Surveillance Systems 101

There is a wide variety of surveillance systems. As a consumer it’s almost imperative you know exactly what you are looking for in a surveillance system before buying one. This is because you want to make sure you get exactly what you intend. Shield Fire & Security prides itself on listening to our customers wants and needs, but sometimes customers have unknown expectations. Many times when a customer is looking for a surveillance system they have different ideas on what the cameras should see or even how much they should cost. We avoid this knowledge gap the best we can by providing as much information and asking the customer as many questions as possible. In the following article I will educate you on surveillance systems and elaborate on the key questions to ask yourself.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What will you be using the surveillance system for?
  • What kind of cameras are you interested in?
  • How do you want your footage recorded?


What will you be using the Surveillance system for?

There are cameras that see in the dark, can move along with an object, identify license plate numbers, can be remote controlled, and so on and so forth.

Not all cameras have the everyday features we see in the movies. Did you know that most cameras don’t record audio? There’s also cameras that only record in event clips.

In addition to the surveillance systems’ purpose we need to know the following:

  • Is the surveillance system is for a residence or a commercial property?
  • What areas do you want recorded?
  • Can we get power to the locations you want cameras in?

Your security specialist needs to know everything you want in a surveillance system so that way we can shop for the right cameras. Every surveillance system is personalized for your needs.

As a customer we suggest drawing a rough draft of your property with camera locations, and writing why you want a camera there. This will help your security specialist better understand your expectations.


What kind of cameras are you interested in?

Shield Fire & Security listens to your needs and can appropriately assess the type of camera you need for your surveillance system. That doesn’t mean that you as the customer shouldn’t do your research and get exactly what camera you want. The following are types of cameras that are out there, and we always recommend doing research on surveillance systems because after-all it is an investment.

Boxed Cameras

Boxed cameras are the most commonly used camera. This is because they are cost effective, and make sense for most homes and small businesses. Box cameras can be purchased at home improvement stores and technical stores. They are not recommended by most security professionals because of their reliability and low quality. Many security companies will not install these kind of cameras for you. If you decide you want to go this route for cameras Shield Fire & Security offers the Arlo cameras as pictured to the right.

Arlo Pro Smart Security System with 3 Cameras (AVM4000C)

Dome cameras

Dome cameras are another popular security camera choice. These cameras are generally less bulky than a box camera and are easy to mount almost anywhere. A dome camera is generally conspicuous and is available with various qualities and interchangeable lenses. There are also mini dome cameras which are significantly smaller than your average size camera, but the video quality is not sacrificed. Shield Fire & Security has many cameras in our office, but the majority of the cameras we use are dome cameras. We especially love our mini domes because many times our visitors don’t even notice them!

American Dynamics – IR HD Varifocal Dome Camera


Pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras

are flexible cameras that can swivel up and down, and side to side allowing you to have a full 360-degree field of view. Most PTZ cameras are remote-controllable and ideal for single-camera surveillance systems.

HIK Vision – IR Outdoor Network Speed Dome

Bullet cameras

come in a variety of sizes and image qualities. Bullet cameras are available with focus zoom lenses, and sometimes interchangeable lenses. Bullet cameras are generally what you typically see used for commercial grade video surveillance systems.

AXIS – Q1765-LE Network Camera

How do you want your footage recorded?

Surveillance system video can be recorded via the following:

  • NVR or DVR – A DVR/NVR is the most common way to store footage. The great thing about NVRs and DVRs is often times you can expand the memory. So if you only want a little bit of memory at first you can expand it to a larger memory in the future. Also, DVRs and NVRs come in a lot larger memory than a memory card would, and you can connect them to a monitor to view live and past video.
  • The Cloud – The Cloud is Shield Fire & Security’s favorite storage option. Cloud storage is a more recent option that has become increasingly more popular. The cloud comes in handy because you access it from anywhere, it’s secure, and your memory can be adjusted without having to physically plug something in to your NVR/DVR. It also gets rid of the need for an NVR/DVR and your video can’t be stolen. Cloud storage allows you to choose storage for each camera to the day. This is ground breaking for companies who need an exact amount of days of video footage on hand. In the past choosing a storage amount was always a game on how many days it would actually record. If you’d like to read more about cloud storage click here, and read the section about Eagle Eye. There is also a nice video that explains how the cloud works.
  • Memory card – Depending on what size camera system you purchase, a memory card could suffice for your video footage. The more memory your storage device has the more footage you can keep from your cameras. If you have a large surveillance system or your surveillance cameras are high definition more than likely you cannot use this option because you system will eat up the storage way too fast. Also, if you choose the memory card you generally cannot see your live video at any given time. You would have to pull the memory card and plug it into a computer.


As a consumer it’s hard putting your trust into company especially when it regards your security. This is why Shield Fire & Security prides itself in educating our customers. Shield Fire & Security recommends talking with a security specialist before deciding on a surveillance system. See our Surveillance Systems section for more helpful information or contact us for a free consultation.



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