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How to Build an IP Surveillance System

01 Select Your Brand

The first step in building your surveillance system is to pick your brand. This will help us narrow down your products considerably. Read below to learn more about each brand. Then, when you're ready, go ahead and make your selection.

H-Series

H-Series is where it all began. It's our largest and longest running product line that has stood the test of time. These cameras are great options for just about anyone, whether you're a complete beginner or a surveillance pro. They're powerful cameras with plenty of features, but they're still approachable and easy to manage.

We recommend these products for most installation types, including residential installations, small business installations, and some large corporate installations.

R-Series

We added R-Series to our catalog toward the beginning of 2019, and it was an instant hit with many of our customers. These cameras quickly became some of our best sellers. We brought R-Series on as our beginner and budget-friendly option. These products aredesigned to be simple and cost-effective while maintaining all the basic features that most people will need.

We recommend these cameras primarily for residential installs, although they will also work for certain small business installations, as long as you don't exceed 32 cameras.

Uniview

We took on Uniview products at the beginning of 2020. These are still new products both to us and our customers, but we've been learning a lot about them. Every week I feel like we learn something new about these cameras, which should tell you a lot about this product line. Our Uniview products are our most feature-packed cameras and recorders. We brought this brand into our warehouse with the power user in mind. If you're someone who really likes to tinker with their security products, if you want the most flexibility and control possible, then Uniview is definitely worth a look.

These products are great for large corporate and enterprise installations. But that's not to say you can't use these on small business or residential applications. You absolutely can. Just keep in mind that some of their features are more geared toward larger businesses.


If you're still uncertain about which brand is right for you, click here to read our blog post.

02 How Many Cameras Do You Need?

The first question you need is answer is how many security cameras do you need? The answer to this question is going to give us an idea of how big your system needs to be and what size NVR we need to consider. This is a question that only you can answer. So go ahead and take out a sheet of paper or open up a Google Doc and write down the most important areas for your surveillance.

Select Your NVR

Selecting an NVR just may be the easiest part of building your surveillance system. Since you've selected H-Series as your main camera brand, you already know what brand NVR you need. Since you know how many cameras you want to get, you also know what size NVR you need. If you need four cameras, you need a four channel NVR. If you need up to eight cameras, you need an eight channel NVR.

Warning: Don't limit yourself! If you decided that you need four cameras, you may want to consider an eight channel NVR. Once you get everything set up and running, you may change your mind and realize you need another camera or two. If you limit yourself to a four channel NVR, you'll have to invest in a whole new recorder. It's always best to start with more than what you think you need.

Go ahead and select an NVR below. If you know what size hard drive you want, feel free to select that now and add it to your cart. If not, don't worry. We'll get to that later.

Now that you know how many cameras you need, it's time to start narrowing in on specifics. Over the next several questions, we're going to select which camera is going to make up the bulk of your surveillance system. Once you've selected your recorder, click below to move on.

03 Do You Have a Preferred Resolution?

Now we need to figure out which cameras are going to make up the bulk of your system. For the most part, you'll want to use the same camera everywhere. However, you may have some unique circumstances where you'll want to use a different camera to solve a specific problem. If that's the case, feel free to email us and we can help you with any unique circumstances you might have. For now, let's pick your main security camera.

Here's the first question to that end: do you have a resolution preference? Our IP security cameras come in many different resolutions from 2MP (FullHD 1080P), to 4MP, 5MP, 8MP (4K UltraHD), and some even up to 12MP. So for this step, we need to consider if you want a low resolution, a mid-range resolution, or a high resolution.

Low Resolution

These cameras are great for a variety of reasons. These are less expensive than higher resolution cameras. So if you're on a budget, you may way to take a look at some of these cameras.

Keep in mind that a lower resolution cameras means less pixels and a smaller image. This is fine if you're mainly going to be viewing your cameras from your cell phone, or if you really don't need a whole lot of detail.

Mid-Range Resolution

If you are unsure what resolution you want, we recommend staying in the 4 or 5MP range. These cameras produce a much higher-quality image than FullHD 1080p cameras, and they're not as pricey as higher-range 4K models.

High Resolution

Our 4K cameras are fantastic, even if they are a bit pricier than some lower-resolution models. They produce large, crisp, and clear images. So if you're going to be viewing your feeds from a large monitor, or if you just need the most amount of detail possible, these cameras are your best bet.

03 Do You Have a Preferred Form Factor?

Now that you've settled on a resolution, the only thing left is to select a camera form factor. This consists of the camera's housing type and lens type. Once you know what form factor you're looking for, you'll have a pretty good idea which camera will make up the bulk of your system.

Camera Housing

Cameras come in various housing type, but the three main bodies that we'll focus on here are bullets, turrets, and vandal domes. Read about each below and, when you're ready, go ahead and make your selection.

Bullet

Bullets are fantastic cameras. They have powerful function and excellent image quality, day or night. The problem is, they're usually a bit bulky. And they're pretty easy to manipulate. Someone can come up and grab your camera and easily knock it down or move the lens around.

Vandal Dome

Vandal-resistent dome cameras are super durable with this IK10 vandal proof glass dome. These things are tough and durable, and someone's not going to be able to come along and smash it. These are ideal for situations where vandalism is a concern, or just when you need to install a camera that can easily be reached. The drawback is that sometimes the glass dome can cause reflection, especially at night. The infrared lights can bounce back on the lens, causing a slightly blurry or washed out image.

Turret

Turret cameras really are the best of both worlds when it comes to form factor. It's as compact and tough as a vandal dome, but it has excellent image quality 24/7 like a bullet. If you don't have a particular form factor reference, we recommend choosing the turret.

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

03 Do You Have a Preferred Form Factor?

Now that you've settled on a resolution, the only thing left is to select a camera form factor. This consists of the camera's housing type and lens type. Once you know what form factor you're looking for, you'll have a pretty good idea which camera will make up the bulk of your system.

Camera Housing

Cameras come in various housing type, but the three main bodies that we'll focus on here are bullets, turrets, and vandal domes. Read about each below and, when you're ready, go ahead and make your selection.

Bullet

Bullets are fantastic cameras. They have powerful function and excellent image quality, day or night. The problem is, they're usually a bit bulky. And they're pretty easy to manipulate. Someone can come up and grab your camera and easily knock it down or move the lens around.

Vandal Dome

Vandal-resistent dome cameras are super durable with this IK10 vandal proof glass dome. These things are tough and durable, and someone's not going to be able to come along and smash it. These are ideal for situations where vandalism is a concern, or just when you need to install a camera that can easily be reached. The drawback is that sometimes the glass dome can cause reflection, especially at night. The infrared lights can bounce back on the lens, causing a slightly blurry or washed out image.

Turret

Turret cameras really are the best of both worlds when it comes to form factor. It's as compact and tough as a vandal dome, but it has excellent image quality 24/7 like a bullet. If you don't have a particular form factor reference, we recommend choosing the turret.

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

03 Do You Have a Preferred Form Factor?

Now that you've settled on a resolution, the only thing left is to select a camera form factor. This consists of the camera's housing type and lens type. Once you know what form factor you're looking for, you'll have a pretty good idea which camera will make up the bulk of your system.

Camera Housing

Cameras come in various housing type, but the three main bodies that we'll focus on here are bullets, turrets, and vandal domes. Read about each below and, when you're ready, go ahead and make your selection.

Bullet

Bullets are fantastic cameras. They have powerful function and excellent image quality, day or night. The problem is, they're usually a bit bulky. And they're pretty easy to manipulate. Someone can come up and grab your camera and easily knock it down or move the lens around.

Vandal Dome

Vandal-resistent dome cameras are super durable with this IK10 vandal proof glass dome. These things are tough and durable, and someone's not going to be able to come along and smash it. These are ideal for situations where vandalism is a concern, or just when you need to install a camera that can easily be reached. The drawback is that sometimes the glass dome can cause reflection, especially at night. The infrared lights can bounce back on the lens, causing a slightly blurry or washed out image.

Turret

Turret cameras really are the best of both worlds when it comes to form factor. It's as compact and tough as a vandal dome, but it has excellent image quality 24/7 like a bullet. If you don't have a particular form factor reference, we recommend choosing the turret.

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Lens Type

When it comes to lens types, you can choose a lens that is fixed at a given length or a varifocal lens with zoom capabilities. Go ahead and select your lens type below, which will take you to a category page listing the narrowed-down list of your ideal cameras.

Fixed Lens

Fixed lens cameras have what's called a prime lens, which just means they're fixed at a given focal length. These lenses are usually pretty wide and have a really nice field of view. These cameras are perfect for most situations, unless you know you're going to need to be zooming in on your surveillance footage quite a bit. If you're not sure which lens type you need, we typically recommend fixed lens cameras.

Varifocal Lens

A motorized varifocal lens camera has an optical zoom lens, meaning it's not fixed at a given length. These cameras have a zoome range and a field of view range, so you can adjust your image on the fly. Most zoom lenses are easy to control from the camera's interface or even from your mobile device.

Congratulations! You now have your recorder and your cameras picked out. Again, if you still have any questions about which products are right for you, feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out. Now let's move onto the final step: installation!

Installation

In this section, we're going to talk about installation and accessories. You have your cameras and your recorder, but you may need some additional products in order to properly install and set up your system. But products you need and the way you install your cameras is going to look different based on whether or not you have an NVR.

Are you getting an NVR?

This is an important question to ask up front, because the answer will determine the method of our installation. If you do have an NVR, installation and setup is going to be a bit easier since there's an integrated PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch in the back. Once you plug your cameras into the back of the NVR, they will receive both power and data from the NVR, as long as your NVR itself is connected to your router and to power. But if you're setting up a standalone camera without an NVR, you may need some additional products.

04NVR Hard Drive Selection

As we mentioned before, before you add your NVR to your cart you'll have the option to select a hard drive. Or multiple hard drives, depending on the size of your recorder. You want your hard drive to be large enough that you have all the footage you need, because once it runs out of space, it will automatically start overwriting the oldest footage. Now that you know the resolution of your cameras, you'll be able to calculate how much storage you need.

Use this calculator tool to determine the size hard drive you need based on how many cameras you have, the resolution of those cameras, and the amount of surveillance footage you want to keep. As a general rule, we recommend one week's worth of footage for residential installations and one month's worth of footage for business installations. To learn more about hard drive space, watch the video below.

Now that you know how much hard drive space you need, go ahead and make your hard drive selection and add your NVR to your cart. When you're ready to move on to cables, click the button below!

04PoE Switches

Since you don't have an NVR, you will need a separate PoE switch to connect to your camera. Alternatively, you can connect your camera to power via a 12v DC power supply, in which case you'll need to run two cables to your camera. But PoE switches are readily available on our website and they make your job a lot easier.

Pick a size below based on the number of cameras you have. For instance, if you have one camera you may only need a single channel PoE switch. If you have between one and four cameras, you'll need at least a four channel. You get the idea.

Great! Now that we have that taken care of, we can move onto cables themselves. Are you interested in premade cables or bulk cables? Click below to move onto the next section!

Pick Your Cables

05Cables

Now to the most important aspect of installing your surveillance system: cables. Since you either have an NVR or a PoE switch, you only need one Ethernet cable for each camera that you have. But we do have a couple of options when it comes to cables. We have premade cables and bulk cables.

Premade Cables

For the most part, we recommend picking up some premade Ethernet cables. These come ready to go right out of the box. You can choose between 50' and 100', and between white and black cable. If you go this route, you'll need to purchase one Ethernet cable for every camera you have.

Premade Cat5e Ethernet Cable

Bulk Cables

We also have bulk cable, which is for people who want to measure, cut, and crimp their own cables. This can be useful if you plan to use a lot of Ethernet cable. You will save money in the long run. However, you'll also need additional cable tools and connectors. If you choose to go this route, let us know below if you already have the necessary tools or if you're starting from scratch.

Nice! You have just about everything you need to complete your system. Finally we're going to take a look at some mount and junction box options. Keep in mind this next step is totally optional. When you're ready, click below to proceed.

Final Step: Mounts and Junction Boxes

06Mounts and Junction Boxes

Congratulatiosn! You've made it to the final step. It's time to consider whether or not you need any mounts or junction boxes. This step is completely optional, as you can usually install your cameras just fine without using mounts or junction boxes. However, there are some circumstances when you might need to use these accessories.

Mounts

We have several types of mounts available for you if you're looking for more flexibility when it comes to installation. If your ceilings are very high, you may want to use a pole mount to lower your cameras. Or if you have a dome or turret but no place to install it, you may need a wall mount. You can click below to browse our types of mounts. However, the best thing to do is just check your camera's product page for any related products. This is where we'll list every compatible mount for that specific camera.

Junction Boxes

Like mounts, junction boxes offer an additional platform for installation. However, the primary purpose of junction boxes is to contain all the cables at the installation site. Again, you can click below to browse our various junction boxes. But the best way to find a junciton box is to check your camera's product page for related products.

Junction Boxes