What is a bullet camera in a security system?

With numerous pieces of alarm system equipment available, knowing what each piece of the system does is incredibly important. Cameras are an important component of any alarm system, providing the surveillance aspect of your system. Cameras allow you to have eyes and ears on your property, whether in your place of business or in your home. Bullet cameras are only one major style of security camera, and a very popular one due to its variety of use cases and affordability.

Bullet cameras are a style of security camera named for their iconic shape. Featuring a sleek, cylindrical design that gives it the appearance of a shell casing, not unlike a bullet. Originally, security cameras used with Closed Circuit Television were used for monitoring weapons tests, in order to allow observers to watch the tests from a safe distance. It was not possible for footage to be recorded at this point however, as the technology wasn’t there yet. This forced users of security cameras to use them for live monitoring exclusively. Once video cassette tapes started to enter the marketplace, recording security footage too became commonplace, no longer requiring a live guard constantly monitoring the camera feed. As technology progressed, DVRs and cloud computing allowed for this camera footage to be saved digitally, and even watched live over the internet from an internet connected device. This has only gone onto enhance the modern camera into a much more powerful device for capturing security footage for business and residential properties.

How a Bullet Camera Works Within Your System

Bullet cameras are shaped as they are with a purpose: the long length of one, alongside its powerful lens, makes it well suited for long range viewing. These bullet cameras can cover large ranges, like parking lots, airports, and roads. This doesn’t prevent it from having its uses in other areas, however. Smaller bullet cameras are often equipped with wide angle lenses that are perfect for viewing smaller areas in a wider angle. In an alarm system, your cameras will work in tandem with other pieces of the system, namely the central hub and motion detectors. Although some security cameras are set to record 24/7, many can be set to be motion activated. This can be incredibly helpful for home and business security, as users will only be notified when something out of the ordinary has happened while the home or business is meant to be empty; motion detected when nobody is supposed to be there should raise some flags. This can also be helpful for personal users who don’t want to be recording at all times, due to space limitations on the connected DVR.

When operating within a larger alarm system, there are numerous methods of storing footage taken on security cameras. Security cameras have come a long way from video tape. Modern day alarm systems can store much more information in much more convenient ways. This can include on-board storage, which is footage saved directly to the camera. Very popular to this day is Network Video Recorders (NVRs) and Digital Video Recorders (DVRs). These devices are helpful in that they house recordings for all the cameras on the property. They do face some critique, however, in the sense that as they’re physically housed on the property, they can be vulnerable to technical problems, hard drive failure, or even physical tampering. As a result, cloud storage has grown in popularity as a method for saving footage from security cameras, as this allows for the footage to remain saved in the cloud even if physical damage destroys the cameras, and physical tampering and damage is never a risk for the cloud. However, cloud storage does have the drawback of connectivity issues and potential data security breaches. Using a hybrid system of cloud and physical saving can help a lot when used with a bullet camera in an alarm system.

What is the Purpose of a Bullet Camera?

But what are the advantages to a bullet camera specifically? Where does it work best compared to other styles of cameras in an alarm system? One major benefit of using a bullet camera is from the design alone. Bullet cameras don’t exactly have a subtle look to them, and can be a bit difficult to hide, but this can actually prove to be beneficial. Security cameras may have a lot of use in being a good way to get footage of people perpetrating crimes, but they equally have use in being a deterrent to crimes happening on the property. A camera that’s clearly in view when approaching a property would make many potential criminals give up on a break-in, as they already know that any attempt they make to break in will be caught on camera. It also gives warning to other potential pieces of the alarm system – few business owners would only have a security camera, it’s entirely likely they also have motion sensors, glass break detectors, and other pieces of a system that would inevitably catch them in the act. Bullet cameras provide a lot of flexibility to installation as well. Bullet cameras are easily hangable from the ceiling or mounted to the wall, with a moveable arm on the camera allowing for different angles to be seen easily.

Where to Place Bullet Cameras During Install

Knowing where to place these cameras so they can work as both deterrent and surveillance is key to operating your bullet cameras to the best of their ability. The ground floor is the most important place to set up security cameras, as these are the easiest point of entry for burglars. Keeping cameras by ground-floor windows and other points of entry, both inside and out, will deter most, and capture quality footage of the rest who still approach. Setting up a camera to monitor the driveway is a wise decision as well – this can help prevent vehicle theft and keeps an eye on another common entry point many thieves will take. Keeping cameras on areas a thief may hide is a good idea as well – keeping cameras monitoring the front and back yard, gardens and hedges, and potentially outdoor sheds can provide plenty of peace of mind.

Knowing whether you want these cameras visible or hidden is also important when setting up your system. In a KTVB questionnaire sent to convicted burglars to get an idea of the habits of thieves, many thieves reported that visible cameras act as a deterrent, and they would turn around and not bother with the house. However, there were still some that stated that seeing security cameras possibly meant that there were valuables worth protecting in the house.  There’s no correct answer in this regard, but deterrents and hidden surveillance both have their benefits.

Ensure cameras are placed high in order to prevent theft and damage, and outdoor lighting can help with the view during night time recordings. Professional installation can help a lot in avoiding these pitfalls, ensuring your cameras have as few blind spots as possible in their surveillance.

Why You Should Include Bullet Cameras in Your Alarm System

Cameras are one of the biggest additions available to alarm systems, and certainly one of the best. Widely regarded as an excellent deterrent to potential intruders and allowing users to record the property to best monitor the area. As a psychological deterrent, most burglars will simply choose a different target for a burglary over risking being caught on camera. Additionally, bullet cameras are helpful in the home for keeping an eye on things, indoor and out, helpful for keeping an eye on interior points of entry as well as keeping an eye on kids and pets. Cameras can be useful for identifying a criminal when the security camera catches them in the act, but most importantly, cameras will help identify what items were stolen or damaged, helping in the process of being able to remedy and replace items.

As part of a greater security system, bullet cameras only become more helpful. By working in tandem with motion sensors, contact sensors, and glass break detectors, cameras can record the second that something important to capture happens.


Bullet cameras are an incredibly flexible piece of technology that can fit into just about any home security system. By being an excellent deterrent to identifying property damage and possible suspects in a break-in, and being excellent deterrents thanks to their striking look, adding bullet cameras to a security system can provide peace of mind not otherwise granted by a standard alarm system. Users should keep in mind privacy and comfort between others living in the home and neighbors; a poorly aimed camera may capture video of property that isn’t theirs, and others living in the home may feel like they’re the ones being monitored. It’s important to talk to housemates and neighbors when investing in bullet cameras, or any camera system, to avoid these issues.