Want to know the secret that's driving success for winning companies across nearly every industry? IP cameras. Whether it's manufacturing, car washes, auto dealerships, healthcare, property management, or space exploration, many businesses are employing IP cameras for more than just security — they're using these devices to gain real-time visibility into their operations and improve faster than ever before.
If you're reading this article, you're probably eager to leverage the amazing benefits of IP cameras. But you may have encountered an all-too-common conundrum - how do you choose the correct IP camera? After all, there are a dizzying array of options. Just try Googling "IP camera" or "security camera" 🤯. It becomes very confusing, very quickly!
The Truth About IP Cameras
We're going to let you in on a secret about IP cameras — a tiny set of Asian factories actually produces most of them. You’ll find IP cameras that have been rebranded but usually with similar hardware and software. Cloud cameras are the exception - similar hardware but far superior software. The catch is they are quite expensive [up to several thousand dollars each], and the hardware stops working if you stop paying the software license.
IP camera prices have plummeted in recent years because their manufacturers have drastically increased production. Simply put, it’s a classic example of economies of scale in semiconductors, image sensors, and electronic gadget assembly; the more these factories make, the lower production costs become and the less they cost to buy.
If you’re feeling skeptical about this, we encourage you to do a quick specification comparison between an expensive camera and a cheap one. For example, when comparing a $30 IP camera versus a $1600 IP camera, we found that most specifications were almost identical. They had the same build qualities (e.g., IP67 waterproof), around 80 to 90 feet of night vision, and similar video compression engines.
Image resolution was the most drastic difference between the two IP cameras. The $30 one supported 2MP, and the $1600 one had 5MP. But there are two caveats here. First, IP camera technology has reached a frame-rate and resolution that’s practically imperceptible to the human eye when examined through a browsing device like a phone or laptop. Second, you must account for other factors when considering resolution, such as network bandwidth and range.
So, how do you choose the right IP camera?
5 Factors to Help You Find the Right IP Cameras
Instead of focusing on brand of IP camera, you can simplify the selection of IP cameras for your business by determining:
1. Indoor or Outdoor
This category is self-explanatory; it basically comes down to what type of environment you're monitoring. Do you need video intelligence for outdoor settings? Some IP cameras come in rugged enclosures to weather temperature swings and inclement conditions like heavy rain. If your area frequently experiences rainfall, make sure you equip your cameras with shrouds; these umbrella-like covers stop water from getting on the lens.
2. Night Vision or External Lighting
Start with your desired use case to determine whether you need night vision. For instance, are you monitoring an area with little light and poor visibility? Then you'll probably want to consider getting night vision. If your facility already has ample external lighting for security reasons, then it may not be necessary.
3. Field of View or Point-Tilt-Zoom
Choosing between field-of-view (FOV) or pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) is one of the most difficult decisions you'll have to make when selecting IP cameras for your facility. Since you can't travel back in time to change your camera positioning, it may be better to get two cameras side-by-side or opt for a single 360 camera. PTZ is valuable for a real-time repositioning workflow, but it's not great for a video search workflow.
4. Range AND Megapixel
You should consider range and megapixel together, not one over the other. For example, if you choose long-range IP cameras with only 1080p resolution, you won't actually be able to zoom in and see anything useful. Examine the most common scenarios in your use cases and let these insights guide your selection.
5. WiFi or Wired
WiFi cameras are easy to deploy. But they only work well if you have a robust wireless network and you're not concerned about the impact of video traffic on your regular business activity. You can even choose battery powered WiFi cameras. Bottom line? If you're looking to install four or fewer IP cameras, then this option could be your best bet - especially if you're okay replacing the battery every couple months and are okay with motion-only recording.
It's important to note that many WiFi cameras use a slower 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking standard, so even the newest 11ac routers won't significantly increase throughput. If you have other business traffic that uses the same WiFi, then we recommend going with wired cameras. For power-over-ethernet (PoE) cameras, you only need a single wire to supply both power and network connectivity.
Want to Know How Winning Companies Are Using IP Cameras?
IP cameras are quickly gaining a foothold in every industry because they empower businesses to rapidly resolve incidents and improve how they operate in myriad ways. Gone are the days when these devices were strictly for security.
Want to learn more about how winnings companies are using IP cameras for more than just security? Try our demo to see how Spot AI’s camera system can enhance your organization’s day-to-day operations.