A few days ago I posted a teaser that I was documenting my analysis of potential security cameras for our household and that it would be coming soon. And here it is!… Part 1: The Analysis.
In that post I called the exploration into options for security cameras a “dragon cave.” It’s like a rabbit hole but much bigger and wider. There are dozens of companies that make and support camera equipment and literally hundreds of different camera models on the market today. I’m not exaggerating. Each has their standard features, what they are great at, and their shortcomings.
Not an all inclusive list, but here are some things to consider: Image quality, night vision quality, color night vision, field of view, motion detection, heat detection / AI / smart sensing of people, cars, pets, and packages, notification of events, data storage (local/cloud), wired, wireless, wire-free, weatherproof rating, app support, smart home support, base station / receiver, and customer support. And let’s not forget the biggest factor….COST!. The initial amount required for the equipment and moneys required over time for subscriptions for cloud storage and additional features. Whew…. It’s all a bit exhausting!!
When Jim began researching he quickly found himself thinking “I don’t have time for this.” That’s because the time it takes is not small. And you can’t just Google “top 5 security camera systems” and rely on the results. I mean, you can, but then you have to sort through the dozens of posts that review and compare options. That’s a lot of reading and after you get to the third one you start to lose track of what the first two said.
It also matters what features are important to you, as a homeowner. You might be more concerned about smart sensing and notifications and the ability to easily control the rules, field of view, and sensitivity than the data storage or live streaming. So someone else’s analysis or review might not be that helpful. What is one to do??!!
Enter stage left, the left brain, analytical poet. 😜
About a week ago Jim asked me, in his sheepish way, if I would help with something— if I would look into and research options. I’m sure my eyes lit up at the question. My brain certainly lit up. Because I used to do this for a living, I knew exactly where to start—with collecting the requirements. So I said, “tell me what’s most important to you.”
He quickly rattled off a list and I opened a document to take notes. Keep in mind, I’ve never researched this industry so I had no idea what is currently the “standard” offering and what features would be considered “fringe.”
I then spent the next few days exploring the “dragon cave.” Yes, I did begin with googling reviews but quickly concluded that a spreadsheet was going to be required to keep track. I also know that Jim doesn’t know much about the options out on the market so when he gave me the list of requirements, a little research and translation was sure to be needed.
I looked into details about camera resolution, night vision, weather proof ratings and that helped me come to an understanding of what was going to suit our needs. My spreadsheet included a list of the top 20 viable options and columns for all the features we care about.
I did a fair bit of reading specs on different websites and filled out all the cells on my Google sheet. Once I was satisfied with my data collection I calculated the total cost for start up, 1 year of operations, and 5 years.
Different companies have different models for how they are supporting their bottom line. For a few, the upfront equipment cost is high and expenses for actual operations over time are nominal. Other places have equipment that seems too good to be true for the price, but then support, cloud coverage, and extra features would truly bite you over a 5 year run. We are in this for the long term investment so it was an important part of the analysis.
The other factor for us is that we are a little OCD when it comes to covering potential intruder threat risk areas, outside and in. So we’re talking about needing a lot of cameras. I’m not going to say how many because I don’t need any external grief about it. 👀I also ruled out anything that was PoE (Power over Ethernet) as I did not want to have to run ethernet cables to all the places we want cameras. We are fortunate enough to have lots of power outlets in the soffits of our house so plug in cameras were on the table as well as battery operated cameras.
In any case, by the time I was circling back to Jim with my results, I had highlighted what I thought were the top 4 viable options: WYZE Cam V3, A Lorex System with LW4211 Cameras, Blink Outdoor, and a set of SWANN cameras. Incidentally, things like weatherproofing (IP-65 or higher), smart home integration (all work with Alexa), and basic resolution (1080P) ended up being fairly unimportant in the analysis because the standard for all the cameras I looked at was about the same. I therefore picked my top four because of factors like cost, smart sensing/AI, and clarity of picture at night.
When it came to discussing it, we only really needed to talk through those 4, which resulted in us narrowing down to 2 candidates. To be honest, when we got right down to it, I was fairly certain all 4 would be great options, so narrowing down to 2 was a conversation that had us googling together and coming to the conclusion that we were all about 1.) Instant Gratification and 2.) Try before you buy.
The Lorex system was heavy on EQ cost up front, no way to buy just 1 camera and try it out, and their website was terrible to navigate to find the right products (since thy have a gazillion options). We crossed that off.
Of the four Swann was the most expensive over a 5 year run because of the “optional” subscription cost and similar to Lorex, it looked as though the equipment up front was going to be more $$$. That helped us narrow down to WYZE and Blink. For both, we could buy a single camera, try it out, and make our final decision from there. Which is exactly what we did.
This purchase ended my analysis phase and within about 3 days, I had the cameras in my hot little hands. So begins Part 2: The Test Phase.
But this post is way too long and boring already so I’m gonna cut it here and save that for another day.
~Miss “Left Brain Poet” SugarCookie