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DVR Security Camera System with 8 Channels

A DVR security camera system can be scaled up with enough channels to cover even the largest home. The system shown here has 8 cameras, and would be a good size for a medium to large home.

If you're looking for something smaller, check out one of these:

Wireless Security Camera Kit with one camera.
Video Security Camera System with 4 cameras.

Multi-camera Systems and Recording

Watching live video from 8 cameras isn't practical; there's too much going on at once. This means adding some kind of recording capability.

The best way to do this is with a DVR. You can use a DVR with its own built-in hard drive, or use a more basic model that stores images on a separate PC or mass-storage device. Either way, you’ll have a record of activity constantly updated as the unit continuously adds footage.

Obviously, at the instant an event occurs, you won’t know about it. But within hours, days, or weeks, any theft, vandalism, or other bad behavior will be noticed. Recording provides a record of any malicious activity, and would be the most help to law enforcement.

For this reason, many DVR security camera systems include a DVD burner, SD port, or other method to transfer your recorded images to a portable medium. This can be given to authorities to aid in identifying those responsible.

DVR Security Camera System with Networking

Most larger DVR security camera systems allow local viewing on any computer on your home network. This is usually done using a desktop interface and viewing software included with the system. Some basic setup may be required to get the images viewable on your particular network. Most DVR makers offer technical support to help you or your installing company.

Along with viewing your video, the desktop interface also allows control of recording quality, scheduling, display options, and other DVR functions.

Besides local control, many DVR surveillance systems offer operation and viewing from any computer in the world with Internet access. This may have limitations such as PC or Mac device type, as well as specific operating system requirements. Setup for viewing and operating the system remotely may require a bit more additional effort, often involving IP address configuration.

Another popular feature involves remote viewing and/or control with portable devices. This may include iPhone, Android, Palm, and other mobile platforms. These sometimes require downloading an app to your mobile phone or device to allow you to interface with your system at home.

A DVR Camera System with 8-Channels

The Q-See 8-camera system shown here is a good example of a typical system. The DVR has 500GB 1TB of memory built-in. If you need more recording space, you can always use your own external USB hard drive to increase memory capacity.

Recording can be set to occur continuously for all cameras, on a set timed schedule, or by using the built-in motion detection feature. Motion detection can be set up to mask any areas of the picture that might cause false triggering, such as moving branches or vehicle traffic.

The DVR allows viewing in several different modes. You can watch any single camera full-screen, or any 2, 4, or 8 cameras in a split-screen display. You can also view all cameras one at a time with sequential viewing.

View your images while at home on your laptop or PC running Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. Various browsers are supported, including Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox with an IE plug-in.

DVR Surveillance Cameras

The hardwired color cameras each have 24 infrared LED’s for nighttime viewing. This should give a viewing range of up to 40 feet, according to the manufacturer.

Before wiring and installing a camera for viewing in a darkened area, it’s a good idea to try it out first. Hook it up temporarily, and place it in the darkened location. Check the quality of the pictures, and see if re-positioning improves the clarity.

Using DVR Security Cameras in Darkness

Night viewing is always a challenge, even for equipment advertised as “night vision” cameras. IR LED’s do give the ability to see in darkness, but the distance they can cover is usually limited.

There are some things you can do to improve your video in darkened areas:

Tips: If night viewing is important to you, look for cameras with as many LED’s as possible. In general, more is better. I’ve seen cameras advertised with as few as 9 LED’s, and some with as many as 36!

Read reviews before buying a system. One of the single biggest complaints people have about any DVR security camera system is poor nighttime video quality. Remember that even a small amount of light is better than none at all. Try to aim cameras at the brightest portion of the desired area, while still giving you the activity you’re expecting to record.

Adding extra ambient lighting is the best solution for using cameras at night. This can come from streetlights, floodlights, or better yet, motion-activated lights.

These cameras are also weatherproof, so they can be mounted outdoors if needed. For any outdoor surveillance cameras, it’s always best to install them under an eave or overhang. Even though they’re weatherproof, giving them some protection from the elements will prolong their life.


Choosing a DVR security camera system can be exciting and even fun, with the wide variety of packages available now. When comparing systems, keep some important points in mind:

  • Choose a DVR security camera system large enough to meet your current needs. While an apartment might covered using a single- or 2-camera system, a large custom home would need quite a bit more.
  • Consider that you might want to expand the system in the future. It’s better to buy a slightly bigger system than you think you need.
  • If you’re not sure about what size system to get, look for an “expandable” package. These are systems that include an 8- or 16-channel DVR, but only include a few cameras. This leaves room to add more cameras later, if you want to.
  • Expanbable DVR packages are also a great way to build a system on a tight budget, since you’re spreading the cost out over a longer time.
  • Check DVR surveillance system compatibility carefully before you buy. Make sure the system you choose will work with your PC or Mac operating system, browser, and mobile devices.
  • Read reviews, looking especially for any problems other users have had regarding features that are high on your list of priorities. Although some reviews are “planted” by unscrupulous vendors, you’ll get an overall feel for the quality of the product if you look at many reviews.

For more help finding a system, see Choosing DVR Camera Systems.

Related Articles:

Honeywell CCTV Systems

Varifocal Camera Advantages

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