Subscriber Discussion

Recommend Inexpensive Home Surveillance

Hello everyone. I've researching this on my own but find I need some help. I'm the admin for a larger 600 camera install. Normally I don't need to go on the cheap so I buy axis cameras for use in my Genetc VMS.

I'm doing a favor for my buddy at his house. It's 6 IP cameras with the option to grow to maybe 10. I was going to buy Axis 3114's and use Axxon's free VMS on a workstation. I'm not loving the Axxon solution so I was going to just go Axis Camera Companion. Now I find he wants night visibility. The cheapest Axis with day/night is the 3344-VE.

now I'm thinking levelone or q-see...who knows?

what would you suggest?

6-10 day/night ip cameras. Inexpensive server/storage/NVR. Good remote viewing via DDNS on iDevice and web.

Thanks for your help.

Josh, Axis has an integrated IR camera (indoor only, M1114-L for $599 MSRP) for much less than the P3344 you mentioned.

That said, Axis does not have any really cheap day/night, integrated IR or outdoor cameras.

The three challenges I see here are:

  • Supporting 3rd party cameras - if this is required, it significantly cuts down options and increases price
  • Expansion - Most of the inexpensive options are fixed at a set number of cameras, typically 4 or 8.
  • HD - Not sure if you require HD but this would restrict options as well

One common solution are Costco kits that bundle integrated IR cameras with a DVR (here's some options for 8 channel HD ones).


What is the lighting situation at your boyz house? Can you add any security lighting that might provide enough illumination that you then do not need day/night cameras?

Also, how big is the house/property that is being covered? $1K day/night cameras are pretty rare in most residential settings.

These "USA Local" Dahua rebranded NVRs and IP cameras work seamlessly together for a reliable and simple to use system manufactured by a world top 10 factory at minimal cost: Q-see 16 channel HD NVR, Weatherproof 720p camera, weatherproof 1080 camera

The IR LEDs are good to ~15m. The 1080p bullet uses SMD LEDs with spreading lens that reduce hotspotting when objects are close - but these cameras do not have adaptive IR so will whiten out objects less than 1m from the camera. The 1080p bullet has DWDR which although will be laughed at by many here (as it is not true double exposure WDR) does provide very real and tangible improvements to shadow detail day and night.

Swann also rebrands some Dahua models (they also rebrand some Hikvision - both Dahua/Hikvision are reliability focused and will work without issue but do not expect advanced software features - for that I would build a PC running Network Optix HD Witness and/or Vitamin D Video).

ICRealtime is another rebranded in the US - they stock a broader line of cameras.

SInce there are choices like this the best way to choose would be to base it on the level of support and warrranty offered by each company.


Dahua provides a free DDNS service builtin to each NVR. your get the domain <mac_address> There is no registration form to fill out - you just activate the option in the Network -> Advanced menu.

Mobile Device Viewing:

The iPhone app is iDMSS, iPad iDMSS HD, Android Phone gDMSS, Android gDMSS HD.

There are Lite versions of the apps that support live viewing only for free, and paid non-Lite app versions that add playback.

The phone apps support for 4 simultanous on-screen camera views at once with a favorites feature that lets you swipe between groups of 4 cameras quickly without lots of selections. The tablets apps support 9/16 simultanous views depending on the device.

Web Viewing:

Dahua's NVRs have support a full featured ActiveX based remote live viewing/playback/management interface. It can be a bit slow sometimes but is okay for occasionaly use. For frequent use PSS thick client is the more appropriate solution.

Windows/Linux/Mac Viewing:

Dahua's free PSS software supports thick client remote access with custom grid live views, remote recording and remote playback. The program is no the easiest to use as it does not have timelines for playback (The NVR's native onscreen interface via VGA/HDMI does have a nice zooming timeline) - just a date/time based search and a list of found recordings - but the app is stable and works well performance wise.

Bohan beat me to it - the Dahua stuff is great for a low-cost setup. In addition to everything he listed, the PSS software will let you view Dahua cameras directly as well as through the NVR, and the mobile software supports push notifications that will pop up a still or video clip on your phone when triggered. PSS can also act as a limited local NVR.

In addition to the re-brands listed above, I'd recommend Nelly's Security for a US source - among the best pre- and post-sale service and support I've ever dealt with. And (full disclosure) I don't say that because we're their Canadian distributor... more like, we're their Canadian distributor BECAUSE OF that.

Thanks for your help guys. I'll check out Nelly's Security. I was nervous about the Q-see because of the poor reviews on Amazon. Your support and positive comments on the Dahua stuff makes me pretty comfortable. Thanks.

The problem with a lot of these big-box rebrands is that you're never sure who the actual manufacturer is. Those Amazon/Q-See cameras with poor reviews may or may not have been Dahua-made... they may also have just been a lousy Dahua model line (all manufacturers have their dogs as well as their gems). Others vendors are more selective of which models they carry.

The same is true of any OEM equipment - another supplier of ours re-brands HIKvision cameras, but they're not so selective: their first branded models were pretty good cameras; later models have been horrid (50% failure rate out-of-the-box) and their solution has been to keep pushing out different firmware tweaks to address the problems (and usually breaking something else in the process). I'm sure other HIK models are much better than these, and tend to be relatively low cost, so they may be worth looking at if you can find a good supplier.

Enough on Dahua, unless Josh has any questions. Also, if anyone has any other recommendations on any non Dahua products, please share. I edited out Matt's last sentence about his distributor.

What is Stardot's offering in this price range? I don't have the capability to look right now.

I don't think Stardot is a player for this application at all. For example, their 1.3MP day/night outdoor dome, with no IR, is ~$600. Beyond that, they have far lagged behind their competitors in the general professional market they target.

That is good to know John, Thank you.

Does anyone have experience with Acti cameras lately? Specifically the Acti D32

It retails for ~$270 for an outdoor 3MP model; the major downside I see is that it doesn't appear to be ONVIF supported, and other than Genetec, I'm not sure what software options that would leave you Josh. And Acti cameras could be complete junk... maybe someone has some input.

One this i don't like about this cameras is the inability to mount it under soffet around the house and the exposed RJ-45 connector.

I check with exacq and this camera isn't directly supported yet. It might work with the exisiting ACTI driver but there is now way to know forsure.

Sean, thanks. I reached out to ACTi to ask about the D32 third camera support. I believe this is part of their new generation.

As for their quality, there have definitely been numerous quality issues reported in the past. On the other hand, ACTi is a fairly big budget provider.

My favorite spec from that camera: "Minimum illumination 0 lux with IR LED on"


Well, it does have an integrated IR LED. Given that, I think it's reasonable.

What I find bizarre is cameras that list such a spec with no integrated IR (like many Arecont cameras do).

My favorite spec from that camera: "Minimum illumination 0 lux with IR LED on"

You see this on the spec sheets for almost all IR cameras. It's a real pain if you're trying to compare specs, because few list a minimum lux number WITHOUT the IR on.

Here's ACTI's response:

"D32’s ONVIF v2.2 compliant. Sooner or later it should be on ONVIF’s website. All platform D & E cameras share the same firmware and are all ONVIF v2.2 compliant."

They also noted that direct integration with 3rd party VMSes is in progress.

IF thats the case you should have no issues integrating this camera into exacq as it already supports D & E series ACTi cameras with the new version 5.4 just released at ISC West.

Why not look at the D72 from ACTi? A dome is much better suited for mounting under an overhand and you can conceal the wiring better. I don't like the pig tail on the bullet camera as I can see all sorts of problems concealing it and a potential for water getting in it.

Pricing on the D72 is around $300