So you’ve decided to get your own security system set up for your house for ultimate protection, but not sure what to look for?

Well, don’t feel alone.

With so many systems out there and different companies to choose from, it can all be a little confusing.

Really, where should a guy start?

First, you should figure out what you need for protection. Do you need just one camera or several?

Do you want to be able to see footage from your smart device so you can stay protected no matter where you are?

Do you want a DVR or NVR and what the hell is the difference?

Confused by TB hard drives and PoE?

What does it all mean and what do you really need to purchase to ensure a kick ass security system?

These questions led me to many interesting systems and information on what to look for to give me exactly what I need in my quest for surveillance.


Defender Pro SentinelFirst let’s look at the difference between analog/DVR, and IP/NVR systems to decide which may be right for your security requirements.

First, the analog or DVR system (which stands for digital video recorder) is connected with coax cables and does not need an internet connection for recording. DVR’s have an internal hard drive for recording and storing the video footage and uses the analog cameras.

The price range of these systems are anywhere from $200 dollars all the way up to $1300 dollars depending on whether you just purchase the DVR itself or an entire system.  If you’re interested, you can read in great detail with our review of the Defender Pro Sentinel 8CH H.264 1 TB Smart Security DVR with Smart Phone Compatibility.  You can also check out the 16 Channel 2TB Q- See QTH916-16BU-2 on Amazon.

A network video recorder or NVR uses an IP camera, which is a digital video camera that sends and receives information through a computer network.

Where the DVR has to have every camera connected directly to the DVR, the IP cameras can be connected with PoE technology, or Power over Ethernet, which is a way to run power and video over the same line.

This technology uses cat5e or cat6 cables and is for wired Ethernet Local area networks (LANS). With a price range of $200 to $400 dollars, both the Night Owl’s NVR10-441 (read our Night Owl security camera review HERE) and the Zmodo SPoE Security System come with 4 Channel NVR with IP Cameras and 1TB hard drive installed.

night owl nvr10-441 systemBoth the DVR and NVR use storage on the TB hard drive, or terabyte, meaning the space is equal to 1024 GB, which is basically a ton of space, and more than enough storage for all your video surveillance needs.

Most surveillance systems come with a 1 TB hard drive, although the more expensive Q-See mentioned earlier, with the 16 CH, or 16 Cameras, comes with 2 TB.

Let’s talk about the channel and cameras for a minute. When the product says “Channel“, this is just the number of camera’s that can be connected and record onto that particular system. These range from the 4,8,16 or 32 Channel systems.

GW Security CameraAs mentioned before, depending on if the system is DVR and uses the analog camera, or the NVR using the IP cameras, you want to make sure it is either an indoor or outdoor or both an indoor and outdoor camera as to where you will place it.

A nice option is the GW Security 5MP 2592×1920 Pixel HD 1920 Outdoor Indoor Network PoE Power Over Ethernet 1080P Security Dome IP Camera with 2.8-12mm Varifocal Zoom Lens. Here’s our full review of the GW Security camera if you want to read a lot more on this option. This 5-megapixel super high-resolution dome camera can be used indoor or outdoor with the option to change the angle of view.

This is a waterproof and vandal proof camera with 30 Infrared LED with up to 80 ft distance. There is motion detection with email alerts and the power of Ethernet with remote mobile or PC viewing.

Now that we have some basic knowledge on what to look for, let’s take a closer look at some of the security system options that are out there and what might fit your needs.

A Couple NVR Choices

We’ll look at a couple NVR choices first. As stated before, two in a good basic do it yourself and don’t break the bank category are the Night Owl’s NVR10-441, which is a 4 channel full 1080p NVR with pre- installed 1 TB hard drive.

1080p is basically a high definition indoor and outdoor day or night vision IP camera.

This NVR is a network video recorder software program that records video in digital format and then stores the footage on the 1 TB hard drive in this device.
For extra security and peace of mind, you can use on a smart device such as a phone or tablet and view live feeds or re-play video or even take snapshots.

This feature is used with both apple and windows.

So whether you are away at work or on vacation, or even just out to dinner, nothing can make you feel more secure than to sneak a peek at our home and belongings on your phone and have that piece of mind that all is well.

It can be used without an internet connection, just recorded to your computer and viewed later. This system has good cameras and has excellent daytime viewing and decent night vision.

Another thing to note on the Night Owl is the different configuring abilities for each camera making personalization of security easier.

Another NVR system worth looking into is the Zmodo 4 channel NVR with 4 x 720p IP cameras and a 1 TB hard drive.

zmodo camera systemThis unit uses 4-720 IP cameras which at 720p megapixel at 1280×720 pixels give a wider and crisper image and video, than a standard analog can.

These cameras also cover more space with more detail with the 2.8mm wide angle lens. They are for use indoor or outdoor and are designed to withstand even harsh or severe weather.

Also great at night with infrared night vision for up to 65 feet. This NVR also includes 1 TB hard drive, although can support up to 2 TB hard drive giving up to 50 days of recording time from these 4 cameras.

swann security systemSticking with the same price range, but looking at the DVR, a security system like the Swann SWHDK-880508-US 8 Channel 720p DVR with 8x Bullet Cameras is a good option to look at.

This system has everything you need from the top of the line DVR with 1TB hard drive to the 8 clear resolution cameras.

Swann offers a free SwannView Plus app, to access the DVR system from your 3G/4G smartphone or tablet. Using SwannLink ‘peer to peer’ technology will allow you to easily connect your mobile device to the DVR in minutes so you avoid any network configurations.

Also in this price range is the Lorex LHV10041TC4 a 4-Channel 1 TB Cloud Connect with 4 – 720p HD Cameras.

Lorex lhv10041tc4Not only do the high definition 720p resolution, ensure an excellent recorded video, but thanks to the advanced picture correction technologies Lorex offers, you can also be confident that the images from the Lorex home security cameras stay clear and vibrantly strong in any conditions.

They also boast of an anti-glare feature to always give a clear image, even in difficult lighting conditions. Their SmartIR auto light helps with any wash-out effects.

The night vision, or Clear Night Imaging technology range is up to 130 ft. in moderate lighting and up to 90ft in total darkness, giving you confidence that even on the darkest nights, your surveillance is still working for you.

Read our Lorex security camera review HERE.

Mid-to-Higher-Price Point Security Systems

samsung p5122 security systemJumping in price to the $400 to $1000 range, you can look at the Samsung SDS-P5122, a 16 CH DVR that comes with 12 indoor/outdoor cameras that are easily customized to monitor and notify you of any motion or if the camera is being tampered with via your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Samsung security offers their free iPOLiS app so you can easily check your surveillance anytime and anywhere.

q see camera systemAnother high-end product as mentioned before, the Q-See QTH916-16BU-2 16CH 720p Analog HD DVR with 12 Bullet, 3 Dome, 1 Pan-Tilt and 2 TB HDD. Not only does this system come with different cameras it also comes with extra storage on the DVR with the pre-installed 2 TB.

The bullet and dome cameras provide up to 100ft of night vision and the entire system can stream live video to a PC, MAC, iPhone or Android, and also email alerts when any motion has been detected.

All these units come with everything you will need to get started including the cables, HMI cable, a mouse, and remote and start up guide.

These companies also have customer service available and many have videos you can view and learn everything you need to get the exact product for all your security needs.

They also have guides for the installation process, but if you feel like this is just way too much work and you don’t want to set the security up yourself, many of the companies also offer installation options.

Summing It All Up

Extra security is always a bonus in giving you the confidence your belongings are safe. Low-cost options that also allow for the convenience of instant viewing with a smart device make deciding to have your own surveillance a no brainer.

With a little reviewing of each of the products listed and the knowledge of what you should be looking for, you too can create and install the perfect security system for your house or business.