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How to shop for a security camera system

Shopping for security cameras, just like any home project, can get expensive. While you don’t need to know everything about surveillance equipment before you go and buy, it’s important to know what some of your options might be.

Do your research, find out what’s the latest camera type that you should get. According to BlackBox, digital cameras provide more resolution than older analog cameras. There are several different kinds of digital cameras available, including IP cameras that use one cable. Based on google trends, 4K security cameras especially of the digital IP type are the most sought after.

A home camera system can be had several ways. You can hire a big name company, a local installer, or do it yourself. The route you choose can cost a couple hundred dollars or several thousand depending on what you get and considering service upcharges. 

If you’re looking for a hands off approach and want a company to come in do everything for you, then a national company like ADT might sound great. You can make a call, and a salesperson will visit your home to tell you what you need, and sell you what you don’t need. That might be the first sign of a sticker shock to some. If it’s not, then the monthly recurring costs may be when you account for them over years of use. Monthly costs can range from $45 for a simple alarm system, up to $100 if you have multiple cameras and a video doorbell camera.

Recurring costs from big name security companies can be a big negative for people who do not need monitoring, and wish to own their equipment. Make sure when you sign up for these services that you check for recurring fees. Many “monitoring” alerts offered by these companies have cost-effective or even free alternatives. This is not to mention the fact that when something goes wrong you have to wait for an appointment, and pay extra service fees. Systems that require a subscription also commonly use the cheapest equipment to increase profitability. If you're looking for a company that does it all from installation to monitoring, vivint smart home can get you set up with what you need for your home security.

You can try to save time and money by purchasing your own equipment and hiring a local installer to do the installation. You can find an installer by using a simple Google search to find local companies, or use an on demand work app like TAKL or Task Rabbit. Talk with the installer about your expectations to make sure that at the completion of the work both you and the installer are happy. Just like you have spent years finding an honest mechanic, an honest installer is hard to find. For example, installing a security camera and running wire to it shouldn’t cost $500 per camera. Negotiate on the price when possible.

It is common these days to buy security cameras online. You can buy from online marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay, or go with a company that specializes in security camera equipment. A quick Google search turned up this page about security cameras. There is even a video on there which talks about the different kinds of security cameras and why one is better than the other. 

Get a feel for the company you want to buy from. Make sure they pick up their phone, or reply to your emails in a timely fashion and answer all your questions. This day and age there is plenty of competition in every industry. The installer or online company has to earn your business.

Spend wisely, don’t get the cheapest camera either. You don’t want to pay for the installer to come back and replace a camera. Just like anything else you can buy these days, you get what you pay for. You shouldn’t install cheap security cameras if you’re looking to protect and monitor your home. 

Owning your own security camera system requires time and patience. Although you can always hire a contractor, or installer to help you, be wary of these services as well. Contracting companies or freelancers can also charge really high rates, or try to sell unnecessary and expensive equipment. If you’re the kind that doesn’t mind learning new things and applying your own elbow grease to keep your home up to date, then installing a camera system yourself might be up your alley.

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