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12 things to consider before buying an IP camera

The very first question to ask before an IP camera purchase is, of course, what the camera will be used for. Should it help you keep track so that no unauthorized person enters your home? Let you keep an eye on the pet at home while you’re at work? Monitor the nursery? What the purpose of the camera is has a big impact on which features are important and which camera you should buy.

Read also: Large test of surveillance cameras

Here are 12 things to think about and decide on before you take the plunge and buy an IP camera:

1. Outdoors or indoors?
Where should the camera be placed? Many cameras work just as well outdoors as indoors, but far from all. Above all, it is important that a camera that is to be placed outdoors is weatherproof, that it can cope with precipitation as well as unusually high and low temperatures.

Often you also want a camera that is to be used outdoors to be able to be mounted quite high and secured properly. Partly to give a good overview and cover a larger area, partly because you don’t want someone to be able to pick up the camera too easily.

Even things like network connection and power supply are affected by whether the camera is to be used indoors or outdoors (more on that below).


2. Wifi or LAN?

In principle, all IP cameras can be connected wirelessly to the network via WiFi, which of course makes them easier to place when you don’t have a lot of network cables to take into account. But depending on where the camera will be placed, it can also cause some problems.

If there is too far between the camera and the router, or if there are thick walls between them, the transmission may stutter and lag. Especially if the camera is placed outdoors, this can become a problem.

It may then be worth considering a camera that can be connected via a network cable, even if the wiring becomes a bit more impractical.


3. Battery or mains operation?

As with the choice between outdoor and indoor and network connectivity, the power supply affects the ease of placement of the camera. A battery-powered camera is, of course, much easier to choose a location for than one that has to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Especially if it can also be connected via WiFi. You can also quickly change its place if you wish.

If you choose a battery-powered camera, a battery life as long as possible is of course desirable so you don’t have to charge it too often. Especially if the camera is placed in a slightly hard-to-reach place.


4. Size and color?
How important is it that the camera blends into the surroundings and is difficult to detect? If it’s just about monitoring a pet at home, it may not be that important, and if you want to deter possible burglars, it can be an advantage if it is clearly visible that the home is under camera surveillance. But if you want, for example, the camera in the nursery, you might want it to blend in a little discreetly.

It is possible to get IP cameras that are really small and can easily be hidden in a bookshelf or similar. In terms of colour, it is a bit more limited, with black and white dominating greatly. However, it is possible to get hold of cameras in other colors as well.


5. Remote control

Most IP cameras are static and only cover the area they are aimed at. If you want to cover a larger area, you choose a camera with as high a viewing angle as possible. The disadvantage, however, is that the image then becomes slightly distorted (the fish-eye effect).

If you want to cover a larger area without this image distortion (or cover an area larger than 180 degrees), you can choose a camera that can be controlled remotely. You can then remotely point the camera up/down and left/right and many times also zoom in with it. Such cameras can often also be set to follow and film a moving object.

The disadvantage is that the image quality in remote-controlled cameras is often a little worse than in static cameras. They are also a bit bigger and bulkier than other cameras.


6. Sound and motion detection

Don’t you want the camera to record everything continuously, but only when something happens at home? And do you want to receive notifications about when this happens? In that case, you need a camera with (good) sound and motion detection.

Most cameras have this (at least motion detection) but the quality varies greatly. To avoid lots of false alarms (or the risk of missing something that should actually have been noted and recorded), it is important that the camera has plenty of setting options for zones, motion sensitivity and preferably also smart motion recognition so it can distinguish between people, animals, vehicles and other things that move in the camera’s field of view.


7. Resolution

It goes without saying that a higher camera resolution produces a better and sharper image, but there can also be disadvantages to an excessively high resolution. If you have a slow and poor connection, it can cause choppy and laggy image transmission.

It is best if the camera has a high resolution, but that it is possible to choose lower resolutions if necessary. It may also be worth asking yourself how sharp and clear an image you really need. If, for example, you are only monitoring a pet, it may not be so important that the image quality is razor sharp.


8. Day or night?

If you want to be able to clearly identify an intruder, the camera should not only have a high resolution but also a good image quality when filming in the dark. The cameras differ a lot here, so it is recommended to read camera tests where the image quality in poor lighting conditions is also tested.

There are also cameras with built-in light sources that, for example, can be turned on when motion is detected, something that helps improve image quality (and scare away the thief).


9. Alarm signal

Ordinary IP cameras cannot in principle replace a really good home alarm, but they can work as a light version or as a complement.

In addition to recording video and sending notifications when motion is detected, there are also cameras with a built-in alarm signal. This can usually be triggered both automatically or manually. There are also cameras that, when movement is detected, can trigger external alarms in a “Smart home solution”.


10. Storage of Recordings

In addition to streaming video directly, most IP cameras are capable of recording and storing recorded videos. Most often, these are clips recorded when motion is detected, but it can also be recorded manually or according to a predetermined schedule.

Most often these recordings are stored in a cloud service (which usually costs money, see more below), but some also manage to save the recordings locally. It can be on a local hard drive, in the camera’s built-in memory or on a memory card in the camera.

The advantage of local storage is of course that the clips are saved even when the internet connection is down. The disadvantage is that a potential thief might also take the camera itself and its recordings. Best, in other words, is a camera that can do both.


11. Multiple cameras

How much of the home is to be monitored? If it’s just one room or the entrance door, one camera is enough, but if you want full control, you may need several. Then it is desirable that they can be connected and smoothly controlled from a single app, preferably also with functions such as “turn on all cameras” or “deactivate all motion detection for the next two hours”.

Most often, cameras from the same manufacturer can be run together, but it can be a good idea to buy a complete package with several cameras to facilitate installation and use.


12. The total cost

How much will it cost? The price tag on the camera (or cameras) is of course important, but as we mentioned earlier, a paid subscription is often required to be able to fully utilize the camera’s functions. Most often, it is the cloud storage that costs, but it is not unusual that some functions (such as advanced motion recognition) only work if you have the right subscription.

Carefully studying the subscription conditions and choosing a camera accordingly can mean a difference of several hundred kroner a month. In other words, the camera that is the cheapest to buy is not the one that will be the cheapest in the long term.

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