There are many options available to a homeowner who wants to install a surveillance camera outside the home. Whether it is one camera or several, there are many options to consider. The first thing to consider is the camera sensor. A charged coupled device (CCD) sensor far outperforms cheap CMOS type camera sensors. Look for CCD on the box. Along with the sensor type, be sure to consider resolution. Cheap cameras have low resolution around 600 lines per inch. These cameras typically do not produce sufficient details to make positive identifications of objects, animals or people.
Secondly, weather resistant or weatherproof needs to be considered. A weather resistant camera will need to be located in a spot where it is not directly exposed to the sun, wind, and especially rain and snow. These cameras usually include instructions to install them under an eve of a roof or under the roof of a porch or deck. The can “resist” some weather but are not impervious to weather. The weatherproof class of cameras can be exposed directly to the sun, wind, rain and snow without worry of the camera’s components being damaged.
Weatherproofing the electronics usually includes a way to warm the camera to allow it to function in the extreme cold as well as a way to vent excessive heat from direct exposure to the hot summer sun. It is not just keeping water out. These extra components along with a more durable housing will increase the cost of the camera.
Thirdly, one must consider whether or not it is necessary to have infrared (IR) illumination so the camera can see into the night. If a camera is being used in an area that is very well lit and the camera’s sensor is a CCD rather than a CMOS, then IR may not be needed. However, most areas outside at night are not well lit, and the camera will need supplementary IR illumination.
Some high-end cameras can be purchased with IR illumination that can light up an area to around a hundred feet. Be sure to check the specifications of the camera, because most of the lower cost IR cameras only illuminate out to less than ten feet. A camera can be a high resolution color camera by day but will revert to non-color at night under IR illumination. Separate IR flood or spot lights are recommended for all cameras when it is really necessary to see what is going on in greater detail. A benefit of IR illumination is that it cannot be seen by the naked eye. It just looks dark to intruders trying to navigate an area.
Though a cheap camera can be used to see who is at the front door at night, it will not compare to a CCD sensor camera with proper IR illumination and high resolution.