Outdoor Wireless Security Cameras – Moving Your Home into the 21st Century
Previously I discussed steps you can take to make your home less vulnerable. Today I am going to discuss Outdoor Wireless Security Cameras as a way to achieve this goal. There are many companies that will install cameras for a fee and then charge you over $600 per year to monitor. For many of us on a budget $50-$60 per month to monitor your home is a luxury we just can’t afford.
How can you have your home monitored without the high upfront cost or the monthly fees? This is what we are going to discuss here. Monitored systems are good and I am not knocking them in any way. I am merely trying to give you an alternative that own’t cost you so much.
My personal Experience with Monitored Systems
When I was working as a patrol officer in the late 1970s residential alarm systems had become very popular. The idea that your home was being monitored while you were away from home was reassuring and provided peace of mind, At that time people were paying $20-$30 per month to have their homes monitored from a remote location. The alarm companies provided signs for people to put outside their homes which would alert potential burglars that the house had an alarm. In my opinion the signs prevented more offenses than the actual alarms. Over time burglars learned how to defeat alarms. Over the years I personally responded to thousands of alarms. In that time I made very few arrests as a result of the alarm. Most of the burglars I caught were called in by neighbors, delivery men, postal workers or on-view while patrolling.
The vast majority of alarms I answered were “false alarms.” These alarms were usually triggered by wind blowing a door or window causing the contacts to break just enough. Some alarms were triggered by an animal in the home setting off a motion detector. The most frequent cause of false alarms I answered were user error.
Some alarms I would respond to would be good alarms, but the burglar would have already completed his offense and be gone.
Police Response to Residential Alarms
Over 95% of all alarm calls were classified as false and police departments started classifying residential alarms as lower priority calls. This resulted in increased response times. Police departments typically try to keep high priority calls response times to under 8 minutes. Lower priority calls response goals were under 14 minutes.
Typically, departments seldom meet their response time goals. Heavy call loads and under staffing causes response times to increase. In my department many officers were pulled from patrol to staff special task forces. This also put a stress on our call load and increased response times.
False alarms cost billions of dollars per year. User error is the number one cause of false alarms. Some cities tried to combat the epidemic in false alarms by requiring people to register their alarm systems. They would require residents to pay a license fee for having an alarm. If police responded to the same home multiple times, cities would cite the resident for the multiple false alarms.
Monitoring companies began advancing their technology by adding the ability to listen in to a home and this was a success for a while. The problem with this is it is intrusive. Monitoring companies later added cameras. Cameras were very expensive to purchase and install. Many customers felt their privacy was violated by the presence of cameras in their homes.
The Problem With Monitoring Companies
Most monitoring services are reputable but their are some companies out on the market that are scams. Should you decide to use a monitoring company make sure they are legitimate. The larger companies who have been around a long time are legitimate but tend to be very expensive.
- You are often required to pay installation fees.
- There are equipment rental fees or you have to pay a large upfront purchases cost for your equipment.
- There are monthly monitoring costs.
- Most companies require a long term contract which will automatically renew.
- There are early termination fees.
- Most cities now require yearly licensing fees.
- Most cities now charge for false alarms.
Monitoring services have employees who are setting at control panels watching hundreds of panels. Should an individual
alarm is triggered these monitors have to identify it out of the hundreds of locations they are monitoring. They will then notify police for you. Typically, the alarm is false and you are the one fined, not the monitoring service. These centers are often understaffed and overworked. Monitoring services sometimes use third party monitors who are not well-trained.
Alarm systems do not always function during a power outage. Some systems are susceptible to signal interference. Many of the monitored systems are outdated and inefficient.
These companies use independent contractors to install your system and sometimes this is a safety concern. There is very little oversight into the quality of installation. Consumers have no idea how many people have access to their security system.
Cameras are installed for your protection, but are they watching you when you are unaware? The more people who have access to your system, the less secure you are.
Welcome to the 21st Century
Cameras have become less expensive. Technology has advanced to the point where wireless camera systems are available today. Most systems are still very expensive to purchase and install. Monitoring companies still have the problem of having the ability to invade one’s privacy.
Today there are “smart” systems that are easy to install and work off of your home Wi-Fi. Most smart systems have an App for your phone. You can access your home video anytime you desire. No one but you have access to your cameras. Your home cameras can be hacked and this is a concern, but there are things you can do to defeat hackers.
I bought a Blink System for my home. Their cameras are small and easy to install. The images are HD quality. You have the ability to receive audio. There is no monthly monitoring fees. You can save videos to your phone. You can set the video to record from 5 seconds to 1 minute. The only costs after the initial purchase are battery replacements for the cameras.
The negatives are the cameras cannot be moved remotely. While you can receive audio, you cannot send audio. They can be hacked.
I prefer the wireless system to a wired system. I prefer being able to monitor my own system rather than having a third party monitor watching my system. I like being able to see my cameras in “real time.” Most people like have control of who has access to my cameras. Amazon Prime, Home Depot and Lowes all sell quality Do It Yourself wireless systems. I recommend people taking control of their own security and not depend on a third party monitoring service. Outdoor wireless security cameras are the way to go.