Outdoor Home Security Systems
What You Need to Know About Outdoor Home Security Cameras
Most security cameras are made for indoor and outdoor use, but there are factors specific to the outdoors that you might want to consider. Cameras installed outdoors are more prone to changes in light and weather conditions, so features like night vision and waterproof construction are factors to consider. It’s also a good idea to think about where you’ll be mounting your camera. Lightweight, wireless cameras are better for outdoor use because they can be mounted discreetly in versatile locations throughout the exterior. Also think about pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities—the larger the area you’re monitoring is, the more range of motion you’ll want to be able to monitor.
You can find wired and wireless outdoor security cameras. Wireless are more ideal since they’re discreet and easier to mount, and you can monitor them from your mobile device when you’re away from home.
How Does a Wireless Outdoor Security Camera Work?
A security camera is meant to be discreet, which is one reason why cameras without visible wires are ideal. But it’s not the biggest reason. Wireless cameras, which operate by WiFi, give you remote access, meaning you can watch, schedule, and manage your security feed in real-time, usually on your mobile device. This means you can keep tabs on your home whether you’re at work, in the grocery store, or on vacation. Wireless cameras also store filmed content, either in the cloud or a storage card.
What Type of Resolution Do Outdoor Cameras Have?
Until recently, the standard resolution for HD security cameras was 720p, with a pixel frame size per image of 1280x720. As technology has increased, however, so has camera quality; today some cameras have resolutions increased to 1440p, or 3 million pixels per image. While standard 720p resolutions suffice for general surveillance, they provide less detail especially when zoomed in. The 1440p resolutions, for example, are able to capture a clear view of a license plate from 70 feet away, while the same image through a 720p resolution will likely be blurry and unintelligible.
Do I Need Motion and Sound Detection?
Though sometimes falsely triggered by pets or extreme weather, motion and sound detection are valuable components that allow the security system to alert you to any changes in the environment.
Does My Outdoor Security Camera Require Memory?
Wireless cameras record and store footage in either a cloud or removable storage card.
Our Methodology for Rating Home Security Systems
Top10.com reviews home security systems based on facts and research. Whenever possible, we test out the home security system being reviewed in a real-world scenario, whether that’s running a free trial for a month or paying to test the product.
Besides real-world testing, and whenever such testing isn’t practical, we evaluate each service by visiting its website, reading documentation supplied by the home security company, and discussing the product directly with the vendor.
We look at third-party customer reviews and sentiment on social media, too, to get a well-rounded idea of how people feel about their experience with each home security system supplier.
How Much Does a Good Security System Cost?
Home security systems run a wide gamut, from inexpensive DIY devices to professionally installed, continually monitored home alert systems. The more devices and features you add, the higher the price will rise. However, many professional systems include a starter kit for an attractively low price.
Most systems have a central hub that acts as a brain of sorts, costing around $100 on average. “Smart” systems with support for home automation features may cost a little more.
Indoor camera systems cost around $100 each, whereas outdoor cameras are around $200. Sensors for doors and windows cost around $30 each, and sensors for smoke and carbon monoxide cost around $100.
Depending on your requirements, you might want to consider a system with a medical alert device, usually a wearable button that can be pressed to send emergency assistance. These typically only add around $20 to the price and can offer great peace of mind.
Professional installation can cost around $100, but it’s highly recommended if you don’t have a background in security, as a professional installer will ensure your system is correctly set up.
The final cost to consider is ongoing home monitoring. This involves a 24/7 monitoring team from the security company keeping an eye out for alerts from your system, allowing for a much faster response from emergency services. This type of service typically costs around $30/month, but sometimes also means your initial outlay on equipment could be much lower or even waived entirely.
DIY Home Security Systems
DIY home security systems, for the most part, require you to install and monitor your home security system yourself.
Some DIY home security systems, like SimpliSafe and Cove Security, keep prices below $300 for a basic system with door and window sensors. Wyze Home Monitoring, in particular, offers low-price modular security gadgets you can use to create your own home security system piece by piece.
DIY home security systems might be slightly cheaper than professional home security systems, but setup is more challenging, as you’re basically on your own.
DIY home security systems either don’t offer 24/7 monitoring at all or charge extra for it. 24/7 monitoring isn’t usually part of a DIY home security system provider’s core business, and these companies are more likely to use a third-party monitoring service. We therefore tend to recommend professional home security systems instead for those who want 24/7 monitoring.
Professional Home Security Systems
Professional home security systems, like Brinks Home Security offer the same or more functionality than DIY home systems, but the company will usually install your home security system for you. This not only makes installation a lot simpler if you’re not technically minded, but it also ensures your new system is set up in the most secure and impenetrable way possible. 24/7 monitoring, where a team is always on call to respond to emergencies at your home and/or contact relevant authorities, is also usually included in your package.
Our favorite professional home security systems all come from veteran companies that have worked in security for decades. This offers peace of mind that the devices you buy will stand the test of time and that the 24/7 monitoring services will never let you down in your time of need.
For example, ADT Security offers a $500 theft protection guarantee in case your home is burglarized while the security system is running. And a professional home security installation from Vivint will integrate seamlessly with your other smart home gadgets.
Professionally installed home security systems are much simpler to get started with than DIY solutions, and it’s good to know if anything stops working or you need an upgrade, the company will handle it for you.
Are Wireless Alarms Reliable?
Wireless alarms are significantly easier to install than wired alarm systems, but they can also bring up reliability concerns for homeowners.
Wireless alarms are now very dependable. In fact, very few modern security systems are now wired-only. Because wireless systems require fewer holes drilled in walls and they’re portable, they’re popular with renters.
Because they’re often battery-powered, wireless alarms are also immune to power outages. But you’ll need to keep on top of changing the batteries in your wireless sensors, much in the same way you periodically change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Most wireless alarm systems will warn you via a mobile app when it’s time to change the batteries.
The other potential reliability issue with wireless alarm systems is network connectivity. You must ensure all the sensors in your system are within adequate range of the central hub, which is another reason professional installation is a good idea. For the best reliability, we recommend choosing a wireless alarm system with a cellular backup, so even if your internet connection goes down, alerts can still be reported.
A home security system is a strong deterrent for burglars and greatly reduces the chances of your home being burglarized in the first place. Home security systems have never been easier to get or cheaper to install, too, so there’s really no reason to delay protecting your home from crime.