Best Inspection Camera – A Buyers Guide (2022)

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Are you struggling to get to the bottom of a blocked drain….literally! Or a wall that you need to get behind but can’t? Then you need an inspection camera. An inspection camera is designed to be able to get into all of those places that you can’t (or maybe don’t want to). You may think that an inspection camera is only necessary for a plumber or an electrician – but with good tradesmen so hard to pin down, and the expense that you are going to have to pay, why not save yourself the time and money by purchasing an inspection camera? Admittedly, the inspection camera isn’t going to allow you to fix the problem, but it is going to give you a much better idea of what the problems are and what you can do to fix them!

An inspection camera is designed in such a way that you have a tiny camera on the end of a long line. This can then be pushed into drains, pipes and wall spaces, bringing up an image on the screen that comes with the camera so that you can see what is happening in the tight space. This will save you a considerable amount of cost, as you don’t need to worry about cutting holes in walls and ceilings to be able to investigate further what is going on! They can even be used for car enthusiasts, as they will allow you to see into spaces in the engine that would otherwise be a mystery to you!

So if you have decided that an inspection camera is the best way for you to get to the bottom of your problem – then keep reading – we have all the best inspection cameras available, plus some of the key features that you need to look out for! 

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In A Hurry?

If you have a problem in your home that needs fixing – and quick – then you don’t have time to waste. So here is the essential information that you need to be able to fix that broken light switch or blocked pipe! 

Cameras

The lenses, or cameras that come with your inspection camera are definitely going to be one of the most important parts. Without them – you aren’t going to be able to get much done! Make sure to look at the number of lenses that come with your inspection camera first. Many will actually come with more than one, so that you can get a much better picture of what is happening in those spaces that you can’t see! We would recommend a model with at least 2 if you are wanting a 160 degree viewing angle! 

You also need to consider the size of the camera that is going to be on the end of the cable. This will determine the size of the holes that you can fit down, but also how easy it is going to be to maneuver when it is down there! Some cameras are as small as 3.5mm in size, allowing you massive flexibility in the places that you can work. 

TOP TIP: We would definitely recommend checking that your image is going to come in colour. Most now will, but there are still some models on the market that don’t and this is going to be such an important feature to help you get an idea of exactly what is going on in those areas you can’t see! 

Cable/Arm 

When looking at ways to actually get the camera down to where you need it to be, there will be a couple of options available to you. The most commonly found method is using a cable – this will allow you a greater amount of flexibility to be able to get the camera where it needs to be. If you know that you are going to need to access round tight bends such as pipework etc, then this could be the best option for you. The only real downside is that they can be really difficult to maneuver because of HOW flexible they are! Also, the lack of rigidity is going to make it challenging to go upwards as gravity is going to get in the way! Your other option is going to be a fixed or flexible arm. These will be much more rigid so are ideal for if you need a camera that is going to be easier to move into position, but they are going to be much shorter in length and you will be more limited as to the spaces that you can actually get into. 

You may think that the only thing that matters about the cable is the length that you buy. Now we aren’t going to lie, size does matter, as this is going to determine how deep you can get into a wall cavity or drain pipe, but there is more than just that to consider. When it comes to looking at the length of the cable, you will usually find this going up in metre increments. 5 metres is going to be sufficient for most jobs, but if you have a job in mind we would definitely recommend checking first! You also need to look at the materials and type of cable that is included. Ideally you want a “gooseneck” cable that isn’t going to knot and jarr as easily! 

Viewing Options

There are a couple of different options that you will have in terms of actually viewing what the camera is picking up!

The most common option is to have a screen at the base of the wire which is sent images from the camera. This helps to ensure that all of your tool is connected and together so you don’t run the risk of losing one part. It also means that you don’t need to worry about connectivity issues, which can happen with other viewing options, as the images are simply being sent down the wire to the device. 

Other, more technical, inspection cameras are going to be able to connect to your phone. This is great as it will save you from needing a viewing screen and you will be able to see what is happening at the other end of the camera no matter where you are! It is really important to check though that your phone is going to be compatible with the app that you need. Not only this, but you need to think about where you are regularly going to be working…if it is somewhere that you struggle to get a signal then you may struggle to connect the camera to your app at times!  

TOP TIP: If you opt for an inspection camera with a viewing screen then make sure to check the size of the screen. You want one that is going to be a reasonable enough size to get a good view of what is happening accurately. Around 5 inches should be good enough! 

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Power Type 

All inspection cameras are going to be powered by electric but you will have the choice of mains powered models or battery powered models. Most are going to be battery powered as this means that you can take the cameras anywhere that you need! However, you do have the downside of relying on the battery to last for as long as you need it to, which can be quite a while if the job is bigger. 

Make sure to check how long the battery is going to last for if you do opt for one of these models. Some will last for up to six hours continuous use, which should be more than long enough for you to be able to get the job done! A lithium-ion battery is going to be the best! On the other hand, if you do opt for a mains powered model…then make sure that the cable is long enough to allow you access to most jobs.  

The Best Inspection Camera Features 

There are some features that are only going to be found with the best inspection cameras and they are well worth considering if you know that you are going to be using your camera regularly. Getting the best value for money is easy if you look out for these features….

Lighting

More often than not, when you are working in tighter spaces,  it is going to be dark, which is part of the problem when you are trying to see exactly what you are doing! Look out for inspection cameras that come with a number of lights as these are going to help to illuminate the area that you are working in. Some will come with around 6 lights which is going to give you good visibility of the surrounding area without too many shadows causing a hindrance. 

Some of the  best inspection cameras will even have adjustable lights, so that you can change the brightness and direction depending on what you are looking at on the screen. 

Build Quality

Let’s be honest – drains, wall cavities and trunking is most definitely NOT where anyone would want to be! They aren’t exactly spaces that you are cleaning on a regular basis – and if you are trying to inspect a drain then chances are this is because something has gone wrong! This means that you need really good quality build materials that are going to be able to deal with these environments without becoming damaged. You want industrial-grade materials that are going to be able to stand up against moisture and impact, a low level of water resistance isn’t going to be enough if you are wanting to use your inspection camera for drains, you will need one that is totally waterproof. Some are specifically designed for your plumbing needs and able to be submerged up to around a 1m. 

Viewing Controls 

All good quality inspection cameras are going to come with controls on the viewing box to help you navigate the camera to the area that you want to look at. This is so important as it is going to be difficult to be as precise as you need to be by hand once the camera is deep into the wall. 

The viewing controls need to be easy to use and functional, allowing you good movement of the camera angle whilst you are working. 

TOP TIP: We particularly like the options that allow you to take still images whilst you are down there. This helps you to get a better gauge on the job that needs to be done and even allows you to show the image to contractors to get a better idea on price. 

Additional Features

  • Hook and Magnet – A great added extra is inspection cameras that come with a hook and a magnet. This may sound simple but it will allow you to use the magnet on the other side of the wall to help you get the probe into the right position. 
  • Resolution options – Some cameras will allow you to switch between the quality of images that it shows. For the majority of the time you are going to want a good quality image, but if you need to store the images, a lesser quality may be better. 
  • Mirror attachments – If you are on a budget and opt for an inspection camera that only comes with one lens then make sure to check whether it comes with mirror attachments. This will give you a wider viewing angle without the expense. 
  • Memory card – You are going to need a way to store the images that you are trying to take, so if you decide on a model that comes with a viewing screen, make sure to check that it comes with a memory card or this will be an added expense. 

Best of the Rest

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an inspection camera underwater?

Yes! You will have to check how watertight the inspection camera is first, to check that it has been designed to go underwater, but there are many inspection cameras that are going to be able to deal with this. Some can even be submerged up to around a metre! This is great for if you are dealing with blocked drains and pipework! 

How do you use a drain inspection camera?

Drain inspection cameras are actually very easy to use! Simply take the cable and feed it into the hole that you are wanting to look round. You need to push the cable into the hole to around the depth of where you think the problem is (or if you aren’t sure then start at the beginning). Once you are in position, simply turn on the viewing screen and use the controls to move the camera lens around so that you can try to find the problem! 

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