Home security these days have gone beyond a home alarm system. These days, more people are installing security cameras to monitor not only the outside of their homes but also inside their homes. Technology has gotten to the point where it makes installing security cameras much easier without having to hire an electrician or other professional installer and you’ll get instant notification if anything triggers the camera.
One such product is the Arlo Smart Home HD Wireless IP Security Camera. I have personally installed these at my house and installation was a breeze. Many other so-called Wireless IP cameras still needed to be plugged in for power while Arlo cameras are battery operated. I know some of you are already thinking that it’ll be a pain to always have to change the battery, but if you don’t modify the default configuration too much and depending on where you place it, you should be able to get around six months of usage before having to change the batteries. I’ve had mine installed for a few months already and the batteries have not even dropped to half yet. Based on my placement and settings, I may get more than six months of usage for each set of batteries. If you have a camera that’s facing a busy street, any movement such as a car driving by can trigger your camera to record, which would drain the battery fast.
Installation was a breeze in that there were absolutely no wires to connect. When they say wireless, they mean wireless. Almost all other Wireless IP security cameras are still wired for power, which would require you to hire an electrician to route power cables all over the house. Having wires running around the house doesn’t add much to the décor as well. All I had to do was drill holes, mount the camera and that’s it. Powering the system up and connecting the cameras to the base station was simple as well. I suggest doing this before you mount the cameras as they recommend the cameras being within a couple of feet of the base station to pair them up.
Battery Powered vs Wired
Another pro to the cameras being battery powered is that if the power in the house goes down, the cameras keep operating. Of course, this is no use if the base station and internet is offline. However, this is easily remedied with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which is basically a backup battery for electronic devices. Normally, UPS units are used with computers and servers to keep them up and running when the power goes down so that you can safely shut them down without causing any damage or data loss. With a decent size UPS on your internet router and camera base station, your security camera system would stay up and running and recording any activity.
One of the drawbacks to the units being battery operated is that you have to be careful how you set the sensitivity of the camera so that it’s not constantly recording activity that you don’t want. This is where placement, position and angle are important. As much as you would like to turn up sensitivity to 100%, if you face the camera towards a busy street, be ready to replace the batteries every couple of months.
Free Cloud Storage
Arlo provides free rolling 7-day secure cloud recordings for up to 5 cameras. In comparison to other brands I’ve seen, this is a definite plus. Traditional security camera systems require you to house a DVR system in your house and all recordings would reside on this system, which you wouldn’t be able to access easily on your smartphone like all these new systems. These days, it’s all in the cloud and with free 7-day retention, that’s good enough for me. If you need longer retention or you need to support more than 5 cameras, there are multiple subscription plans you can subscribe to.
Many other brands do not offer free cloud storage so you’ll have to start paying after the introductory period if you want to use the cameras altogether and record footage. You can always view the live footage for free without subscribing but do you want to be your own 24/7 security? I don’t think so. Or, there are those cameras with SD card slots for local recording. This, in my opinion, is a bad idea. A thief smart enough to know about these cameras would know to smash or remove the camera with the recordings on the unit itself and you’re left with nothing. Not a smart design in my opinion to have recordings stored locally on the camera itself.
Arlo vs Arlo PRO
The Arlo camera models that I purchased are the base model. The next model up would be the Arlo Pro, which provides a few more features. Both the base model and the Pro model have 720P recording quality with night vision. The Pro model offers audio recording, optional plug-in power if you don’t want to deal with batteries, and optional local recording with a USB drive plugged into the base station.
Since Arlo provides free 7-day rolling cloud recording, the optional local back-up storage could be used for longer retention without having to pay a subscription. As I didn’t care too much about recording audio, I opted for the base Arlo model. As negligible as it may be, I also feel that when you add in extra features to the hardware like audio recording, it would use more battery power, which is probably why they added the option to be able to plug it in.
Once all the hardware and basic setup is done, you can start to fine tune the settings for each camera and also set recording modes. There are four basic modes, Armed, Disarmed, Schedule, and Geofencing. Armed and Disarmed are fairly self-explanatory. Within each of these modes is where you would set the sensitivity and recording length for each camera.
- Armed is basically where the security camera is on and recording when triggered by movement based on your settings.
- Disarmed is fairly self explanatory. The system won’t record any movement in the viewing area.
- Schedule is where you can set time frames of when you want the security cameras to be operating.
- Geofencing is where you can Arm and Disarm the system based on your location. For example, if you have internal cameras setup and only want the system armed when you’re not at home, you can use this feature so that once the system detects that you have left the area or the “virtual fence” as they put it, the system arms and vice versa.
As my cameras are all for exterior use, I have mine set to Armed for 24/7 monitoring. All in all, the Arlo Smart Home HD Wireless IP Security Camera system was a good buy.