HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR OUTDOOR SECURITY CAMERAS
It's summertime, and now is the busiest time of year for traveling to warm or exotic places, camping, and simply being away from home for days at a time. But while traveling away from home, always take care to hide the valuables you have around the house and make sure to check that your home security camera system is functioning correctly before hitting the road. Below, we're taking a look at how to care for your outdoor security cameras and systems properly.
PROTECTING YOUR OUTDOOR SECURITY CAMERAS FROM THEFT
You might have installed your outdoor security camera to catch people trespassing on your business or personal property or to prevent them from stealing your belongings. Generally, you can think of your outdoor security camera as a crime deterrent. However, security cameras themselves sometimes make for eye-catching targets for criminals, especially with the high quality and often high price tag of today's modern IR security cameras. Therefore, you must take a few simple steps to protect your outdoor security camera from theft. The best way to prevent thieves from targeting your outdoor camera is to install it in an area that's not accessible from ground level. A prime location for your outdoor security camera is to install it underneath the eave of your roof, directly to your soffit. Just make sure that it's high enough up off the ground so that those pesky thieves won't be able to get at it.
Of course, what thief would want to leave behind evidence that they were at your house? Once an intelligent thief notices they're being recorded, they'll most likely look for the DVR or NVR and steal that, too. Hiding the CCTV security system video recorder in a closet or next to everything else in an entertainment center can be an easy way to prevent theft. Hard-bodied, steel lockboxes designed for DVRs and NVRs prevent anyone from getting in without a key or a ton of extra work and are often installed bolted to the ground or the wall. Hopefully, you'll create enough work to allow the authorities to get there before the thief leaves.
REGULARLY CHECK AND REMOVE SECURITY CAMERA OBSTRUCTIONS
From time to time, it's a good idea to do some general maintenance on your CCTV security system. Things change, snow and ice build up, trees grow, people get new cars, birds build nests, etc. Taking the time to make sure everything is as it should be will be better than explaining to the police that the one camera that was not functioning also didn't capture the burglar breaking into your home. Bullet-style cameras are great for popping out from under an eave to see outward and keeping rain off the lens, but it puts a lot of unbalanced weight on a mounting bracket that's screwed in place. If not tightened all the way, a loose screw can cause the camera to dip over time, altering the angle of view.
Infrared light is not normally visible, but it sure is warm. Spiders love building nests right on the lens, which can white-out the image and blind a camera at night. Some birds build nests on top of just about anything, and of course, they'll choose your camera that's pumping out warm IR, but don't let them compromise your security. Broad leaves are also great reflectors for infrared light, so they're able to blind a camera even if you're able to see through them during the day. Be sure to clear the nests, the foliage, or anything else that may cause bright reflections of infrared. While troubleshooting, check the current and historical video feed from the cameras at the DVR or NVR. Look for any black-and-white images where there should be color. Watch for any flickering or the infrared LEDs flashing on and off. These will typically be the first indicators that a camera will become defective. Replace security cameras as needed to avoid being caught with your cameras down.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR SECURITY CAMERA
Even if you've installed your home security cameras in a location that's protected from the elements, it's still going to get dirty over time. Dirt and dust buildup can reduce both the video quality and the overall visibility of your outdoor security camera. Fortunately, cleaning and maintaining your security camera isn't very difficult. Whether you have a bullet style or a dome security camera, taking a wet, clean cloth to the lens will do the trick. You can use a glass cleaning product, such as Windex, or a proper lens cleaner solution. Gently scrub and polish your lens until you've removed all smudges. If you need to take it down to do some hard scrubbing, it will be good to disconnect the system from the power. If the camera's mounting bracket or box hadn't been fully sealed against the elements, rain might have gotten in and could create a risk of shock when you dismount it.
Another easy way to clean home security cameras or your DVR is by using a can of compressed air. You can also use a larger garage compressor with a nozzle attachment to gently blow any loose dirt, dust, or spider webs away from the body of your camera. That said, depending on where you have them installed, you may need to use a ladder to access your home security cameras. If this is the case, make sure to use caution and, preferably, find a helper to hold your ladder while you clean your camera.
PROTECTING HOME SECURITY CAMERAS FROM COLD, HEAT, AND RAIN
Whether you live in the north, where frigid cold weather, ice, and snow are typical, or you live in the south, where humidity and hot, sun-scorched days are the norms, it's essential to take a few steps to protect your home security cameras from the elements. We usually recommend installing an outdoor security camera under the eaves of your roof, directly on the soffit, where it will be safe from rain, snow, ice, as well as direct sun exposure. The very first step to protecting your home security cameras is to purchase good quality, weather-rated outdoor security cameras designed to withstand hot, cold, dry, and wet weather conditions.
Security cameras are rated by their ingress protection (IPxx), meaning how much they let inside at what levels of force. This 4K dome camera has an IP67 rating, meaning it is fully dust-tight and can withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter. It is also imperative to get the proper cabling for the job. The elements and the sun can severely damage cables left outdoors, but sometimes the only way to install something is to run a wire on top of the building. For this reason, some cables are specifically created to combat the harsh UV light. Other cables need special coatings when fished through the walls of high-rise buildings to not burn toxic fumes in the case of fire.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SECURITY CAMERA FROM LIGHTNING
Another common issue with Wi-Fi-enabled night vision outdoor cameras or other types of home security system is that power surges from lightning strikes can either disable or cause permanent, irreparable damage. It's impossible to predict when or where lightning will strike. Properly grounding your home security system and other critical electronics is the best way to protect them from electrical surges. What do thunderstorms sometimes come with? Rain, and possibly, lots of it! Depending on local infrastructure, flooding may occur in your area. Keep power supplies and surge protectors up off of the ground. The power may go out at these times, too, so a battery backup is normally used in professional installations to keep the system running for some time, just in case it's actually a burglar cutting the power.
HOW TO PREVENT SECURITY SYSTEMS FROM HACKING
It's a terrible notion, a scary thought to imagine your security system being hacked, but it can happen if proper measures are not taken. Therefore, it's essential to take a few extra cybersecurity steps when having such systems installed to protect your home. Luckily, protecting yourself from hackers is fairly basic. Some security cameras offer built-in encryption technology or anti-hack protection, like individual IP cameras, but the DVR and NVR will handle most of that. CCTV security systems are not all created the same, so some may have more capabilities than others. Still, basic protections like a username and a strong password are common essentials, and most systems will tell you if the password you've provided is weak and will prompt you to make it stronger. When networking a system to enable remote view, use an uncommon port on the router for port forwarding. You can also filter IP addresses to force the system to allow remote logins only from specific IP addresses. Of course, the only way to prevent hacking from the most knowledgeable of hackers would be not to connect the CCTC security system to the internet, though you would be left blind while you were away from the location.
When hackers throw out their net, they are most likely not explicitly targeting you or anyone else; they are just trying to catch the easy fish. Leaving default or weak passwords on your CCTV security system or network router looks like a tasty security risk to any knowledgeable hacker, so do follow any prompts to make a stronger password and write them down in secure locations. Finally, depending on the make and model of your camera, you may also need to regularly update the device's firmware, which should protect it from potential data breaches.
BEFORE YOU GO ON VACATION - DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR NETWORK CONNECTION AND VIDEO STORAGE
Check on your recorded history for any video defects, make sure the DVR or NVR is recording, and see how long your security system's archive time is. You'll want to make sure you have enough storage available to capture footage for the entirety of the time you'll be away from home. Before you leave, don't forget to test if you can still remotely log into your CCTV security system, making sure it's still connected to the network. To simulate being away from home, put your phone on cellular service and log in to check out the camera features you'll be using while away. Travel safely this summer, and don't forget to check in on your cameras and security systems often!