You’ve see them on TV: Remote cameras that you can access from your phone. You can use them to watch over your house or personal property, talk to your kids, be alerted when someone is at your door, control your lights and heat or tell your dog to get off the couch.
But, do they work? I can tell you from personal experience that some do, and some don’t.
I work with someone who installed an Internet camera in her house and talks to her cat during the day. She has the ability to rotate the camera to view any angle in her home.
I bought a camera for my daughter that alerts her when the school bus drops off my grandson and she can watch him walk up the driveway. Of course, an alert will ping her phone anytime someone approaches her home.
In her case, the service is free, and she does not have to pay to store the information in the cloud. This is not always the case and you have to be careful when buying an Internet camera to make sure you have the ability to view what you want and with free access.
The camera I bought for my daughter is called an Arlo. I got it from Amazon, it is wireless and can be magnetically mounted or permanently screwed to the house. Because the camera is wireless, you must make sure you have the Internet speed to support it – in my opinion, a minimum speed of 25MB per second is needed.
Once installed, you can add as many cameras as you need. The camera is activated by motion and can see in the dark. If you have a lot of animals inside or out, you will need think about how your phone notifies you.
During my research I found that if you buy a camera from your phone provider, such as Sprint, or US Cellular, the service will not be free – they will add a service fee for the app and add the charge to your phone bill every month.
There is also the consideration of getting a service provider such as ADT, who will provide remote cameras and an emergency service to contact police or fire if needed, and the ability to monitor your home while you are on vacation. This is not the same as getting an Internet camera, which you will be responsible for monitoring.
Best Home Security Service Providers Available in New Hampshire:
- Front Point
- Protect America
You will need to get a quote for your home. I have seen the average cost range from $15 per month to $30 dollars per month. This depends on the services, remote access and police or fire contact. These are professional services, with installation and 24/7 monitoring.
The Best Internet Camera Options:
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want your system to be WiFi or hardwired. The hardwire systems are more reliable, but not flexible and once installed cannot be moved. Hardwire systems are a little less expensive but labor intensive.
I installed an eight-camera hardwire unit that worked great; all eight cameras display on a single screen, or you can view each camera one at a time on your phone. Or you can remote access your system from work.
The base units will record up to 50 hours of a continuous loop and play back is simple, marking moments of motion so you don’t have to view the entire loop. The system I installed was a ZMODO with eight cameras, the base unit, all of the wiring and cables.
It took a day to install and I had two cameras left over for future locations. The cameras were also all-weather with night vision. This system was $250.
Netgear Arlo: For a full security system, it can be pricy, ranging up to $480, but a single camera with the base unit is $99. It comes with a magnetic mount that is attached to the house and completely waterproof. It is easy to setup; the WiFi base unit connects to your Internet router automatically and when you turn on the camera it will find it.
You have to upload an app to your phone, which is easy. The quality is HD and cloud storage is free. Batteries last for four months in the camera, and there is a reminder when the battery needs to be replaced. This is a great system.
iSmartalarm iCamera Keep Pro: The iCamera Keep Pro from iSmartAlarm ($199.99) is a full-featured security system that not only works as a standalone device, but can be incorporated into a full home security system. The camera is full of useful features including a powerful 1080p image sensor, motion and sound detection, mechanical pan and tilt, time-lapse and event-triggered video recording, and a motion-tracking feature that allows the camera to follow a person around the room.
Throw in free cloud storage, an SD card slot for local storage and support for IFTTT integration and there are too many other features to list, but this system is one of the best and expandable. (If you’re wondering what IFTTT stands for, it means “if this then that,” which is a protocol used to talk to different devices such as an Android phone.)
There are other systems available, such as Nest and Ring cameras or doorbells. They all work on the same principal, so the decision really depends on how secure you want to feel. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com.
Chris Carreira is director of information and technology services for The Keene Sentinel.