Wireless IP Security Cameras
What is an IP Camera and How Do They Work?
An IP Camera (short for Internet Protocol) is a stand alone camera that connects to an IP network such as a LAN (Local Area Network) or the Internet. Through the network, the camera can stream video that can be accessed remotely, either by other computers on the network or via web based devices such as iPhones and iPads via the Internet. These network cameras are typically wired (meaning they require a network connection) or wireless.
A wireless IP camera is viewable anywhere in the world that you have Internet access. This can be be done on a laptop computer, iPad or Android tablet, or any smartphone with web access like an iPhone or Blackberry.
Who Uses IP Cameras? Why Do I Need an IP Camera?
IP cameras have become so easy to install and use that everyone from business owners to world travelers to soccer moms are using them! IP camera manufacturers have developed easy to use software to get you from box to surveillance camera in just a matter of minutes. Included with your purchase is a CD with software that can walk you through the necessary steps to get your camera up and running.
Once you have your camera up and running, you now have a product with 1000s of uses! Here are just a few:
Why spend $250 for a baby or nanny cam when you can pay a fraction of the price and get a full-function camera that can also be used to watch your home when you aren't there? You get the same ability to watch and hear what is going on, but instead of using a silly monitor, you can use your web-enabled cell phone, iPad or laptop to check in on the little ones.
With the average lifespan continuing to increase, senior citizens are now living more of their lives alone. How can you be sure they are ok? Seniors certainly want to maintain their independence, so an IP camera is a subtle measure so you get an alert every time there is movement in their home. Just set up the camera in an area of their home that is not invasive but is used every day (like close to a refrigerator or kitchen sink). Every time the camera senses motion, it will send you an email with photos of what it is seeing. Elderly monitoring has never been easier!
Is your cat jumping up on the counter tops again? How often is Rover eating your potted plants? We are all invested in our pets and try to take care of them as best we can, however if you are at your office 8+ hours a day, how can you know if they are in trouble? An IP camera focused on their favorite sleeping spot or food dish can give you peace of mind that your furry friend is OK.
Pet owners are not the only people worried about animals. Farmers and ranchers can also keep a close eye on their cattle and livestock with IP cameras. We recommend an outdoor IP camera if you are exposing the product to the elements, however if there is a commotion in the barn at night in the middle of winter, would you rather get dressed and go out and see what's happening or look at your phone from the comfort of your home?
Your home...one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime. Once you own it, you spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to keep unwanted visitors out. The easiest way for a burglar to case and mark your house is to walk up to the front door and either knock or ring the door bell. If no one answers or they don't hear anything, it signals a green light to go forward. Want to scare the heck out of them? Add an IP camera at your door that has two-way communication. When you get an email alert that someone is at your door, speak into your phone (or microphone on your computer) and ask them "how can I help you?" An IP camera with two-way communication allows you to hear through the camera's microphone and speak through the camera's speaker!
The best application for an indoor IP camera is to have one and every entry door to your home (or office, garage, etc.). Every time motion is sensed, you would receive an email, not only alerting you to intruders, but giving you a digital record of when the kids get home from school and who is with them, what time your teenager is home from a date, etc.
Whether you have a small retail store or a 100,000 square foot warehouse, IP cameras are a great low cost investment for business owners. Since they are easy to install, you don't need to hire an installer. Since they all work independently, you don't need to spend a lot of money on a complete system. You can scale your system, based on your needs and your budget.
Use outdoor IP cameras to watch the perimeters of your building. Use indoor IP cameras to watch employees or customers. Add multiple outdoor IP cameras to adequately monitor your parking area or fenced in yard.
What Are Some Cool Features of IP Cameras? What Should You Look for When Buying an IP Camera?
Not all IP cameras are the same so you should do a bit of research before making your purchase. Pay particular attention to any specification tables, as certain product specifications may dictate why a camera is priced inexpensively or not. Here are a few features to consider:
The larger the lens, the better image you will be able to see, particularly for outdoor cameras, where you want the best possible image at even great distances. Most indoor IP cameras have a 3.6mm lens, which is adequate for their intended use. Outdoor IP cameras have anywhere from a 6mm to a 12mm lens.
Resolution and image compression are factors in the clarity and size of the images the IP camera can deliver. A standard IP camera provides 640x480 pixels with an MJPEG image compression. These are great for viewing who is at the door or how your pet is doing.
If you need better images and video, consider an IP camera that uses H.264 video compression, which is high definition video in narrow bandwidth networks. These cameras tend to be more expensive, however the images and video are very clear.
Pan, tilt and zoom (often called PTZ) reflects the movement options of the IP camera. Pan refers to the rotation of the camera in a horizontal plane. Tilt, on the other hand, refers to the rotation of the camera up and down. Zoom, much like a standard camera, describes the varying of the focal length of the lense to either make the image appear closer or further.
Outdoor cameras tend to have a fixed position, while indoor cameras can offer pan/tilt or pan/tilt/zoom.
If you are interested in using your IP camera for night vision, then you should pay particular attention to the number and strength of the IR (infrared) LEDs on the cameras you are researching. The LEDs allow the camera to illuminate the viewing area in darkness. The more LEDs - the brighter the viewing area - the better the image. This also allows you to view greater distances in the dark.
The ability to see and hear video is very important for some ip camera applications. If a camera has two-way audio, then it is not only capable of allowing you to hear what is happening at your camera, but will also allow you to speak through the camera's speaker. Some cameras will say "two-way audio capable" which means it has jacks for an external speaker and microphone.
Compare Smarthome IP Camera Models
What Are Some Good IP Camera Brands?
At Smarthome, we try to offer a vast selection of products so you, the customer, have the ability to chose. This is no different with IP cameras. We offer a selection for you to choose from and continue to add hundreds of products each week. If there is a brand of IP cameras that you would like to see Smarthome offer, please do not hesitate to let us know! List of Brands:
Last updated: 09/04/12