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cskenney

Outdoor and Indoor security camera systems

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cskenney

My area has been getting hit hard lately by a gang of kids who are entering unlocked cars and stealing anything of value inside.  These are cars parked outside at night and the thieves are using garage door openers from the cars to open the garage door and enter the houses through the entry door from garage to house.  There they usually steal the car keys and anything else of value nearby and then leave with the car.

 

I don't usually leave my vehicles outside.  If I do I lock them.  I also lock my door from the garage into the house at night.

 

What I want to do is add some security cameras on the outside of my house as well as a few inside that are monitoring points of entry (inside garage, door into house from garage, front door, patio door).

 

I am looking for recommendations.  I don't want to spend a fortune but I also want a system that has good clarity of the images.  The outside cameras have to work in the cold Wisconsin winters as well as our summers.  The outside cameras should also be able to produce good night time images without the need of a flood light alerting the prowlers.

 

What are your thoughts?  Recommendations?  Experiences?

 

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sonynut

The Hikvision cameras have amazing video and they have models that are made for outdoors and some include IR lighting to assist in low light situations. One problem with them is there are reports that the software running on them has a "backdoor" that the manufacturer (a Chinese government owned company)  can access. way around that is to put the cameras on a network that does not have internet access. You would need to have dual NIC cards on your camera server, one for access on your network and one for the camera network.

 

What camera software are you using? If using 8 or fewer cameras Milestone Systems offers a free version of the software.

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cskenney

I have a QNAP that has surveillance station but I am not using it at this time.  I am not sure if I want to run local recording and storage or use a cloud based system.

 

I should also mention that I could install hard wired cameras for my garage / parking area and inside the garage.  Anything inside the house and monitoring the front entry (outside or inside) is going to need to be wireless.

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Dave

Spreadsheet time Chris. I would compare costs while still thinking about what way you want to do this.  I have a hybrid system.  Part surveillance station and part Ring.com cameras.  If you want a constant live feed of your cameras whether via app or tv then you need to use the QNAP and invest in some reolink cameras or comparable. You can also get some wireless cameras that will feed directly to SS as well.  Compare those costs with ring cameras or other wireless cameras that have cloud contracts.  Both can be costly.  Don't forget extra licensing on the NAS if you need it.  The NAS option typically has more power and options but I've found that ring spotlight cameras catch a whole bunch of stuff.  Ring or Nest gives you an ecosystem to add to.  The SS option will almost always be separate from any other system you have.  When my ring doorbell senses motion at night it will turn on the porchlight.  It's also recording the event.  I did this with a Synology system once but completely forget how I did so.  I'm sure it's still do-able with SmartThings in between.

 

There is also the Arlo gear.  It is a growing ecosystem as well.  Nest, etc.  Seems they all have battery cameras now.  I would stay away from Blink.  I have some and love them but I don't know how much longer that system is viable since the doorbell just got axed. 

 

I love my ring cameras but it is a PITA to swap the battery in my one camera that is not hard wired.  Ask me anything on my Ring, Synology arrangement.

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JROrtiz

Coincidentally, I have also been looking into surveillance camera solutions. I've been a long-time Arlo user but have recently gotten it into my head that motion triggered recordings are simply not enough. I think Dave actually planted the seed for me since he's mentioned on more than a couple of episodes that he likes to have constant around the clock surveillance. I've also had  a Synology RS816 sitting in my rack literally doing nothing since I bought it in 2016. Anyway, after doing a lot of research, I landed on Reolink cameras to run on the RS816. Here are some of my thoughts on Reolink and Arlo.

 

Reolink (RLC-423):

To me, Reolink seemed to have the right combination of features, image quality, reviews, and price. After being within the Arlo ecosystem for which I would always have to spend anywhere from $140 (on sale) to almost $200 for a single 720p camera, seeing a price tag of ~$50 for a 5MP camera seemed like a steel. Not only that, but they have both PoE and wi-fi options as well as onboard storage which make them very flexible in terms of power and use. Ultimately, I decided to go for their most expensive model for my first purchase since I was very interested in having a PTZ camera. 

 

I will say, the setup and installation on these cameras are not simple nor straight forward though I'm guessing that largely depends on the software you're pairing them with. It took me about an hour to get the camera registered with my Synology NAS and I'm still trying to figure out how to get all of the features working correctly like patrol mode and motion detection notifications. I'm sure once I have it all working properly the next camera will be a breeze, but for now, Reolink/Synology take a major hit on ease of setup. 

 

Another area where it loses points, which Dave already mentioned, is integration with other smart home devices. Since the cameras are paired with the Synology NAS and not a cloud based system, there is no API that directly hooks into my home automation hub of choice (Wink in my case). This means I can't have events triggered by the cameras detecting motion or vice versa. At least not in an easy way that won't require a bunch of work arounds. 

 

That being said, I am absolutely loving the 24/7 video stream. Being able to scrub through the timeline with clear markers of where events happened is amazing. Not only that, but the image quality is superb. Super clear to the point that I can make out license plate numbers in most cases. I get to store the video as long as I want with the only real limitation being how much storage I have on the NAS itself. And all of this without having to pay subscription fees. If I can get the kinks worked out (motion notifications and patrol mode) I can definitely see myself switching completely over to Reolink cameras.

 

Arlo:

I think reason the Reolink/Synology combo's shortcomings are so glaring to me, is because I've used Arlo for so long. With Arlo, you don't have to worry about setting up a server or picking the right software to work it. It has the backend already built out for you. You have the storage, apps, and integrations all there. The setup is a breeze whether you're setting up a new system or simply adding a camera. You are able to share your cameras with other users, save clips you'd like to keep and more all right within the app. Actually installing them is also quick with a simply mount which cameras attach themselves magnetically to. It's as simple as it can get. But....

 

You're limited to motion triggered recordings only. The delay of the recording can sometimes be long enough that you actually miss the event itself. You do get 7 days of free cloud storage which, to be honest, is probably enough. But you do have to worry about battery life. Depending on how much activity the camera sees, the battery can last from a few months to a few weeks, and maybe even less. You can buy a solar panel, but that's adding more to an already expensive camera which, depending on model, can run you upwards of $200 each. You're also relying on Arlo's cloud which does seem to go down more often than I would like for a security camera service. 

 

Obviously, you're going to have pros and cons on anything. That being said, if you're looking for intermittent recordings and prefer something quick and simple, I'd recommend Arlo. However, if you'd like to have around the clock recording and are willing to put in a little more time and tinkering, the Reolink cameras are a good option to look into.

 

One more note:

I know you mentioned that you didn't want to alert the prowlers. I just had a conversation with a friend about having the nice small Arlo cameras being inconspicuous as a pro. However, he almost saw it as a con. Yes, they are nice and compact, but he actually wants his cameras to be seen since just the presence of cameras are likely to help deter unwanted activity. Of course, it won't stop everybody, but it will likely make would-be thieves move on to the next car/house/street where it might be a little easier to get away with it. 

 

PS, sorry for the rambly style response. Currently on vacation and typing away on my phone which makes it a little harder to structure a proper reply.

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Jason

Am still running multiple PoE cameras with Blue Iris on a dedicated drive on my WSE12R2 box. Continuous recording. Motion detection was too much of a gamble. Works great. Can’t imagine anything works better to warrant a switch....

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