Chris Yacino of Eaglestar Security on Camera Installation
Chris Yacino gave a very good presentation, complete with real props, about security systems. He also gave the room an idea of how affordable a high quality system can be. (Certainly if you want a super high end system there are unaffordable options, as well.)
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Chris: All right. I’m going to make this really quick because we covered both ends of the security camera spectrum, so $5 systems and the $30,000 systems. What we do is usually in between that, actually closer to the $5 end. I’m going to try to do more questions and answers. I’m going to zip through this pretty quick.
Why should you consider cameras for your property? He had obviously a lot of good points that have to do with property. We don’t do a lot of rental properties. We do mostly businesses and a lot of residential work now, commercial businesses. We don’t do a lot of residential properties that you guys have for one reason or another I’m not sure what.
But some of the things that properties that we do have that people like is the ability to see the people in the house what they’re doing in the common areas, but also things like did your plow guy show up and plow the parking lots, what time did he show up, how long was he actually there, plowing the parking lots. A lot of the people that we do come back and say, “Man, this has saved me a ton of dough because the guy was overbilling me and not showing up when he say he would.”
Same thing with landscaping. You get to see the landscapers drive by the property and send you a bill for mowing the lawn and treating the lawn, but they didn’t. Trash removal, those kinds of thing. Is the dumpster full? It’s that kind of stuff going on. We’ve seen a lot of that being beneficial.
I’m going to be kind of the bearer of bad news here. Rich, you got to do standup, man. You’re incredible. But when he talked about what deterrents, a lot of the deterrents, I’ve been doing this for 32 years, probably seen in the vicinity of 3,000 to 4,000 break-ins. We are not finding that the things that you talked about are good deterrents actually. They were better deterrents years ago, but now the thieves that we’re dealing with have addiction problems and you and I are afraid of a dog, you and I are afraid of the things that we talked about here. Somebody that has a heroin addiction doesn’t care about being bit by a dog. They’re not afraid of even cameras, and a lot of these other things aren’t good deterrents like they used to be.
Some misconceptions about cameras in particular is everybody thinks that the image they’re going to see is this because that’s what they see on TV. You’ll see the guy holding up his driver’s license and know exactly who he is. When in reality you’ll see something similar to this or a 15-year-old in a hoodie and unless you know who that 15-year-old is, it’s not going to do you a heck of a lot of good. Now the good thing is with apartments is you’ll see what your tenants do and you’ll recognize your tenants. So from that standpoint, I guess it makes more sense.
Again, the gentleman that you just heard online talked about seeing a license plate a block away, that’s incredible. We would need to do a camera that’s around $2,000 to $3,000 when the average camera is about $150 to see a license plate two blocks away. He spends some serious dough on that system. Again, this is what people think they’re going to see when they see a vehicle, and that’s the reality. That’s a good high-definition camera, so you’ll catch a license plate if you have a license plate camera. They’re a specific camera like you see on the Mass Pike. It’s designed to pick up a vehicle that comes through a certain entrance in a certain space. Often an angle or the vehicle moving at a rapid rate of speed, you are very seldom going to get a license plate.
Rich: So people who drive hybrids and troublemakers, they should watch out.
Chris: Did you notice that I grabbed the license plate that had 56MPG and I –
Rich: Yeah, very well.
Chris: And I drive a Prius.
Rich: Pretty good.
Chris: I thought that was good. All right so I’m going to run though real quick camera differences and I want you guys to be able to ask me questions about specific cameras. There are two types of systems: the analog and the digital.
Analog is old school. The best you’re going to get is a 0.1 to 0.2 megapixel max resolution. People will try to sell you analog cameras. The things that you see in Wal-Mart are analog cameras. They’ll say that they have 900 lines all these things. It’s not true. Analog resolution is dictated by the NTS standard, which means you can watch it on the television. They’ve thought out, so now everything has gone to digital or IP cameras. You view the image over the Internet and those are up to 5 megapixels now.
When the gentleman on the line talked about zooming, he didn’t mean that you zoom the camera into the person, or whatever it is that you’re trying to see because you’d have to have a security guy there physically to work a joystick to do that. What he meant was the images have so many megapixels just like pictures you take at home with your camera that you can look at a section of that image and blow it up to see what’s going on, but you’re not physically zooming the lens in.
This is an example of analog versus IP and the difference in detail. Again, you got somebody selling drugs in the hallway, you’d be able to see what they’re doing with the hands as opposed to seeing two people standing near each other, you’re not sure what’s going on.
Again, judging from the megapixels that you have, the same image, you can see that with that large 3-megapixel image. I could then pull up a square here and see the detail on this box versus seeing the whole room and not being able to. If I blow up this section right here, it will just blur right out.
Physical camera differences: dome cameras versus bullet cameras. People like the look of the dome more. This is important: they need to be mounted to a ceiling or an overhang somewhere. I see tons of installation by professional companies where that dome camera is mounted on a wall outside, so the first time it rains, snows, or anything happens to it, this lens gets covered over and you have a blurry image that is useless. Domes need to be mounted if they’re going to be on a wall, they need to be in a 90-degree bracket. If you’re dealing with an alarm company doing this installation, make sure that your dome is mounted this way outside or they use a bullet camera, which is better suited for outdoors.
What you see here are LEDs. Those illuminate the scene. You don’t see them with your eye. You’ll see that they’re red if you look at them, but you don’t see them in the room, so a totally dark room will be completely illuminated by these and these can see in total darkness. The average distance is about 60, 70 feet. They can see in total darkness.
Here again caution with dome camera. This type of dome camera, which is pretty common, again looks like this. If you’re looking at purchasing cameras and you’re talking to a security company, you don’t want this type of dome camera. What happens is these LEDs are behind the glass and you can imagine if you shine a flashlight at the window, all you see is the flashlight, so that happens to this dome camera. The image gets blown about because the light from the LEDs reflects off the glass. You want to go more with this style. We have a separate LED and a separate lens, or this style of bullet in a digital version where the LEDs are not behind the glass.
Then, there are covert cameras. We do a lot of these like in the laundry room or something. That’s a single-gang electrical box with a pinhole in it, and they come in everything you can imagine. They are covert cameras.
Cabling that are used for the cameras, this is important. It’s just Cat-5 [unintelligible 0:07:23] run, maximum distance 330 feet. The other thing that’s important to know is if you already have an existing camera system and you have coax cable run, you can upgrade to IP cameras now right over that coax without changing the wiring. That saves you a lot of money. Some facilities already have wire up throughout them and we can use that and put in better cameras.
The device he was talking about that does the recording is a DVR or an NVR digital video recorder or network video recorder. Like he was saying, depending on the size of the hard drive and the hard drive is literally something you can buy in Amazon. Get a Seagate Purple or Western Digital Purple Drive. They’re designed to be running 24 hours a day. They’re cheap now. The more hard drive you put in, the longer you can record images before it writes over the previous image.
DVRs and NVRs come in 4-channel, 8-channel, 16-channel, or 32. If you’re thinking about purchasing a camera system, you get a 4-channel system, you decide you want that fifth camera, you got to throw the DVR out. If you’re thinking every going more than 4, get an 8. If you’re going to go more than 8, go to a 16.
Rich: That’s the one thing RJ was talking about.
Chris: Yes, expandability.
Rich: Always keep that in mind.
Chris: Yes. So the other issue with Big Box Store kits that you buy is they’re generally not expandable and the reason I say that is the cameras that we use with this equipment are like any professional, I call it equipment – are interchangeable. A lot of the cameras in the kit, the camera is designed to work with that DVR, and the cabling and everything comes pre-done. If a camera dies, not only will you probably not be able to get that camera again because it was a kit that was imported from China and they don’t have it anymore or if you get another one, it won’t be compatible with your system. That’s the difference between going with a system like he was talking about Hikvision, H-I-K-V-I-S-I-O-N. That’s a great company [unintelligible 0:09:19]. There’s a bunch of companies that make the equipment.
Remote viewing, something to take into consideration if you want a unit, one of these in your apartment buildings, you need to have an Internet connection. A few of the landlords that we did work with wanted to steal the Internet connection from one of their tenants. That does not work out. You’re going to have to spend $50, $60 a month from Charter to get your own Internet access if you want to view it remotely. If you steal it from a tenant, that’s great until the tenant switches their router and now you got to somehow get into their apartment to reprogram their router to let this thing go through and it’s not a good situation, so I don’t recommend that but that’s usually what tries to happen. Remember that you have to have Internet access at the location to be able to view it remotely.
This is just an idea what the software looks like that you would have on your laptop and it would be similar on your device. He said he can see 16 cameras. You can see as many cameras as you have, so you could have 14 locations with 16 cameras each. You can only see so many at a time on the device, but they’ll all be listed on the side of the software.
Okay, buying online. This is Hikvision. I use this as an example. This is one the manufacturers that we love. You can buy this camera online for $85.50. I think it costs us about $120, our cost from a distributor. We probably charge $150. The problem with buying an $85.50, which we almost did, we actually did buy a few because I’m like, “Oh, this is great, they are not compatible with first of all, they don’t have a US warranty and they’re not compatible with the DVR.
The DVR is the expensive part, maybe $500. So we want a warranty with the DVR. That’s the most expensive piece. At $85, you say well if it goes bad, we throw another one in.” However, the $85 camera doesn’t work with the US warranty DVR. The manufacturers make sure that they do it that way. When you buy this camera, if anything happens to it, it’s junk; no warranty. Most of these manufacturers offer a 1- to 3-year warranty. That’s the problem with buying online, and that’s the end of that.
Doug: Did you want to click any of those video or anything? You’re good.
Chris: No, I’m good.
Rich: Alright. So I bet we have some questions.
Chris: Yes. If you have any questions, go ahead [applause].
Rich: Alright, that’s a lot of questions.
Chris: Okay, costs. So for a good IP camera about $150 per camera; DVR probably eight channels, $600. The equipment for professional equipment that’s warranted is not horrendously more expensive than you would pay for something online. The cost is us to cable it. No matter how you look at it, you have to pay us or an electrician probably $50 an hour to run cabling, so depending on the installation, how long that takes, that’s when the money comes in. An average 4-camera system that we do is probably $1,200 installed, not a lot more to go to 6 or 8 because we’re already there. It doesn’t add a lot of time to pop up a couple of extra cameras. But to get there, set up the equipment, do the work, usually you’re looking at a minimum of 6 hours, 2 guys.
Rich: This is so refreshing having somebody who answers questions not like an attorney, “Well, it depends.” Like you actually said, “It depends, but here’s the number.” Thank you very much for that, right?
Chris: I like an attorney [unintelligible 0:12:40].
Female Audience 1: I have a question not about the equipment but like if you have a laundry room, you had like a box with a pinpoint.
Female Audience 1: I mean what’s the legal responsibility of like recording people? Is there any?
Chris: You need to have a sign on your property. I was talking about this early.
Female Audience 1: Okay.
Chris: As people approach the property, they need to see that you have video surveillance. After that, you can put cameras anywhere that you want. Now he was talking about video and audio. He’s from a different state. In Massachusetts, audio recording is wiretapping. That’s a felony, so you can’t record audio here. I have people that do. We don’t do it for them, but I know that they do it. Don’t ever please try to use that in court or say I got him saying this because you’re in big trouble, so just video and you can put it anywhere.
Female Audience 2: I have cameras around my house, but I don’t have a sign that you can see the cameras. I mean I’m not getting in trouble with the illegal.
Chris: No. Your private property is fine. Public property is a different story, a store, a business, that kind of thing, it needs to be posted. Just a quick question while I remember this. We talked about cameras being a deterrent. I talked to somebody earlier tonight and I said I haven’t found that to be true. I’m jaded because all of my people that I put cameras in for, I’m usually the guy that goes back and looks at them to get the evidence to the police. All I’m seeing all day when I’m looking at these is idiots doing horrible things right in front of the camera. My opinion is that wow these people don’t just even care. But it brought to my attention that I’m not seeing the people who didn’t do something because there was a camera there, but I do see a lot of people do stupid things when they know there’s a camera right there.
The level of criminal that we have now versus when I started in this business in just 10 years ago is ridiculously different. It’s easier for us because they’re idiots and they do things that just don’t make any sense. They’ve gotten less professional. That’s for sure.
Rich: My experience is that there is a wide variety of idiots [laughter].
Chris: Some are.
Rich: This fellow here has a question.
Chris: And so [unintelligible 0:14:38] how many years?
Male Audience 1: About 20, 25 years. Question.
Chris: Yes, sir.
Male Audience 1: A while back, probably 3 years, 4 years ago, I was thinking of putting the signs up, just the signs. I read in Time magazine, I believe Time magazine has an article where a woman was assaulted and she ran to an area that had video. That was just a sign.
Male Audience 1: And the landlord was sued.
Chris: I’ve heard of that happening. Two people have asked me that. I mean I’ve heard people be concerned about that. I have not heard of that happening. I’m not sure if you’re responsible because you have a sign that it has to you know what I mean. I don’t know.
Rich: What if the camera was broken or something?
Chris: Yeah, I don’t think you’re responsible.
Rich: Or like you meant well but just didn’t get around to it yet.
Chris: I don’t know.
Rich: We’re just random example.
Chris: We’re talking [unintelligible 0:15:27].
Chris: All right, so we have a couple more minutes for questions. I’m in the middle of the room. Why is it when I’m in the middle of the room, not many people don’t have any questions when I’m all the way back there, the whole back of the room is this? [unintelligible 0:15:41] All right, thank you.
Female Audience 3: So you said that your own private property, that it was a non-business but that would be apartments as well, we don’t have to post the signs.
Chris: You’d have to check on apartments. Every apartment we’ve done and not a lot, they all have it posted.
Female Audience 3: Okay, and if we do have exterior cameras and that one covert camera say in the laundry room
Female Audience 3: Or common area, we don’t have to post the inside just somewhere on the building that says there are cameras in use?
Female Audience 3: Okay.
Male Audience 2: Somewhere visible or somewhere hidden?
Chris: No, somewhere visible. It has to be reasonably visible approaching the property, so that would be like the front stairway, the back, the parking, something that and then of course, that’s something can be argued. Was it reasonably visible?
Rich: Yeah. I put it on the roof. I don’t know why somebody didn’t see it?
Chris: I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for having cameras including dressing rooms, bathrooms, changing rooms, never had an issue with anyone getting in trouble. In 32 years, hundreds of cameras we’ve done, never had a person get in trouble because he had a camera in here while I was changing my clothes or going to the bathroom, so I don’t
Male Audience 4: Are you saying
Rich: Let’s keep the streak going, guys, and not do any of those things anyway. We have a question back here.
Male Audience 5: You said it has to be hardwired for the cable. You can’t do Wi-Fi or anything like that.
Chris: There are some Wi-Fi cameras. It’s called Foscam. I mean this is something to check into actually. This is a really cool thing. It’s called Foscam, F-O-S-C-A-M. Look them up on Amazon. They are little self-contained cameras with a little antenna and it’s really actually good for your own personal homes because I’m sure you have a Wi-Fi network there. You take the little camera. You stick it on a shelf somewhere, plug it in. It gets into your Wi-Fi network. There is some programming to do. You can pan it left and right, up, down. It can see in total darkness. You can listen and you can talk through it.
A lot of our customers get them just to watch pets, to see what they’re up to, to talk to them during the day, but it’s fantastic. If you go away on vacation, you stick that in the house. There’s a setting on there for alarm, so if anything moves in that range of vision, you get a notification on your device straight away. You can immediately look at it and see what’s going on in the house.
It’s also good for us. We do security systems in the house. You have a Foscam. Your alarm goes off because the dog just broke down the gate, ran through the kitchen. You look at the Foscam. You pan. There’s nobody in the house. When we call to verify, you can say no, I got this. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Don’t dispatch the police. So those are great ideas.
As far as commercial cameras
Female Audience 4: How do you spell that?
Chris: F-O-S-C-A-M. As far as commercial cameras that record, unfortunately, there aren’t Wi-Fi cameras. They did come out with some wireless cameras for a while that we could put in, but you still need to get power to the camera to make it work, so it’s almost pointless. If you’re going to get power there, you might as well get the signal there because the resolution was horrible. They just didn’t have the bandwidth to send even a good analog signal back, never mind the high-definition signal now, so we stopped. We thought it was going to be great. It would be like security stuff where we just put wireless cameras. It didn’t work out that way.
The one thing about SimpliSafe, we do SimpliSafe installations. I decided to do this because I saw that 25 percent of the industry now is do-it-yourself. That’s become a really big thing, so we better hop on this bandwagon. You’d be amazed at how many people buy that system for $260, don’t want to put it in themselves. We put it in for $99 for them, test it, make sure it works. We stopped doing it just because you got to be careful with that unit. He talks about the cell communicator in there that sends a signal out. It’s Sprint. We don’t have good luck with Sprint. Maybe you will, but we went to so many installations where the customer had to send it back because it could not get a cell signal because it’s Sprint, so just be aware of.
Rich: Speaking of signals and connections, Chris are you going to be able to hang around for a couple of minutes after
Chris: [unintelligible 0:19:32]
Rich: Okay. We have a question about Internet service provider.
Rich: I don’t know a whole lot about this stuff. Is there a particular bandwidth or however, you manage it and how do you stop ours from getting stolen?
Chris: How do you stop Wi-Fi?
Rich: We’re bringing Internet into the building.
Rich: And we’re not stealing it.
Chris: Okay, okay, all right. Very good. So what you need is a hard connection to a router. You cannot do a camera system over a Wi-Fi connection. You need a hard connection, so you need to put a cable modem in and we need to plug into it, so you don’t need to have Wi-Fi on in your apartment building at all. We just need that hard connection.
Now the trick, too, be careful about this because if you hire an alarm company or a company that come in and do the cameras, make sure that they’re going to do the programming to have that signal go on to your device. That’s part of the cost because Charter, for example, does not want things going through their router in two directions. They don’t want what’s called forward ports. You’ll have to call three or four people there to finally get a tech to do that.
What they just started doing is say no we don’t forward ports unless you have a static IP address, and they’re going to get you like $10, $15, $20 a month extra for a static IP address. That’s a shame because it’s nothing more than going into the modem and forwarding the ports. You can do it in your own house, but commercially or in an apartment building, you cannot.
Rich: Okay. The
Male Audience 6: This gentleman got an issue on his Sprint.
Rich: Alright, this is going to be the grand finale, so make it a good one. No pressure.
Male Audience 7: Just a little. When we purchased a SimpliSafe, we had the Sprint card and it didn’t work.
Male Audience 7: You can order a Verizon card and swap it out yourself. I did that myself and it works perfectly.
Chris: Okay because we haven’t done it in a while now because of that issue, so.
Rich: This has been very technically useful. Who feels like they know how to do this stuff now? I do. I’m pumped. Now I’m actually not going to be lying to people. So, Chris is going to hang around. If somebody has additional questions, but it’s after 8:30, so that’s it, kids. Let’s give it up for Chris Yacino.
Chris: Thank you [applause].