system that uses white light!

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