Reading license plates with your cameras

Great place to get words, pictures or letters printed for shirts or other things.

So on this picture you get a nice view of the front of the store and the cars and even when you zoom in you may not be able to read a plate so this article will help you understand some of the factors you will need in order to view license plates with your cameras.

Contact Larry Love at Peak Alarm for more information or if any corrections need to be made to this blog. (801) 428 1384 Larry@peakalarm.com http://www.peakalarm.com

So you want to read plate numbers from cars with your camera system. There are several factors that will determine if you can do this with your current system:

DISTANCE TO THE CAR – Using a lens calculator we can determine how wide a view you will need and the lens
LIGHTING – IR LED system on your cameras (check the rating- often it will say 30 feet but will only work at about 20′)
ANGLE OF CAMERA(S) and how high the camera is mounted – If the camera is mounted high on the building and the cars drive into the driveway on an angle or in a dip this could cause issues
MP RESOLUTION OF YOUR CAMERAS (2MP, 4MP or 4K cameras are all great cameras, understand that the higher the MP the more storage they use)
LENS ON THE CAMERA – most cameras are fixed at 2.8 or 3.6mm and some are verifocal 2.7-12mm and other more expensive cameras have higher mm adjustment capability.
HOW FAST IS THE CAR GOING
There are other factors but for this article I will keep it simple

IMPORTANT INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW:

EXAMPLE

I have a customer that wants to see plate numbers 120 feet from his building at the driveway entrances. Lighting and the proper choice of camera is essential.

Using a 2MP High Definition camera you will need a 28mm lens on your camera at 120 feet and your camera view will be 22 feet across and 12 feet high and you will get 85 pixels per square foot.
If you don’t have the right IR and lighting then it may be difficult at night to see plates. Using a 4MP camera would require a 13mm lens to see 44 feet across to view a plate. Keep in mind that you are not guaranteed to see plate numbers even when you use the right lens and do the calculations properly since most cameras are not license plate cameras. We can install actual license plate cameras that are made for this purpose and then you have a much better chance of seeing plate numbers. In the above situation it would be much better to move the cameras closer to the cars and move the camera down on a pole looking directly at the plates rather than mounting the cameras on a building at 13 feet in the air.

You will need a minimum of 60 pixels per square foot to view a plate number and it would be much better at 100.

Purpose Min. Required px/ft
Detect activity 8
Observe behavior 16
Recognize person 30
Identify person 60
Read license plate 60
Identify USD 150
Read 10pt text 1200

Most cameras from big box stores now are fixed lens cameras at 2.8 or 3.6mm giving you a very wide view. Using them in residential application is ok but looking 120 feet away would give you a view of 80 feet across and 60 feet high so you would not be able to see a plate number.

My cameras at my home are 500 TVL and 700 TVL or 700,000 lines and the newer 2.1MP cameras are 3 times the resolution so your chance to see plate numbers is better with a 2MP or 4MP camera but there are other factors.

With the understanding of the different factors please know that a $30 or $50 dollar camera is not going to cut it. Hikvision has a great camera that starts at $850 and the Q Series AXIS camera starts at $1,850 for the camera, you would then need to purchase the NVR that has the ability to log plate numbers. We have less expensive cameras that very well could see plate numbers that are much closer to the home or business and it also depends on how fast the cars are going as to which cameras you decide on.

Understand that you can purchase cameras just for reading plate numbers and the NVR recorders have the ability to log those plate numbers and you can actually buy a list of plate numbers that your system can compare the data to in order to determine if a stolen car is in your area or lot or if they are behind on their car payments. Some tow companies use these programs to repossess cars.

This may seem complicated and sometimes it can be but just call me (Larry Love) and I will walk you through it. If you want to see plate numbers that are say 50 feet away in your parking lot you can do so for much less money using a high definition camera (2MP) with a 6mm lens that will give you a view of 40 feet wide and 30 feet high. Often I recomend verifocal cameras that are 2.7 to 12mm allowing the tech to adjust to your needs. So if you need to look at a parking lot that is 100 feet wide then you would need 3 cameras to do it well depending on what you are looking at. If you want to recognize a face you need 60 pixels per foot which is the same as a plate number. You could go from a 2MP to a 4MP and widen the view a bit and use less cameras but it also depends on the angles. A nice verifocal camera costs about $400 and that is a 2MP and nice 4MP camera costs about $600. Then you need to add the cost of the wire, installation, recorder, monitor, UPS and network connection to have a complete system but remember you get what you pay for. Call an expert when you want it done right. (801) 428 1384 Larry Love – cell is 801 898 6003

https://www.axis.com/us/en/
http://www.hikvision.com/us/index.html?jmode=j1
http://www.flir.com

Hikvision Utah Idaho Salt Lake

Employees over 300 local people

Contact Larry Love (801) 428 1384 Larry@peakalarm for Hikvision pricing in Utah & Idaho. Hikvision web site

Larry Love can come to your home or place of business and help you with the best pricing for Hikvision.

Check the BBB Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org before doing business with any company.

The good bad and the ugly of Peak Alarm

Take the time to do your research

Take the time to do your research

Lets start with the bad and the ugly and then go to the good last.

There is a court case from several years ago that comes up where Peak Alarm dispatched the Police to a school based on information from a person on site at the school. There was some misunderstood communications between the person on site, the dispatcher and the manager in Peak Alarm dispatch. As it turned out the police department charged Peak with reacting improperly to an alarm and there was a court case where Peak came out on top. Peak Alarm then sued the city based on principle and did not win that case. You can read the court documents although like all court documents it is boring reading. The owners of Peak Alarm supported their employees in the decisions that were made and spent money defending them. As you may know Salt Lake Police currently has a non response policy when it comes to alarms in Salt Lake City unless they are panic alarms or verified alarms.

There are mixed feelings about that because many people believe the very fact that a police car drives through a neighborhood rather than siting in some parking lot somewhere is a deterrent. When criminals see police cars they are less likely to be as active in those areas.

The police department says that too many of the alarms are false alarms and that is why they don’t want to waste their time responding to them when they have many other important duties. Some cities will respond when they are not on a higher priority call although Salt Lake City has decided not to.

When researching you will find some negative information on most companies, Internet reviews are a mixed bag since many companies pay for those reviews and sites to move them up on the search engines. Hits on keywords such as the TOP 10 Security Companies in Utah provide you with lists of companies that in some cases have thousands of complaints that have been filed with the Better Business Bureau and some of those companies are being sued in several States. Once you get a company name off a list such as that, check the BBB, check their reviews before purchasing. Many times the low price leaders have thousands of complaints that have been filed.

Peak Alarm is a large company and as such you will find that their policies are set and they may not be as flexible as some smaller companies. Peak requires that you sign an agreement before they will do any work. This agreement protects them from law suits and sometimes you can go with a smaller company and get lower labor rates although sometimes you compromise when it comes to those companies being insured, licensed and them being able to provide the serivces they advertise. Many trunk slammers as we refer to them have lower labor rates but often are not licensed or insured.

Peak Alarm is not an insurance company although they carry over and above the recommended insurance for the State of Utah.

Peak is large enough that often their wait times can be longer than other companies because of the work load.

Having said that, the smaller residential systems can be installed generally within one week. Many of the other companies can install those systems on the same day although some of those companies are the ones that have over 3000 complaints in the last 3 years when Peak Alarm only has had 3 complaints filed in the last three years on the BBB site. There is a reason for this. Two of the complaints were about billing and one about product. The President of Peak Alarm takes those complaints seriously and has recently made some changes with the company that does collections for Peak Alarm and there has been additional training in the accounting department.

Peak Alarm strives to get repeat business and keep customers happy although to get parts delivered or have changes made to your project everything must be in writing. This is one of the drawbacks to being a very large company, nothing is done with a handshake. Good and bad I guess.

The ugly as promised: I worked at a small company for 16 years before coming to Peak and now that I have been here for over a year I have seen the good things and the not so good things. The red tape is often hard to deal with. Where I was before, I did the estimating, the ordering, the delivery and sometimes the installation. That is not the case here at Peak. They have different departments and paperwork takes a bit longer to move through the chain of command. The owner still looks at each and every job and he still signs all the checks. After you turn your paperwork in to a salesperson, it goes to a secretary that checks it for errors and kicks it back if there are signature or initials missing. Then it goes to a manager for approval and then it gets scanned and sent to the different departments such as accounting, installation and the department that orders the parts. When the paperwork is filled out properly everything goes well, if something was left off for example like a camera mount then an order change has to go back through the same process so the time it takes to do this adds a bit of frustration for some people. When the manager that checks those documents is in a meeting sometimes the paperwork gets put off for a few hours until he can get to it. Almost everyone here at Peak Alarm is cross trained so if you get sick or die the process does not stop but keeps going. Large companies have a harder time being personal although Peak still does ok at many things when it comes to this but they are a business so they run like one.

CHEAP FAST OR GOOD – (Pick two) This is so true so be careful when picking an alarm company.

THE GOOD –

Peak Alarm is a local family owned business and has been in business for over 46 years (Since 1969)
Peak Alarm was awarded “Alarm Company of the year in 2015” Utah Security Association
Peak Alarm is rated #61 in the Nation this year By SDM MAGAZINE 2015
Peak AV was rated #18 in the country by CE PRO MAGAZINE 2015
Peak Alarm has their own Patrol and Guard divisions when most other companies hire this service out
Peak Alarm is a UL listed Central Station also certified for high security installations such as UL2050
Peak Alarm is among very few companies that are UL listed and 5 Diamond Certified (Each dispatcher trained to respond to emergency situations)
Peak Alarm has offices in Salt Lake, Saint George, Boise and Idaho Falls to serve you in Utah and Idaho
Peak Alarm has over 270 employees
Peak has an A+ rating with the BBB Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org
Peak Alarm does not pull your credit report like most security companies do
The company has NICET technicians and techs that are certified by the Utah State Fire Marshals office
With a CAD department that can design and print your alarm layouts Peak separates itself from most local competitors
Certified and factory trained in several brands of Alarm systems – DMP, Hochiki, Silent Knight, DSX etc….
With a full working AES Radio network Peak uses state of the art technology to monitor your alarms either cellular, radio, internet or phone lines.
Peak is a Netone company meaning it is part of a network of the best security companies in the US. There is only one Netone company for Utah/Idaho

Peak Accounting department now has a non-recorded line they switch you to when you use a card or checking account to pay so that information stays private. Peak asks customers to not email or fax their credit card information to keep it safe.

Peak Alarm also installs Qolsys and DMP encrypted security systems and they do cost a bit more than un-encrypted systems but you get what you pay for. www.qolsys.com

FIRE ALARMS – INTRUSION – CAMERAS – ACCESS CONTROL – NURSE CALL – INTERCOM

Hochiki – Bosch – Silent Knight – Firelite – DMP – DSX – AXIS – FLIR – are a few of the lines that Peak Alarm installs

Comparing camera system pricing is like

Quite often people ask me what the cost of a camera system is. I want to respond with “How much does a car cost?” Which is really the exact same question because without comparing the brands, features, warranties and specifications you can’t give an accurate price.

Can you compare something like this if you don't know what it is?

Can you compare something like this if you don’t know what it is?

1. How long would you like to store the video? 7 days, 2 weeks a month? This will be a large factor in the price of the system especially if you get a professional system with commercial redundant drives that are backed up.

2. High Definition mega pixel cameras allow you to zoom in after the fact getting a very clear and detailed picture where analog cameras often fall short. A 2.1 MegaPixel camera can have 3 to 5 times the resolution as many analog cameras.

3. A camera that sees in the dark (Day Night) costs more than one that does not have that feature. (The big box cameras with the little LEDs see about 15 or 20 feet in the dark but this is not a true day/night camera)

4. A camera that has an outdoor heater blower costs more than one that does not have this feature.

5. A camera that has a verifocal lens that adjusts from 2.8 to 10mm normally costs a bit more than one that is just a fixed lens. Do you need to recognize that there are people there or do you need to identify them?

6. A vandal dome or vandal resistant camera costs more than one that is not vandal resistant.

7. The IP66 weather rating give you the assurance that the camera is weather resistant compared to a camera that does not have the rating.

8. Choosing the proper lenses is very important even when using megapixel cameras. Combined with camera placement it can make all the difference in the world. Even dropping the camera below a light fixture in a warehouse using a piece of EMT can make quite a bit of difference in your picture and view. South facing cameras should be avoided when possible. There are many features that you can get depending on your needs for back light compensation etc….

9. The price of the system will also be affected depending on if the company needs to drill through walls, rent a lift to do work up high, mount cameras to poles etc….

Once the companies that are bidding have a complete list of your expectations, budget and needs then you can get a good idea of what a system should cost.

Now I will mention that you can go to a big box store and purchase a camera system for a very low price but you need to know that these cameras are not the same as quality commercial cameras. Even within commercial and industrial levels of cameras there are different grades of equipment with different price levels.

Here are a few of examples:

We have analog cameras as low as $140 each which are 600TVL

We have good quality analog camera that is 700 TVL 5-50mm for $500

Peak Alarm has a nice analog PTZ that is 26X zoom for just under $2,000

Other PTZ cameras with auto tracking from Bosch cost over $6,000 each

An 8 channel 2TB DVR is as low as $1000 dollars

Then power supplies, cable, wall penetrations, lift rental and labor needs to be added to the camera cost. We can also add an extended warranty when that fits your needs. We can offer leasing options for a lower initial investment although it will cost more in the long run.

______________________________________________________

Peak Alarm has Mega Pixel cameras as low as $230 dollars each

A nice Vandal outdoor rated 2.1MP dome with the IP66 rating and 65′ IR range and SD card is only $569

Peak Alarm offers a wide range of NVR units to meet your recording needs

starting at $455 dollars for the 4 channel unit that is 2TB.

A great quality 16 channel NVR with 8 Poe ports and 6TB is only $1,812

Adding labor, cable and the equipment often you can have a great quality system installed for around $1,000 dollars per camera depending on how many cameras you need and the package.

___________________________________________________________

Years ago when I first started selling camera systems we would sell a good quality analog camera that was 320 TVL for $400 dollars, the labor to install it was $200 dollars and the cable was $30 or $40 dollars and the by the time you added a recorder, power supplies and everything else you were up to around $1,000 per camera installed and that was 20 years ago with analog systems.

The cost of storage has come down and the quality of the cameras has increased. I would still advise against purchasing the $50 dollar cameras because you do get what you pay for.

We do have higher end systems as well where the entry level NVR starting cost is just over $5,000. We have gate keeper Axis cameras that will zoom in automatically on your gate to see the plate number on the car and when any other movement occurs in your lot the camera zooms back out to see the full view. This is just one of the many features you can get with the AXIS cameras. A great quality Axis 5MP IP camera that is 2.5 to 12mm and vandal resistant is only $1,794 so the $140 dollar camera really should not be compared to the $2,000 dollar camera because it is like comparing apples to oranges, it just doesn’t work well.

When your alarm company designer knows your budget and your needs he or she can help you design an incredible system that will last for many years that is expandable. If they are only concentrating on LOW BID then you won’t get the best system but you may get the cheapest system which never is the best option.

We have some very good hybrid systems that will allow you to use your old analog cameras and the coax and begin to replace them with IP/High Definition cameras.

We have a friend that got our advice of which cameras to install and he bought them off of the internet (often B stock or refurbished) and he installed them himself and they are not working well at all and now he is complaining about the type of cameras. We pointed out that he should have had the installation done professionally and purchased the cameras from a reputable source because we have a great deal of those same cameras installed and working perfectly. There are tricks to the trade when installing and when you guess or try to do it yourself often errors are made and the system will not work properly. We found owners that installed the wrong cable even cable TV cable for their cameras and if the runs did not go over 100 feet the picture was ok but if they used the aluminum RG6 cable on cameras often the picture was horrible when they should have used the RG59 (95% copper) cable which costs quite a bit more but is made specifically for analog cameras.

If you decide to buy a cheap system through a big box store buy two or three of the systems because you will need those replacement parts soon. Peak Alarm is not out looking to be low bidder nor are we looking for companies that want the least expensive system installed. When you need a system done properly and you need quality equipment please call us. My number is 801 428 1384 and my email is Larry@peakalarm.com our web site is http://www.peakalarm.com

Peak Alarm has been in business for over 45 years, has an A+ rating with the better business bureau and five offices to serve you in Idaho and Utah. Peak Alarm has the only UL listed Central Station in Salt Lake and we offer full service guard and patrol as well.

http://www.peakalarm.com

Camera Systems in Salt Lake City

www.PeakAlarm.com

Call Larry Love 801 428 1384 Larry@peakalarm.com for pricing

Bosch Cameras

Camera Systems in Salt Lake City

Security Cameras – CCTV Systems

There are several manufactures of cameras in the market place and we can obtain and install most all of these brands although Peak Alarm has certain manufactures that have proven to be very dependable. Larry Love our commercial sales consultant has been involved in the implementation of many CCTV systems here in Utah. Peak Alarm leans towards Axis, Salient, Bosch, Pelco, Clinton & Panasonic and other high end brands. Bosch offers a 3 year warranty on their cameras. Specifying a certain brand that can only be obtained by one company in the area is a risky step since many times the customer will be over charged for additional work or parts on the system. Bosch and Pelco can be obtained by several dealers each.

AS&F tries to stay current on all of the new technology by attending seminars and trade shows. AS&F can bid the least expensive camera system to you although our recommendations are that a quality system be installed that will last and give you the performance that you desire for years to come. Inexpensive systems you purchase on the internet are also a big risk. When you pay for a $50 dollar camera that is what you will get and most of the time these cheep systems are more geared for monitoring a baby within a residential atmosphere rather than a commercial application.

IP Cameras
Technology is racing in this area. Bosch for example offers DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) that will allow you to combine IP cameras and analog cameras. The DIBOs 30 channel DVR from Bosch will allow you to connect 32 IP cameras to the system. POE cameras Powered over Ethernet are also available. Make sure the proper wire is pulled when installing these type of cameras. Many times a CAT5E or a CAT6 needs to be installed.

Balun Connectors (Sometimes know as NVT from the Brand NVT)
These are connectors that allow you to put the analog signal across CAT5 or CAT6 wire (Phone wire) Depending on which models you choose you can run several hundred feet or over a mile with the powered units. Where phone wire is already installed and paying for the baluns will save you installation and money on not buying new cable these are a good option. The price on these vary from $40 dollars and up for the quality units.

Color or Black & White and resolution?
Being able to identify an individual by what color shirt they had on is especially important in a bank, a police department or any type of robbery situation. Color camera cost more. The Black & White cameras work better in the dark than most color cameras do although the Day / Night cameras have specialized filters and some change from black and white to color as the light changes. These cameras cost a bit more than normal cameras. When deciding what you want to look at and the detail you need you will want to decide whether to go with a 330 TVL camera or a 480 or a 500+ etc…. The higher the number the higher the resolution. Peak Alarm will help you decide what is best for your application. Cameras can be mixed although we suggest going with the color.

Lenses
It is best to allow the security contractor to help you determine the size of lenses needed after a walk thru of your project site. If you use a 4mm to monitor your parking lot understand that the people will appear very small on your screen. We can use a special calculator to help you determine the best lenses to use in each application. Verifocal lenses are a good choice because they can be adjusted to get the best view. 2.8mm to 10mm or a 4-9mm inside is a prudent decision. Outside a 5-50mm will normally meet most of your needs. This allows the contractor to adjust the cameras to get the view that the customer would like. Some contractors will tell you that over time the verifocal lenses can go out of focus if the building has vibration and the set screw loosens. This can be true so periodic cleaning and maintenance is important.

Housings, heaters & blowers
For outside cameras be sure to have the proper housings with heaters and blowers installed. If you have an application such as a jail, school or youth facility you can have the cameras put in special vandal resistant housings. The resistant ones are a bit more money and the vandal proof cost someone more.

Pan Tilt Zoom vs Fixed cameras
The fact of the matter is that you can have about 2-3 fixed cameras for the cost of 1 Pan Tilt Zoom camera. The more PTZ cameras you have the more cost effective it is since you will already have purchased the controllers for the headend. Some DVRs do not even require that you purchase PTZ joysticks since many of them can now be controlled over the LAN through the software. The Bosch and Pelco PTZ cameras have guard tour features that are very nice. Although you need to understand that when a PTZ camera pans to the left that it is not recording what is happening on the right so having 3 fixed cameras cover an area may be a better bet in some cases. If you will have a guard or individual that can monitor and control the PTZ during the day then PTZ cameras may be a good move. AS&F has installed several systems that have PTZ cameras on them. Our experience is a boon when it comes to this area. The cost of PTZ cameras varies with the features you choose. You can get a 10X zoom PTZ for just over $1000 or if you go to a 18X or 26X or 36X zoom PTZ you will be paying over $2000 and if you add features such as auto tracking or day night to that then the cost goes up some. Bosch Camera Systems in Salt Lake City refers to Peak Alarm

www.PeakAlarm.com

www.hikvision.com or FLIR.com are some of the options Peak Alarm can offer.