Looking for hardware suggestions for modest home setup

Elmojo

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Hi all,
I'm helping a friend set up his home network cam system.
So far, nothing has been purchased, other than the home itself being wired throughout with ethernet.
He would like to have 5 cameras total, placement is not finalized yet. There is a network closet, with a router and switch currently, but he's willing to replace/add hardware as required to get a decent setup.
He's looking for POE cams to simplify the connections, but I suppose that's fairly standard at this point.
Beyond that, he doesn't have any real specific needs. I know he wants to do live monitoring, preferably from a TV, but I told him that will likely be easier to accomplish from an iPad or phone.
I'm sure some form of recording with motion detection would be desired as well. I don't think he needs any license plate detection or advanced AI features.
One key requirement is that everything be reasonable quality, and from a brand that is known to provide support.
What I mean is that if a camera fails or there's trouble with the NVR, that there won't be any problem getting warranty service, or replacing the faulty device without a bunch of issues with something being proprietary and not playing nice with the rest of the hardware.
Well-written apps/GUIs that don't install malware and/or report his info back to offshore servers are requested as well.

The existing network has a total of 24 ethernet jacks/drops, with 5 of those at least needing to be POE for the cameras.
I had suggested this switch to him, but I see that some NVRs have built in POE switches. Are those a good option, or is it better to keep things separate?
I'll be needing some help selecting cameras as well, but I realize that needs to be a separate thread, so we can handle that later.

I know there's a web site that helps with virtual mapping and placement of cameras, but I can't recall what that is off hand. Anyone got the link?
Sorry for so much info at once, but I wanted to provide what I could to help eliminate the need for extra questions before recommendations.
That being said, please let me know if I've left out any necessary info.
 
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:welcome:

Welcome to the land of video surveillance lunatics. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people here that are willing to share their knowledge and experience.

If your friend decides on an NVR using Blue Iris the system can be monitored from any device that has a web browser and, of course, from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. The same is true if a DVR is used but a DVR does not have the flexibility of Blue Iris.

Start out by looking in the WiKi in the blue bar at the top of the page. There's a ton of very useful information in there and it needs to be viewed on a computer, not a phone or tablet. The Cliff Notes will be of particular interest although the camera models listed there are a generation old at this point. The best way to determine what kind of camera you need in each location and where each location should really be is to buy one varifocal camera first and set up a test stand for it that can be easily moved around. Test using that, viewing using the web interface of the camera, during the day and at night. Have someone walk around behaving like a miscreant and see if you can identify them. There is also information for choosing hardware and securing the system along with a whole bunch of other good stuff.

Don't chase megapixels unless you have a really BIG budget. General rule of thumb is that a 4MP camera will easily outperform an 8MP camera when they both have the same sensor size. Reason being that there are twice as many pixels in the 8MP versus the 4MP. This results in only half the available light getting to each pixel in an 8MP that a pixel in the 4MP "sees".

A dedicated PC doesn't need to be either expensive to purchase or to run. A used business class machine can be had from eBay and various other sources. The advances made in Blue Iris make it easily possible to run a fairly large system on relatively inexpensive hardware which also makes power consumption low, as in under 50 watts in many cases. The biggest expenses turn out to be hard drives for storing video and a PoE switch to power the cameras and, of course, the cameras themselves.

Three rules
Rule #1 - Cameras multiply like rabbits.
Rule #2 - Cameras are more addictive than drugs.
Rule #3 - You never have enough cameras.

Quick guide -

The smaller the lux number the better the low light performance. 0.002 is better than 0.02
The smaller the "F" of the lens the better the low light performance. F1.4 is better than F1.8
The larger the sensor the better the low light performance. 1/1.8" is better (bigger) than 1/2.7"
The higher the megapixels for the same size sensor the worse the low light performance. A 4MP camera with a 1/1.8" sensor will perform better than a 8MP camera with that same 1/1.8" sensor.

Don't believe all the marketing hype no matter who makes the camera. Don't believe those nice night time captures they all use. Look for videos, with motion, to determine low light performance. Rule of thumb, the shutter speed needs to be at 1/60 or higher to get night video without blurring.

Read the reviews here, most include both still shots and video.

The 5442 series of cameras by Dahua is the current "king of the hill". They are 4MP and capable of color with some ambient light at night. The 2231 series is a less expensive alternative in 2MP and does not have audio capabilities, no built in microphone, but is easier on the budget. The 3241T-ZAS has similar specs as the 2231 and has audio. There are also cameras available from the IPCT Store right here on the forum and from Nelly's Security who has a thread in the vendors section.

5442 Reviews

Review - Loryata (Dahua OEM) IPC-T5442T-ZE varifocal Turret

Review - OEM IPC-B5442E-ZE 4MP AI Varifocal Bullet Camera With Starlight+

Review-OEM 4mp AI Cam IPC-T5442TM-AS Starlight+ Turret

Review IPC-T5442TM-AS-LED (Turret, Full Color, Starlight+)

Review: IPC-HDBW5442R-ASE-NI - Dahua Technology Pro AI Bullet Network Camera

2231 Review
Review-OEM IPC-T2231RP-ZS 2mp Varifocal Turret Starlight Camera

3241T-ZAS Review

Less expensive models -

VPN Information Thread
 

Elmojo

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Thanks Seb, that's very helpful. I've browsed the wiki in the past, in my own search for cameras for my home, and quickly gotten lost in the plethora of data, most of which was over my head. I'll take another gander at the NVR section and see if I can make any more sense of it.
I get what you're saying about picking a camera and using it as a test rig. Unfortunately, with the current pandemic restrictions, it's going to be impossible for me to help with that process, and he isn't able to do it himself. I also don't think he would be interested in that level of involvement. He's a friend, but in this case, he's basically my client. He's asked me to "just make it work". I think there's a bottle of scotch in it for me if I can get it all up and running with minimal fuss. ;)
That's why I was planning to use that planner site that I've seen previously. I'm sure it wasn't as accurate that a physical test setup, but it's the best and safest option I have at the moment, unless someone knows otherwise?
Am I understanding correctly that your suggestion is to run Blue Iris on a PC as the NVR, rather than a dedicated NVR/DVR device? I'm fine with that, I just want to be sure I'm understanding correctly. I have used BI in the past, and like it a lot. I have no problem suggesting that he buy a copy of that and install it on a SFF machine of some sort. In that case, I'm guessing it would connect to a standard POE switch, like the one I linked above?
Some additional details and/or recommendations would be appreciated. :)
 
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I would say using BI depends on how "hands on" your friend is. BI does take some tinkering due to its' complexity but even a fixed NVR needs some tweaking to get the most from it and get detection working the way you want it. Updates are frequent and can sometimes cause problem. I am conservative with updates and wait to see how others find them before installing them myself. YMMV.

A SFF machine is not the best choice due to drive space limitations. Used business class machine can be had for a few hundred bucks off of eBay, Dell or HP sites. A 5th generation or newer CPU will handle a five or ten camera load with no problem. The sub stream function in BI is a lifesaver for older systems to say the least. Look for a system with an SSD for a boot drive and at least 8GB of RAM with Win10/Pro installed on it.

That TPLink switch would certainly work but is a little bit of overkill for a five, or ten, camera system. A sixteen, or even eight, port with a power budget of 120 watts is more than enough, IMHO. Keep in mind it is best practice to keep the cameras on a separate LAN segment for security reasons. The easiest way to do that with a BI system is a second NIC card just for the switch the cameras connect to. The other NIC can connect to the internet through the current, existing, inhouse network. Just use a different IP address scheme for the cameras and they won't be able to get to the internet.
 

Elmojo

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Hmm, "Hands-on" does not describe my buddy at all. lol
I'm his IT guy. I'll be helping with the install, once. After that, I'll only be going over there in emergencies.
I chose that switch because I have it at home and like it. I know he doesn't need all 24 to be POE, but there was hardly any savings in getting one that had only part of them POE and the rest not. Is there any harm in having them all POE?
It really sounds like he will be better served by a standard, non-POE switch, and an NVR with a built-in POE switch of about 6-8 ports. That being the case, any recommendations that meet the criteria I set out in the OP?
I've looked on Amazon, but they all seem to be import junk. I'd be highly suspect of any apps they require, unless you folks have found some that are trustworthy.
If I got him an NVR of some sort, would he be fairly free to choose compatible cameras? I see the wiki recommends sticking to one brand. Is this still the case? That seems like a fairly serious limitation.
 
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Contact Andy at Empire Tech. He is well respected here, stands behind what he sells and has very fast service. Yes, stick with one brand for both cameras and NVR to be guaranteed compatibility and being able to utilize all the features of the cameras. That said, generally if a camera is ONVIF compliant it should work.

Andy
IPCT Thread

Andy's Store

King Security/EmpireTech Store

Email
Andy Wang kingsecurity2014@163.com
 

Elmojo

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Andy seems to focus mostly on cameras. I'm asking mostly about the NVR-side of the equation at this point. I get that it's an integrated system to some degree, but I have to decide first and foremost if I'm going to suggest: 1) a PC with Blue Iris, 2) an NVR with POE, or 3) and NVR without POE and a separate switch. That's really what I'm looking for some help with at this point. IS anyone able to provide some clarity on that front?
It seems like either option 2 or 3 would be best for my friend's situation, since he's not a tinkerer, and I won't be available post-install to tweak. That being the case, I'd like some suggestions of specific NVR devices that would fulfill the requirements set out above, without breaking the bank. Please?
 
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Andy handles NVRs as well and can integrate the very well. Send him an email with your requirements and see what he says. I have no experience with NVRs so I can't say much other than make sure that it has the processing capacity for the full camera load you anticipate, and allow for overhead in the future.

An NVR with PoE is fine in a case like this. The biggest "got cha" is that once a camera is plugged into a port it has to stay in that port. The NVR will configure the port and the camera to match so they can't be swapped around. If you use an external switch that won't apply. The switch gets plugged into the "LAN" port of the NVR and the cameras need to be configured manually through the NVR GUI.
 

mat200

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Hmm, "Hands-on" does not describe my buddy at all. lol
I'm his IT guy. I'll be helping with the install, once....
Hi @Elmojo

Probably a good time for you to pick up a decent IP PoE camera and start to play with it. Ideally a varifocal.

The most critical aspect imho is good placement of the appropriate camera.

For this, the test rig and time to play with video captures over the course of the day-night is important.

Since you can not go there more than once it seems, you're going to want to do more homework before you get to the job site for the install.

Does your friend have an attached garage? What is the layout?
 

Flintstone61

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The way innovation is going a Poe switch might also power something besides cameras. Phones, Access Points, USB charging...who knows....future it in?
 

Elmojo

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I appreciate the replies guys, but I'm just not getting the type of help I was hoping for.
I'll keep doing my own research elsewhere. Thanks anyway.
 

The Automation Guy

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The planning site you are thinking of is probably IPVM Camera Calculator V3.

Other than that, the information that you have gotten on the thread so far is extensive and 100% correct. I'm not sure what else you are expecting other than someone giving you a print out of all the equipment you need to buy to make it work. Obviously that isn't going to happen because every situation is different and the information that Sebastiantombs has already provided is the closest thing you are going to get.
 

Elmojo

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I had asked for recommendations of specific NVR models that would fit the criteria I set out in the OP, and if I would be better served by a one that had a POE built-in, or a separate one, and why.
I got a semi-answer to the second part, but nothing on the first. I was assuming that since this is the DVR/NVR section, there would be plenty of folks who have experience with various models and brands, and could direct me to a couple individual models to choose from, rather than having to start from scratch on researching the myriad of devices out there. In any case, I appreciate the help I did get. I'm sure I'll be able to get it figured out.
 

Teken

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I may have missed it but don’t see a budget called out?!?

Normally finances dictate what is purchased and the direction to follow. Regardless, the network infrastructure is the foundation of the entire system.

As such, spend your money once on solid and proven network hardware that allows you to grow. Purchase a dedicated 24-48 port POE Switch that can provide 250-750 watts total.

Don’t waste your time and money on a wireless router.

Deploy wireless AP’s (Access Points) which support WiFi 5 / 6 for wireless. Use pfSense or similar to manage network traffic while protecting the infrastructure.

This video security system should be run isolated (physically) from the main network not just by VLAN / Firewall Rules.

Some random thoughts:

Nobody serious about security mixes the two together. People often ask me who is considered serious??? Serious is the military, government, police, hospital, fortune 100. And those who know better and follow the same best practices as the above.

Sand boxing (island protection) is the only method to secure the network. All the software in the world like VPN, encryption, VLAN separation are compromises to true security.

Video surveillance by its very nature is reactive. It can’t stop something from happening but does offer the user after the fact insight.

There are four rings of security and 99.99999999% of the time people fail to address the first ring.

Threat level and completing a security audit. People literally jump in with both feet with half measures or good enough! That’s like saying a woman is half pregnant?!?

You either are or aren’t. You either do or don’t.

Next in the security ring is FORCE PROTECTION . . . Everyday I drive around looking at the 90% plated front door with massive main & side windows. Trees and shrubs blocking lower windows. Zero perimeter lighting.

All the drapes wide open at night while I watch them enjoying their 60” jumbo Tron, Sonos, PS4, Recliner.

99.99999999% of people have no clue what types and how many incidents of crime happen in their area. Never mind know the names of five neighbors?!?

99.999999999% of the population (pre-covid) are at work from 9-5 PM. That leaves the criminals 8 hours to breach a home and take away the 60” jumbo Tron, Sonos, PS4, and the Dog.

The recliner can stay . . .

Windows and doors / entry points must be secured at the frame level. This is coupled by reinforced hinges, strike plate, 4” SS Screws, a minimum grade 1 lock set & dead bolt.

Smart lock - No!

Layered by a door guardian on every exterior door. All exterior doors should have a (primary) out-swinging security door.

Why?

Because, it takes more than 50 times of effort to pull vs push. Any standard door can be breached in under 5 seconds by kick in. A breach bar / ram can do it in under 2 seconds.

Neither is possible with a out swinging door. An interior door with a door guardian is near impossible to breach if installed correctly and the only recourse is to literally cut a hole in the door or blow the entire door assembly out.

What does force protection and the door example mean in context of security??

Time . . .

Time is the victor and is the only thing that allows a person to call police, get armed, hide, run, what ever. The reverse is not true when you don’t have time. As I could breach any common home in less than 10 seconds run up the stairs and slap the homeowner in the face with my wet sneakers!

All the while running back down and taking the dog with me in under 60 seconds. No security camera is going to by you time or slow down a breach to the home.

They will have a great video of me slapping them on the forehead and taking the dog.

Security is state of mind, a way of living, all the while being aware of ones surroundings. All the bells and whistles doesn’t supersede the need to be know what the threats are and then mitigating them within the home via force protection.

Now, don’t get me started on security alarm systems and the imbeciles who truly believe self monitoring is a thing. That’s right up there with guys who have 12 guns but can’t walk ten feet because they’re 350lbs and a weak ticker.


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Elmojo

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@Teken, thanks for those first few lines about the dedicated switch and APs.
The rest....wow, dude. Where do you live, downtown Beirut (1980s)?!
I'm so sorry to hear that you live in such a dangerous place. I thought Canada was supposed to be fairly polite and quiet?
We live in a reasonably low-crime area. The total number of break-ins in my entire county in the past year was around 20-30. Granted, COVID slowed things a bit, but even before, it was less than 50 each year. This includes residential and commercial burglaries. There were a total of 1 armed robbery in 2019 here. My point is, it's pretty quiet here. :)
That being the case, I totally disagree that you're either "all in" or out on security. For the VAST majority of us, "good enough" is just that.
We don't need a level of physical and SigInt security to rival the Pentagon. For us, just a few cameras with recording ability is plenty, so that we can keep a general eye on things around the home or office that are out of our LoS. Also, the ability to detect events and save recordings to share with law enforcement key as well. Obviously, some will want far more than that, but I'd be willing to bet that for more than 50% of everyone who cares at all about security, that would be plenty.
 

Teken

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@Teken, thanks for those first few lines about the dedicated switch and APs.
The rest....wow, dude. Where do you live, downtown Beirut (1980s)?!
I'm so sorry to hear that you live in such a dangerous place. I thought Canada was supposed to be fairly polite and quiet?
We live in a reasonably low-crime area. The total number of break-ins in my entire county in the past year was around 20-30. Granted, COVID slowed things a bit, but even before, it was less than 50 each year. This includes residential and commercial burglaries. There were a total of 1 armed robbery in 2019 here. My point is, it's pretty quiet here. :)
That being the case, I totally disagree that you're either "all in" or out on security. For the VAST majority of us, "good enough" is just that.
We don't need a level of physical and SigInt security to rival the Pentagon. For us, just a few cameras with recording ability is plenty, so that we can keep a general eye on things around the home or office that are out of our LoS. Also, the ability to detect events and save recordings to share with law enforcement key as well. Obviously, some will want far more than that, but I'd be willing to bet that for more than 50% of everyone who cares at all about security, that would be plenty.
LOL - Apologies I should have tempered my reply for the average person with respect to force protection.

Regardless, physically isolating the security video from the main network also insures zero impact while using other services that consume high bandwidth data such as streaming services.

Nothing is worse than trying to surf the Net and pages don’t load because the security video feed is sucking up all the bandwidth in the home! You’ll read about people who set the frame rate, bit rate, secondary streams at the lowest settings through out the net.

Why?!?

Because their network wasn’t planned for with the eye toward expansion and increased bandwidth never mind storage or computational power.

As noted a (budget) dictates what can be done and the direction headed. None of us are made of money so like you must find a balance / compromise in some things we do.

Back on topic: NVR vs PC this really comes down to long term goals and intent. A NVR by its very nature is plug & play and you know it’s going to work. But you can’t upgrade anything if wanted never mind repair if broken within reason.

A PC can be upgraded and repaired any time by swapping parts. You have the ability to use any software that meets your needs either now or later.

There’s nothing wrong in running both either just because to get a feel or to learn. But unless you spend lots of money on the top of the line NVR none of them support 4K resolution on every channel. Even when you do spend gobs of money the bulk of them restrict a number of channels for AI, 4K, etc.

In 2021 there is zero reason having to compromise viewing at the minimum 16 channels in 4K! But manufacturers think it’s OK to view a 4K feed in 1080P!!!

Lastly, I don’t know if energy consumption matters to you at all. But what ever hardware you decide upon take a hard look at what each piece of gear consumes. You don’t want to find out your electricity bill went up 20% just to record the grass and side walk.


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mat200

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I had asked for recommendations of specific NVR models that would fit the criteria I set out in the OP, and if I would be better served by a one that had a POE built-in, or a separate one, and why.
I got a semi-answer to the second part, but nothing on the first. I was assuming that since this is the DVR/NVR section, there would be plenty of folks who have experience with various models and brands, and could direct me to a couple individual models to choose from, rather than having to start from scratch on researching the myriad of devices out there. In any case, I appreciate the help I did get. I'm sure I'll be able to get it figured out.
Hi @Elmojo

You have basically asked the following question:

What laptop should I buy?

As an IT person, think how you would now answer that question.

Now as an IT person, you've already put time in to post info in a longer format for cliff notes, and executive summary ( SouthernYankee's cheat sheet often passed to new members )

SO what will be the answer? ( to What laptop should I buy? )


NVR - need to pair it with the appropriate cameras for best results. ( this should be in the cliff notes.. )
NVR - pick, depends on the cameras you want. Thus like telling a person which laptop is best, you need to know more about the work they plan to do on the laptop...

In terms of an NVR - many members have picked up the Dahua OEM NVR5216-16P-(*) model for Dahua OEM cameras. ( get the latest version of the NVR ), still the preferred solution by members currently is Blue Iris VMS on a used newer i5/i7 cpu business class PC.
 
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