Monday, December 11, 2006

Baby Monitors or CCTV?

During the summer, while my wife was pregnant with our second son, I was in the process of painting and remodeling his bedroom. As fathers we all know what this process means; your beloved partner has a vision and you fulfill it. From paint color to carpet choices you prepare the space for the newest member of your family. As a retired home improvement contractor this was relatively easy for me. During the process, my wife and I had an idea; instead of the typical baby monitors, what about installing a camera system?

Baby monitors come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap $19.99 versions to elaborate systems often seen on most baby registries. Some even have wireless video systems. Let’s look at this; we use a baby monitor to “hear” our child. Is he awake? Is he sleeping? What’s he doing in there? Uh Oh, he made a noise – I should go check! This is the problem with “audio” monitors.

The solution is to consider installing a CCTV system. The one I recommend is the Nortech System. This is not a “baby” product, but a regular CCTV system. This 2 camera system broadcasts pictures in color, has sharp, clear audio and is infrared (child’s room can be totally dark and you will get a picture like its daylight.) The receiver can be easily connected to any TV set that has RCA type video and audio inputs (most new sets have these.) This unit is relatively inexpensive, as it’s comparable in price to most of the high end monitors. Once you no longer need to monitor your child it can be moved and used as a security camera system for your home.

In our home, I connected the receiver to a small, inexpensive 13” color set in our master bedroom, right above our regular TV. We can watch TV and our children at the same time. No need to worry about what they’re doing behind closed doors. The clarity is so good you can actually see your baby breathing while he sleeps; great peace of mind for new parents.

One disadvantage of the wireless feature is that you might get interference from other devices that share the same frequency. We learned this the hard way. The camera system is 2.4GHz. Our cordless phone system was 2.4GHz. This was no good, we got continuous static. We upgraded our phone system to a new 5.8GHz unit and the static stopped. Also, if you have a wireless computer router, double check what frequency this broadcasts. You can find this in your router’s set-up page. Ours operates in the 3GHz range so we were all set.

Lastly, a note about privacy issues. These systems are great for younger children, as you get to monitor them visually throughout the day. There can be no, “He started it!” fights. “Yeah, I saw who started it,” you can say. But as for pre-teens and teenagers I would suggest removing the system from their rooms. We want to learn to trust them, and they us. You really can’t do that if you’re “spying” on their every move and conversation. But this is up to you and your mate; it falls under the, “While you live under my roof…” rules. Thanks for reading. Please comment or email me with any questions or concerns.

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