What type of security camera system do I need?

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I got into selling security cameras in Mexico some time back by request of my clients.

My business supplies POS systems to the food and beverage industry, typically small to medium sized bars & restaurants.  I did some investigation and found security camera wholesalers in Mexico City & Guadalajara and evaluated hardware and prices.  To begin I did a couple of simple installations learning some valuable lessons on the way, ordering equipment I had sourced from the national market. I found this locally sourced product was generally a couple of generations old, the pricing was reasonable compared to high end equipment I had worked with in the past but whenever there was a technical issue the level of support from the wholesaler was dismal.  Another negative was the wholesalers kept changing brands of hardware every other month which meant if my customers required an additional installation they had to use the different hardware and a different application.

2008 was the beginning of the period when Chinese companies had begun to flood the CCTV market with cheap well featured equipment, some brands more reliable than others.  I am accustomed to having access to a high level of technical support from wherever I source electronics as there are always updates for bugs and glitches that pop up down the track.  Also with the goal of improving revenue I decided to cut out the middleman and source straight from the factories and import into Mexico.

Over the years I have worked with a couple of different factories and the technology keeps evolving and the end user gets more and more bang for their buck.

The one thing that has remained fairly constant over the years is the clients principle reason to invest in a camera system is generally to keep an eye on staff within their business or home.  Once a CCTV system is installed there are various benefits but the common theme is to check staff arrive and depart on time, are doing what they should be as well as making sure no one is removing inventory they shouldn’t.  Having cameras is also a great deterrent as it is much easier for your average opportunist low life to go and cause a problem next door where there are no security cameras installed.

When I arrived in Puerto Vallarta I set up a small office in Marina Vallarta and quickly made a lot of contact with many expats that live here full or part time and discovered many owned apartments or small businesses and also had needs for security systems but often did not know how to go about finding a solution.  After talking with a few potential customers it became apparent that often they just required one or two cameras to cover entrances to see who is coming and going from their apartment or business so they could keep things in check when they were not here by remotely monitoring via the internet. 

To help you decide what type of security camera solution will be of most benefit to you, here are a couple of points to think about before making your purchase.

  • Coverage areas: What areas are must haves and what areas are nice to haves?

Do I really need to see every room in the house/business or do I just need to cover key points?  I suggest keeping it as simple as possible, cover entrances, cash draws, safes then think about other important areas and decide what is required.

  • Installation: Is it possible to get cabling to the location I require the camera?  Is it possible to hide the cabling nicely as everything is generally concrete construction here in Mexico?  Each camera will require at minimum a source of electricity. Wifi cameras are not exactly wireless cameras and can not send signal reliably though much concrete. 
  • Budget: The installation could cost more than the hardware depending on distance and locations for required cameras.  The more cameras added obviously adds hardware and installations costs. 
  • Technology: What technology is available and what works for me? There are three broad options I will elaborate on below. 
  1. Stand alone cameras, that record to a memory card or to a cloud account.  I recommend these when only one or two cameras are necessary and there is strong wifi signal or preferably access to a wired ethernet port on the network.  (Cabled is alway much more reliable that WiFi) Stand alone cameras are now very affordable and have all the features you could imagine with HD video & two way intercom, they can even appear and function as a lightbulb!  Another bonus with today's technology is they are very simple to install generally DIY.  One camera correctly positioned can send notifications in real time to your mobile device  whenever it detects someone entering an area.
    Some of the negatives to think about are typically they require electricity, so some cabling will be required.  It may be possible to remove the camera and the recording along with it if it is not well secured.  There are now standalone cameras with batteries that have a standby time of up to several months but, do you want to risk the battery going flat at that critical moment?
  1. Network Video Recorder (NVR) with a hard disk and cabled cameras.  When four or more cameras are required I recommend this option.  IP cameras can be powered over a network cable that connects to the NVR and all recordings are stored reliably on a hard disk.  Personally I have stopped providing the older analogue DVR systems using coaxial due to the increased functionality and reduced cost of a more modern NVR system.  That said if you have an old DVR (Digital Video Recorder) system that needs replacing and the coaxial cable installation is still good there are excellent Analogue HD systems available that I can provide.  As previously mentioned cabled systems are more reliable.  Down sides are that each camera requires a cabled connection back to the NVR and this can be complicated depending on building construction.  The cost of installation is higher due to cabling costs and the likely requirement for a technician.
  1. Monitored CCTV solution provided by a security company.  There are a couple of very good security companies in Puerto Vallarta that offer monitored security services.  They will supply and install the required camera hardware and also generally install an alarm system that when activated they will send a patrol out to your location reasonably quickly.  Typically the cost of hardware and installation is very reasonable.  Down side is the ongoing cost for monitoring services and perhaps the hardware used may not be the latest technology as they rely on the alarm system for notifications. 

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There are other factors that come into play as every customer and installation is unique but I recommend taking some of the above into consideration if you are thinking of investing in a video surveillance system for your home or business.  I have found more and more demand for simple do it yourself stand alone cameras and we sell many throughout Mexico and the USA via online sales channels.  There are some great products on the market and like anything you generally get what you pay for.  One very important factor is after sales support.  We offer free remote support for our line of security cameras for the lifetime of the product.  Please take a moment to browse our site and get in contact if you have specific needs or questions.