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Home Monitoring Via Internet

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We are interested in installing a home monitoring system to check our premises while away via internet. We haven't seen any discussions on this. Costco and Amazon (among others) sell several [electronics/security & monitoring/security monitors] with multiple cameras that record to a DVR attached to a PC. Using this system you could, for example, point one camera to a readout of a thermometer and know there is/has been no power failure and your home is warm and safe. Using a UPS (battery backup) for the PC and DVR would assure access in the event of a power failure.

Has anyone found a system they like? Don't like?

We already have a monitored security system for intrusion and fire/smoke, but we just want to be sure things are OK otherwise since we live in the Northwest where temps can fall below zero in the winter...and we want to be elsewhere when that happens!

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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If you already are paying a monthly fee for alarm monitoring they should be able to add temperature, water, power failure sensor for reasonable if not free fee. I got rid of my alarm monitoring company with the monthly fees. I installed a system called Sensaphone it has a built in temp, power and microphone sensors. It is easy to self install, dials a variety of phone #'s you program, you can even call in to the unit and get updated that things are normal. It also has several add on equiptment for security. Just type in Sensaphone you can read more. The panel is about $400 but you will save that in 1 year of monitoring. Check it out.

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If you already are paying a monthly fee for alarm monitoring they should be able to add temperature, water, power failure sensor for reasonable if not free fee. I got rid of my alarm monitoring company with the monthly fees. I installed a system called Sensaphone it has a built in temp, power and microphone sensors. It is easy to self install, dials a variety of phone #'s you program, you can even call in to the unit and get updated that things are normal. It also has several add on equiptment for security. Just type in Sensaphone you can read more. The panel is about $400 but you will save that in 1 year of monitoring. Check it out.

Here in Central Oregon, the available monitoring companies don't have temp alarm sensors yet (I asked). Also, our homeowners won't discount without a licensed monitoring company. But we'll check the unit you recommended...sounds interesting. Evidently it works via telephone line? We no longer have a land line...we have cell phones and MagicJack. Our security monitor has a cellular unit which we liked better than a land line connection...no way it can be tampered with. Thanks for your reply.

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To check the heat. I know people that wire a thermostat right into the phone wires. Easy to do. Just hook Red & Green wires to thermostat and set it for the low temp in your house you like. Than once a day call your house. If it rings, everything is ok. If you get a busy signal, you need someone to check your house.

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We have just ordered a 4-camera security system with DVR from Amazon. You can monitor from smart phones or internet . It connects to our modem from cable company to connect to internet without a fee. I will update and let you know how it is when it is installed. Using a UPS backup is a good idea. Thanks

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I have four Cisco/Linksys WVC210 IP cameras. As long as you hve reasonbly high speed Internet access and a router you can access them from anywhere. There is software available from Cisco that will function as a motion detector including noting if an object in view has been removed.

It will then send email to wherever you designate.

Works well. Cameras are under $200 each... the software gets a little pricey if you want to be able to record.

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I have a Monitoring system from a company called Q-SEE that I purchased a couple years ago from Costco.com. It has a DVR that holds 2.5 terabites of data on 7 hard drives and controls 16 cameras on my property (1 acre). It is connected to the internet and reboots itself automatically if the power goes out. I have a whole house generator (runs on natural gas) that kicks on after being out of power for 30 seconds so all the cameras and DVR come right back on including the black box that brings the internet into the house. The DVR reboots in less than 20 seconds after a power failure and goes back to where it was unlike some computers that have cameras attached to them.

I am not a fan of the computer run surveillance systems because if you do loose power, the computer will shut down unless you have a battery backup that will eventually shut down the computer anyway.

I have the commercial DVR setup ($2800). I can pickup every camera on my windows based internet Cell phone (live) anywhere I get cellphone/internet data service. I can tether my cell phone to my lap top to get internet most anywhere too ($20/month). The DVR sends me text messages when something happens within certain parameters and I can set up each camera to start recording based upon certain pixels on the screen having movement, time of day and length of recording. This set up feature can be accessed from any computer so you can tell the DVR to start recording if it senses any movement within a little box that you can draw on each camera screen.

I have one camera that will start recording if something moves in front of the gate key pad at my entrance gate even though the camera is 20 feet way. That way I am not recording the every time a bird or shadow that passes within the shot of the camera and it will go back and pickup 5 seconds before the movement was detected. Motion sensing technology is a great way to save disk space storage and get alot of recording time on the DVR. It is still a pain when it is snowing or raining at night because it will keep recording all the time unless I tell certain cameras only to sense motion at certain times of the day or week.

If I had all 16 cameras recording all the time at the highest definition possible (movie camera quality, 32 frames a second) I would get about 1 month of recording time with 2.5 tera bites of hard drives. The DVR has the capacity to handle 16 cameras at one time due to technology built into the DVR and the high quality of the hard-drives that are being used. If I set the cameras to record a screen shot every 1/4 second (instead of 32 times a second, movie quality) then I would get almost a year of data retrival before it starts recording over itself.

Some cameras will case others to start recording also (linked by the DVR setup). If my security system detects movement in the house, door or window then other cameras are triggered to start recording. So the system can plug into any security system that has electronic triggers.

If someone wants in the main gate, the keypad is programed to call me remotely and I can pickup the camera on my cell phone at the same time to see who is at the gate or front door. I can press a number on my cell phone to open the gate.

I have used the recordings to tell deliver drivers where to put packages while I am gone (precious to see the look on their face when they know figure out that they are being watched), get my driveway repaired when the US postal worker drove in my cleared driveway with snow cables on his truck and and tore the driveway surface up (video was great showing that the driver was ignorant of the conditions), replacing garbage cans that were inadvertently dumped in the garbage truck by mechanical arms and driver drove off without retrieving them, I have had 5 garbage cans go missing that way and everyone replaced by the garbage company because I had the date stamped video of it happening.

You can tell it to go back and start recording 5 seconds before something moves on the screen because it has a buffered memory. It can down download screen shots and video on any remote computer anywhere in the world and with the amount of hard-drive disk space (replaceable with same hard-drive as in a normal computer) I can keep recordings for about 5 to 12 months (depending upon recording setup) before the DVR starts recording over the oldest video.

Most of my cameras are outdoors facing at the sides of the house, doors and driveway. I have two facing down each way of the main parkway where I live. I have supplied the police with records when something went down on the parkway and they have caught criminals with the recordings. Great block watch item.

One of my neighbors was broken into and the crook with a driver got out of his car at the top of my driveway and walked right by one of my cameras, got a crow bar out of his trunk and walked 5 properties down the street and broke into the their house with the crow bar to a sliding door. I found out about the break-in a month later through another neighbor. The police had no leads until I went back into my recordings and found the video of the guy. I even found two weeks earlier that the same guy and his accomplice had parked in my driveway and walked down our driveway and others to case the neighbor hood. He was caught two months later in another break-in in another town and they used my video to convict him and his girl friend of my neighbors break-in on a seperate charge.

I am not a computer guy but I set the whole system up myself and I keep adding to it as I read more of the manual to see what it capable of doing.

Other than that, I know when my children are coming and going and who's neighbors dog unloaded on my lawn, that usually ends with free a beer :)

Dallas

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Thank you for the comprehensive comment, Dallas. It was so interesting, I sent it to my brother who actually lives near Dallas, TX, and is something of a tech geek! His comment? "Way cool, I want one!" I don't think we will go all out like you have done, but it sure gives us some info to work on.

We're leaning toward the Lorex 8 camera set-up at $600 after $400 off (thru 5/31) from Costco. It is wired, but the wireless ones are pretty limited, plus expensive per camera.

Thank you, everyone, who have responded with your ideas to consider.

Ed & Martha in Central Oregn

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@Newbie - We bought the Defender 502-4camera system and found that the system did not work on our Windows 7 computers. I spent 4 days trying to get the video to work on the computers and with tech support. He blamed the problem on my computers and IE9. The tech even erased all of my configuration on my router after taking control of my computer to set up network viewing. Really don't know exactly what he did but I could not get the router back on line and since Netgear tech support costs so much, I purchased a new one. We returned the system to Amazon for a refund. I saw where you have decided to buy a system from Costco. Would like to hear how you like it.

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Does your comment "We no longer have a land line...we have cell phones and MagicJack. Our security monitor has a cellular unit which we liked better than a land line connection..." mean you have a cable TV connection? Presumably so if you are using MagicJack because the latter will not work via HughesNet satellite Internet.

If you have cable Internet their are lots of IP based cameras and temp/power/driveway/alarm monitoring systems out there to choose from. Hopefully your cable system is more reliable than one we used to have. In a rural area, you lose AC power to a single amplifier and everyone downstream from that point lose their cable TV, VOIP telephone, and Internet.

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Our regular home security system reports to the monitoring station with a cellular phone unit. It's not a typical cell phone as it has no cell phone capabilities; it just dials the station if an alarm is triggered and the alarm company checks it daily from their end to see if it is working properly.

When we cut the land line, we had to have this alarm unit installed since it needs a dedicated line and won't work on a MagicJack. The cost (about $100) was paid for with savings from not having a monthly phone bill. Our MagicJack plugs into our computer via USB port which accesses the web through a wireless router from our internet provider which is totally wireless in our area. We get TV through DirecTV sat dish.

We see that Costco has an 8 camera system from Q-See for $$399.99 after $300 off and they have free access to their website to view the cameras. That may be the way we will go.

We like the MagicJack, by the way. Some areas have the ability to keep your old number. Otherwise you choose a prefix from your city (or the closest one without making your incoming calls long-distance) and they assign you the last 4 digits. With a 4 to 6 phone cordless phone system, you plug the base unit into the MagicJack, then you only need an AC outlet for the other handsets and you have phones all over the house. You sign up with your physical location with the MagicJack registration and then your 911 service knows where you are in an emergency. You get free caller ID, free long distance with no limits on minutes, and voice-mail for the $20 a year (after the first $20 to buy the jack--Radio Shack and Best Buy sells them as well as the MJ website) which saves us $38 a month over the land line (which had NO long distance) with it's disgusting taxes and fees that accounted for over half the bill! And if you have a cell phone for a backup, a temporary internet outage is not a concern. We don't see any problem with clarity, either. Someday, the fed/local governments may start taxing these phone over internet systems, but for now it is a real money saver. You can even take the MagicJack with you when traveling and plug it into a laptop and take your phone with you! 911 will also work correctly if you update the location when traveling. All your local friends and family can call you just like you are home!

Thanks for the response. Hope this clarified things.

Ed & Martha

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