Need to invest in a new sewer camera? How do you choose the right sewer camera? Learn more in our handy guide to choosing the best snake inspection camera for your needs
In the world of sewer works, a snake camera is everything. Helping you investigate those tricky spots for faster diagnostics and solutions, a sewer camera can be vital for your business.
But how do you even begin to choose the right sewer camera for your needs? With so many different models and features, it’s not always easy to narrow down the best camera that does everything you need it to do and also fits within your budget.
This handy guide is written to tell you everything you need to know about choosing a sewer camera so that you can make the right choice for you.
Why it’s important to choose the right type of sewer camera
A sewer camera can be a vital piece of kit for those who work with sewers and blockages. An inspection camera will help give you a clearer picture of what’s going on in sewers, pipes, and more, allowing you to plan strategies and tactics for clearing the blockage.
But as with most work equipment, a sewer camera can be expensive. When you invest in a sewer camera, you need to know that the device you choose is worth the investment. It should have the right features and meet all of your objectives. That’s why taking the time to consider all the possibilities and doing some research will pay off in the long run.
Types of sewer camera
The first thing you need to do is narrow down the type of camera you need. Some of the main types of sewer cameras include:
Sewer inspection cameras are specifically designed to be used in sewers. They are waterproof, sturdy, and designed to help examine the inside of a sewer or drain to help establish whether there are any issues or obstructions that could either cause a blockage or cause a problem for any planned maintenance or construction works.
Pipe inspection cameras
Pipe inspection cameras can enter pipes of various sizes, streaming a live image of what the camera finds as it passes through pipes and sewers. They can be fixed or flexible, helping to address various needs.
Borescopes enable the inspection of multiple types of structures. Ideally suited for narrow spaces, it helps to assess the condition of the space and can identify problems that need resolving.
Essentially, all of these devices are types of sewer cameras. Snake cameras are cameras that are attached to the end of a ‘snake’, and used to feed into sewers, pipes, and other spaces. The captured images are fed back to a monitor, allowing the user to get a clear picture of what’s happening.
Key features to consider
When choosing your ideal sewer camera, there are several factors you’ll need to consider, but the most important detail you’ll need to think about is the features you want your camera to have. Sewer cameras can have many features, including:
● Different lengths, including extra-long cameras designed to reach particularly deep or complex spaces.
● Different widths, including narrower cameras, that can be used within smaller gaps – making them ideal for inspections that require an entry point to be created to reduce the damage caused to surfaces and structures.
● Flexible designs that allow the camera to be navigated around bends.
● Cameras that feature higher resolutions to provide better quality imaging. Most will refer to this as an HD Sewer Camera.
● Wi-Fi connectivity to transmit images to connected devices such as a smartphone or tablet, reducing the need for a monitor.
● Protection from different elements – not all cameras are designed to be heat or waterproof, for example.
As technology evolves, sewer cameras are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with different features that can help the user carry out their work and ensure more accurate results from their inspections. The range of pricing and quality vary greatly. You will need to decide how much you are comfortable investing in your sewer camera to purchase. There are cheap sewer cameras or economical sewer cameras available but they may not offer the features and quality that you desire. Of course, there are high-quality sewer cameras with advanced features and these are available with a higher initial purchase cost.
The good news is that there has never been a better time to invest in a sewer camera, thanks to the type of products that are currently available.
Tips for choosing the best sewer camera for your needs
Choosing the best sewer camera for your needs could depend on several factors – everyone has unique preferences or ideas for what they want in a product. But making the most of the knowledge and information that’s out there can help you make an informed decision you feel confident in.
Map out your requirements
As with any purchase decision, you should spend time mapping out your requirements. It will help you choose your ideal sewer camera based on the different features you need. The main benefit of doing this is to narrow down your choices, saving time and ensuring you don’t spend too long researching inspection cameras that are unsuitable. Some of the main considerations include:
● The length and width camera needed
● Flexibility versus rigidity
● Protective features to protect your device in different environments
● Resolution of the camera
You will also need to factor in some of your requirements, including:
● Your budget
● The warranty on the product
● The support and aftercare provided
● The reputation of the manufacturer
By narrowing down your requirements, you’ll have a clearer idea of the type of inspection camera you need. It could even help you decide on further products you may need that can support your business and help you do things more effectively.
Read the specifications carefully
As you narrow down your selection of sewer snakes, you can look at your choices in more detail. You must read all the specifications carefully – you don’t want to be left with an ineffective product because you didn’t read the fine print!
Explore cameras that offer quality lighting and display features
Snake camera technology has come a long way in recent years, benefiting from advances in imaging technology, including improved resolution and lighting. Images can even be captured in high-definition, even in low lighting.
It’s important not to jump the gun and choose the inspection camera that has the biggest screen. A bigger screen doesn’t always result in a better resolution, and you may do your camera a disservice if you don’t have a screen that will show a high-quality image.
An HD sewer camera and display can help you capture the best quality images for your investigation. But you’ll need to consider if this is what you truly need. If you don’t need to carry out detailed inspections or only need to identify large objects, then a lower-resolution camera may be more efficient for your needs.
Lighting can also be a crucial feature for your camera. If, for example, you’re used to dealing with low-light scenarios, you may need an inspection camera that can support additional lighting to ensure your images are well-lit. Many cameras have optional accessories that can boost the lighting capabilities of your snake camera, so you’ll want to check which accessories you can buy that will enhance the image quality of your camera.
The diameter of your snake camera can also have an impact on the lighting of your images. A smaller diameter camera, such as a 1 or 2-inch camera, will be ideal for a narrow hole of a similar size, but may not be as effective at lighting up a wider space. You should keep this in mind when choosing a camera, ensuring you choose the most suitable diameter for your needs.
Zoom an image focusing
More advanced sewer cameras are also able to support features such as image focusing and advanced zoom features. These can be vital for identifying hard-to-spot damage and substances, eliminating some of the guesswork.
When it comes to choosing the type of sewer camera you need, you need to think about how you’ll use it to help you decide on those essential camera features. Consider all the different applications of your camera to help you find a suitable match. If your work varies in size and scale, you may need to consider investing in more than one camera, if your budget allows it.
Balance length with flexibility
One of the main benefits of a snake camera is that they have either the length or flexibility to get into hard-to-reach areas. Most pipe inspection cameras are one or the other – either they are long and straight to provide access at great depths, or they are flexible to allow them to reach around bends and corners or other tricky spots.
Some snake cameras are designed to reach up to 400 feet, which can be extremely useful if you deal with drain inspections with a long range. However, the most popular type of inspection camera typically reaches 200 feet in length, which can serve many purposes.
While you may be tempted to select the camera with the longest length, you need to consider the average job you undertake and how far you need to reach with it. Longer snake cameras can be more difficult to carry, and if most of your work covers a shorter range, you may not get the most out of your chosen camera.
If you do choose a longer-length inspection camera, you should know that these come with supportive wheels to help make the camera easier to carry and maneuver. However, you’ll want to make sure that the wheels are suitable for the type of terrain you work with. If they are too small, they may not provide the stability you need. Larger wheels will make navigation simpler, and you may be able to purchase alternative wheel sizes for your chosen model.
Choose reliable brands with a track record of good customer service and after-sales support
There are a lot of different brands that manufacture and sell sewer cameras, but not all are equal. It may be tempting to choose the manufacturer with the flashiest-looking camera, but choosing a brand that’s known for its quality and reliability can be a much better investment.
Good customer service can be useful long after you’ve bought the camera. For example, if you have a query or need advice on how to use the product, then having a reliable customer service team can help you get the help you need.
The same goes for any troubleshooting or repairs. A solid aftercare system can help you feel more confident about the company you’re buying from, knowing that if something goes wrong with your inspection camera, there is help at hand.
While some manufacturers may be able to offer you a cheaper deal, good customer service and aftercare policies and practices bring added value to your purchase that could help your camera last longer in the long run.
Read reviews and ask for recommendations
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to make a purchase decision, and you may find that your colleagues or even friends have some excellent recommendations for pipe inspection cameras. Ask around for some of their recommendations, and they may even let you borrow their devices to test them for yourself.
Alternatively, online reviews can also be a big help when it comes to deciding on the right sewer camera. Read reviews from blogs related to your industry, as well as individuals. You may also find that online reviews on Google or Facebook are a reliable way to find out more about different models, and may even include some demonstrations, so you can see the cameras in action.
Be wary when reading online product reviews from brands you’re unfamiliar with. Some can falsify their reviews, helping to push their ranks up, despite being a new or emerging business.
Other features to consider
Outside the main features of your snake camera, there are some other features you need to consider when choosing which one to buy, including:
Power supply and battery life
Your snake camera’s power supply is an important factor when choosing the most suitable model. If you anticipate being away from mains power, you’ll need an option that has a long battery life to last the length of the job.
You will also need to consider the battery life of any accessories and display units you purchase alongside your camera. If there is an option, you may want to purchase additional batteries to make sure you always have enough power for what you need.
Maintaining a level camera position can be vital for sewer inspections. You may need to maintain a 12 o’clock position to help you get the clearest picture of what’s going on within a sewer or pipe. This can help identify the location of problems, while also keeping your display steady.
If you expect to use your sewer camera for some complex applications, or even those that require things to stay steady and stable, then a self-leveling feature is a useful one to have in your chosen camera.
The standard length for most sewer cameras is 100 feet as most sewer lines are within that inspection length. Some sewer camera systems will provide a digital meter counter. This will display the length in feet or meters of how far the sewer camera head is inside the sewer pipe. Some of the low-cost sewer cameras will provide markings on the probe to tell you how far into the inspection camera the probe has been inserted.
Sewer Camera with Locator
Sewer camera systems with a transmitting sonde inside the camera head allow you to locate the position of the camera head above ground. To utilize this feature, you will also require a sewer camera locator. The feature of a transmitting sewer camera head is something that must be purchased upfront. In most cases, the transmitting camera head is not something that can be added at a later time.
While some inspection jobs may only need a live visual, it can be handy to have the recordings. Choosing a camera that either has an internal memory or supports external memory such as an SD card or an external flash drive. This will allow you to play back the footage, which can be useful for sharing with other parties or for planning complex repairs and other works.
Investing in an inspection camera is not something to be taken lightly. When you buy a snake camera, you expect it to last a long time. Check reviews and warranties to get a better idea of the durability of your camera. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on your item, only to have to replace it in a year or two.
You could also research typical repair costs to ensure you can afford the upkeep of your equipment in the future.
Does the camera have a user-friendly design? This is something that you need to consider carefully when selecting your camera. While you’re dealing with a complex or difficult job, you don’t want to deal with the additional challenge of a complicated interface too. A simple design with just a few buttons and features to choose from can be a lot more user-friendly than some of the feature-packed models on the market.
There are a lot of different things to weigh up when buying a sewer camera. The right camera for you may not be the right one for someone else, which is why your research is important. If you get the chance to test out different models, you will get a better sense of which camera is the most suitable one for you.
Still, need help deciding? Ask a Sewer Camera Expert!
If the above hasn’t helped you make up your mind, why not consult an expert? Sewer camera experts at USA Borescopes can give you advice and recommendations based on your requirements, helping you learn more about each camera’s features and specifications.
Your new sewer camera is a big investment, so the advice of an expert could be very useful in helping you make your final decision.
Explore different sewer camera types and start searching for the right sewer camera for you.