City Surveillance Enclosures Compared

By: John Grocke, Published on Aug 21, 2013

In a recent discussion, an IPVM member asked us to source a camera enclosure similar to the ones used by the NYPD. These enclosures are key to deploying city surveillance cameras. In this note, we review:

  • Moog Videolarm Deputy2
  • Dotworkz D3
  • Metallic based NEMA enclosures
  • Fiberglass based NEMA enclosures

We compare the pros and cons of each one including logistics, durability, compatibility and price.

Note: the NYPD camera enclosure is part of a system offered by Total Recall. Avrio/RMS Group [link no longer available] provides similar enclosures for the City of Chicago [link no longer available]. However these are furnished as part of an end-to-end solution for those cities, these companies do not sell the enclosures direct to third parties.

MOOG/Videolarm Deputy2

MOOG/Videolarm's Deputy2 is a COTS product, similar in appearance to the proprietary units that the NYPD and Chicago PD use.

The IP66/NEMA 4X vandal-resistant, powder-coated aluminum/stainless steel enclosure comes with a with a lockable door and will support up to three cameras (two sides, one bottom) and includes 4-110VAC surge suppressed outlets, 24VAC power connection, heater/blower and mounting tabs for optional external antennae and flashing lights. Custom graphics or decals can be applied to the front door. It is compatible with many of Videolarm's standard camera mounts for a variety of configurations:

The enclosure measures 16"W x 18"H x 14"D and has a decent amount of internal space for additional on-board electronics. It can be pole or wall mounted with included hardware. Average online base price for the Deputy2 is ~$2,750, not including optional accessories and camera mounts/domes. 

Pros:

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  • No custom fabrication required, just add cameras and any additional internal electronics.
  • Surge Suppressed 110VAC & 24VAC power wiring and heater/blower pre-wired and installed at factory,very little wiring required.
  • Compatible with existing camera mounts and enclosures
  • No special hardware required for mounting
  • White reflective paint and heater/blower to keep temperature stable for internal electronics
  • Metal enclosure offers a high degree of vandal-resistance.

Cons:

  • Moderately expensive, but not excessive when considering a similar unmodified white NEMA4X enclosure without power supplies or wiring sells for ~$1500, 
  • Bottom-mount cameras must be compatible with Videolarm's RM7C2N enclosure, which Videolarm claims supports most major brands. The camera models listed on the data sheet are little dated, we recommend contacting Videolarm tech support prior to ordering to ensure compatibility. For example, the Axis Q60 series PTZ cameras are not compatible, however the P55 series will work. 

Dotworkz D3 Enclosure

For single camera locations, the Dotworkz D-series enclosures [link no longer available] are an option to consider.  

Dotworkz D3 with custom graphics

The D3-HB-MVP model is a vandal-resistant polycarbonate enclosure compatible with most major brands [link no longer available] of cameras, includes a heater/blower and 12/24VDC power for IP cameras and on-board electronics. There is a fair amount of room for onboard electronics such as media converters or small hardened switches, an optional metal plate inside the lid offers an additional mounting space. The D3 can be easily painted, wrapped, or have decals applied for a custom appearance. The D3-HB-MVP has an MSRP of $849, not including the pole mount adapter or strobe light bracket. The D3 base model without the heater/blower and power supply retails for $599.

D3-HB-MVP Internal View with Power Supply and Optional Interior Lid Mounting Plate

Pros:

  • Economically priced
  • Includes power supply & heater/blower
  • No fabrication required
  • Appearance can be customized

Cons:

  • Can only house a single camera
  • Not as vandal-resistant as the Videolarm and metallic enclosures.

Metallic NEMA-Rated Enclosures

An integrator, perhaps with a little help of a local fabricator or sheet metal shop, can produce an enclosure similar to Videolarm's by modifying a standard NEMA 4X equipment enclosure.  

For comparison, the closest Hoffman enclosure to the Videolarm Deputy2 is a white finish 24"x20"x10" that sells for about $1500. In order to be able to install a PTZ enclosure in the bottom, a 10" or 12" depth is required, depending on the diameter of the PTZ camera. If the bottom PTZ is not required or is wall mounted on the front of the front of the enclosure (which reduces the available graphics area), an 8" narrower depth cabinet can be used which may save $100-200. Non-painted mill finish stainless steel units can also offer additional cost savings, however without the white reflective paint there is an added risk of heat buildup and transfer to internal electronics.

Pros:

  • Can be configured in just about any manner desired
  • Uses commonly available COTS parts
  • Can be sized as required for the application as enclosures come in a variety of sizes.
  • Same vandal-resistance as the Videolarm Deputy2
  • Units with white reflective paint can offer heat resistance for internal electronics, just as the Videolarm model does

Cons:

  • Requires special fabrication, cutting and drilling. 
  • No internal power wiring or heater/blower unit included (Hoffman does offer optional cooling devices)
  • High Price - The enclosure cost alone can be expensive, when adding the fabrication and wiring, it may be more expensive than the Videolarm Deputy2

Non-Metallic Enclosures

Polyester-Reinforced Fiberglass non-metallic NEMA 4X rated enclosures are an economical option to metallic enclosures as they are lower in cost and more easily modified.  

Care must be taken when drilling the enclosures and inside backer plates for the camera mounts may be required for support to avoid cracking. Companies such as L-Com offer a wide variety of enclosures with numerous options for internal power and heating/cooling. The enclosures can range in price from $250 to $600 in price depending on the size and options included.


L-Com Enclosure Options

Pros:

  • Economically priced
  • Easy to fabricate, no special skills or machinery required
  • Available with internal power and heating/cooling options and pre-drilled conduit knockouts
  • Non-metallic construction does not conduct heat to internal electronics
  • Can be configured in just about any manner desired
  • Can be sized as required for the application as enclosures come in a variety of sizes

Cons:

  • Not as vandal-resistant as the Videolarm and metallic enclosures.
  • More difficult to apply graphics or paint to than metallic enclosures.
  • Cannot mount dome camera in bottom of enclosure

Installation Suggestions

Whichever enclosure you choose, here are some suggestions for a good installation:

  • Stay away from painted steel enclosures. They may be more cost-effective, but eventually they will rust especially in snowy or salty conditions.
  • Use stainless steel screws and mounting hardware for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Be sure to use "hardened" switches, media converters and other added electronics. Verify that the operating temperatures of the devices are suitable for the environment.
  • Install surge suppressors on all incoming power and copper communications circuits.
  • Mount cameras at least 12' above ground to avoid vandalism.
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