A little about “Costco CCTV Systems”

CCTV Systems have became very popular in recent years. To prove it, today we can go to almost every big box store like Costco, BJ’s, Walmart etc. and get simple CCTV System right there. In this article I will compare those big box store surveillance systems to products used by professional CCTV installers.
First of all before buying any CCTV Systems we should ask ourselves, how much do wee want to invest in it. It is like with buying a car, there are cars for 10,000USD and cars for several million dollars. Every car can be driven and takes you from point A to point B so why difference in price? Most of us know answer to this question. Not too many knows the answer when it comes to Security Cameras and whole CCTV systems. Like with the cars, price of CCTV Camera and System vary depending on type and features. So before we purchase any Surveillance equipment, we need to know how we are going to use it. Do we need outdoor or indoor only cameras? Do we need zoom lens or wide angle? What do we expect from the DVR unit? How much video footage we want to store? What features of the DVR are important to us? etc.
Next important question is about quality. With CCTV products is like with the cars. Up to some point the more we pay the better quality we can expect. This is usually true, but only until some point. Above that point, quality remains pretty much the same but we are starting to pay more for specific brands. There are some worldwide known brands like Pelco, Bosch, Axis etc. We do have to pay much more for brand name products, not because they are better but simply because those companies invest a lot in advertising (catalogs, ads in the magazines, expos), also their products are usually available only through qualified distributors charging premium price for their services. In exchange, from those companies we can often expect better tech support, they organize free seminars for installers etc. In example brand name camera with exactly the same specs as generic product can cost up to 10 times more. So we need to ask ourselves, do we want to pay extra for the brand?
Also try to avoid those installers or online stores offering some products which you can’t find anywhere else. They will mask original manufacturer part number under their own part number and since you can’t compare it (find it) anywhere else, you can’t determine right price for the product. We know of at least few online store selling some products under their own model number and charging premium price. It is simple, if you can’t find specific product on any other site to compare prices, avoid it.
Going back to “Costco Camera Systems”, they are definitely cheap and easy to install. And theses are really the only pros. They are at the level where the more you pay the better quality you can expect. Many of big box store CCTV Systems are built around discontinued products. We often see cameras with CMOS sensors that were abandoned years ago due to poor low light performance. Also camera resolution in those systems is usually below current standards. I’ve seen many systems with cameras featuring resolutions as low as 350TVL, when standard low today is at 420-480TVL with high resolution cameras featuring 700TVL. And did I mention plastic lenses? A lot of those systems are not designed to be expandable. Professional CCTV cameras use BNC connection as a industry standard, while CCTV system from big box store may very often use some non-standard connections making it virtually impossible to i.e. buy longer cable or use any other camera.
Speaking about the cables, they are never RG59 coax used by professionals. Cheap system means cheap cable containing low copper conductors. And the good quality cable in surveillance system is one of the most important factors in picture quality. Let’s do not forget about power supply. Quality power supply is grounded, fused and will last for years. Do not expect it from cheap power adapter included with “Costco CCTV System”. Same thing applies to cameras. Too often we are being called to service those type of systems. Not only the quality is terrible, but those systems don’t last very long. Why professional installers don’t want to use them? Answer is simple. We want something dependable and something that will be helpful providing right evidence, surveillance and security, not a toy. If we have to go on service call every few weeks, it ends up costing much more than Professional CCTV System with professional cameras and DVR and the quality is nowhere close. So please do your research before investing in security system.

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One Response to A little about “Costco CCTV Systems”

  1. joey says:

    I bougth my first cctv system in costco. The price was great, but it took me forever to figure out the DVR. I could never get it to work over the internet. I have all the settings right, but it only works with some computers and only for few seconds than it freezes. Cables were very short so i had to buy longer ones. After about a year 8 of my 16 cameras quot working. Two other have water inside even though they were supposed to be weather proof. The quality was never there and night vision is a joke. My advice, stay away from cheap cctv systems. My friend paid twice as much as i did for his system, but his system works great. I guess what you pay for is what you get.

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