Whatever the reason for leaving, everyone wants to be assured of their homes’ security while they’re away. What better way to satisfy that need than to see that all is well with your own eyes? Installing a camera for monitoring purposes can be especially easy when using a service such as Nest Cam, but there are other ways as well.
Note that the focus of this article is not a full home security system, complete with alarms and emergency signals, but simply a few ways to visually monitor your home’s security while you’re out.
Plug-and-play cameras with live streaming
Manufacturers have made it easy to monitor your home with the advent of various plug-and-play solutions that link to websites and device applications. Users don’t even need to connect the camera to a computer – all you need is a camera and a steady internet connection.
Nest Cam from Google is a plug-and-play model. You simply plug it in and connect it with your account. From there you can access the feed online and set up automatic recordings. However, if you plan to keep the recordings, it’ll cost about $10 a month. Additionally, you can save your footage in the cloud, using Google’s own server, which might come in handy if someone does break in as you’ll retain access to the footage, no matter what happens to your equipment.
Plug-and-play devices may be more convenient to set up and use, but not everyone is comfortable storing recorded footage on a remote server. If you’re looking to do it yourself, you’ll want an IP camera − a digital video camera that’s equipped to send footage via the internet.
IP cameras can differ in how they save their data. While some will require a network-connected recorder to send footage to, others can record and save footage directly to a NAS device or to a PC that’s functioning as a server. A few cameras are even equipped with Micro SD slots, so you can record directly to the card. It’s even possible to find cameras with a built-in server.
If you’re going to create a server yourself, you’ll want to get a good IP camera program to use. The benefit here is that you’ll be able to connect multiple cameras for a wider range of views. Not only that, but IP cameras are generally cheaper to find than their plug-and-play counterparts. However, you’ll probably need to pay the licensing fees for whichever software you decide to go with.
For an even cheaper approach, you might look into using a simple webcam. Connected via USB and coupled up with the appropriate software, a webcam can certainly function as a means of home monitoring. If you don’t have an extra webcam to use, they’re easily found in stores and are typically cheaper than IP cameras. However, it’s important to note that webcams lack some of the typical camera features, such as night vision capability.
Also, unlike the IP camera, webcams will need a direct connection to a computer through USB. An IP camera doesn’t share this necessity and can connect to the computer from anywhere in the house via Wi-Fi.
Additionally, if you choose this route you’ll need to purchase software that’s specifically designed for webcam surveillance. Though this is an extra purchase, the overall cost is still comparatively lower.
And, yes, if you do this, you’ll need to keep your computer running 24/7 − if you want to record all day, at least.
An old cell phone could be refurbished into a security camera. It does have all the necessary components: a good processor, Wi-Fi connection, and a camera. If you do happen to have an extra smartphone lying around, this might be worth a try.
Remember to do your homework before deciding on or purchasing a camera system. If you choose to go with plug-and-play, find out what your monthly fees will be (if any). If you go the IP or webcam route, make sure the system you’re considering comes with the features you’re looking for. For example, not every camera has HD or night vision capability.