We get asked if we sell CCTV kits a lot and the answer is no. We sell all the bits you need make up a cctv kit but we don't stock the whole lot in one box and there is a very good reason.

CCTV systems use several different cameras
Everybody's CCTV needs will be different. Some people want cameras for outside, some for inside. Some cameras need to film overall views whilst others need to film higher levels of detail. Some subjects will be close to the camera, others some distance away. The cameras will also be fitted in a variety of different locations. You begin to see that a one box solution can never provide a good CCTV solution. The most important thing to get right on a CCTV system are the cameras. We have a guide to choosing CCTV cameras elsewhere on the site.

The CCTV kits you see advertised all contain fixed lens wide angle cameras. The single worst thing you can do is use fixed lens wide angle cameras because they spread pixels apart as you move away from the camera and you don't capture any detail. They may claim an effective range of up 20 or 30 metres but the reality will be nothing like that, probably 3 metres in standard definition.

Cables and connections
Cable distances will vary from application to application so the likelihood is whatever cables came in the box would either be too long or too short. In fact pretty much every element of a CCTV system needs to be tailored to the user's needs. All in one box CCTV kits often have unique connectors to that particular kit meaning if you need to change a camera you can't because no one sells equipment with those fittings. The result is everything goes in the bin and you have to buy a completely new system.

CCTV kits tend to be very poor quality. You don't have a choice in how good or bad each element is, you simply get what's in the box. Because they are sold to a price one box CCTV systems tend to contain decidedly average quality equipment other than the outer box it's self. That will be bright, colourful and contains words such as professional, high quality, razor sharp, pinpoint, high definition and so on. They almost spend more money on the box than the contents!

Buy what you need
We allow you to choose elements of your CCTV system individually to make sure you end up with exactly what you need. Save money in areas where conditions are less demanding, buy the right gear for the job where things get a little tougher or results are more critical.

We still reflect the fact you're not just buying a single camera by including a free power supply when you buy 4 cameras. We fit the hard drive into the DVR recorder, format it and configure the DVR settings free of charge to save you having to wade through a 60 page instruction manual. We also include a good quality warning sign pack should you need one. Remember we are happy to offer free help and advice to make sure you buy the right kit.

We have recently created a CCTV camera buying guide which should answer most of your questions relating to cameras and which one to use.

When people call us on the phone to discuss their needs they usually start by describing each area of the property to be secured. "I want a camera to cover my front garden which is 23 metres long by 18 metres wide. We need to cover the gate in the middle and driveway to the side and I'd also like to cover my ornamental fountain which is over by the neighbour's wall"

The problem with CCTV is that you can't cover vast areas with a single camera. Or rather you can, but the trade off is no one area will get special attention in terms of detail recorded. Even with high definition CCTV cameras once you widen the angle of what the camera sees recorded detail drops off dramatically. Think about it, you have a given number of pixels across the screen and as you move away from the camera the area the camera sees increases but that means the pixel density decreases. It doesn't help that many people selling CCTV tell lies and claim their wide angle CCTV cameras can film crystal clear detail at distances of 20 metres or more. Typically a 75 degree angle of view camera has an effective optical range of up to 3 metres in standard definition, 6 metres in HD1080P.

When that person looked around their garden they moved their head and focussed in on the areas of interest, the gate, the fountain and the driveway. A CCTV camera can't do this, it shares it's attention across the whole screen.

Zooming in electronically, increasing the TVL (number of TV lines) or increasing the number of megapixels wont help. You need to increase pixels by a factor of 4 to double the identification distance of the camera. The only way to get more detail in these areas is to optically zoom the camera in on an area, but it can only look in one place at a time. So there is a trade off with CCTV cameras, you either have a wide angle of view or you have good levels of detail. You can't have both.

Think carefully about where you actually need to film and how much detail you need to capture when calculating which CCTV cameras to use. Don't try to machine gun the whole of an area with CCTV, it won't work. Instead try to think of your site in terms of specific target points where you can capture information. Obviously there might be some instances where all you need is an overall view, but don't kid yourself that you will be recording footage from which you can read number plates or identify people. Here in our offices we have a camera which films the front car parking area. It can't be seen from the office and so we just want to know as and when someone arrives. A separate camera films them close up as they drive in to record number plate details and so on.

If you are planning a specific CCTV project we are always happy to help. We can look at your site using internet mapping from which we can take accurate measurements. At the same time we can chat on the phone to understand exactly what you want the CCTV system to do for you. From there we will be able to put together a list of equipment including the correct cameras. There is no charge for this and you are under no obligation.

Lots of people are buying CCTV for their home or business these days. Advances in technology mean high definition HD1080P CCTV is available as a realistic and credible solution. The benefit of CCTV is that it runs 24 hours a day and can capture footage which helps identify culprits after an event. Alarms sound a noise which everyone ignores and if the police are alerted the thief is long gone by the time they arrive. CCTV identifies and helps secure prosecutions.

More people are fitting their own CCTV
CCTV is easy to fit and well within the scope of a competent DIY'er. There is no mains voltage involved, all our equipment uses 12 volt power. All you need to do is fix the camera to your wall and run a cable to the DVR recorder which could be located in a loft space to making wiring runs easier. A single cable provides power to the camera and also transfers the video signal to the DVR recorder.

Cable technology has improved to the point where you don't need specialist tools. Using CAT5 cable, our video baluns and power connectors all you need is a small screwdriver to make the connections. The whole system runs on 12 volts so you don't have to touch the mains 240 volt supply.

Avoid poor quality DIY solutions
Unfortunately the CCTV industry is not regulated and there are some shockingly poor quality systems on the market. Reading through the marketing material you would be forgiven for thinking they were great solutions but the reality falls well short. Have a look at our guide to Maplins CCTV solutions. They are one of the worst culprits when it comes to marketing making promises the products can't achieve.

Spend some time planning your system
There is some homework and planning to do if you want to get the best from your CCTV system, but that's what we are here for. We have a large CCTV buying guide but we are also a real company with real people only too happy advise on your specific needs. We can view your property using internet mapping from which we can take accurate measurements whilst talking to you on the phone to establish exactly what you are hoping to achieve. We can then put together a list of equipment. We offer this as a free service and there is no obligation on your part, we won't keep hounding you afterwards.

We do all the difficult bits before you get your equipment
DVR recorders can be a bit tricky to set up initially so we do that bit for you. If you buy the DVR and hard drive together we will install the hard drive, format it and configure the DVR with basic settings so it arrives plug and play, connect the cameras and start recording.

Remote access using your phone, tablet or computer
All our CCTV systems can be accessed remotely using a phone, tablet (iPad etc.), PC or Mac. You need to do something called port forwarding on your internet router but don't worry, if computers and IT aren't your thing we have a remote set up service which does everything for you via live screen sharing session with one of our technicians.

You will end up with the best CCTV system possible
By taking the time to understand a little bit about CCTV you will end up with a better system than if you'd just gone to one of the big security brands. They just want to get you signed up for that monthly direct debit and don't put as much time and effort in as you are prepared to. The fact you're reading this means you are taking CCTV seriously. The national firms tend to market a one size fits all solution and usually fit cameras that are too wide angle and fail to capture sufficient detail. See our guide to CCTV camera optical range. We help you understand the basic principles so you know what is and isn't possible.

Feel free to get in touch if you are planning a specific CCTV project or just want some general advice.