Jason Koch, Security Consultant
1) Get enough camera coverageQuite frankly this is the most common issue we see out there -- you purchase one camera or one doorbell cam and think the whole house is covered. At a minimum we recommend three cameras -- one doorbell, one floodlight over the driveway and one strong camera over the primary back entrance. You can position a camera in a corner to maximize the field of view.
Here is a very cool FREE tool where you can plan your cameras on your exact home or business location: https://calculator.ipvm.com
2) If this is your first camera, start with a battery camera because the install is SO QUICK and EASY
Battery cameras are great because they are so easy to install -- no power wire and no network cable. They work very well, except in super busy areas. If you do put one in a busy area, you can get a solar panel to keep the battery charged.
3) Purchase a camera with a monthly plan that gives you smart alerts with People detection
Most modern cameras have a monthly charge for cloud storage and smart people detection alerts. GET IT. This monthly subscription makes your cameras so much smarter and reduces false alert.
4) Fine tune the motion sensitivity
Most modern cameras have tons of motion settings, including zones and sensitivity. By default they come with the middle of the road settings.
If you purchased the monthly plan make sure to turn on PEOPLE ONLY alerts.
If you don’t have PEOPLE ONLY alerts, we recommend you leave the cameras at default settings at first, then dial up the sensitivity until you are getting 3 or so alerts overnight. If you are getting more than 3 alerts overnight in an area where there should be no activity -- you probably have the alerts TOO sensitive. Try creating a zone or reducing the sensitivity. You never want to have zero alerts because you might have dialed the sensitivity down to far and won’t catch any suspect activity.
5) Pick a camera WITH a siren and two-way audio
This capability is essential to scaring off intruders or suspicious characters. Don’t get a camera without it.
6) Don’t put a battery based camera in a busy area
Battery based cameras are super convenient. But they are more work because you have to routinely change the battery every month or multiple of months. In some cases people put these in a busy area -- where it is recording and alerting all day and night and the battery drains in less than a week!
Instead, use a powered camera or try a solar panel source for these busy areas.
7) Thanks for the advice -- but which camera brand?
Simply put -- Ring and Arlo provide the most capable and best priced cameras out there. Both are US Based companies and have well priced monthly plans for cloud storage. Arlo tends to support more battery options, while Ring includes battery and powered options. Both offer doorbells and floodlights for your garage.
8) Remember, it is really difficult react to a camera alert in the middle of the night
This has happened to me: 3am camera alarm goes off. I run downstairs with no phone, no weapon, no pepper spray in my underwear. Adrenaline pumping. I was totally caught off guard and unprepared for the drunk man actively trying to get in my house. It changed my perspective about how being prepared.
Cameras by themselves are not enough! They are just a sensor that detects something. We recommend creating your own response plan, which may include a weapon, your phone, and your spouse/partner. We highly recommend doing a drill just like the fire drills you do at work to test your response and even your family’s response.We also recommend choosing a remote guarding service that can respond for you so you are not on your own. A service like Patrolio can directly receive the motion alert and actively scare away the trespasser using the siren or two-way audio on the camera. These services are brand new to homes but have been around for businesses for awhile. Check it out at www.patrolio.com