When budgeting for video surveillance cameras, there are multiple factors to consider that affect cost beyond the camera itself. It’s important to also know the cost of installation, and the cost to service or upgrade a unit in the future. While configuring a small number of cameras will likely have little impact on cost, the labor involved in installing and servicing hundreds of cameras can be significant. A modular approach to camera design is necessary to reduce the installation costs and long-term maintenance of such cameras.

Reduced labor saves money and time for everyone

Ease of installation is an important part of a project to the system integrator because the cost of labor varies and can be expensive. If labor costs are high – or are more expensive than a system integrator planned – money can be lost on a project. If a cautious system integrator includes a high estimate for labor in a project bid, his overall bid will be too high and could cost him the project. The easier the camera is to install, the lower the labor cost, subsequently achieving higher savings for end users. Hence it is essential that camera manufacturers develop products that are easy to install or are flexible in the field for system integrators and installers who know that time is money.

Designing a modular camera

Camera manufacturers produce products that take the different roles of an electrician, installer and technician into consideration, allowing them to complete their tasks independently. In a modular design, a camera can have a detachable camera module that utilizes magnets to lock it into the housing for instant installation. Electricians can run conduit with a single PoE connection to the back plate / housing while an integrator configures multiple camera modules still in the box. Some manufacturers have developed packaging that provides access to the camera port without having to remove it from the box. It’s an innovative solution that saves time. Security professionals can later snap a pre-configured camera into place in just minutes. Removable camera skins allow for different color choices or can be painted without the tedious process of masking off the camera dome, making customized, color matched installations less costly.

Flexibility in the field

Once a camera is installed, it might require further adjustment as operators wish to tweak the field of view or change the resolution. With modular-designed cameras, the camera module can be swapped with a new one without having to focus or replace the camera. A pan/tilt/rotate camera module allows complete control of the camera view remotely. Making cameras field-adjustable not only saves significantly on labor, it’s also safer since installers don’t have to spend as much time on ladders potentially carrying a bulky laptop to access the network to be able to see video of how the camera is positioned. Modular cameras have USB ports that allow installers to connect a small dongle that temporarily converts the camera to a Wi-Fi device. Using a smartphone, the installer can wirelessly see full, not cropped, high-quality video directly from the camera.  It’s a much easier and precise way to evaluate video while at the camera.

Good software applications should remove mundane tasks

Whether it’s a one-man show or a team of electricians, installers and technicians, utility software can greatly enhance the installation process. Utility software are important tools in adding multiple cameras to a project. In a 300-camera project, for example, it’s easier when an installer has access to a device manager that can bulk configure all cameras. Adding 300 cameras one by one is time consuming and leaves room for error when making multiple entries. A device manager is able to scan the network and locate its devices, allowing them to be grouped, configured and more.

Every video surveillance camera project is different, but there are common efficiencies with ease of installation and configuration. Even saving a few minutes per camera on a multi-camera installations can create substantial savings. Modular cameras not only save time and money during the initial installation, they also make future upgrades and replacements less expensive.