Nerd Knowledge: DIY Home Security Options

With porch package thefts and car break-ins, home security is on everybody’s mind nowadays. In today’s Nerd Knowledge column, we’ll break out a few of the most cost-effective ways of strengthening your home’s security.

With porch package thefts, car break-ins, home burglaries, even home invasions in the news, home security is on everybody’s mind nowadays. The easiest, although the most expensive option, is to hire a professional security service to install equipment and monitor your premises. However, if you have the time, patience, and a little knowledge, you can provide a modicum of home security, tailored to your specific needs for much less money. There are several options to explore.

Repurpose your existing devices

If you have an old phone or tablet not being used, you can turn them into home security cameras. This is an option if you only have one or two rooms, or perhaps a porch to monitor.

First, choose a location for the device. If you are you using a phone or tablet, you may need to utilize a custom mount to ensure it is covering the proper area. You should select a position where the device can plug into a power source and connect to your wi-fi network to ensure an uninterrupted signal and power source. You should then remove any unnecessary apps to free up memory space on the device. Finally, install a program that can transmit a live-feed to the web.

The app, “Manything,” is free to use on a single device and will do the job. You can check into the live stream from anywhere on the Web and get alerts if any motion is detected. If you upgrade to the paid version, you can save recordings to the Cloud and install the program on multiple devices. Another app is “Presence,” which will do the same thing as “Manything,” and gives you the same upgrade options. 

Another option is a laptop with a webcam. There is a Windows version of “iSpy.” It will save recordings and snapshots, and send them to the web. You can also configure the software to send texts and Twitter alerts.

Set up an off-the-shelf camera 

This is the most convenient but the most expensive option for a DIY home security system. The upside is that the latest security cameras are easy to set up, simple to operate, and have many features. You can be up and running in a matter of minutes. 

The Nest Cam, by Google’s parent company, is reliable and intuitive. It has motion alerts, a built-in speaker and microphone, night vision capabilities, and is available in an outdoor version. For a monthly subscription fee, you can obtain advanced alerts based on particular zones and record in the cloud.

The Netgear Arlo works both indoors and out. It is also battery-powered so you do not need power cables to the camera. (You will have to monitor battery life.) Netgear offers an extensive free plan, will support up to five cameras and has the ability to keep seven days’ worth of recordings in the Cloud.

The Canary Hub offers a more comprehensive security solution. You can see and hear what is going on in your home at any time, receive motion detection alerts wherever you are, and even sound the alarm remotely if something is happening in your home. The Canary Flex is a simpler and cheaper version.

Piper NV streams high-quality video to wherever you are. It also provides two-way audio and has excellent night vision. Cloud storage is free, letting you save and review recordings. This camera includes a backup battery.

Ring The Ring Doorbell is a self-contained doorbell and security camera that works off  Wi-Fi and can be viewed on your Smartphone. The newer versions have increased camera resolution and motion sensors. Ring now has complete security systems that include cameras, keypads, and lighted cameras. You can also buy security lighting from Ring. They offer a professional monitoring service for ten dollars a month.

You now have several reasonably priced DIY options to make your home more secure.

About the Author

Long-time Sapulpa resident, Charles Betzler, followed his father, Charlie, into the radio and TV repair business. At age 9, he fixed his first broken radio and his first love is vintage audio equipment. In his 50 + years of technical work, graduation from OSUIT, and years of Continuing Education, Charles, in his capacity as Emergency Management Director of nearby city, designed the Emergency Operations Center, and the radio-activation system for the sirens. In his long career, he has repaired every type of consumer electronics from black-and-white TVs to the latest lap-top.

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