What Lines Does Everybody Normally Use For The Residential Market?

I struggle to find affordable solutions for homeowners that ask me about having cameras installed. Current scenario: homeowner wants 4 cameras, storage, and a monitor to view the feeds.

I've looked at kits from Samsung (the SRK 3030 & 3040 kits) as well as piecing together system components individually and it all usually ends up being around $1000 or more. That's before my labor. To a lot of homeowners in my market, that's way too much.

I hesitate to offer something along the lines of the Home Depot/Best Buy brands knowing that my name will be attached to it even though it fits in the budget of most homeowners.

What do you guys normally do? Have you found a quality brand to offer homeowners at a decent price point?


Jeffrey, excellent question.

What we see most often is Hikvision or Dahua (or one of their OEMs). In particular, if cost is a key consideration, then we see HD analog offerings (from the above, respectively TVI from Hik, CVI from Dahua, etc.). On the HD analog side, cameras are ~$50 each, recorders are ~$200 each.

Thanks John, that is helpful. I was thinking I'd have to go with a QSee/Flir kit but coming from the commercial/institutional side of the business I haven't dealt with those systems so didn't know how quality/reliable they were (though I did read a review on here about Q-See).

QSee and FLIR kits are generally Dahua OEMs. Buying direct from either of the two might get you some newer models or different options but it's all going to be roughly similiar.

IMHO; and in my own experience there are 3 things I always keep in mind regarding "cheap" residential systems (unlike big projects):

1. I buy myself the "cheap" system first and test the crap out of it internally before offering it to my customer. On the least I've familiarized myself with the software interface enough that even if the customer calls me on the phone while I'm driving out on the road I can at least "try" to direct him/her with whatever he/she is trying to do at that moment (most commonly how to extract videos and save it to a USB drive for the police, etc. or how to disable annoying video lost beeping alarms until my technician reaches on site to fix the cause of said video lost event). On the most, I can do a 2 hours post-installation training for the end user and his/her spouse/sons/daughters/grandma/grandpa on how to effectively use the system everyday and get the most advantage out of it.

If buying and testing first is not possible, then...

2. I give customers 2 or 3 price quotes at the same time always and let them choose themselves. If the customer is too indecisive and ask for my recommendation, I tell them to buy the most expensive they can afford (maybe they´ll choose the middle-priced one or maybe the highest priced, they decide, not me). If they still insist, I'll recommend the highest priced one: not necessarily the highest priced will last longer (fanless heat dissipation problems, electrical issues on the house/neighborhood, storage temperatures, dusty environment, etc. but those are another topic) but the customer will certainly get more features and sometimes more years of warranty with a higher price. All of this is because I've met many customers that have "unreasonable" expectations regarding cheap systems and some are experts blaming us later as "bad" professionals that recommended them "bad" systems, when in reality they didn't want to pay much in the first place, so I give them choices and let them choose.

3. If the customer buys herself their own system on Amazon, EBay, etc. and just pay me to install it, I'll do it but of course I won't warranty any of the hardware/software bought elsewhere. I just assume the customer did his homework and checked the online reviews before purchase and it is their sole responsibility to have decided on that system. Again, as a professional one has to be wise and intelligent enough when dealing with potentially "bad"/unethical/tricky and cheap customers while growing one's business and shielding it from unfair clients not willing to pay much for professional services/hard-earned years of experience...

All that said, I won't go with any particular technology (HD-TVI, HD-CVI, AHD, etc.) just because of it's market share but rather with the mobile apps that can give my customer the BEST user experience possible. If AHD has a nicer and easier to use app than HD-TVI, I'll recommend it because in the end I think the customer will judge strongly on the daily personal usage level and I have to say historically apps for standalone Linux-based cheap DVRs had been equally cheap and crappy to say the least ...

Btw, we just tried a new lead service for integrators (see This Unicorn Aims to Get Integrators Sales) and both responders to our residential camera request offered Hikivision.

Bolide. Good equipment built and priced for this market.

Mark, Bolide is an OEM / distributor? On LinkedIn, they have dozens of sales people but no real engineers or R&D people.

John, everyone of course claims to be a manufacturer, but I feel like they are an OEM. The equipment is solid, prices are really competitive, and they offer kits for applications like home and small business installs. I don't care for that market, but if you are going to do it, they have to be in the mix. Their QR code scan with app is pretty bullet proof, offer their own DDNS server and recently moved all of their analog cameras to AHD. www.bolideco.com AHD link Marketing is an issue for them to be sure. They are headquartered south of the border and do well in Latin America, but they do struggle in the US; they have hired rep firms to help bridge the culture gap. Watching their Youtube videos is a little like watching Univsion, but they are able to get their point across.

In the very near future, we will go to market with a DIY kit from Bolide. So far, customers and installers really like it. It has its limits and it is what it is, but as long as you manage expectations, you won't disappoint. There are a couple of people at the "factory" that do know the product well, but honestly, we have not had to call them yet. It just works. I read recently that AxxonSoft has added their IP cameras to the list of partners, so they are making some headway.

FLIR and HIK so far, I contest the price issue only to a point. I just tell home owners to buy some other brand, hire someone without a security license and liability insurance to do the installation. Suggesting craigs list is a great place to start. Have had a few more issues with FLIR, however they have very good support and that matters to me. I had an instance with Apple Air Play, they logged into customers computer configured router, tested ports, phone app and made sure everything worked.

FYI...My sales are slow in Houston, I believe it is a direct result of oil prices and overall economy. However I stay away from the DYI, absolutely no success amid competing on the low end. However to that degree I feel your anguish.