Residential Video: Waiting In The Wings

The Market Factors Playing on the Home Channel

It's common knowledge that video surveillance cameras have penetrated the commercial market much further than the residential market. After all, just about any store, restaurant, or building lobby that you walk into will have video surveillance but the same can't be said for homes. While this huge discrepancy isn't going to change overnight, the residential video surveillance market is trending upward—and your business could potentially capitalize on it.

The residential video surveillance market is relatively small, yet there is a current demand for remote monitoring of the home. The demographic of today's customers wanting more control of their systems also will contribute to growth in residential video surveillance.

As is the case with most electronic innovations, it will take costs to come down on quality product before mass appeal will take hold. However, since you do not want your customers installing off-the shelf-systems and you especially don't want them getting taken by an unprofessional trunk slammer, residential video is yet another area you have to be knowledgeable in.

The residential Video Surveillance market

According to Parks Associates research, between 2% and 4% of U.S. housing units have video surveillance either via a PC camera or via professionally installed security system. Parks Associates also reports that professionally installed video surveillance cameras that are monitored by a central station are expensive and accordingly in few homes.

Sean Hamm, CEO of Five Alarm Security in San Diego , knows that residential video surveillance tends to be a higher end installation. “We've never done a residential video installation in a house that's smaller than 3,000 square feet. Most of it tends to be 5,000 or 10,000 square foot houses where people are away from their houses for protracted periods of time either because it's a second house—we've done some second houses—or where they have liability issues,” he explains.

“We've had a couple of high profile clients whose houses have been on television. They are concerned that having been on television people might be more interested, wanting to come by and get a little closer than they ought to,” he continues, “and for liability purposes they want to make sure that they're documenting that.”

Hamm has seen firsthand how price can often be the biggest barrier preventing a person from putting their home under video surveillance. He says that he gets a lot of calls from people who are interested in a camera system after seeing what's for sale at Wal-Mart or Costco. However, after he explains to them that it will cost a few thousand dollars to install a decent system, many decide that it's too much.

As for all the customers who do go for home video surveillance, Hamm says, “The one constant is that they're gone for periods of time and they want to be able to check in from anywhere on their house.”

A Hindrance or a Help?

So what about all of those cheap camera systems that people can buy in the store and set up themselves? Are they hurting the business of dealers who install professional CCTV systems for a few thousand dollars?

Hamm says they're a “double-edged sword.” While they do hurt his business, he also has had cases where he gets a customer because they've discovered—as a result of going to litigation—that their current DVR had erased six months of video surveillance and thus won't help them in a court of law. In such cases, he's been asked to come in, rip out the cheap stuff and do a professional install. Furthermore, Hamm says that Five Alarm Security will never install a cheap system—even when asked to.
As a Honeywell FirstAlert dealer, Hamm primarily uses Honeywell cameras and DVRs. Most of his home CCTV installs involve four cameras, but he has had some go up to six. The areas that customers tend to want monitored are their gate, driveway, pool or patio, and the front door, he says.

Approaching from another Angle

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