- Find out how home CCTV systems could help to protect your home from the threat of crime
- Get the lowdown on how home CCTV systems work, from the different types of cameras to storing images
- Privacy issues you’ll need to consider with outdoor CCTV systems
This article, Home CCTV, was last updated on 25 June 2009 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Technology articles.
Home CCTV systems
CCTV has been a common fixture in shops, pubs, car parks and other public places for years. Now, thanks to easier installation and falling prices, it’s becoming an increasingly popular choice for security-conscious homeowners.
High-street electronics specialist Maplin says that between 2007 and 2008, its sales of home CCTV equipment jumped by 70% in some of the UK’s biggest urban areas.
When we surveyed 2,071 Which? online panel members in April 2009, just 2% said that their home had a CCTV system, while 9% told us that they were thinking about getting one. 82% of current or potential CCTV owners said that they use it or would use it to monitor the outside of their property, while 50% use it or would use it inside the house.
CCTV and privacy
If you’re thinking of getting a home CCTV system for the outside of your property, you must comply with privacy laws. This means making sure that your cameras aren’t pointed at public space or other people’s houses or gardens.
It’s a good idea to discuss any CCTV plans with your neighbours first – some Which? members told us that they share a system with their neighbours, which might be one way to cut down on costs.
CCTV is just one line of defence against crime, and works best when combined with other measures, such as door and window locks, keeping trees and foliage cut back, security lights and a burglar alarm. None of the insurance companies we contacted for our home insurance report currently offers a discount to customers with a home CCTV system.
How home CCTV systems work
Wireless home CCTV systems
Images can be transmitted using analogue or digital technology. Wireless systems can suffer from interference from devices such as routers, cordless phones and microwaves, and can be blocked by heavy masonry or metal objects.
Outdoor home CCTV cameras
If you’re using CCTV cameras outside, make sure they’re weatherproof – an IP (International Protection) rating of 66 is recommended. Wireless cameras are available, but you’ll still have to run a cable to a power source. Position cameras where they can’t be tampered with but can be accessed for maintenance and cleaning.
Indoor home CCTV cameras
Indoor CCTV cameras come in three types: wired, wireless and powerline networked (these plug into your electrical sockets and transmit images to a storage device). Wireless cameras are not recommended inside the home unless the signal can be encrypted, as anyone within range and using a suitable receiver would be able to view the images.
Storing CCTV images
Most home systems use a PC hard drive or standalone digital video recorder (DVR). The main advantage of PC-connected systems is that they often come with software to view the images. Some DVR-based systems have this facility. Make sure that your system allows you to store images in a widely used format, such as Mpeg – otherwise there may be problems if images need to be downloaded and viewed on other systems, such as those used by the police.
Some home CCTV systems let you check images over the internet using a PC or smart phone. Other options include email or text notifications when cameras are activated.
Monochrome (black and white) CCTV cameras tend to be the most effective in low light, particularly when used with integral infrared illumination – a feature found on some cameras. It’s possible to use CCTV cameras that will film in colour during the day and switch to monochrome when it gets dark.
Home CCTV cameras with motion detection
Some CCTV cameras have a sensor that turns them on when they detect movement. This can be handy if you want to reduce the amount of footage you’re storing.
CCTV footage resolution
High-quality images are needed if CCTV footage is to be used as evidence in court. However, for the best detail a high resolution is required, and this can take up a lot of storage space. The minimum recommended resolution is 352x288 pixels. Also ensure that the date and time used to ‘tag’ images is set accurately.