Weatherproof Your Equipment

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Weatherproof Your Equipment

Weatherproof Your Equipment Taking care of your security solutions is a wise choiceThe days of security systems guarding primarily against theft, vandalism and violence are long gone; instead, camera systems are mostly to protect companies against liabilities such as accidents and negligence. Another major change in the last decade has been the advent of weatherproof security solutions. These types of solutions have been a game changer, shifting the balance of high-quality systems installable from only indoors to include outdoors.

The jumps in technology also greatly increased the range available for wireless IP cameras. Applications for the weatherproof security systems include, but are not limited to: neighborhood security, airports, construction sites, golf courses, theme parks, auto dealerships and outdoor sales areas.

A prime example of a superior weatherproof system application is for a local automobile dealership. Suppose they have an interior NVR and 32 IP cameras that are split between the interior sales floor and the exterior car lot. The exterior cameras can now be either hardwired or wirelessly mounted in additional buildings, on light poles or even across the street from the main structure and video recorder.

When planning your new system, there are many things that must be considered prior to making a purchase:

  • How large is your project scope?
  • Can I go wireless or do I need hard wire back?
  • What components make up a full weatherproof system?
  • Do I need additional temperature control?
  • What kind of enclosure do I need?
  • How much support will I get?

Focusing on the Video Recorder

The brain behind your system, be it a simple, four-camera outfit or a complex, 64-camera set-up, is the video recorder that is available in three options. The two most common are a DVR for recording over coax or fiber—currently the most popular—and the NVR for recording over IP. The third option is a combination of analog cameras and IP-based cameras called either a “hybrid DVR” or “hybrid NVR,” depending on what company it is purchased from. This type of recorder allows cameras to be hardwired into BNC ports while also accepting cameras from remote or wireless locations via IP addresses.

That being said, video recorders are not created equal. The most important specs to review when considering your purchase are: the number of cameras supported; frames per second (fps); compression record resolutions (CIF, D1, 1MP, 2MP, etc.); hard drive space; network connection/remote viewing capabilities; motion detection; scheduling; and the ability to save video and audio to a CD or flash drive for back up. The central monitoring software (CMS) should be intuitive, and easy to navigate and operate.

Never underestimate the recording and playback strengths when it comes to frames per second. Traditional movies seen in a theater are typically filmed at 24 fps, but if you’ve seen the recent Hobbit movies, for example, you may have noticed a difference in visual quality and clarity.

Peter Jackson filmed the Hobbit movies at an astounding 48 fps which makes the scenes on screen seem hyper-realistic.

The same differences in quality and clarity apply to cameras and their relationship to the PC or DVR. Real-time recording is approximately 30 fps. To calculate the actual fps-rate a particular DVR will record, take the total fps in the system, for instance 960, and divide it by the number of video inputs, such as 32, which totals the actual fpsrate that this DVR will record per camera— 30 fps per camera. Some camera locations may require higher fps than others, for example, over a cash register compared to a hallway, and fps can typically be adjusted for each camera to accommodate the specific need(s).

Each video recorder has a specific storage capacity listed in the specifications that illustrate how many days of recording can be stored before the oldest file is recorded over. This is a rough estimate that will depend on other factors such as compression and the type of cameras connected to the DVR. A small DVR or NVR can include up to 32 TB while larger, PC-based video recorders have removable bays for additional storage capacities, up to 100 TB.

Types of Security Cameras

In addition to determining which type of video recorder to use, security camera types vary widely, as well. These days, cameras can come in any combination of indoor, outdoor, infrared, varifocal, fixed, day/night, vandal proof, PTZ and HD, to name a few. One of the most important things to note, however, is whether the cameras are IP, wireless, HD or analog. Each camera type has its own specific blend of components to ensure that all items will read each other and function correctly. No matter which method is used to transmit the data, all cameras will need a power source.

Most security cameras require two wires: one for power and one to transmit the captured video to a display or recording device, such as TV or DVR. Depending on the distance from the DVR for wired cameras, they will need to run over coax or fiber modem. Wireless cameras, however, only require one wire—for power. The video is transmitted wirelessly via transmitter and receiver devices, known as access points. IP cameras will connect to a PoE switch for power, which will then, in turn, be connected to both a power source and a wireless access point transmitter. The transmitter then sends the compressed data up to 1.5 miles to the wireless receiver that relays all data to either a NVR or hybrid video recorder.

If the camera system is wireless, Wi- Fi access will be necessary to transmit the information to the DVR/NVR. Wireless IP camera systems, hooked to an NVR, offer the most security and the longest range in distance between camera and recorder.

There are several options when it comes to extending the life of cameras located outside: special mounting brackets and housings to protect the camera or weatherproof cameras with an IP rating. The IP rating determines how well the camera itself stands up to the elements. The first digit in the rating refers to the dust, while the second refers to how waterproof it is. A ‘5’ is moderate where as a ‘6’ means it is dustproof or waterproof.

Choosing the Best Weatherproof Enclosure

Now that the scope of your project has been determined, you will need to determine which weatherproof enclosure best fits your needs. These enclosures will house power sources, network PoE switches, wireless access points and anything else that may need to be installed outdoors, near the cameras while providing protection from the elements.

Outdoor, weatherproof enclosures come in a variety of ratings from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association that determine how well equipment holds up when exposed to the elements. The most common ratings in the security field are NEMA3, meaning that the box is weather-resistant and protects against weather hazards such as rain and sleet, and NEMA4, rating the enclosure as watertight.

The material that the enclosure is manufactured from matters for both durability and electronics protection. Marine-grade 5052 aluminum is far superior to other materials, such as stainless steel or plain steel, when it comes to corrosion resistance and keeping the interior naturally cooler.

Many times enclosures will require additional hardware to complete the installation. Additional considerations for weatherproof enclosures are:

  • What other accessories does the outdoor, weatherproof enclosure come with?
  • Is the equipment mounting plate adjustable and removable, and does it come standard?
  • Does it have a sun shade, vents, fans and/or insulation for additional temperature control?
  • What about brackets for mounting the box to either a flat surface or a pole?
  • Does the enclosure come with a security lock or is that an add-on item?

Make sure that you have permission to mount the box. If you are planning on using an existing pole, check with the landlord or city. If you do not have the appropriate permissions, the equipment may be removed or you could be fined for property damage. Another factor is how high to mount the enclosure. Determine how often the equipment will need to be accessed and whether or not it’s in a location that makes it easily serviceable.

Basic planning ahead will eliminate 99 percent of last minute, on-the-job headaches that can come with installing an outdoor, weatherproof system.

Talk to an industry expert, such as Optiview, when planning and executing an outdoor, weatherproof, IP surveillance system. These men and women can walk you through all of the variables, step-by-step, to come up with a custom design for your project. This will ensure that you get the best system at the best price possible.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Security Today.

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