Myth: Any handyman can install a CCTV system.
Truth: That is not a myth at all, at least in part.
Broken down to its components of wire, connectors, cameras and Digital Video Recorders (DVR), any handyman, homeowner, building super, or curious tech-geek can make a CCTV system work at first. The materials are readily available on the net and in retail stores. Lord knows, we all have to save money.
Is there any reason this is any more complicated than that? Well let’s see…
Most State Licensing divisions require low voltage licenses, courses, and passing of tests for anyone looking to make a business of installing such systems. Perhaps the government has a reason for creating safety standards, environmental and consumer protection regulations. But hey, I shouldn’t have to pay extra for that, right?
Well, in every walk of life, wherever people are involved at least, there are varying levels of knowledge gained through experience. Different levels of competence obtained through ones training and education. Then there are the issues of desire, motivation and compensation-Let’s call that the Human Factor.
Every installation is in fact different since every environment has its own design, construction and specific structural challenges. The approaches and techniques used to run wire in a variety of settings can take decades to master. Is the goal of the installer to maintain a long-term relationship and achieve satisfaction of the customer?
The Human Factor exposes a series of choices that will make a big difference in the long-term. Wiring can be exposed to elements like weather, sabotage and tampering through a lack of knowledge or interest on the part of those doing the installation. The vast majority of this work is substandard and the chances are, yours will be too.
The type and choice of wire matters greatly. Some installers will use the same wire that is used for computer networks and telephone systems called Cat 5/6 (industry standard for data and voice formats). They use converters to get back to the correct video and power formats. They do this because it is a lot easier and much, much cheaper; however, it is not correct and will cause technical issues down the road. Cheaper and faster for some is more important than proper and correct. Let’s just say they get what they bargained for.
There is special wire with specific copper content for CCTV cameras called 95% branded RG59U and 18/2 for power (best if in one jacket, called Siamese wire). Wire lengths, routes and relationships to regular and high voltage wiring has to be taken into consideration by the installers to avoid electromagnetic interference and poor signal strength (those wave effects on the images), which will develop over time.
There are different types of terminations or connectors. Only the more expensive BNC “crimp on type” should be used for connections that will be stable over time. The short cut and cheaper “twist-on” BNCs will have dramatic effect on performance and are used too often.
The issue of basic pride (work ethic) or the lack of it, in the work that someone is paying for, is rarely seen by the untrained eye, but hurts the paying public no less in the end. Once their checks clear, most installers or handymen will have no interest in servicing your system.
If now you are less than confident in whom you thought should install your CCTV system including yourself, then simply vow not to put this task in just anyone’s hands.
The next step could be to either give up or hire a “true professional”. There are companies who claim to know what they are doing, but with todays costs of doing business, all businesses face mounting challenges. Taking cost-cutting short cuts like those “one man bands”, the guy who is doing you a favor, and or those brave souls who do it themselves are now becoming standard practice within an industry (not all companies) that is known for not taking care of their customers.
Finding and choosing a professional or company is not an easy task. The trouble is most companies are not proficient at the multiple disciplines. There are many aspects of today’s CCTV companies with many components to get right. Successful implementation of CCTV systems requires specialized product knowledge and the abilities to coordinate and manage technical issues, installations, administration, sales, marketing, accounting, services, and technical support staffs. Chances are, a full-service professional company won’t find you. If they do, you must make sure you’re not being sold a bill of goods.
These challenges are all made more complicated by the specialty of technical products which become proprietary to a company who has to standardize to manage their business.
Most companies have few employees, and when they do get an order, they hire “a subcontractor” to do the installation. This person may or may not show up or finish the job for a variety of reasons, including having a falling out with the client or person who hired them or working where there is a higher paying job.
Proof of insurance and licensing is critical to require from the company you would like to choose. Remember talk is cheap; trust, but verify.