Handyman: Outdoor monitoring systems
While full-blown home security systems are becoming cheaper and more popular these days, many people just want a way to see what is going on around their home to make sure there are no intruders. Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor monitoring products that you can install yourself without having a complete home security system.
Back in the day, a porch light with a motion sensor was the only thing that let you know if someone was walking around your home at night. But today you can install security camera systems that will let you use an app on your smartphone or tablet to notify you and let you see who that someone is in real time.
One of the most popular outdoor monitoring options is the video doorbell that lets you see and talk to anyone coming to your door right through your iPhone or Android smartphone. Ring (ring.com) was one of the first to offer a video doorbell back in 2014, and it is still among the best systems available, now offering three models that let you answer the door from anywhere. The Ring units feature an HD camera with night vision and a motion sensor, providing a clear view of anyone at your door both day and night.
SkyBell (skybell.com) also offers a video doorbell product that is similar to Ring’s. Both work with Apple and Android devices and have the option of video recording so you can review who came to your door.
If you want to monitor more than just your front door, you can find plenty of outdoor security camera products that also enable you to use your smart device to check your home’s perimeter 24/7.
Ring offers motion-activated outdoor cameras in two categories. The Stick Up Cam can mount anywhere on your home’s exterior and connects to an optional solar panel. The Floodlight Cam includes two motion activated LED floodlights and a 110-decibel siren. Nest (nest.com) offers NestCam Outdoor that can continuously record from 10 days to up to 30 days of video with their Nest Aware subscription service.
Lowes (lowes.com) has its own outdoor security camera that works with its Iris Home Management System, which uses wireless sensors to enable you to control it along with other devices in your home, such as indoor cameras, door locks and an alarm system from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
If you already have a home security system, or are considering one, you can also have outdoor cameras included as part of the packages that companies like ADT Services (adt.com), AT&T’s Digital Life (att.com/digital-life), Comcast’s Xfinity Home Secure (comcast.com/home-security) and Guardian Alarm (guardianalarm.com) offer.
Before you bring out your credit card there are some things you need to know. You will need a computer network, either Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth to use these products with your phone or tablet. Also make sure you have the right model of smartphone or tablet to enable you to use the camera’s app for monitoring purposes. Older iPhones, for example, may not be able to work with the newer security camera apps. Also, do your research and find out if there is a monthly fee and what extra services and features that gives you. Remember, there are plenty of systems available that you can purchase and install yourself without paying any extra monthly subscriptions.
For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show with Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.