Home Security - Video Surveillance System

While you are away on your travels, you may want to consider having some type of Home Video Surveillance System allowing you to easily check on your home as well as receive instant notifications of movement within or around your home.

You will find several different systems available offering a variety of features.  Do some research and shop around to find the systems that works for you.  Systems range in price from very inexpensive to several hundred dollars depending on the features and number of cameras included.  Some systems are fixed while others can be expanded to included additional cameras when you are ready. 

We don't have a lot of experience with different systems but we can give you some insight into the below mentioned system as well as things to consider when purchasing your own.

Things to consider in a Home Video Surveillance System
Hard Drive
  A hard drive if necessary to record video of your system and it allows you to playback video remotely using the phone app.  Some systems have built in hard drives while others require that you purchase an external drive to be plugged into the system.  A drive is only necessary to record images and should not be necessary if you are only interested in the live view.  Drive sizes vary and we found systems that will work with 1-4TB sized drives.  Depending on the number of cameras and the size of the drive, you can record a few days to several weeks of data before the drive gets full and begins to rewrite from the beginning.
Free App
  The system should include a free downloadable phone app allowing you to monitor your system from anywhere you have phone service.  There should not be any additional charge for remote monitoring.
Instant Notifications
  The system should be capable of sending instant App and email notifications based on movement detection.  You should be able to set whether or not you want a camera to detect movement as well as when you want it to be detected and send notifications.  App notifications may include the date/time and camera where the movement was detected with a link to click that will play back the recorded video so that you may quickly see what happened.  Email notifications may also include a link as well as a photo of what triggered the alert notification.
Indoor/Outdoor Cameras
  Depending on your needs, be sure the cameras are weather proof and can be placed outdoors if necessary.
Wireless Cameras
  Some systems will have physically wired cameras to the main NVR box while others will have wireless cameras allowing you to place them anywhere within range (usually a few hundred feet depending on line of sight and obstacles)  Be aware that most wireless cameras must still be plugged into a wall outlet for power.  We run across some battery powered cameras that are totally wireless, but we are not sure of the battery life and did not want to take the chance that the battery would die during an extended vacation.
Video Quality
  Consider the video quality so that your images are crisp and clear.  You will find some systems for a lesser price that have a lower image quality.  We recommend at least purchasing a 1080P system as shown below.
System Channels & Expansion
  A channel defines the number of cameras that are able to connect to the system.  Some systems are expandable while others or not.  For example, if you find an 8 Channel system that comes with 4 cameras, you would be able to purchase up to 4 additional cameras in the future to add to the system.

SMONET Security Camera System

8 Channel / 8 Camera System
Internal 2TB Hard Disk Drive
Advanced H.265 Video Compression
Do-It-Yourself Plug & Play Installation
Remote monitoring and playback
Lifetime Free lifetime tech support
Free mobile app monitoring application
Free PC monitoring application
SMONET Wireless Security Camera System with 8 Channels and 8 Full-Color High Resolution Cameras

For this system, you must have a TV or PC Monitor to display the camera's video.  You will need either a VGA or HDMI Cable for the monitor connection to the NVR Box (Network Video Recorder).  For remote video monitoring and playback, you must connect the NVR Box to a WAN Router that is connected to the internet.

The system may be Plug & Play and give the impression that setup is simple and can be done in a matter of minutes.  From our experience, it's going to take some time to figure everything out.  It takes time to install and setup the system on your TV, download and install the phone app and install the optional system on your PC.

High Level Setup Overview

The following is simply to give you an idea at a high level of what is required to initially setup the system.

Step 1: Plug the NVR Box in, connect it to your TV and plug in the included mouse.  We found that we had to plug in the mouse after the box was plugged in or it did not recognize the mouse.

Step 2: Plug in at least one camera to a wall outlet for power.

Step 3: Confirm the video image displays on the TV screen.  Test each camera to be sure they all work correctly and display in the separate boxes on the screen.  You can click each box on the screen to switch a camera to full-screen view.

Step 4: Once you have the system up and running as a standalone system, you can connect the NVR Box to your router with a network cable.  (See our note below on the network cable)

Step 5: Install the software form the internet onto your PC and/or download the free App to your phone and configure it as required.

Again, the steps are extremely high level and the documentation that comes with the system will explain the setup, camera configuration and features in greater detail.

This system comes with a built in 2TB HDD.  If the HDD become full, new recordings will automatically overwrite prior recordings.

We had to use our own Network Cable to connect the NVR Box to our Router as the one provided would take forever (hours) to make the connection and then would disconnect from the internet.  The cable provided worked fine for making a hardwired connection to a camera when we were playing with registering one manually.  Not sure what was going on or why, but using my own network cable solved my internet connection problem.

These cameras come with wall mounts, so they can be slightly awkward when just placing them on a shelf or other locations around the inside of your home if you do not intent to mount them.  You may need to place something under or next to them to keep them from rolling or to position the camera exactly how you want it.