Home Security Alarm Systems/Cameras

Seeking advice on home security systems. I am willing to spend $$$ on a good, reliable system.

Curious on peoples opinions, experiences with, etc…

Pros/Cons, etc… what makes a system reliable, what makes a system not reliable? What are things I need to keep in mind while setting up a system?

I’m personally wanting a system for my family that includes - the option to call for 911 with the press of a button (I prefer that to be accessible in more than one spot in the house if possible)

  • has cameras that I can look at through my phone 24/7
  • night vision
  • alarm system
  • bright lights
    …and if I’m missing anything that people recommend, please let me know.

Any bit of information will help. Thank you for your time.

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…cracks knuckles…

There are several companies I would take a look at… All of these fit your requirements, the button you are asking about is usually referred to as a “panic button” and you can (should?) stash several of them around the house in concealed but accessible locations. They also offer alarms for stuff like your water heater floods the basement.

All of these are DIY, meaning you buy the kit and install it yourself. You can buy as small or as big a kit as you need, motion sensors or not, video cameras or not, etc, etc. All of them have some sort of monthly subscription, but you can cancel anytime and you aren’t out a fortune like some other companies (cough ADT cough).

Simplisafe - started as an alarm company, has expanded into video, doorbells, etc. Doesn’t work without subscription, subscription includes professional monitoring which calls 911 for you if needed.

Ring - Started as a doorbell video system, has expanded into video and alarms. Is owned by amazon. Doesn’t work without subscription, subscription includes professional monitoring which calls 911 for you if needed.

Abode - More similar to Simplisafe (alarm first). Is the only one capable of 100% DIY. Has a full professional monitoring subscription available as well, but also has a cheaper plan that sends you the notifications and you decide whether to call 911 or not.

CAMERAS
From a privacy perspective, think very carefully about where you might put a camera that sends 100% of the video out to the internet where some 3rd party has access to… all of it. For things like an exterior doorbell camera, I don’t have that much of a concern (its likely public), but for interior cameras, I am not a fan.

From a usefulness perspective, be aware that a camera pointing at your living room with a TV in it will have a ton of false positives and will it catch someone who breaks in through the kitchen window? So ideally they should be aimed at places where an intruder is likely to walk through or at things of particularly high value. Some cameras are easier hidden than others.

If its in the budget, and you have the expertise, I’d recommend keeping your internal cameras private and stored only to places/devices you control with something like BlueIris. This software can control up to 64 cameras (I think) and you control where you do or don’t want to send video for storage. Then just have the external cameras controlled by whichever alarm system provider you choose.

CONNECTION
Most of these will connect to your home wifi/internet. But you also NEED a secondary connection, usually this is a cell provider (I believe all 3 include this as part of their subscription) in the event someone cuts your cables or the power just plain goes out. This is pretty standard nowadays, but make sure whoever you choose has this option.

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Also look at making your home look like a un inviting place to break into. Keep bushes trimmed and views to the house open so, that they can not hide around the house. If you have windows that you never open set them up that way so they can not be opened. You can put motion alarms on windows so that they are alarmed. Have your front door with multiple locks with deep sunk screws. A steel door would be best rather than a wood door unless it is a big thick solid oak door. Anything you can do to make it harder for anyone to get in is a plus. Think of it as your castle and fix it to defend it from the enemy. I would not go as far as building a molt but a fence around the yard and beware of dog sign with a chain and dog dish at the front door may help too!
As for cameras with night vision is a good way for you to stay vigilant on watching the area. I have cameras on the vehicles and on the garage. We use bright motion lights to light up the whole area. This gives me vision of the area when I come home because the drive way and the front porch are transitional areas and they are considered areas of weak points and most likely points of being confronted. This makes it hard to sneak into your home yourself little less anyone else.

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@Harvey got it covered nicely.

My 2 cents, from other perspective…

The easiest security system that can be cracked is one setup without cables. Any kind of local wireless signal that connects devices is easy to be jammed or deauthenticated, making video feeds inoperable.

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This is a very valid point. That’s why with all things it’s important to have security in layers. As @Todd30 points out, make your home unappealing to criminals, harden your entrypoints, strategically place motion lights/video. The alarm system is but just one layer in your home defense plan.

I wouldn’t let the below dissuade you from getting an alarm (indeed watch the whole video). But it is good to be aware of limitations.

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We have SimpliSafe at work, home, ranch, church and in our travel trailer.
We’ve always an easy time setting them up and maintaining them.

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From what I read about in the comments section on Youtube, Simplisafe has since updated their system this year and the $2 device is longer valid to override the system. I would contact Simplisafe CS to verify with concerns or questions.

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I cant afford a whole house system but have been looking for a camera to place at my front door. I am not able to see who is at my door without opening it. One of the features I have found I want at my front door is the ability to speak back and forth via the camera/mic.

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Everyone’s advice here is great. I’ve found my best deterrent is outside cameras all around my property. Cameras connected by cable not radio signal so no interference. I had a bigger video storage installed in the recorder, 3 months it will handle.
So far no more problems around my home, it’s been about 5 to 6 years now since installed. Other homes in the development have been affected by crime on and off but not ours.
We’ve also joined Cameras On Patrol with our county Sheriff Dept. So far there’s been 2 arrests done because of video copied from our camera system by the State Police and Sheriff, of vehicles used by criminals in our neighborhood.
Cameras work…

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Simplisafe offers wifi cameras with a steel shutter that slams closed when not in use. Added privacy in entry / indoor areas.

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I recently installed the Ring doorbell and it works well for that purpose. Installation was easy. If you have an existing “powered” doorbell, you don’t have to worry about battery life because the existing wires will charge the battery.

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With cable wires connected to the cameras, if a potential intruder cuts the cable line, would that disconnect the camera completely?

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Good cameras have wires hidden either behind (when camera installed directly on the wall) or inside the mount.
There is no way to cut the wire.
You need to plan a good wiring before setting system up.

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Yes, probably. Criminals can’t get to my cables because, No cable showing anywhere for them to cut. Professional installer would know that.

I am lucky, I had a Professional security person as a good friend who does this for a living.

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Blink works well also, camera’s can be viewed live, and you can talk and listen through them, wireless system is easy to setup, battery life is okay. Camera’s notify you of movement and record the movement! A 3 camera system is only around $200 -$260.

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As we watched starting in early June 2020, many cams are defeated with spray paint. Also the dome style is more protected as it prevents a rope or line being tossed over the cam and repositioning it.

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Cutting your internet would be the one I have concerns about. No internet = No cameras.

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Mine still work without internet. Direct cables to recorder which is in locked safe room. Records 24/7 and Always have live viewing on while home. Internet only if I need to see while away.
Cameras have helped us now for years. Every once in awhile we upgrade to updated cameras.
Like everything else they always get better.

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The “cloud” security systems usually have a backup to cell tower for connectivity. I’m not sure if that cell connection also handles video, even as just a fallback.

Remember that your alarm system is just one layer of your security. Ideally, you have other means of notification/awareness that doesn’t leave you helpless if someone decides to cut a cable.

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