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How to Choose a Video Surveillance System for Your Business

Here is everything you need to know before purchasing a video surveillance system.

  • Video surveillance can protect your business from theft, intrusion, fire, flood or burglary.
  • Before you evaluate systems, think about what types of cameras you want, what type of storage you need and the areas of your business that need protecting.
  • The two main types of surveillance cameras are internet protocol (IP) and analog.
  • This article is for small business owners considering purchasing a video surveillance system who want to know what type of system they should purchase and how much they can expect to spend. 

Security is imperative for any business. After all, how can you be profitable if you can’t protect your assets? Video surveillance systems are more intelligent and effective than ever. Cameras now offer computer-like functions and features, like motion sensors and automatic mobile notifications. Some systems automatically contact law enforcement instantly.

Technological development has also led to more efficient ways of managing recording and storage, as well. Small business owners have access to immensely powerful surveillance systems at relatively affordable prices.

Most vendors allow for a large degree of customization, meaning you can tailor a system to your business’s specific needs. Whether you need a widespread system that can cover multiple locations or a few cameras to watch your storefront, there’s a solution for everyone. Not sure where to start? Here’s our 2021 video surveillance buyer’s guide.

What to consider before purchasing a video surveillance system

There are several factors you should consider before deciding on a video surveillance system for your business. These include:


If your business is small and you don’t have many areas to surveil or several different cameras to set up, you can install it yourself. Larger businesses with multiple locations and complicated setups should have a professional do the installation.


Pricing also is dependent on the size of your business and how many cameras you require, as well as the type of storage you want, how long you want to store video, and the types of features you want, like video analytics or motion detection. Generally, video surveillance systems start around $50 per month for simple one or two-camera systems, and can go up to $5,000 for advanced systems with many cameras.

Type of Camera

There are two main types of cameras for video surveillance systems: internet protocol (IP) and analog. Analog cameras are what has traditionally been used. They are being phased out in favor of IP cameras, which offer more features and capabilities than analog cameras. IP cameras are networked devices that capture images in a higher resolution and also enable automatic alerts, video analytics and more.

Type of Storage

There are three types of video data storage to choose from for your video surveillance system: NVR, DVR and hybrid. DVR stands for digital video recorder, and these systems use analog cameras. NVR stands for network video recorder and is used with IP cameras. Hybrid systems allow you to combine analog and IP cameras.

What Features You Need

There are a plethora of features available from video surveillance systems, from night vision to smart motion detection to pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ). Evaluate which features your business needs and select your cameras and surveillance system accordingly. For example, if you need a system primarily to monitor your business at night, the system with strong night vision capabilities and 24/7 alerts.

Which Areas of Your Business Need Protection

Because this will determine the type(s) of camera you get, it’s important to know exactly where you want to place your surveillance. For example, if you need to keep an eye on your back door, you’ll probably want a weatherproof outdoor camera with PTZ functionality and motion alerts.

Key takeaway: There are several factors to consider when purchasing a video surveillance system, including camera type, storage type, features and pricing.

Benefits of a Surveillance System

Not only can surveillance cameras deter criminals and help law enforcement quickly catch any would-be thieves, but these systems can also improve accountability among your employees, it helps you monitor productivity, and may reduce your insurance premiums. While the upfront costs of installing a video surveillance system can seem steep, the long-term payoff and the peace of mind may well be worth the expense.

IP Cameras vs. Analog Cameras

There are two primary types of cameras that can be wired into a video surveillance system: IP cameras and the traditional analog cameras. IP cameras are the more modern iteration of analog cameras, and while the individual cameras tend to be more expensive, they offer many features that analog cameras do not.

Here’s a look at the differences between the two types of cameras.


IP cameras are more powerful than analog cameras, usually shooting footage ranging in resolution between 1 megapixel and 5 megapixels. That makes for incredibly clear image quality, especially compared to the grainier analog footage, which is one half of a megapixel. IP cameras generally have a larger field of vision than analog cameras as well.

Video Analytics

IP cameras have additional features that analog cameras don’t offer. One example of this is video analytics, which allow for mobile notifications and automatic recording if there is movement within the camera’s field of vision. This is particularly useful for times when your business is closed, and you want to know if someone is moving around inside the premises. You can configure the system to flag events like this and send notifications directly to your smartphone, along with recorded footage of the event. Some systems also offer a direct, one-touch connection to local law enforcement.

Network Video Recorders

IP cameras are compatible with NVRs, which offer several other benefits compared to the older digital video recorders, which we explain in more detail below. In short, NVR records higher-quality video and allows for systems to be scaled up much more easily than can be done with DVR.

PoE Switches

IP cameras can also be connected to what is known as a “power over Ethernet” (PoE) switch, which both sends data from the camera and provides power to it. Analog cameras, on the other hand, require a switch to run the signal from the camera, as well as a separate power source, meaning a more complex setup and more wires. PoE switches are also generally regarded as a more secure way to transmit data.

READ MORE:How to Choose a Video Surveillance System for Your Business

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