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Which Is Better CCTV Or Alarm?

When it comes to home security, you have options: security system or CCTV. You can go with the classic choice, a home security system. 

Sure, you have to pay monthly fees if you want professional monitoring. Yes, it’s a pain to get a city alarm license. But even if your alarm never goes off, just knowing that it’s there can give you a priceless feeling of security.

On the other hand, you can take a do-it-yourself approach to home security. We’re not just talking installation or self-monitored security; we mean self-monitoring through CCTV surveillance systems. 

A CCTV system lets you keep an eagle eye on your property without monthly fees or monitoring.

However, you’re not only responsible for monitoring your system—you also have to call law enforcement when something goes wrong manually. So which is better? More importantly, which is better for you? 

With an 8% increase in theft during the last year alone, many businesses and homeowners are looking at different ways to protect their properties, and the main question asked is should we install a Burglar Alarm or CCTV System? 

In this definitive guide, we look at both options for securing your property and provide some insights you may not have considered.

When it comes to securing your property, you have probably heard two different terms being thrown around. CCTV systems and alarm systems. While the terms get blurred in their general use, the two systems are pretty other. Both are also essential to securing your property.

Today we are going to explore the differences between the two systems and why they are both keys to ensuring safety and security.

Whether CCTV or a burglar alarm is better depends upon your particular circumstances. However, when it comes to home security, the best answer is the more, the better. 

CCTV cameras and burglar alarms are both excellent home security products and have their particular strengths. But if you had to pick CCTV or a burglar alarm, which one would it be?

CCTV narrowly wins because it offers all-around security. As a burglar alarm, its very presence is a brilliant deterrent and should prevent all but the most hardened and determined burglar. 

Where they differ in their use during and after a burglary, an excellent noisy alarm might discourage burglars from staying too long in your house, but they don’t offer any help to catch the offenders after the crime. CCTV, however, can be handed to Police who can use it to help trace the culprits

What Is A CCTV System?

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You can buy CCTV cameras on your own or as part of a security system. Costs vary but start at approximately $20 for a primary camera to hundreds of pounds for more sophisticated techniques.

Outdoor cameras need to be weatherproof and positioned high enough so that they can’t be tampered with but at a decent angle to identify any individuals if required. 

Remember to accurately time-stamp your CCTV with the correct date and time, just in case it is needed for evidential purposes.

Wireless Vs Wired:

  • Wired systems are usually cheaper but can be challenging to install. A wire connects directly from the camera to a recording device such as a PC or standalone digital video recorder (DVR).
  • Wireless systems transmit images to a computer, tablet or mobile phone using analogue or digital technology. You can purchase smart security cameras that link to an app on a smartphone or tablet, which you can use to monitor your home while you’re out. Some even double as a wireless doorbell so you can communicate with genuine callers to your door too.

The image needs to be sufficiently clear for someone to be identified. The image quality is determined by the camera resolution and the light sensitivity (“lux”). 

Look for CCTV with the greatest resolution and lowest lux within your price range.

Other options to consider are cameras with night vision and motion detection. Night vision cameras are more effective in low light as they record in black and white and use infrared illumination. 

Motion detection sensors automatically turn on when they detect movement, which is helpful to reduce the amount of footage you’re storing.

Important Information

Your CCTV cameras should only cover your property and not public spaces or other people’s houses or gardens. 

Speak to your neighbours about your plans and the positioning of your cameras. Consider putting up a sign to declare that you have CCTV for your neighbours and potential intruders to see.

A closed-circuit television system is a camera network. Together, the cameras provide a comprehensive view of the areas in and around your home. CCTV is just the ticket if you want to look in on your home throughout the day (and if you want a record of everything going on).

Advantages Of A CCTV System

CCTV systems are more about surveillance than security. Sure, the presence of a security camera dissuades some thieves. 

But generally, video footage is more helpful after an event than during it. Unless you keep your eyes glued to the feeds at all times, you’re unlikely to catch an intruder in the act.

CCTV systems are the perfect safeguards against liability, though. If you have an incident on your property, you can refer to the video recordings as an unbiased source of truth. 

Such footage can be beneficial during lawsuits or insurance-related matters. And with the rise of the mobile app, you have remote access to an incriminating recording with just a few swipes.

You also don’t have to pay an ongoing fee for CCTV monitoring since you manage the system yourself.

Disadvantages Of A CCTV System

A CCTV system is limited in scope. These systems lack extra precautions like open/close sensors, and they don’t have the professional monitoring you get with security systems. That said, CCTV systems are ideal if you want to be more hands-on with your home security.

CCTV Cameras provide an effective way of monitoring your home or business while you are away, and with Smartphone remote viewing Apps, you can check-in at any time to see what’s happening.

Smart Alerts like motion detection, line crossing and tripwire can be set up to alert you when someone approaches your property. These alerts are sent to your Smartphone as push notifications, with an image attached showing the moment the signal was generated.

Most CCTV systems can record footage to a computer-style hard drive. This allows you to playback recorded video from the previous 30 days, and this can then be downloaded to a USB memory stick.

Seeing in the dark is now a standard feature on CCTV systems, and some cameras can even see in complete darkness while remaining in colour, such as Darkfighter cameras.

Police can gain crucial details from your CCTV system, such as the build, size and clothing of burglars, and this could be linked with footage from neighbours systems. They can use CCTV to look at other incidents.

Cabling for CCTV Systems generally needs to be installed as wireless cameras are very power-hungry, so batteries constantly need replacing. A professional installer can usually make light work of this task.

The average cost of a two-camera CCTV system is around £900, so the price is very comparable to an Alarm System.

A CCTV system comes with multiple camera sensors. You can, however, choose any one of them depending on your property requirement. 

  • 2 camera CCTV system
  • 3 camera CCTV system
  • 4 camera CCTV system
  • 8 camera CCTV system

Key Benefits Of A CCTV System

  • CCTV is a surveillance tool that gathers evidence and monitors the activities on your property.
  • It even provides app alerts to you. Monitored CCTV allows a third party to monitor your property and respond to any signals raised.
  • Most of the professional-grade CCTV systems are tamper-proof. However, there’s still a risk that someone might disable or damage the recorders. This can be done by disconnecting the lines from the network recorders.
  • The CCTV system is an additional security layer on your property. But it is a bit expensive compared to an alarm system.
  • The CCTV system is even capable of capturing images in the dark through the latest high-resolution cameras.

What Should I Look For In A CCTV Camera/CCTV System?

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Close up picture on the man's hand unlocking the alarm in the apartment. Home security alarm.

We suggest starting with home security camera basics. For instance, look at the following:

  • Video quality
  • Two-way talk
  • Night vision
  • Motion sensor
  • Weatherproofing
  • Convenient storage options

Then you can ask yourselves more CCTV camera-focused questions. For instance, “Is this surveillance system wireless or does it have wired cameras?” and “Does this system have an NVR or DVR?”

You may also want to check if the CCTV has an app or if it’s more old-fashioned.

Wireless Vs Wired:

  • Wireless alarms use battery-powered sensors that communicate with a control panel using radio signals. They are generally more expensive to purchase, and you will need batteries for all components. However, you may be able to install them yourself and have the ability to add additional sensors or relocate them when needed.
  • Wired alarms need wires running to each of the sensors to work. They are cheaper to buy but usually require a professional to install them, so higher labour costs.

Advantages Of A Security System

The most notable difference between security systems and CCTV systems is that security systems are more comprehensive. Many security systems include camera systems, or at least video doorbells. But they also track potential intruders through sensors and detectors, not just by sight.

Also, if you get a system with professional monitoring, you don’t have to give it your full attention. If you’re asleep or at a movie, you’ll know that if anything happens, the alarm will alert authorities right away. It’s hands-free security for your home.

Another advantage of security systems is sending you notifications and alerts, usually via text or a mobile app. Although alert types generally depend on the design and home automation level, some examples include motion, humidity changes, or temperature fluctuation.

Disadvantages Of A Security System

Many security systems are professionally monitored. Depending on where you live, you might need a permit to install one in your home. Both the ongoing monitoring and the licensing cost moolah. With all these fees plus the upfront equipment cost, security systems can be costly.

A burglar alarm system is a type of home security system. It detects the movement of doors and windows through contacts and sensors attached to it. In case of a break-in, it triggers the alarm. It acts as a burglar deterrent and has helped keep the intruders away. This is why it is considered one of the most efficient security systems.  

These alarms are available in different variations with different features. Below are the main categories of warnings.

Alarm Systems

An alarm system is a complex chain of devices designed to alert a property owner or their representative to someone gaining unauthorised access to the property or a specific area. Various types of systems can be combined to create a comprehensive network of coverage.

The primary purpose of an alarm system is to alert the property owner that something is wrong or someone may have broken in. With modern techniques, this can be done by phone, computer, and the traditional noise-making system.

These alarms systems can also alert the authorities or an alarm monitoring system when unusual activity is detected. That way, Police or security can respond to your property to secure it.

Noises emitted by an alarm system can also scare off criminals. We are leaving them looking for a more accessible place to victimise. Deterrence is the reason that many alarm companies put signs in the yards of their customers. But a symbol by itself does no good.

If you are looking to secure your property, having both systems thoroughly is ideal. The alarm system alerts you when to look at the camera system. Without the camera system, you or the Police would be walking into an alarm blindly. That can be extremely dangerous.

Burglar Alarms should be considered as your first line of defence, if you have a Burglar Alarm armed (set) and an intruder breaks into your home, the alarm will sound, and the fact is most burglars don’t want to stay in a property where an alarm is sounding. 

A monitored alarm system will give you extra peace of mind linked to an alarm receiving centre (ARC). Once sensors have picked up two notifications, the notice will be activated as confirmed, and the ARC will contact the Police and contact you or the relevant contact on the list of keyholders you supply.

Also, consider the fact that if all properties around you have alarm bell boxes installed and yours doesn’t, this will make you more of a target to potential intruders. This is also true of older looking bell boxes. The chances are that if your bell box looks old, your alarm system is too, and a burglar is more likely to take an opportunity that your alarm will not operate if he breaks in. 

Most modern Burglar Alarm bell boxes have LEDs that pulse from side to side, and some sounder’s are illuminated. This provides an excellent visual deterrent to warn off potential burglars before they even chance their luck.

With the advances in wireless alarm technology, the installation process of having a Burglar Alarm installed is now less stressful, and systems can be quickly installed in your home or business with no detrimental effect to your decorating and no need for carpets being lifted.

Wireless alarms can be installed usually in one working day, and the average cost for a professionally installed system in a typical detached home is around $800. This is a small price to pay to protect your home or business.

Intruder Alarms

Intruder alarms can be used to complement the physical security measures in your home. They should be used as a deterrent and means of summoning help if physical security is breached. There are many alarm systems on the market, ranging from reasonably cheap alarms, which you can fit yourself, to more expensive sophisticated systems, which need to be installed by professionals.

If you are thinking about installing a burglar alarm, you should do the following:

  • Get at least three quotes and specialist advice from companies that supply alarms.
  • Use companies registered with either the National Security Inspectorate (NSI)
  •  or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB)


When the alarm is triggered, it sounds like an internal and external alarm to attract attention to the property but does not contact anyone. 

They rely on the homeowner or neighbours to look for suspicious activity and make contact with the Police.

Dialler Alarms

When triggered, these systems automatically dial your phone number or a nominated friend or family member to alert you even when you are not at the property.

Smart Home Security Systems

These contact you or a nominated person via a smartphone or tablet when triggered. They allow you to control your smart security from your phone, even when you’re away from home.

Monitored Alarms

These require a monthly/annual contract with a company to take action or call the Police if the alarm is triggered.

Bells-only Alarm

It’s a siren alarm that creates a loud noise when someone breaks into your property. However, it does not contact anyone and is suitable for a low-risk property.

Dialler Alarm

This type of alarm is a call-alert alarm that triggers a loud noise in case of a break-in. Also, it then automatically dials the contacts that are added to the keyholder list.

Monitored Alarm

It allows you to monitor your home 24 * 7 and alerts you when a break-in is suspected. It can be either a self-monitored or a third-party monitored alarm. 

A self-monitored alarm alerts you via a call when there is an intrusion in your property. On the other hand, a third-party monitored alarm lets someone else monitor your property at an additional monthly fee.

Smart Alarm

A smart alarm comes with a smartphone app that can be used by the user to monitor the activities. You can quickly arm and disarm your alarm remotely. Also, you can get all the alerts on your app in case of an intrusion.

Wired Or Wireless Alarm

Wired burglar alarm systems, as the name suggests, are wired alarms with cables to set up. They are a bit complex to install and should be configured by a professional installer. On the other hand, wireless alarms are battery operated and are easier to install. However, they are a bit more expensive than wired alarms.

Pet-friendly Alarm

A pet-friendly alarm comes with unique PIR detectors that ignore the movement of your pets inside your home when armed. It, therefore, does not trigger a false alarm. Most alarm systems can be converted to a pet-friendly system by installing a PIR motion sensor.

Key Features Of A Burglar Alarm

  • A Burglar Alarm is a preventive solution designed to prevent burglaries.
  • It gives you real-time alerts via loud sirens or phone calls, or app alerts. The camera sensors are capable of capturing and sending photos and videos to you.
  • The British standard alarm systems and accessories are all tamper-proof. Therefore, it is not easy for an intruder to get past without triggering an alarm.
  • It sends you a notification every time the alarm is off. This helps you to take immediate and necessary action. 
  • The monitored alarms are capable of alerting third parties or the Police in case there is an intrusion. 

Businesses and homeowners alike often ask us whether it would be best for them to have a CCTV system rather than a burglar alarm. 

Unfortunately, it’s hard to give a definitive answer to this question, as with so many things in life, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work! Many factors need to be considered if you’d like to decide whether or not CCTV is best for you.

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