Farm Security Camera Systems — How to Choose the Best One

Farm Security Camera Systems — How to Choose the Best One

Take these factors into consideration when choosing the correct security camera for your farm:

Your fist question is to decide what your aim is, is it self-protection or protection of property or a combination of both? CCTV cannot and should not replace an alarm system. An alarm system is designed to reduce false alarms and give you advanced warning, a CCTV system is used to give you a view and record your environment, I cannot stress this enough, don’t try to use a CCTV system as an alarm. Banks don't expect their CCTV system to replace their alarm systems, and neither should you.

If self-protection is the aim, then I strongly recommend the use of at least one indoor camera to be used in your system. Indoor cameras are very accurate in detecting an intruder and give the least false alarms. A camera placed in a "must pass through" area to access the bedrooms can give you that vital warning and edge. Another use is before you enter the home after been out, you can check inside the home to establish if it’s safe to enter before getting out your car, If your home, you should first check if it’s safe to open your passage or bedroom door, use an indoor camera for this, its inexpensive and effective.

For protection of property then you need to decide what you are trying to protect and design your system to not only watch the equipment but also the pathways or routes that lead to them.

For stock theft a PTZ correctly placed and used can confirm where and what is happening, but it should not be expected to give you advanced warning on potential stock theft. Most people have unrealistic expectations, for example that a camera will detect a human trying to steel at night at 500 meters or more away from the camera, that it will track that person as they move across the farm and so on.  The cost of such a camera is prohibitive. Remember yes it might be able to zoom in 500 meters at night using its IR, but the size, the actual square meters that its then focused on is tiny as compared to the field you are trying to monitor. Also at that range it switches from normal IR to laser IR, that’s a very narrow beam. Its normally zoomed out, not in. Another feature I always get questioned about is auto tracking, I personally am not fan  for many reasons, I prefer placing a few cheaper bullet cameras at key points and one or two good PTZ cameras for when I want an overview or the ability to checkup on something. But having said that, auto tracking does have its uses and place, just don’t rely on it.

You can make use of a pure POE system or Wi-Fi or mix them up, you’re not limited to one architecture. That's the beauty of Foscam. Even the Wi-Fi cameras can be used using traditional network cable, but often its very costly or near impossible to get a network cable to where you want to place a camera.

That's when Wi-Fi allows you to be more creative and flexible. But keep in mind you still need power for the camera. Say for example you want a camera at the farm gate, you already have a gate motor, so you have power. This could be in the form of mains or even solar, our outdoor range are all 12v. Its then a case of getting a signal from the gate back to the farmhouse. There are many solutions that will allow you to achieve this up to distances of 8km and more, but this requires the instillation of as sender and receiver in a line of sight setup, else maybe a mesh solution would work better to cover a wider area around the immediate farm house allowing the placement of cameras around the home.

If you need a free-standing off-grid solar solution then maybe you should read our article here

A big mistake I often encounter is in the placement and type of the camera. The placement is critical, it should be well thought out for the purpose it’s been used for.  For example, all too often cameras are mounted on high poles with the aim to try to maximize the view. The problem with this that it affects the ability to accurately detect relevant movement, faces are not visible as the angle is not right, the distance is often so over extended that all you are able to see is that some ones was there?

To effectively be able to detect and identify people the camera should be aimed at head height along a strategic path or route. Think of when you drive through a security boom, they place a camera at number place height and one at shoulder height, for good reason. One camera can’t be all things….!

PTZ cameras are also very popular because you can theoretically cover a large area with just one camera, I prefer to rather use two or three bullets which often cost the same or less than a one PTZ for the following reasons.

  •         You always have dead zones, ie the PTZ is looking in the wrong direction when the incident happens.

  •         Putting your PTZ on constant cruise is a bad idea, not only will it wear out the camera gears and motor, motion detection cant happen when the camera is moving as everything is moving.

  •         The belief that “follow me” will resolve the issue? It’s often used as a decoy and the camera follows the wrong target when there are multiple targets.

  •         The belief that the zoom feature will enable you to “see” more, remember when you zoom in, you are focusing in on less and less area thus reducing your viewing angle. Besides the camera is normally set to zoomed out to enable the camera to have the widest view, you can’t retrospectively zoom in after the fact?

You use a PTZ for situational awareness, to get a big picture of what’s happening on your farm. To have the ability to scan 360 degrees and zoom in on any activity that your concerned about.

The Foscam SD4H with 18 X optical zoom is a great choice. This will give you 200 meters IR with follow auto tracking, Human and vehicle AI detection and more.

1. PoE IP Security Cameras — Wired Farm Security Cameras

PoE or wired cameras can be installed for farm surveillance. For DIY enthusiasts our range PoE cameras available at Foscam is easy to install as they power and supply the video using the same cable. PoE cameras are managed by a PoE switch which conducts both power and internet signal. The cameras are connected to the switch using CAT5 cable which can extend upto 100 metres.

2. Wireless or WiFi IP Cameras for farm security

If your keen on going the wireless route, and have a good internet signal, then you should take a look at our G4P or the new V range, 5-to-8-megapixel range and the more powerful SD4H PTZ.  All of these cameras need a 12v power supply and to able to connect to a wireless network. They also came with a normal RJ45 network connector if you want to cable them.  We also sell range extenders that will extend the range of your wireless network by up to 2km - 5km.

Use a bullet or fixed camera to keep a eye on critical or sensitive areas like gates, roads or diesel tanks, don't try to use a PTZ for this as you want a constant view or recording on the actual target area. Use a PTZ camera for situational awareness, ie once you are alerted and want to be able to scan a 360 degree to identify a possible intrusion.

A modern CCTV security system or IP security camera system can send you a snapshot via email or to your Foscam app of who or what is moving upon motion detection. In the case of the new cameras you can set it to only warn you when it detects "Human" or “vehicle “ movement greatly reducing false positive movement alarms. If you want to record video footage, an NVR (network video recorder) will also be able to continuously record events or else you can insert a micro SD card into the camera and play that back from the app on your phone or PC.

Both camera systems whether you use PoE or WiFi security camera systems will be able to offer you surveillance on your farm all year round, day or night.

You can view live video feed on your smartphone or by means of our free app or from you PC or Mac via our VMS software. While our IP cameras have the option to take an SD card to record footage to, however, for continuous recording or for long durations of time, an NVR or Network Video Recorder is a better option. Micro SD cards are limited by their capacity whereas an NVR can record multiple cameras to large hard disc drive.

Consideration should be taken when choosing a camera as far as the image quality. All Foscam IP cameras are high definition and vary from 2.0 megapixel upwards. Determine if you want a static camera or one that you must remotely pan and tilt. The range you wish to see at nighttime is also important as indoor cameras can only see upto 8 metres whereas the outdoor cameras can see upto 200 metres.

IP66 rating ensures that the cameras can withstand extreme weather conditions. All Foscam outdoor cameras are IP66 so come rain or shine, the cameras will be fine.

For an extensive camera range, go online and purchase your security camera wherever you live in South Africa. Foscam has the best priced cameras and best quality guaranteed! We courier door to door!