Why Get Home Security Cameras?
Home security cameras keep watch over your home from both inside and outside, acting as an extra pair of eyes and ears to monitor your property. In this guide, we’ll look at the benefits of installing indoor and outdoor security cameras, from their potential to deter criminals to other applications such as pet and baby monitors. We’ll also explore the necessary and optional features of security cameras, as well as their drawbacks. Finally, we’ll discuss some of the other ways to protect your home if you’re not sure about installing cameras.
Peace of mind is one of the main benefits of security cameras, whether you choose to install cameras that are wired or wireless. They can increase your home security by letting you check in on your property from wherever you are, see a live feed of your home on a smartphone or computer, and get immediate alerts of any unusual activity.
While the number of burglaries in the U.S. continued to decline last year (dropping 11% in the first six months of 2019 compared with the same time period in 2018), the value of the property stolen increased in 2018 to $2,799 (the most recent year for which this information is available). These studies indicate that although burglary rates are dropping, more valuable items are being stolen. This makes home security cameras an important tool in our home protection kit, as they can help with recovery as well as detection.
Security cameras are recognized as an excellent deterrent to criminals. The experts we spoke with don’t recommend relying solely on cameras for security, saying a complete home security system is the best defense. However, cameras are still important. “If I had to choose, I would go with an alarm system over a camera system first,” says Jordan Frankel, vice president of security consulting firm Global Security Experts Inc. “But I do think cameras are a great addition, primarily because they’re a psychological deterrence. A bad guy sees the camera and may skip your home and move on to an easier target.”
Research backs this up. A study of incarcerated burglars by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology showed that indicators of increased security, such as outdoor surveillance cameras, were considered by most burglars when selecting a target.
Home security cameras aren’t just useful for policing your property; they’re also helpful for keeping an eye on children and pets when you can’t be there. A security camera with facial recognition by your front door can send you a push notification saying, “John is at the front door,” so you know your child is home safely. Two-way audio on indoor cameras can act as an intercom, allowing you to see and talk to your family when you’re not home.
Cameras can record video all the time or when they detect motion, which means every time you or someone else walks into your garden or past your video doorbell. Before installing cameras in and around your home, make sure every member of your household knows they’re there and is comfortable with them. Cameras can be hacked, with your footage monitored or even posted to the internet. However, the measures we discuss in How to Keep Your Security Cameras Safe will reduce this risk considerably.
We strongly recommend that you enable any built-in privacy features that the camera offers. For example, cameras can be turned off in the mobile app or geofencing technology can turn them off automatically when someone in your family with a smartphone is home.
What Are Some Uses of Home Security Cameras Besides Preventing Burglary?
Today’s home security cameras are multifunctional and can be used for much more than just monitoring your property for intruders. Here are just a few other uses for home security cameras:
- Baby Monitor: Set up an indoor camera in your baby’s room and view a live feed wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection. You’ll need a camera capable of recording 24/7 and it will need to be plugged in, but as long as it has two-way audio and will send alerts on sound or motion it will work as a reliable monitor.
- Pet Cam: Indoor and outdoor cameras can be used to keep an eye on your dogs, cats, chicken coop, or bunny hutch. Some cameras can specifically alert you to the noise of a dog barking so you can talk to your pet with a two-way talk feature.
- Wildlife Cam: Place a battery-powered camera with night vision capabilities at the end of your garden and keep an eye on destructive deer or predatory raccoons, or enjoy the sights and sounds of nocturnal nature on your property.
- Smart Home Trigger: If you have other smart home devices in your home, your camera can be linked with them so they can respond automatically. For example, the motion sensor in an outdoor camera can turn smart lights inside if it detects motion in your driveway when you come home.
What Are Some Other Ways to Prevent Burglary?
One of the most effective ways to prevent burglary is to install a home security system with door and window sensors and a connection to a monitoring station, so the authorities can be notified even if you’re not there. Less expensive ways to prevent burglary include installing basic physical security devices such as padlocks, door and window locks, grates, bars, and bolts on any accessible entries. “If you have a limited budget, focus on physical security devices, such as a security door brace that prevents a door from being kicked,” says security consultant Frankel. Another option is to apply clear security film to windows to make them shatter-resistant.
Light is also a good deterrent. Outdoor lighting, motion-activated or programmed to come on at sunset and turn off at sunrise, can keep your home illuminated and make it harder for a thief to stay out of sight. Keeping your landscaping tidy and trimmed will help remove potential hiding spots.
Maintaining signs of occupancy even when you are gone can help deter potential thieves. Some ways to do this include using automated shades and programmed smart lighting to simulate someone being home, and making sure to cancel any newspaper or package deliveries when you’re gone. A loud (although not necessarily large) dog is also a great deterrent.