How to choose an outdoor IP camera – Key features to look for


CCTV surveillance cameras are now commonplace in cities worldwide. However, as you know, outdoor cameras have a high failure rate, so only a portion of the cameras installed are operational.

Maintaining a functional outdoor video surveillance system can be prohibitively expensive due to the high failure rate due to operational and maintenance failure. Camera replacement is extremely expensive, and it is unreasonable to expect cash-strapped cities to constantly replace their frequently malfunctioning outdoor cameras.

In this post, we will discuss six desirable features to look for in CCTV cameras that will not only keep your installation budget in check but will also drastically reduce the cost of maintaining your CCTV camera system.

1. High MTBF (mean time between failures)

Consistent camera coverage and uptime will be easier to achieve if outdoor cameras have a higher MTBF and lower failure rates. Unfortunately, the unreliability of outdoor surveillance cameras is an inherent feature of their basic design. One consequence of this reliance on the enclosure climate control system is that if the heater or fan fails, the operator must replace the source of the failure and the entire camera. Another way to put it is that the MTBF of the heater, the fan, and the camera unit itself determine the MTBF of the entire camera system. Given this vulnerability, it should be no surprise that the costs of maintaining outdoor cameras frequently exceed the available budget. When cameras need to be replaced frequently, the cost of upkeep overtakes that of installation very quickly.

2. No fan, no heater

Most outdoor camera manufacturers are expanding on their core competencies in industrial video surveillance products. As a result, many modern outdoor cameras are indoor cameras with an additional layer of security. In actuality, this entails placing the camera in a container with a tiny heater and fan that makes an effort to maintain temperatures comparable to those that the camera would experience in its natural indoor environment. Simply put, the enclosure turns the camera into a tiny climate-controlled environment.

The issue with this tactic is that camera heaters and fans seriously compromise the system as a whole. When they break down, either point of failure has the potential to ruin the camera. The camera shuts off if the fan malfunctions. The camera shuts off if the heater malfunctions. Even if the heater and fan function as expected, the enclosure’s temperature may still be higher than the camera is designed to withstand before failing. Remember: You should purchase a fan and heater that must be serviced on-site every three months with a camera, not just a camera!

3. Low maintenance and replacement costs

The high total cost of operating an outdoor surveillance system is influenced by factors other than device replacement. The labor needed to regularly replace cameras in the field is a significant additional factor. Outdoor cameras are typically placed in remote areas to deter vandalism and maintain aesthetics. However, this makes it more challenging to access the camera for maintenance.

4. PoE

Applications that call for fans or heaters are significantly disadvantaged because these power-hungry devices can be expensive and complicated to wire in the field. You can limit the power your outdoor video surveillance applications need. If so, you might consider using solar or battery power or take advantage of PoE+ power, which doesn’t need a separate power source. Every watt counts when using these technologies, so it’s a big advantage not to need a heater or fan.

5. Industry certification approvals

There are many uses for outdoor IP cameras, including town surveillance and monitoring roads, highways, and even mines. Most applications demand products with particular industrial certifications, such as EN 50121 (railway waysides), EN 55022, C1 D2 ATEX zone 2 (process automation), and NEMA TS2 (to ensure that the entire system is reliable) (highways). Utilizing a camera with the necessary certifications ensures reliable performance, even when the camera is used in environments with a risk of explosion or is subjected to high levels of surge or EMI.

6. Wide temperature range

An outdoor camera needs to function dependably in a real outdoor setting. For instance, summertime highs in India can reach 45°C, and cameras installed inside a metal housing constantly exposed to the sun could easily reach 70°C. You gain a significant advantage if your camera can function dependably at temperatures as high as 75°C because most outdoor IP cameras need to be used with a fan to lower the temperature.