When setting up your barn camera system, there are a few points to keep in mind. We attempt to address each below. We hope this article will guide and help you make a better, more informed purchasing decision.
Barn Layout and Camera Lens Angle:
The layout of your barn will impact the number of cameras you need and determine which cameras and camera lens angles will work best for your operations.
For calving and foaling operations, not all barns are the same. Barn layouts change from barn to barn and built in all sizes. Some barns have two rows of calving pens directly across from each other (example A above), others include a row of calving pens and another row for bonding pens (example B above). Others include Calving sheds, group pens, and a drive-through lane.
Before purchasing, you should review your barn layout and determine what you hope to accomplish with a Barn Camera System. Count the number of pens you need to monitor, measure the distance between the camera and the pen, and decide if you want cameras monitoring your access points.
Camera Lens: Wide Angle versus Standard Angle
Most wireless cameras offer two lens options: standard angle and wide angle. When choosing which lens angle to go with, you need to have a general sense of how far away your cameras will be mounted from the object or area that you hope to monitor. As part of this process, you should also consider the DORI measurements of the camera. For example, the Barn Owl RangeCam Wide Angle Camera has an observation distance of 76 feet. The Barn Owl RangeCam Standard Angle has an observation distance of 147 feet. These observation distances will impact where you position your cameras and how many you will need.
DORI: Detection, Observation, Recognition, Identification.
If you’re using your cameras for calving and foaling operations, you most likely want to focus more on the observation and recognition measurements. The detection level will not provide the details you are expect from the camera. To learn more about these measurements, please refer to our guide on DORI principles found here or download our barn owl DORI guide. When shopping for cameras, look closely at how each company promotes the detection levels. At Barn Owl, we focus on observation and recognition. Other companies focus on detection, which, as shown above, will not provide the details you need to make sense of what is happening in the image.
Standard Angle Lens:
A standard angle lens is ideal if you want a camera focused on an individual pen (example A) or a pen further away from the camera’s mounting position.
Wide Angle Lens:
A wide-angle lens is great for viewing large, horizontal distances. Going back to the barn layout (example B), If you have a row of calving pens or bonding pens, using a wide-angle lens will allow you to monitor the row in a single view - up to a certain point. For this to work well - again, thinking about the observation and recognition levels, the pens need to be close to where the camera is mounted. The wide-angle lens can also be a good option for monitoring the points of entry.
Camera Power Sources:
The next item to consider is your camera’s power source. When it comes to wireless barn cameras, there are multiple ways to provide power to the camera. If your barn has available power, using the Barn Owl AC Adaptor is your obvious choice. Unfortunately, not all barns have available power sources.
Power options to consider:
AC Adaptor: Best
As mentioned, the Barn Owl AC Adaptor is your best bet. Again, you will need available power for this to work.
Solar + Battery Pack: Great
Solar is a great solution in combination with the battery pack. The Barn Owl solar panels come in different sizes and produce different amounts of energy. For example, our mega panels provide up to 25,000 mAh of power, and our premium panels provide about 8,000 mAh. Combined with the camera battery packs, you can expect several months of uptime without changing your battery pack.
Car Battery: Good
Another option is to connect the camera directly to a car battery. Car batteries provide about 48,000 mAh of power (60 times more than the battery bank). Car batteries can be re-charged with a standard generator, and thanks to the low power needs of the camera, you can power multiple devices with a single battery. For those wanting to connect their cameras to a car battery, Barn Owl carries 12V Battery Terminal Connectors that you can purchase separately for each camera. Click here to purchase: 12V Battery Terminal Connectors
Battery Pack: OK
Your last resort is to rely solely on the camera’s battery bank. Most cellular cameras use a AA battery bank that provides about 800 mAH of power. If running continually, you could expect about 2-5 months of standby time from the camera. During the busy calving and foaling seasons, it would be worthwhile to find a way to connect a solar panel or spend the extra money to pick up a spare car battery.
The last point of consideration are all the features available with the various Barn Camera Systems on the market. In our opinion, If you’re using your Barn Cameras for Cattle and Calving operations, Horse and Foaling operations, or other livestock operations, then there are specific features that should be viewed as table stakes (included) when purchasing.
High Quality photo and video transfers:
Not all camera systems allow you to transfer HD images and videos over the cellular network - they require you to pull the SD cards. And if they do allow for the transmission, many times, they will only allow for a select few each month. The health of your cattle and horses during calving and the foaling season is of the utmost importance. Do not risk the health of your animals with low-quality images.
Live On Demand Content:
Again, you need to know what is going on in your pens. With Barn Owl Live On Demand, you can trigger photos, multiple burst shots, and videos anytime, day or night, and transmit high-quality, uninterrupted footage. With features such as Livestream, the footage can be truncated, slow, and choppy due to weak network signals. We’ve designed our system to capture the footage first and send it immediately in one file to remove the risk of truncated files or slow to load files.
Real-time alerts are not always included. At Barn Owl, we include unlimited email alerts, and you can configure your camera settings to send you text alerts when criteria are met, such as motion or when specific objects are detected.
Camera groupings are important if you have other cameras on your property or have many pens to cover. With Barn Owl camera groupings, you can easily manage all your camera locations without filtering through hundreds of images from multiple cameras spread out over your entire operation.
Ai to monitor points of entry:
For barn security, look for remote monitoring systems that include Ai Object Identification for vehicles. Unlike other camera options, Barn Owl Ai is available on every camera we sell, and to help save on costs, you can turn the feature on per camera. This protects you from having to pay for Ai on cameras where it is not needed.
We hope this list helps you with your decision-making process. If you still have questions about what cameras and which configurations are right for you, please schedule a demo with our sales team and we will walk you through how best to set up your barn camera system.
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