Camera surveillance was once available to business owners and the ultra-rich, and required professional installation. Thanks to Internet-based web cameras, adding home security cameras is an affordable weekend project.
Security cameras offer peace of mind. They let you log in remotely and view what’s happening at home, like keeping tabs on an elderly relative, the babysitter, and your pets. They also let you monitor your home while you’re away on vacation. These cameras can help deter break-ins, and you may get a discount on homeowners insurance, depending on the system you’ve installed.
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.