Long-time PE product tester, Norman Bradshaw, tries out a new CCTV camera installation kit from ESP and explains why it could offer the perfect opportunity for electricians to broaden their horizons.
After experiencing one of the hottest summers of our lives it’s actually hard to believe that we’re now at the stage where the nights are closing in.
When winter arrives I’ve found that a lot of our customers will often think about installing external security lighting, but how many of them would also have thought about external cameras too? CCTV installations are on the rise, and if you’re yet to embrace this concept your customers could well be missing out on the added peace of mind that external cameras offer, not to mention the opportunity to create an extra revenue stream for your business.
If you’ve been a regular attendee of the ELEX exhibitions over the last few years (see Sandown Park Preview on page xx) then you’re very likely to have seen ESP while you’re there.
Prior to this product review opportunity I’d spoken to the company a number of times and was pleased when I was asked to test the DigiviewHD 4 channel CCTV system comprising 4 x 2MP full HD day/night cameras with 1Tb Digital Video Recorder and Triplex Operation to review. As you can see, you certainly get a lot of kit for your money!
On opening the box I notice that everything was very neatly and carefully packed. This told me right from the beginning that ESP clearly prides itself on quality and presentation. The four cameras are small and compact, which suited my application nicely. I’m not a big fan of large cameras on display all over a property as it can make it look and feel like a commercial premises or that you have a lot of things to be scared of. The balance, therefore, is quite important.
I found these cameras to be very discreet and they blended quite nicely into the black background of the fascia boards. At night you wouldn’t even know that they were there except for the red infra-red circle.
At the time of the installation I was having some building work done so took advantage of the scaffolding that was in place when installing the two high level cameras sited on the fascia boards; one at the front and one at the back. These were very simple to install, requiring a small 20mm hole and three screws. Climbing up into the loft, I ran the cables out to the cameras and back to the HD recorder. Running out of cable is a common concern in this kind of scenario, but thankfully there were no worries about whether I’d have enough, as each drum seemed to have at least 15m (each cable is 20 meters in length) of cable on it.
I set-up the recorder unit downstairs initially but soon realised that this wasn’t going to work. Thankfully ESP arranged for me to receive some network socket adaptors and this allowed me to set-up the recorder unit in a more convenient location. I then downloaded the ESP app for my tablet device and was able to view the cameras from there. Once installed and all the credentials had been applied, I then selected ‘Live View’ and the two cameras began to ‘roll’.
I then installed the final two cameras during a rare quiet weekend and, after running the cables, these were soon energised and providing me with full HD colour rendition in the daylight and excellent night time streaming. Using the iPad I could also take pictures and record.
Once installed there are some nice options available to get the most from the cameras. Using an HDMI from my monitor and linking it to the recording unit, I was able to adjust the zoom, digital noise, lighting contrasts and alarm. The instructions went into a fair amount of detail about how to record and make the necessary adjustments to the picture quality, so it’s well worth checking these out before you start. To start playback on a mobile device, you simply select ‘Live Streaming’ for the camera you want and away you go.
Another nice feature is that you also have the ability to remotely view the live camera feeds via the internet, which is particularly useful when you’re away from the property or on holiday. The user can view just one channel if they wish, or they can view all four channels at the same time. Naturally there’s some security measures built into this function so that only the end user can see this information.
Date and time are set-up automatically and I have to say that the quality of the pictures from the cameras situated on the fascias have been excellent – much better than I was expecting to be honest. Even when the sun shone onto the camera lens the playback was clear and discernible.
The only thing that caused me one of two issues during the whole installation was what to do with the rest of the cable that I didn’t need, so one improvement I’d suggest would be the ability to purchase the cable for the cameras in shorter lengths or cut to length. That’s only a very small gripe, however.
Would I recommend it?
It’s more than twenty years since I first assisted my boss with setting up security cameras and the progress that has been made in that time, both in terms of the quality and size of the cameras, not to mention the recording facilities, is pretty amazing!
ESP is clearly a leading light in this area and, because this product is so easy to install and use I think it’s a real winner for those that are seriously looking at branching out into the world of security camera installations.
There’s a great opportunity here for electricians, so next time you’re at the ELEX show and see the ESP stand, why not go and have a chat with the company? Who knows, maybe you’ll no longer be camera shy by the end of it all.
For more information about the HDview CCTV camera installation kit from ESP visit: www.espuk.com