Why A Home Security System Makes A Great Holiday Gift
Technology #6 in our 12 Technologies of Christmas blog series will have you considering adding a home security system—or upgrading yours—before the holiday season draws to a close.
by Ken Dulaney
I have had several home security systems installed for about 4 years now. I inherently believed they would enhance the security of my home over and above our burglar alarm—many alarms can be disabled by cutting the telephone line into the home, as illustrated by an incident across the street.
Recently, a home diagonal to mine was broken into and had $10,000 of camera equipment stolen. When the police came to investigate, they noticed my cameras and came over to see if I had any footage from our system they could use. I did, and they took a short clip of the getaway car. We never did hear back whether they culprit was caught, but it did demonstrate what the system could do. This is why if you—or your loved ones—do not have a home security system already, this holiday season is the perfect time to invest in one. You can keep it simple by getting something like a Nest doorbell, or build your own highly sophisticated security system.
Cameras Are an Effective Deterrent
While the officer was at our home, we told him about our system and asked his opinion. He felt that cameras were the most effective deterrent, even more than an alarm system—although he said the more the better.
At this point, I have 10 cameras surrounding our home, plus a Nest doorbell. No break-ins so far. The system has been useful for other unexpected purposes. While on vacation I can see if the lawn needs water. I can spot unscrupulous animals who wish to do damage to my environs and in some cases, the people who own them.
The doorbell has communications and I was able to communicate to my landscape maintenance person and my house sitter while I was on vacation. It’s a really neat and extremely valuable tool to resolve the problem at the time.
How To Choose A Home Security System
First, you should decide if you want to create your own robust security system or if you want to go with a system that makes it easy to get started quickly, such as a Nest doorbell. This is a great starter gift and a good way to become more familiar with home security systems. It also might be enough for your needs.
If you are considering a more intense system, most consist of 4 key elements: the cameras, the connection method, the DVR used for recording, and the software. There could also be a fifth option on whether video is stored in the cloud. Some requirements you should consider are:
- Cameras should be 4K.
- Mechanical zooming and audio are options.
- Connections can be coax, Ethernet, or wireless (Coax is an old choice. Wireless is convenient but requires the unit to be plugged in—I don’t consider battery operation to be viable. Ethernet is the best choice for high bandwidth and with Power Over Ethernet (PoE), it combines connectivity and power into one cable. But of course there are the installation charges.)
There are many systems to choose from. Lorex and Swan are quasi-business systems adapted for the home but there are several new players like Arlo that are more user friendly.
The Benefits of a Home Security System
After installation, your system can be viewed and controlled on smartphones from almost everywhere. Home voice systems such as Alexa and Google Home can also be used in conjunction.
The Nest doorbell shows who’s at the front doorbell on my Sony Android TV. Google hasn’t enabled it to show video from the doorbell when it is activated by a visitor. It’s a bit better on the Nest Hub but you still have to tell it to display.
Home security cameras are a wise investment to protect one’s most valuable assets. Even a small investment in something like a Nest doorbell can be a wise choice. Consult the internet and trusted sources such as Consumer Reports to find the best solution.