Don’t Be Tempted by Cheap Surveillance

Don’t Be Tempted by Cheap Surveillance

Key Points:

  • Consumer surveillance systems are not designed for business purposes
  • Low-end options lack key features critical to business security
  • Uninformed purchases lead to wasted time and money

Buyer beware. Making the lowest price tag your highest priority can backfire. Shopping for the cheapest surveillance system you can find puts time, money, and the security of your business at risk. Here’s why:

Poor Performance by Design

Cheaply made surveillance systems with basic functionality are no match for the realities of most businesses, large and small. The cameras, recordings, and storage components are more suited for light household use, not the responsibility of safeguarding employees and high value business assets.

Pricing pressure is a big reason for the difference. Low-end surveillance systems are tailored for consumer budgets. Manufacturers cut corners, shrink processors, and strip out important features to push prices down within reach of modest personal budgets.

Glossy packaging that’s rich with consumer buzz words like ‘high definition’ and ‘wide angle view’ is not to be confused with commercial standards for resolution and field of view. Cheap systems generate imagery that turns grainy and pixelated when a camera zooms in to capture important details during a security breach. License plate numbers, faces, clothing, weapons, and other identifying markings escape detection, especially in low light conditions. In fact, very bright light is critical for even the basic performance of low-end cameras, and night vision modes only provide vague imagery at best.

Poor quality surveillance image example
Surveillance imagery that lacks detail provides little security value.

Cheap cameras also offer very little positioning flexibility. Putting eyes on key areas of your business requires cameras with technology that’s sophisticated enough to see clearly when installed in a wide variety of spaces.

Positioning cameras high above the ground to avoid the risk of tampering isn’t possible with basic cameras designed for doorways or windows at eye level or lower. Businesses needing fish-eye lenses or motorized rotation to capture subtle movements down multiple hallways and across parking lots will be disappointed by cameras offering only a straight-forward view of a short distance.

Commercial cameras see details clearly, even at long distances.

Features That Fall Short

Continuous, automated monitoring, sophisticated detection, and detailed documentation define the value of a commercial surveillance system designed for business. Run out and grab a discount consumer system from a big box electronics store and you’ll likely purchase little more than the ability to look in on an entrance.

Don’t expect analytical capabilities that are now standard on many commercial systems and do all of the thinking that truly tightens up security. You won’t be able to customize detection criteria or security alerts. You also won’t be able to easily search stored video after a security breach. You’ll have to rewind and slowly browse the hard way, wasting all the time that goes with it.

Software analytics make a surveillance system proactive.

Video storage capacity and easy management of archived footage are two key features of commercial surveillance systems. Rather than settling for a few days of storage, commercial systems often allow for a month or more. Cheap systems typically come bundled with storage that lacks options for expansion or remote cloud synchronization. Commercial systems can be customized to meet the particular video storage needs of your business, and create detailed recordings that are more likely to hold up as evidence in court.

What if you need to expand your camera network? Maybe you initially thought all you needed was a single camera at the front door of your business, but later realized you need another camera at the back door and maybe a few more inside. Many low-end surveillance systems operate on proprietary software. That means if you want more cameras, you must buy them from the same manufacturer, or risk incompatibility with your system. 

Some consumer systems are not designed for any expansion of your camera network at all. The right commercial system will allow you to grow your network and connect cameras designed for what your business needs.

Stuck With No Easy Way Out

Browse the Web, from auction sites to online retailers, and you may be impressed by low prices attached to surveillance systems labeled as commercial quality. But if you snatch one up, don’t be surprised if you soon realize you’ve made a mistake.

Poor quality or incomplete systems sold on the Internet can be easily disguised until they arrive at your door and you begin trying to deploy them. You might even discover your brand name purchase is a fake. And when you try to return it or track down the seller, you hit a dead end.

Blindly purchasing a surveillance system over the Internet is always a gamble.

Even if your new system is operational, sooner or later it will need maintenance. All electronic equipment requires maintenance at some point. By the time you need help, the seller may be long gone and repair technicians may not be willing to touch unfamiliar hardware. You’re essentially on your own.

The inability to fix your system means your only option is replacement. Even something as simple as a software or firmware update that could solve your problem may not be possible, and you’re forced to dump even more money into a whole new system.

Go With the Pros and Focus on the Future

Rather than looking at a surveillance system as a purchase, consider it an investment. Engage a technology partner to help you select, deploy, and install the right equipment for your budget and the particular way you do business. The return on your investment will include full confidence in your system, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re in good hands with experts while you remain focused on the operation of your business.

Don’t be tempted by cheap surveillance options and you’ll be rewarded both today and tomorrow as you grow your business success.