Home Security Cameras: Peace of Mind While You’re Away
Published: February 17, 2011
Easy-to-install security cameras let you keep an eye on your home from afar, ensuring safety and security for you and your family.
Internet-based network cameras are a quick solution in setting up home surveillance. They connect to your broadband connection and don’t require difficult wiring or mounting.
Logitech’s Alert lets you view either real-time or recorded footage—with audio—of the inside and outside of your house through your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry smartphone, and the system is expandable by adding additional cameras. You’ll get text or email notifications on your phone or computer if the camera's motion sensor is triggered.
Panasonic’s BL-C131A goes one step further by giving you remote pan and tilt control from your smartphone or computer, allowing you to view in eight different positions.
The Alert 750i Master System starts at $299.99. (A similar device from D-Link costs $119.99.) The Panasonic BL-C131A costs around $300.
Riding the Z-Wave
If you have a Z-Wave-based home automation system installed, you can add wireless cameras to create a security network inside and outside of your house.
ADT’s Pulse is a complete home alarm system that uses Z-Wave cameras for home monitoring from your iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android. ADT Pulse service plans start at $48 a month, not including installation and cameras.
Schlage’s LiNK offers its Z-Wave Wireless Camera as an option to its electronic locks. Like ADT’s Pulse, you can also perform additional home management functions with compatible Z-Wave products like thermostats. Schlage LiNK starter kits cost around $300, and the Wireless Camera costs around $150.
Similar wireless security cameras are available for X10 home automation systems.
You can turn a basic computer webcam into a surveillance system using free downloadable software from Yawcam and EyeSpyFX. You’re required to have your computer remain on, but once set up you can log in remotely from another computer—say, at work—and view streaming video of your home. Just position the camera at what you want to monitor.
Yawcam offers motion detection and can send a snapshot to your email when triggered, while EyeSpyFX lets you view footage from dedicated iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps.
An affordable webcam like Microsoft’s LifeCam VX-2000 costs about $30 or less.
A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.
Home Security Systems: Types and Costs
Published: November 12, 2010
Understand home security systems’ price, installation, and options.
What you’ll pay
A home security system’s price comes in two forms. First, there’s the equipment cost, which can vary from $250 to $700, depending on the options you choose. Some companies may offer a basic package at a deep discount just to get your business.
They make their real money on the monthly monitoring fee, which ensures that someone is keeping an eye on your home 24/7. Expect to pay $35 to $75 a month for that peace of mind.
Talk to your insurance agent about a discount
You might be able to save money. Some insurance companies will shave off a percentage of your yearly premium if you have an electronic alarm system; a few go as high as 20%.
With an average national premium of $800, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, that means a basic security system can pay for itself in as little as three years.
Prepare for light construction…
Installing a basic home security system takes a pro about three hours. If you’re building a new house or an addition, you can simply run the wires through open walls. Retrofitting an older home takes more time.
…Or go wireless
You can also go completely wireless. In this case, key components of your home security system are battery-powered and communicate with a monitor device inside your home. That monitor is in touch with a remote cellular network—the heart of your provider’s service.
Some critics point out that a wireless home security system can be disabled more easily than a wired one.
Get more than security
Sensors or detectors can be added to address just about any household danger, from fire to carbon monoxide poisoning. Elderly home owners can even get a wearable “panic button” in case they fall or need assistance.
Some home security systems are part of a larger home automation complex that will adjust your home’s temperature, turn lights on and off depending on whether a room is occupied or not, and even water your landscape plants when soil dries out. Expect to pay $5,000 or more for a full home automation system.
The key element: you
For all its bells and whistles, a home security system is useless if you don’t use it correctly and consistently. Resolve to learn how to arm and disarm your system, teach each family member, and use it daily. And don’t forget to use those stickers and signs to broadcast your new home security system. Some security experts say their presence is the biggest deterrent of all.