Challenges Of Using Consumer Grade Cameras

Is your business in the market for security cameras? The first thing you should consider is whether you want a professional-grade system or consumer-grade cameras.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the problems with consumer-grade cameras and how owning a professional-grade security system that is installed by certified technicians is usually the way to go for most businesses.

Understanding the difference

On the surface, to those not directly involved with the security industry, professional-grade solutions and consumer-grade cameras seem to offer the same advantages and capabilities for your business. However, this is never true.

Professional-grade security systems typically consist of an IP camera, a network video recorder (NVR), and infrastructure including the network, video management software, and a display for your NVR.

When it comes to consumer-grade security cameras, all that comes in the box are your cameras. That means it’s up to you to figure out how to place the cameras and view them from an application that most likely makes you pay for storage fees and other perks that were advertised on the box.

This brings us to one of the biggest problems with consumer-grade cameras: they are advertised as “professional solutions.” The fact is that consumer-grade cameras are not suitable for most business environments. Problems with false or tricky advertising and other misinformation online often lead businesses to mistakenly use these consumer-grade recording devices. However, due to the fact that most consumer security camera companies require a paid service just to receive a fraction of the benefits available to professional-grade cameras, most businesses end up switching to professional surveillance systems at a loss.

The Problem with Consumer-grade Security Cameras

Since every brand of consumer-grade security camera seems to offer some version of the phrases “high-resolution” and “night vision”,  it can be difficult to sort through all of these claims.

The fact of the matter is, most of these cameras don’t perform at the advertised resolution and many of the features are often buggy at best. Here are some examples of various problems with consumer-grade products:

  • Arlo – Most of these wireless cameras have to be charged periodically, which means you’ll have to unmount the (magnetic) camera, wait for it to charge, and have no surveillance feed during downtime. On top of that, although these cameras may transmit video at the advertised resolution, they can only be viewed via an Android/Apple application. That means unless you’re using a tablet, you’re stuck viewing a tiny screen. On top of that, you’ll have to pay for additional storage if you want to keep the footage.
  • Wyze – Although these cameras are quick to set up out of the box, that’s where most of the benefits end. While the cameras offer modest options for notifications, most of them don’t work about half of the time. On top of that, there is no remote viewing option in order to view these cameras on a PC rather than a smartphone. Via smartphone, you can only view one Wyze camera at a time, which means if you’re trying to find or identify something you’ll have to wait for each camera feed to load individually. These cameras also have an issue switching their infrared sensors on/off, which causes the cameras to stay in black and white when they should be in color. Like Arlo, Wyze also has a subscription fee if you want to save videos or detect people instead of just motion. Update: Wyze has now added a web interface, however, it is not very user-friendly. On top of that, if you try to log in at the time of this update, you will get a “Server Error.”
  • Simplisafe – Simplisafe has all of the same issues as Arlo and Wyze, but on top of that there are additional problems. One of the first problems we noticed is that there is no way to add Simplisafe cameras from multiple locations onto the Simplisafe application. On top of that, even with notifications off, Simplisafe will push notifications through at full volume no matter what your settings are tuned to. If you have Simplisafe cameras tied into your alarm system, you wouldn’t want to turn off these notifications because, in the event of a break-in or fire, the alarm would be important.

So if what you’re really looking for is high-resolution or night vision, you probably shouldn’t buy a consumer-grade security camera. The reason we say this is because these terms can be loosely defined. Although “night-vision” with infrared sensors can be useful, this technology is out of date. For real quality night vision, professional-grade security systems offer full-color footage even at night thanks to new technology like Wide Dynamic Range and/or Friendly-Lighting LEDs. Furthermore, you’ll be able to view these cameras at full resolution on any device you want, whether it’s a desktop computer, tablet, laptop, smartphone, or any other device on which you can connect to the web.

If you walk into any retail store like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Walmart to buy these consumer-grade security cameras, look up at the ceiling. You’ll notice that they use a white dome camera that is larger than your average consumer camera in each aisle – these are professional-grade cameras. Businesses that sell consumer-grade products know who the products are for: consumers with small to average-sized homes. That’s why they don’t even use the consumer-grade security cameras they sell to watch and protect their store – these cameras simply can’t get the job done.

What is a professional-grade security system? What are the benefits?

Most businesses that opt out of professional-grade security systems are doing so because their long-term goal is a lower total cost of ownership, but they are mistaken. The consumer-based DIY security market is filled with cameras where the device only works with one video management software and vice versa. That means if a camera goes down or breaks, you’re stuck going back to the same manufacturer (assuming they are still in business and have the same cameras).

One of the best things about using professional grade systems is that they are open-platform – which means they can work with dozens of other surveillance camera brands. That means you’ll be able to pick and choose which cameras are best for specific applications – based on the advice of your experienced installer. On top of that, open-source platforms allow you to integrate your security cameras with other security technology like access control systems, video analytics, better notification systems, and much more.

Furthermore, commercial-grade cameras are designed and built for high-performance applications and are more efficient due to higher-quality components. To put it simply, you should choose a professional-grade (commercial-grade) security system if:

  • Your business needs a lot of cameras. Thanks to better software and viewing capabilities, professional-grade cameras are really the only way to go if your business needs more than 4 cameras.
  • You want complete control. When you use a retail-grade security camera with a subscription service, like most of them require, you are subject to relying on a third party that manages the application where your videos are stored. If the app gets hacked, goes down, or has to have maintenance, you may be unable to view, store, or save footage.
  • You think your business will need more cameras in the future. If you want to start small and expand later, you should never consider consumer cameras. Professional-grade cameras, if chosen properly, work well and integrate with other products in the commercial-grade market.
  • Your cameras operate in mixed lighting conditions. If you don’t want to worry about faulty infrared sensors that plague consumer-grade systems, go with a professional system. The latest technology is making black-and-white footage a thing of the past. On top of that, commercial-grade cameras can see a lot further in the dark and make out objects more clearly.
  • You want superior, as advertised, resolution. Not only do commercial-grade cameras come standard in better resolution, they also perform as advertised. This is thanks to components like better lenses, internal hardware, software, and the fact that you’ll be able to view it on a monitor with the resolution of your choosing.
  • You’re worried about hacking. There have been several stories in the press about various consumer-grade cameras getting hacked, from Amazon Ring to Arlo, and (almost) everything in between.
  • You want your cameras to come with the best special functions. Examples: low-light cameras, WDR cameras, thermal cameras, vandal-proof cameras, explosion-proof cameras, water-resistant cameras, 4K or 8MP cameras, mobile security cameras, license plate and/or facial recognition, and much more.

Even though professional-grade security systems aren’t found in the big box and warehouse stores, they are still directly available to the public. Most businesses choose to consult with a security company that has certified installers before deciding upon a commercial-grade security camera system.

Professional-grade security cameras and installation services

According to the annual retail theft survey, professional-grade security cameras have helped lead to over 240 million dollars recovered from shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2021.

Professional-grade security systems provide better quality, reliability, and functionality which is required by businesses, schools, hospitals, government organizations, and commercial organizations.

Do you want help selecting the best security system for your business? Camera Security Now has certified technicians with years of experience in installing security systems for various businesses, schools, governments, and commercial organizations.


Security Consultant Johnny

Ask for a free consultation. Consult with one of our experienced certified technicians today, for free, and you’ll have the opportunity to explain your security goals and budget. Afterward, you’ll have the opportunity for us to come out for a site survey and provide you with suggestions on how to meet your goals and budget.

Contact us today for a free consultation and site visit! Call 800-440-1662 or fill out a fast, easy online quote form.

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