Surveillance on a budget – Self monitoring, Recording and Remote viewing of Security Video

posted in: TECHNO | 1

This article should help you get a good idea on the concept and cost of modern day Video Surveillance & Remote Monitoring System and to be able to go forward with more research into this topic or Do It Yourself! 

In order to understand the true cost of installing and maintaining a video Surveillance system, one will have to look into the different pieces that make up this system and also do a quick comparison to a service that does this for you on drop of some cash.

Let us look at a very well known service provider (remember, popular does not mean it is the best! ) ADT. Their costs range from region to region and they have many services and plans. Last time I inquired, it would cost me roughly around $500 and then $50/month to be able to do basic self monitoring of 2 security cameras, they also wanted me to have a wired telephone and I said,what is that! Off course they provide you with recording and archiving as well as monitoring. Lets just stop here before we go in this direction.

I have been experimenting and testing various systems, out which most of them are free or opensource or are very inexpensive items that can be purchased online. Just to get your attention and to make sure you benefit from this article, the system that I was able to put together has $0 monthly cost, a one time cost (varies) from $0 to about $250 for basic home SELF video monitoring, recording and viewing over the web on any web enabled device. The Cloud Internet in the following illustrations and description is what you already have and you pay for it. ($25 dollars is what you pay for the lowest speed with any major service provider)

So the key word is ” IP Based System “. Internet Protocol.

This system is based on the IP devices, an old computer (Network Video Recorder – NVR) , your existing wireless router and your web enabled phone (for example), all are easy to configure and set up. The real hero in the cost saving role is the IP camera. Explanations and definitions of these systems and their selection criterion are for another post (which is coming soon). Lets look at the illustration below,

Example 1

These are the main components that make up a Video Surveillance and Remote monitoring system and obviously is missing the Networking/Installation/Settings which I would like to call knowledge base to be able to successfully put this together. Worry not, because I have for you a ebook, cheat sheet / guide , for setting it up even if you never really worked on these systems before. The prerequisite is ” Do It Yourself” attitude and some “Frooglisim”. Please subscribe NOW to my blog for my future blog post on how to Do this yourself. 

The How to Series can be obtained here.

Okay, back to the budget part. The illustration below will give you a very good idea on how much it could cost. This is not the ultimate or the costs indicated may change. They are all subjective and depends on a lot of factors. However if one generalizes and takes the best price for most of these systems then we can come to three types of costs namely, One time, Monthly and Annual and if you are doing this yourself, then you can actually save on hiring that neighbor who calls himself the IT guy. Or maybe you want to hire him, up to you.

Explanation: The picture below, shows an IP camera capable of ONVIF ( Open Network Video Interface Forum) , h264 $40, a known brand wireless router $25, a not so popular but great IP camera Software (record and play/ View) $50, a refurbished PC $85, an app from your Phone’s app store $2. Together with few man hours, you can have a fully functional Video Surveillance and Remote monitoring system.

Example 2


Get the idea? So how much does it cost?


Let’s look at another picture. By now, you must have got the feeling that I really like to draw :). So, like I was saying, three types of costs, one time $267 -$300, Monthly cost for Internet Service ($25) and some maintenance costs which you by the way can really take it off if you decide to do it yourself ($100). Any camera you add, additional costs are anywhere between $40- $70. This system is sustainable and maintainable. Let me know what you think about this and if it made you do more research into this whole video security stuff and you have questions, please keep them coming at Please do not forget to subscribe to my blog.

  1. Alisha

    This is a very informative article! I am interested in doing this for my home. I would sleep better at night knowing that my home is more secure. How can it also be set up so that it contacts the police department if the alarm goes off? This would be what companies such as ADT call a “monitored” service.

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