Information is the backbone of an effective security system. That certainty that your kids are safe, that your dog didn’t destroy the sofa, that a thief hasn’t run away with thousands of dollars worth of valuables.
Video cameras let us stay connected to what matters most in a powerful way, and our smartphones provide us with the gateway to make that connection accessible from anywhere.
Cameras play a major role in a comprehensive security plan, but they should NOT be the only or even the first step.
Cameras serve two primary roles in home defense:
Criminals don’t like being watched when they’re at work. Putting surveillance cameras 12’ above ground level sends a message to any would-be thieves: you're prepared.
A single security camera displayed in a prominent position can be an effective deterrent in its own right. Make them visible.
The reason for mounting them so high up is so that everybody can clearly see them from the street, but it’ll be difficult for the burglar to reach up and disconnect the wires.
Position the camera such a way that you’re best able to capture a license plate number or get a clear shot of someone’s face.
Most video cameras manufactured within recent years can do the following:
More advanced cameras have superior features like the following:
Though you’d think the features listed above would cost you an arm and a leg, you’re fortunately mistaken. Prices for cameras are much more reasonable than they used to be.
Most cameras manufactured for residential use range between $100–$300, but if you want to buy some really high-end professional-grade cameras (like those you might expect in a bank), those can be several hundred dollars or even thousands of dollars each.
You can also find something dirt cheap on Amazon for under $100, but with cameras, you tend to get what you pay for. Trying to cut corners on price will likely make it so that you’ll have to buy better cameras down the line to replace them.
Security cameras can’t replace a monitored security system—unless you always are able to know what’s happening in your home at any given time, it’s just not possible for you to be on-call 24/7, fully prepared to respond to a disaster the instant it happens.
There are countless circumstances in which you’d have a tougher time responding to an emergency notification on your smartphone:
The question then becomes: do you have a backup plan for all of the above?
For many people, self-monitoring turns their security systems into a source of anxiety as they can feel compelled to check their cameras constantly whenever they pull out their phones to do something routine like read a text message.
On a self-monitored camera system, it’s up to you to call the police, fire department, or emergency services. The knowledge that the safety of your family and priceless belongings are solely in your hands can be a heavy responsibility to bear.
Privacy is always an important discussion to have when putting up cameras. The feeling of being watched is unpleasant, even when the camera may not actually be recording.
Everyone in your house (and guests) should be made aware what is being recorded and when. When the camera is not in use, the lens should be obscured or turned to face the wall or floor.
If that’s not possible, be clear to all occupants living in the home that the device is only active when the security system is armed at night or when the house is empty.
To protect the videos stored in your cloud storage service, make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure and that you’re periodically changing the passwords on your devices.
The US government is cracking down on cameras that are known to have glaring security holes allowing anyone (foreign governments included) to access the footage or use the cameras as part of a botnet in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
The recent US House Bill HR 5515 requires that government agencies are prohibited from purchasing or using Dahua or Hikvision cameras due to these concerns.
Even though these security holes have been made public for years, these companies have failed to patch the cameras. Dahua and Hikvision responded to the exploits to say that they’d solve the issue, but they’ve made almost no progress in this area.
Should you decide to purchase a camera from either brand, make sure it is on a closed network or behind a firewall. If your cameras are on a DVR which has them on a separate LAN, you’re not at risk.
While security cameras aren’t a singular solution to anyone’s security needs, homeowners and business owners will likely benefit from the added sense of peace of mind cameras can provide.
A well-implemented camera system is an excellent addition to a professional-grade security system reducing your personal risk while also making your community safer.
One of the major obstacles facing buyers is that security cameras are incredibly difficult to compare due to extreme variance in price and features. Reading a spec sheet or a product e-book tells you very little about how well a camera actually performs and whether it will fulfill the specific function you need it for.
It’s not always easy to immediately figure out why a $100 camera is somehow inferior to a $300 camera, leading many people to go on Amazon and buy the cheapest thing that they can find.
Price is always important when building the right system for our needs. But in our experience working with thousands of customers, the ones who spend more time researching various camera types tend to be happier in the long term.
Listen to what past customers have had to say about the device on major review outlets, e-commerce sites, and social media pages. Learn as much as you can about the product and the services that accompany it. Before you make a purchase, consider the following:
Choosing a security camera is difficult, but as with most things, the best way to go about it is by deciding what features you need first and eliminating every option that doesn’t fulfill all of those needs.
Once you have a shortlist of cameras that all accomplish similar things, you compare the camera’s price, the manufacturer’s reputation, the quality of their customer service, and customer reviews.
Build out a spreadsheet with all of your options. Write down any questions or lingering doubts you have about the product and reach out to the support team to see if they can help. By the time you click that “purchase” button, you should be absolutely confident in your decision.
A comprehensive list of steps you can take to protect your home and your loved ones.
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