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Home Video Surveillance Options

by Tom Moccia | December 29, 2010December 29, 2010 6:00 pm PST

With cities and municipalities cutting back on police and fire protection, it is becoming more evident that people need to start taking security of their homes into their own hands. No, I’m not talking about bearing arms and loading your homes with firearms.  What I’m talking about is integrating video surveillance and remote security into your existing security measures.  With the overwhelming adoption of Smart Phones and other mobile devices capable of connecting to the Internet with streaming capabilities, many companies are offering these types of products and services.

I have been researching two such offerings over the past month or so: Dropcam which is simplephoto1 do it yourself video integration with or without monthly fees depending on desired services, and the ADT Pulse, which integrates controlling your ADT home security system remotely along with video surveillance.

Let’s start with the lesser known Dropcam, which provides affordable wireless surveillance cameras that are easily hooked up to your home network.  Two models are available for purchase: Dropcam for $199 and Dropcam Echo priced at $249. The base model will transmit video while the Echo will transmit both audio and video.  The Dropcam can be configured to detect motion and will even send alerts to your phone when certain events occur.  The basic service is free and allows you to view you home with a live feed from any computer or by using the free iPhone application.  The Plus and Pro services are $8.95 and $24.95 per camera per month respectively. The Plus service will allow you to record up to seven days of activity while the Pro gives you thirty days of recording and the ability to utilize your DVR if more space is needed.  So, for as little as $199 you can add video surveillance to your home and keep tabs on what is going on day or night from an internet connection or your Smart Phone.

Moving onto the ADT Pulse system, it is not a do-it-yourself project by any stretch of the adt-pulse-securityimagination. You can implement video surveillance, but you will need to have an ADT alarm system already installed and activated, then have the company install the needed video cameras and peripherals that you would like to control remotely.      Considering we are focusing on video surveillance in this article, we will save the rest of the home automation discussions for another time. With all that being said, after installation of the Pulse system you will be able to monitor a video feed from either your iPhone or iPad.  This solution is a bit more expensive and there are many different types of configurations but a friend of mine is upgrading his ADT system to the Pulse and here is his configuration and pricing structure:

  • 2 wireless video cameras
  • 2 new thermostats
  • 2 new alarm key pads (one is portable touch screen with video)
  • 1 alarm remote
  • 2 new smoke detectors (direct to fire dept.)
  • 2 wireless alarm sensors
  • 1 light/appliance module

Everything is then controlled via an iPhone app.

The cost for the equipment and installation is running around $1700, and the monthly monitoring fee will be $60 a month (keep in mind, my friends current ADT sensors are compatible with the Pulse so new sensors are not needed). ADT is a more expensive solution but gives you professional installation as well as a lot of home automation with the ability to control lighting and thermostat setting directly from your iPhone.

We have covered two video surveillance systems, albeit on different ends of the cost and ease of installation spectrum.  Depending on your needs and what you are trying to accomplish with your setup there are options out there.  As the use of Smart Phones increases and the technology allows for streaming content over cellular networks there will be even more options for consumers to monitor their homes and family by means of video surveillance.  Let me know if you implement any video surveillance techniques that allow you to monitor what means most to you.


Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...

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