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Ask Erik: RAW! Electric Eyes: Grow House CCTV

What do you think about security cameras; are they going to attract unwanted attention or help keep the bad guys away and tell me what’s going on when I’m not here?

My local Costco seems to be offering some pretty good deals and it would be nice to have some peace of mind while I am away. Some of the bundles even have models that allow me to check on things from my smart phone.

As far as the cameras standing out and drawing attention, that’s going to depend on your location and the type of system you plan to install. A lot of newer, high end homes come with built-in CCTV systems or at least a door monitor, so cameras don’t seem as uncommon as not too long ago.

If you live in an apartment and stick a camera in the hallway, people are going to take notice! On the other hand, there are cameras available for just such a job which are designed to look like and be installed in place of your door peep lens.

This just goes to show there is a camera for every occasion.

For a house or town home, cameras mounted along the overhangs of the roof, up and away from vandals and out of common sight, will give you an eagle eye view of things and not draw lots of attention.

A lot of cameras offered in monitoring system bundles come with “night vision”, which is accomplished by illuminating the viewing area with onboard InfraRed LED lights. Typically, these give a limited field of vision in total darkness but make it look like daylight out if there is some ambient light from your outdoor house lighting or street lights filtering into the viewing area.

Now unless you pay someone to watch your systems 24/7 and take notes, you will want to be able to record what is going on. Back in the day, time-lapse VHS recorders were the way to go, however today most systems come with a DVR (digital video recorder) much like the one you might record your favourite shows on. Depending on the internal memory and recording quality, you can usually save several days worth of events.

Once the DVR memory is filled, the security DVR may automatically back up to an external hard drive or even upload to a server for security. If you can set your cameras on motion detection, you might be able hold weeks worth of events.

For remote viewing, you will need to have the system connected to a network that you can access either via local network or world wide web. This means that you want to have a very secure encrypted network. Remember, if anyone accidentally connects to your camera network or otherwise via computer or smartphone, they are going to see everything you can see. And maybe even hear everything too, if your system also has mics.

Most growers usually keep cameras on the outside, near doorways, windows, walkways, etc. This way, to any one viewing unauthorized, the scene looks just like any home's, not alerting potential thieves that there is valuable growing equipment inside. Typically it is a good idea to use hard-wired cameras rather than wireless whenever possible, again to keep your signal private.

Be aware that setting up remote viewing takes some internet savvy or an hour or two with the tech support line that the manufacturer of your camera security system should offer. Also note that installing cameras and running wires neatly and discreetly may take some of your time. A decent security system is usually a weekend long project, depending on the level of sophistication and extent of viewing ability required.

However, once installed and up and running smoothly, you will enjoy the added piece of mind and heightened level of security, protecting you, your crop and your profits. CCTV is a part of our modern society so why not put it to work for you?

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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Last modified on Thursday, 12 July 2012 18:12

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