Home security camera systems

All. My neighbors have had some break in attempts. We want to get some of the 8 homes on our cul-de-sac to have security cameras on separate systems with overlapping views of the outside so that even if one system is disabled, others will have an event recorded. It would seem to me the same brand would allow us to help each other in set up and service. What brands/systems would you recommend and why?


The Second Stone

I have a couple D-link cams that I got off Amazon for seventy bucks or so a pop. I use Mangocam to record both and store the video online and it runs me $6/month. I just wanted something cheap. Honestly, they are indoor cameras but if you have a good overhang like I do you can use it outside. There are tons of options out there, but I’m no expert. I’m just relaying my setup. Do know that most are going to have fairly suspect video at night. You can help that with good lighting, which in itself is a deterrent. I also bought some security signage on eBay.

I buy cheap outdoor infrared lights for my setup. Assuming your cameras see in IR, you can use something like that to get great night vision.

I build my cameras from Raspberry Pis, so I can’t really give any advice beyond that.

Never thought about that, thanks. Mine do have infrared lights built in, but they only do so well and I could probably extend that range. I guess I wanted to set the tone though because sometimes people think they’re going to read license plates in the dark and get distinct facial features. You might if they’re really close, but for the most part you’ll know what’s going on without all of the details filled in, at least in my experiences. I’ve also had a system that I bought that was wired and had several cameras that came from Radio Shack, but that was some time ago. I can’t remember the brand, but it was more expensive and those cameras were meant for outdoor use. They were fine too. I believe that you can pay more and get better night vision cameras, but like most things it depends on what you want to spend and what your expectations are.

I’m on my fourth DVR security system in 16 years, with the latest being only about two months old. How good it is, only time will tell, but thus far very happy with it.
With camera’s, I’ve been through cheap and expensive, and in terms of reliability, my cheaper cameras have actually lasted the longest thus far, with me finally replacing a few of those I’ve had since the beginning. I’ve probably had to replace over 30 cameras during this time. Most of them were because the lens lets moisture in, but there were other problems.

Present system is about ¼ the size of my last DVR and runs so quiet, I can’t hear it running even when right next to it. And it came with 4 color cameras already and cables, connections, etc. Since my cameras and cables were already in place, it only took about three minutes to change out. One feature I really like about this one is the remote viewing. Quiet a few have this now. Now I can be pretty much be anywhere, and with a smart phone and a click, see what is going on at my place. To get that feature, you need a router, and a ISP, and of course a smart phone. You can also use the remote viewing on other computers, and/or other smart phones, the code you enter will enable others to watch it too if you like.

Harbor Freight has a system they are selling that has remote viewing, but I’ve been told you have to pay an extra annual fee for their service. I believe most don’t charge you though.

Best part with my present system, I actually got it at Walmart (don’t hate) for $299.99. Other systems I have had over the years cost well over $1,000. This one is called a Swan. They also have a Nighthawk system for $279.99. Spent another $50.00 for a router.

At slowest frames per second I set it to 6 on each camera, and it’ll go a month (two weeks on 8 cameras) on four cameras before the hard drive runs out, and simply starts recording over it again. It can record motion only if you like, but I like having them all manual record at all times, that way you don’t take a chance on missing anything.

Security systems are more affordable than ever before.

There are inexpensive IP cameras that will send images (recorded via motion detection) to your e-mail, so an attempt to “disable” them will result in a nice close-up of the thief sent to e-mail.

I have a Logitech that I got as a gift. I use it to “spy” on our dogs, but it would be great for security. It can be configured to send stills to my email in motion detection mode and can store video. There is lowlight capability.


Swan (maybe Swann?) is what my first system was, but I didn’t have a nicer system like yours. Anyway, I know you have remote viewing, but do you have remote storage, or is your storage solely the dvr? I ask because a thief could just walk out with your dvr and your proof. That’s why I used MangoCam. I used Sensr in the past and loved their interface better, but I had some issues and their customer service took many days to get back to me. By that time I just decided to move to another service.

Got an old iphone or ipad you’re not using? Use the free Manything app, and voila’ you’ve got a free security system with motion sensing and remote cloud storage.

While wireless is certainly much easier to install, you don’t get the same higher resolution possible through a wired system. If all you’re doing is capturing a close-up of a face it may not matter. If you want a license plate, it does.

Yep, Swann with the extra n, my bad. Not sure how much nicer mine is than others, if the reliability holds up over many years, I’ll know how valuable it was to me.

I‘ve never heard of MangoCam, sounds interesting, and a good thing to consider. How does it work exactly, is there even a DVR at site? Obviously, it’s another advantage if you have a remote location for recording. To get to my DVR, there are certain steps they would have to take if they made it this far including risk being shot since there is nearly always somebody at the biz armed at all times which is usually me.

If they stole my DVR, of course, none of my remote locations would no longer be recording as well, but hopefully it would have enough recorded prior to that.

I can record with my smartphone if I was able to notice something going on since it has the RV feature. And one can also have another location with a computer record as well, simply by entering the same code along with the free software that you get. It can send you an e-mail if you have a certain camera trigger movement while on motion, which also can have your smartphone go off by simply letting you know you have e-mail. I choose not to do this, but have my running all of the time. With motion, especially outside cameras, I got too many false alarms.

I managed to catch quite a few things going on over the years, but no telling how much that has been prevented by others knowing that they are being recorded.

Worst that happened at my place, was an armed robbery many years back, when five men stole a van that was completely full of pharmaceutical drugs. This was back when I still had only a one camera system that recorded only in b&w on a tape system. Wasn’t able to get a conviction on them, but it helped the DEA and others get an idea of who some of them were. I was even more lucky since I was across from the airport, and a crop duster pilot happened to be listening to the police scanner and was able to locate the stolen van from the air about an hour or two later just at daybreak. He found it abandoned at a lake, with a lot of empty boxes sitting outside of it. He had one hell of an eye to still notice it, but those crop dusters fly awfully damn low, and his hunch that it was the van turned out to be right.