September 12, 2023
We made some minor design changes to our floorplan which has me reviewing our technology plans in general. Some of the floorplan changes affected the outside contour of the house so I’m going back over our outdoor security camera plan to ensure we have appropriate coverage. I found this exercise with the original coverage planning more challenging than I anticipated because of all of the different elements involved.
Creating a comprehensive outdoor security camera strategy for your smart home involves careful planning to ensure the safety and security of your property. The more research I did the more I realized there are a certain set of criteria to meet to ensure you have the coverage and solution to meet your unique requirements. Here are the key steps and considerations:
Assessment of Security Needs:
Start by assessing your specific security needs. Identify vulnerable areas, such as entrances, driveways, and blind spots, where outdoor cameras would be most effective. We will focus on the perimeter, specifically doorways, garage doors and windows but also be able to capture large portions of the front and back yards.
Determine the optimal locations for your outdoor cameras. Consider factors like field of view, range, and camera angles. Ensure they cover critical areas but also be cognizant of invading neighbors’ privacy. Ours will be placed in the eaves of our home to help protect them from the weather. To aid in mounting we will also plan blocking into the framing to securely mount them.
Choose the right types of outdoor cameras based on your needs:
- Fixed Cameras:Stationary cameras that capture a specific area. We will use these due to simplicity.
- PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) Cameras:Allow remote control to pan, tilt, and zoom for flexible coverage. We will not be using these though there are practical applications in the smart home environment. PTZ’s require monitoring and control to be effective and are more expensive than fixed cameras.
- Wireless Cameras:Easy to install and can be placed in various locations. These are a great option if your WiFi is strong and you can’t get network wiring to them.
- Wired Cameras:Typically offer more reliability and continuous power. We will go with wired as we’ll have the luxury of running a Cat6 line to each during construction. This allows us to take advantage of higher bandwidth video capture and powering them through Power Over Ethernet (POE).
- Battery-Powered Cameras:Great for locations without easy access to power outlets. Another great option especially for remote areas of your yard.
- Floodlight Cameras:Combine motion-activated lighting with video surveillance. We will leverage these as well over the garage doors to light the driveway to welcome guests and deter intruders.
Consider features like night vision, motion detection, two-way audio, and weather resistance. These features enhance camera functionality and effectiveness. All good options for specific locations and use cases. A perfect example is a video doorbell for capturing video, motion activations and allowing the two-way audio with visitors at our front door.
Decide whether to use local storage (SD cards or Network Video Recorders) or cloud-based storage for video recordings. Each has its advantages, such as cost and accessibility. As I will have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) on our network to store other files we will employ that to record video. This will also allow us to avoid monthly cloud storage subscription costs.
Connectivity and Integration:
Ensure that your cameras are wired or can connect to your home WiFi network for remote monitoring. Integration with your smart home ecosystem and mobile apps is essential for easy access and control.
Choose between wired cameras (requiring cables) or wireless/battery-powered cameras. Ensure they have a reliable power source for continuous surveillance.
Set up remote monitoring through a dedicated app on your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to view live footage and receive alerts from anywhere.
Motion Detection and Alerts:
Configure motion detection settings to minimize false alarms. Set up alerts to notify you of any suspicious activity or motion detected by the cameras.
Decide whether to continuously record video or only record when motion is detected. Adjust recording quality and storage duration as needed. These configurations can save you a lot on storage space.
Perform routine maintenance, such as cleaning camera lenses, checking connections, and updating firmware to ensure optimal performance. Test your cameras and monitoring system regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly. Make adjustments as needed based on performance.
Local Regulations and Permits:
Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding surveillance cameras and obtain any necessary permits if required.
Emergency Response Plan:
Have a plan in place for responding to security alerts or incidents captured by the cameras. This may include contacting law enforcement or security personnel. As outdoor lighting is part of our smart home plan we will also leverage that to light up the exterior of the house when suspicious activity is detected.
As I put together this list, I realized there was a little more involved in putting together a smart home outdoor security camera plan than I originally thought. When done right, it not only ensures you have the coverage you need, with the right type of cameras, but also saves you time and expense with an optimized solution. Not to mention the peace of mind that a well-planned outdoor security camera strategy can not only deter potential intruders, vandals, and thieves but also allow you to monitor and protect your property remotely.
If reading this has gotten you thinking about putting some cameras up around your smart home but need a little help on specific camera models, keep reading. Below are some options, but far from an exhaustive list, depending on your specific needs or installation situation.
Best Overall Outdoor Security Camera
- Free access to activity alerts and three-hour event history
- Easy to install and set up
- Option to go wireless or wired
- A bit pricey
- No color night vision
Nest Cam is a well-designed camera that delivers impressive performance. It supports wireless installation and has a decent set of features that don’t require a subscription.
Best Budget Outdoor Security Camera
- Free access to 14-day motion event clips and alerts options
- Color night vision
- Monthly subscription is cheap
- Wired connection can limit placement
This reasonably priced outdoor security camera can capture full-HD videos and has one of the most affordable subscription plans on the market.
Best Wireless Outdoor Security Camera
- Solid video quality and overall performance
- Completely wireless
- Color night vision
- Limited free features
From color night vision to 2K video recording, the Arlo Pro 4’s features make it one of the best outdoor security cameras. It also works with Apple HomeKit, but you’ll need the company’s SmartHub.
Best Outdoor Security Camera System
- Built-in WiFi 6 router
- Backup internet access
- Easy to install and set up
- Local video storage requires a subscription
- Not compatible with Google Home, HomeKit, IFTTT
The Ring Alarm Pro excels as a home security system. It’s easy to install and works with a ton of Ring and third-party devices. And you get a built-in WiFi 6 router.
Best Outdoor Security Camera without a Subscription
- Excellent video performance
- Motion detection and activity zones available without a subscription
- Color night vision
- Wired connection can limit outdoor placement
With excellent video performance both day and night, this TP-Link Tapo security camera is an easy recommendation. But just as important, it allows you to store your camera footage locally.
With the outdoor security camera guidelines and camera suggestions above, you should be in a good place to get started on your own smart home solution. If you’ve already installed outdoor cameras I’d be curious how this aligns with your solution. Have I given you some things to think about regarding placement or camera models. Which cameras do you already have and how do you like them? What changes would you make to my recommendations?
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’
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