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Prices of CCTV systems

Video Surveillance Systems Buyers' Guide

CCTV systems are like all other electronic products: the prices vary dramatically according to brand name and quality.

Cheap CCTV System Deals

At the bottom end of the scale, as long as you're not worried about the standard of your images, you can get a DVR, monitor and four cameras from the Internet for £400 or less. Don't expect much from these systems: you'll have poor definition pictures and equipment that won't last as long as you'd really like.

A professionally installed CCTV system designed for constant commercial use over many years will undoubtedly cost you more. But such a system will meet the demands of your business and give you better results.

Cameras and Lenses

Standard black and white cameras start at around £20 and colour at £40. A reliable brand name colour model is likely to be £80 - £120. Dome cameras are about £180 - £460 depending on specification; interior PTZs are approximately £400 - £1,300; and outdoor PTZs can be £1,600 and up.

You can buy some covert cameras disguised as sprinklers, smoke alarms or clocks for as little as £10 but the quality of the images will not be good. For a hidden camera that gives you more professional results expect to pay £100 - £200.

Camera accessories include dust proof and watertight housings for about £50 - £90, and wall brackets for around £20 - £50. Dummy cameras are £20 - £35.

Cameras don't usually come with lenses so be prepared for suppliers to quote these as extra. A fixed focal length camera lens starts at about £40 and rises to around £150. A motorised zoom lens has perhaps the widest price range of all from about £400 to £10,000 for a top of the range model. You should be able to purchase a good quality motorised zoom for under £1,000, however.

Recorders

VCRs are no longer as common as they used to be but you can still get them. A good quality model will cost £150 - £200. Cheap four camera DVRs are available for £200 but a brand name model with a good range of features including a 160 GB hard drive costs £600 - £750. A sixteen camera DVR may be £800 to over £2,000 depending on the hard drive capacity, overall quality and extras.

Monitors

For bulky CRT monitors with screen sizes from 10in - 17in, you'll pay around £145 - £380. Flat panel screens start at £45 for a basic 6in model and rise to about £350 for a 15in and around £600 for a 20in. Larger sizes are available but can run into thousands of pounds.

Installation

A good installation team will hide your cabling; position the cameras securely in the places you want them; and test every aspect of your CCTV system before they leave. They'll also do the job quickly and cause as little disruption to your business as possible. So if you receive an installation quote that's remarkably low, think twice about taking it. Installation of a CCTV system is like any other service: you'll get what you pay for.

Warranties

Your equipment will come with a standard twelve month manufacturer's warranty. After this, you may wish to pay for an extended warranty but the cost can be hard to justify because all you should need to do from time to time is replace individual items.

If the supplier doesn't mention an installation warranty, ask about it. Some suppliers include a year's installation warranty as standard.

If you want a maintenance plan it's worth asking suppliers, but many will simply offer a repair service as and when you need it.

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