When purchasing a security system, price is always a deciding factor for the user, who may be tempted to get less expensive consumer-grade IP cameras for their organization. At times like these, it’s better to think twice by considering the differences between consumer and professional camera systems.

A recent blog post by Kintronics summarized the differences as follows.

Quality, reliability and performance
According to the post, it’s becoming more common to find consumer IP cameras for US$39.99 apiece with 1080p resolution. “Think about this price. Have you ever purchased a good lens for your photo camera? I bet you had to pay $200 to $500 for the better lens. Now imagine what type of lens is included with the $39.99 camera. These low-cost lenses reduce the clarity of the video. This means you will not be able to identify the person’s face in the video or see the license plate number,” it said. “The professional IP cameras that are designed for business applications provide much better video, can see areas that are further away and can operate at night.”

From a reliability perspective, consumer cameras may need to be replaced after a short period, while professional ones may be ruggedized. “The labor cost alone will make the cheap camera much more expensive than the professional IP camera,” the post said. “Better IP cameras are reliable and rugged. They are designed to last for many years of operation.”

Performance-wise, the professional IP camera systems include many features and functions not found in consumer cameras, the post said. “For example, the professional IP cameras are available with intelligent video capability. There are also high-performance PTZ cameras with extended range that allow you to see objects that are miles away,” it said.

According to the post, the professional IP camera systems designed for schools, business, government and other organizations provide much better protection from hacking and malware. “The home camera systems usually consist of a small number of cameras connected to Wi-Fi. These Wi-Fi connections and their ease of use make them more vulnerable than the sophisticated network attached IP camera systems for business,” it said.

Video recording
Consumer cameras have limited recording capability; users can opt to record video to the camera’s SD card or to the cloud. “Recording video to the cloud can be costly, and it is also difficult to find the important recorded video,” the post said. “The professional grade business IP cameras have secure connections to dedicated video recording systems. The video data stream is encrypted, and the recording system can handle hundreds of IP cameras. The professional business IP camera systems have effective alarm detection that only records critical video. The recording system can be set to record video if something is a certain size, or if the person crossed a preset line. It can also detect an object left in the lobby, or trigger an alarm when the laptop is removed from the desk.”

Finally, professional IP camera systems can be integrated with door access control, IP paging systems, and IP intercom systems that can help control who enters the building. “Security is increased when you can monitor who enters a door,” the post said. “They can also be used with license plate recognition systems, gate control systems, and biometric access control.”

The post concluded by saying though consumer IP cameras are inexpensive, they are not right for commercial applications. “IP camera systems that are designed for professional applications provide better quality, reliability, and functionality. They provide all the functionality required by business, schools, hospitals, government, and commercial organizations,” it said. “Professional IP camera systems are designed to support large numbers of cameras. They are more secure and allow you to easily identify security problems.”

Source: William Pao, a&s International