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How to protect your home and your Sky Muster allowance

Security camera

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The point of installing farm security cameras is to keep a watchful eye over your property.

But if you don’t have your settings right, you may find you’re chewing your way through far more of your Sky Muster internet data than need be.  


What to watch so your farm security cameras don’t use all your sky muster data

It’s surprising how many things influence how much data your farm security camera uses each month.

But don’t worry, because we’ve done the research for you, and we’ve mapped out the things you need to keep your eye on below.

All of these things assume that you are recording and streaming your footage using the internet.

Security cameras

1. Number of cameras across your farm

As soon as someone points this out, it seems obvious.

Naturally, the more cameras you have around your property regularly beaming footage to you, the more data you’re going to use.

It’s a magnification every time you add another camera to your network.

But once you work out how much data one of your cameras is using, it will be straight forward enough to estimate how much your whole network consumes.

During our research, we also came across a handy bandwidth calculator which we’ve included that at the bottom of this article to help you with the math.

2. Camera features

There are some very sophisticated security cameras on the market nowadays, sporting some very fancy features.

Those fancy features can be a blessing or a curse depending on your monthly data plan and how you use your camera/s.

Take motion detection for example. It can be used to limit the video streaming and recording to when something moves. Seems like it’s going to save you a lot of data, right? Just be careful of where you place your camera, so it doesn’t constantly get bumped.

Be conscious of where you place your cameras

If your farm security camera is likely to be bumped around in the wind, for example, it’s likely to use more data. This happens because each time a camera senses movement, it will take a photo or video and either send it straight to you or save it.

If it’s being sent to you every time something moves, it’s going to use a lot of data and get really annoying really fast.

Make sure you check to see whether your camera has settings allowing you to ignore certain parts of the frame such as trees and flags, so they don’t cause problems.

Other features you need to keep an eye on are the ones that will impact the size and quality of the video being sent to you, as well as the frequency of large files being sent to you.

Security camera in a lock box

3. What are you recording?

Did you realise that what you record impacts the amount of data you use with a security camera?

Scenes with trees, cattle and wire fencing create a more complex scene than a plain coloured wall with no texture, no animals and no people.

The more complex the scene, the more data that is used when the video is streamed or sent to a storage device.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just information to help you choose your camera settings and understand your data needs.

Sheep in a paddock represent a complex scene worth lots of data

[CAPTION: This scene of sheep in a paddock represents a complex scene and will use more data than a an unpopulated area]

4. Camera resolution

The higher quality your resolution (number of pixels in an image), the more data you’ll use when the footage is streamed. It can also slow down your internet connection.

Most camera’s will let you adjust your quality settings. Some even let you make adjustments to your quality settings based on whether you are using home WiFi to stream the recording or data.

5.  Frames per second

We borrowed this easy explanation of frame rate – and its measurement in frames per second – from medium.com because we really didn’t think we could say it better ourselves.

Explanation of frame rate and its measurement in frames per second

“When we watch a movie, we see the projection of video on a display screen in front of our eyes. It can be inside a movie theater, a television set or a handheld device e.g. smartphone or tablet.

Video is a form of entertainment that consists of visual media. This consists of a sequence of photos that are displayed at a certain rate to show motion.

These photographs are still images that are referred to as frames.

The frame rate is thus the number of frames displayed per unit of time and is measured in frames per second (fps) also measured in Hertz (Hz).”

Medium.com

The video quality is obviously going to be better with a higher rate of frames per second. However, that also means there is going to be more information being transmitted from your security camera across your internet connection.

More information being transferred means more data will be used.

Like with the resolution of your camera, you can also adjust the frames per second on most cameras.

6. File compression

Compression settings play a big role in the amount of data your security camera uses. The smaller the file, the faster it will be streamed and the less data it will use.

The problem with digital video is the incredibly large size of the files. A good quality “snapshots” may take up to 500 Kilobytes (KB) to 1 Megabyte (MB) of file space. Therefore, a motion video at a frame rate of 30 frames-per-second (FPS) could take up to 30 MB for just one second of monitoring.

Security Camera King

The most common video file compression types – although certainly not the only types – include MPEG and H.264.

MPEG compresses each frame of the video into individual jpeg images before sending the file.

H.264 compresses the video by looking at small groups of frames as a whole series, eliminating any duplicate and unchanging content across the frames.

Both types are saving your data usage and storage space.

Security cameras in rockmelon farm

Estimate your security camera’s data usage

We’ve told you about some of the things you need to consider regarding the data usage by your security camera.

What we haven’t given you though, are the complicated mathematical equations to work out the exact amount of bandwidth these features, and settings can use.

Good news though!

There are many free bandwidth calculators available across the internet. They’re super helpful for anticipating your data usage and making decisions on how you’ll manage your camera.

This calculator, we found on the Radio Parts website. We happen to think it’s a good one because it’s specific to security cameras and lets you select various options so you can adjust your settings and optimise your data usage.

BANDWIDTH CALCULATOR

*Note: any result from any bandwidth calculator you use will only be a rough estimate.

Do you have to use the internet to record your footage?

No. You don’t need to use the internet at all. But there are pro’s and con’s to be considered even there.

This advice comes straight from one of our friendly SkyMesh customer experience experts.

You might encounter Shamrock on the phones from time-to-time. If you’ve ever talked to him about using the internet-of-things around the home, you will have found he’s incredibly knowledgeable.

Here’s what Shamrock says:

There are different options for recording the video from your security camera. 

Some systems have a server in the home. These allow the footage to be recorded directly to the hard drive and not over the internet

This is good because online recording costs a monthly fee – depending on how long you want to keep those recordings ­– where a local hard drive will store as much as you can fit on to it.

Depending on the system, if you have your footage stored on a local server or hard drive, you can still access it via the internet. Not every security camera system has this feature though, so it’s worth checking before you buy.

The good thing is it only uploads the footage that you are requesting to watch.  So, if you want to watch 5-minutes of footage, then it only uses 5-minutes of internet upload data.

The benefit of storing the footage on the Cloud, however, is that it’s much faster to access.

Another benefit of having it on the Cloud is that if someone breaks into your house and steals all your camera’s and your server, the footage is safe on the internet. 

Whereas if you’re saving all your footage to a local server and that gets stolen, you’ve lost all your video. 

Hear from a SkyMesh customer

Simon McKnight talks about his Sky Muster Plus powered security camera

Video transcript

If you’re currently on a Sky Muster plan, you might consider switching across to a Sky Muster Plus plan.

Everything you do online with a Sky Muster Plus plan is unmetered except for video streaming and VPN traffic.

That means you have more data available to stream, upload and download footage from your security camera.
Want more available data for video streaming? Consider switching to Sky Muster Plus.

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Louise Hughes
Written by Louise Hughes

Louise has had a life-long love affair with beautiful words; writing because it drives her, and reading because it feeds her soul. She's the luckiest woman alive to be able to create clever content and intelligent customer experiences for a living.

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