The trend for contact-free online purchase and subscription service has impacted the video surveillance and security industry. DIY home security cameras in particular take up a significant portion of the growing subcategory. These cameras usually come with hardware accessories so you can easily mount your cameras to a hallway wall, and with built-in stands so you can leave them on flat surfaces like your dining table. The point is, installation becomes much easier and quicker.
While DIY home security gives consumers so many more options in brand, style, and function, it also complicates the buying decision making. There's a lot to think about when you're considering a DIY home security camera, but taking time to examine the characteristics that distinguish one model from the next will help guide you to the right fit. That's why we're preparing this ultimate guide to DIY home security camera for you if you haven't already sorted through what you want in a home security camera and what matters to you.
Why DIY Home Security Camera?
Before the rise of smart home style monitor cameras, network security cameras (IP cameras) were the mainstream security cameras in the surveillance market. They were more professional, much bigger, and more complicated in design and in use. They, therefore, require more knowledge and experience for a user to install, configure, and to make sense of its more advanced functions.
A growing market in DIY smart home devices encourages security companies to create home security cameras that are easier to install and set up. While these newer products give consumers more options in functions, features, styles, and prices, a wide variety of options can be really confusing and overwhelming.
Let's ask ourself some important questions before going in detail into features and specifications of the latest DIY home security cameras. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you want to protect your property or check in on the elder or your pet?
- Do you need high resolutions or just standard definition footage?
- Do you need to save your video footage in cloud storage or on a local microSD card?
- Do you want your security camera to work with other smart home devices (doorbell, lights, etc)?
- How much are you willing to spend on a home security camera?
Figuring out what you are looking for in a home security camera helps you cross out options that are not suited for you. Now, let's look at one of the most popular products ----- webcam.
Webcams share lots of common features with conventional security cameras. You can view live video on your phone with internet. However, webcam doesn't push you notifications everytime a potential security event occurs like most security cameras do. Without professional monitoring service behind your security camera, it will be up to you to contact the police if you see someone breaking into your home. But if your webcam doesn't alert you at the time security event issues take place, you are most likely to miss catching the burglar. This distinction between webcam and more professional security cameras marks their different application scenarios. Most people therefore use webcams to check in on their pet throughout the day when they're at work.
Camera Features and Specifications
Now we understand the functions and limitations of webcam, let's dive in deeper in features and specifications of different types of home security cameras.
Connectivity and Power Source
Most DIY home security cameras operate on your home wifi network, which requires them to be positioned within range of your home routers or wireless access point. The DIY security cameras work fine as long as there's wifi signal and power. Most cameras are powered by a plug-in adapter, which requires you to ensure that your camera is positioned near an outlet or use an extension cord.
Some latest cameras can operate untethered with rechargeable batteries or replaceable batteries. These cameras give you greater control over where you wish to install your camera.
Most home security cameras support Android and iOS system, so you can log in on your smart phone to view video footage and to configure your settings. This marks the importance of app interface because that will be your main point of access to the camera. App configuration usually requires the user to create an account, log in, and connect to local Wifi.
The app typically include features like night vision, motion detection, sound alerts, two-way audio, activity history, etc. Two-way audio requires a built-in speaker and a microphone, and it can be pretty useful in situations where you need to confront an intruder, or scold a misbehaving pet.
Some cameras supports constant live streaming, so that you can check in on your home whenever you want. Other cameras records a video clip only when its sensor is triggered by motion or an accident event. In this case, these cameras won't be any good for you if you want to look in on your pet.
Video quality is another consideration. The clearer your video quality, the more bandwidth the camera takes up and the more likely it is to experience lag. In other words, you will need to compromise for one or another. Sometimes the camera will prompt you to adjust the quality to a lower resolution if your HD camera runs into lag times often.
Most home security cameras support HD resolution (1080p streaming quality) today, while very few stick with lower video quality to keep the battery last longer.
DIY home security cameras are meant to blend in. Most people prefer a simple white or black finish. If you look closer, key details distinguish a smartly designed camera from the rest in the market. For example, some cameras come with built-in stands, which allows you to pivot the camera so you have more control over camera angling.
Cloud storage sends your video footage to a remote server. Local storage hold your footage on a micro SD card that's inserted in a designated slot in the camera. There is no better or worse in these two. It is merely a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to pay a monthly subscription fee for cloud storage.
Field of View
Field of view determines how much you can view through your security camera. A larger field of view is more desirable if you need to guard one single area, or a point of entry. 180-degree lens is usually considered a good field of view. Some security cameras allows manual pan and tilt functionality that increases its field of view significantly.
Beyond basic features like live streaming, night vision, motion detection, sound alerts, two-way audio, there are many other features and integration available in current market. Here are some latest rising features:
- Face recognition: to distinguish between the homeowner, family members, friends, and everyone else.
- Activity zones: the camera will pay extra attention to or ignore a specific area within its field of view.
- Built-in sirens: offers more protection.
- Arm/Disarm modes: this feature allows you to put the camera to sleep when you want it to stop recording entirely. This also prolongs the camera's battery life.
- Voice commands: some cameras work great with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apply Homekit Siri.
- More integrations: integrations between security cameras and Apple TV allows you to pull up your camera's live feed on a larger screen.
Like any other smart home products, DIY home security cameras can vary a lot in pricing depending on the brand and its features. Most of home security cameras cost between $100 and $300 (the camera itself, not including added fees for cloud storage).
With lots of upcoming innovations in smart home security, we look forward to more ways to use face recognition, voice control, and more smooth third-party integrations connecting the camera with other smart home devices. It is expected that home security cameras with these more advanced features will be more expensive.