My New Home Security & Surveillance

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My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby ArmedAviator » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:25 pm

I am offering my experience so hopefully someone else on the fence or someone that hadn't considered this can get some ideas.

So a few weeks ago I purchased my first house. After renting and living with roommates for the past decade, it was time to make a big boy purchase.

One of the things I'm working on now is setting up proper home security to keep tabs on the place when I am away and extra sets of eyes and ears when I am home.

Security System
I had received a few deals in the mail and email after all of the companies caught wind of my home purchase. In my research, the Frontpoint security system seemed to be the best bang for the buck with the features I wanted. I got the "Ultimate" kit for $200 shipped from Angie's List, however it is a $45/mo 3-year contract for monitoring and remote management (phone app, web site control, etc.). It does not have cameras in this package, nor did I want them to "see within."

The Frontpoint system comes with easy-to-understand, interactive instructions on your mobile device so you can test each device as you install it. If you did it wrong, it won't let you continue until it's right. With 10 door/window sensors, 2 motion detectors, and a smoke/fire alarm, it took about one hour to install everything. Every device has pre-applied double-sided tape for quick and easy installation. The batteries supposedly last 3-5 years.

I was very unsure about home security system offerings since the last time I've dealt with them it was my parents' ADT hard-wired system which had all sorts of problems. I'm happy with my decision. Although, I believe we all understand here that a security system will not make everything "safe," it will help help inform and aid us in the detection of intruders giving us extra time to react.

Another feature I really like is setting up multiple codes for different people. This way I know who had deactivated the system as I have a girlfriend and other friends that help around here when I am not around. Each code can have a name tied to it in the online web application and it will show as "Joe Smith deactivated the system at XX:XX" online and the mobile app.

In addition to monitoring for unauthorized entry, I wanted to watch and record certain spots around the house/yard/garage.

After much research and comparison, I opted to go with Reolink IP cameras. They seem to be the best cameras around their price point.

Here's a list of the cameras:
4x Reolink RLC-410
1x Reolink RLC-422
1x Reolink CL1 Pro
All of the cameras except the CL1 Pro use Power-over-Ethernet so a single wire from a PoE capable network switch powers them. The C1-Pro uses wireless to transmit the camera feed and a single USB cable (like a smart phone) for power. All of these cameras are 4 or 5 Megapixels (better than 1080p!) and have LED infrared lights for impressive night vision. All management of the cameras is done on your computer. Each camera will have it's own IP address where you can login, change settings, and watch the live-stream. These cameras also offer the ability to email you, upload to a server, or record internally when motion is detected.

For what it's worth, the default settings do cause motion blur in night mode (black & white). After some tweaking of the settings, I got sharp, clear motion night video. Daytime (color) video is unaffected by this problem.

Since I wanted 24/7 recording of multiple streams I opted to use software called Shinobi CCTV. Shinobi is free for non-commercial use and the code is open-source. I have already been in contact with the developer to help get a few things fixed and streamlined with this software since I am planning on using it for a lengthy duration.

To record the six high-def video streams, I bought a large-capacity hard drive for use with 24/7 video recording, a Seagate SkyHawk 8TB. This will have to be installed in a computer that is on 24/7 with some Network Video Recorder (NVR) software, such as Shinobi running. You can also use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device that offers NVR applications on their operating system. I opted to install the harddrive in one of my rack-mounted enterprise servers and am running Shinobi in a Linux virtual machine. All of the cameras and the Linux virtual machine are on their own "virtual" network (VLAN) so there is a 0% chance of anyone other than myself gaining access to the cameras. Additionally, the camera VLAN has no internet access, in or out. I believe this is a very important step that many people overlook. Prevent your cameras from being accessed AND accessing the internet!


Overall, I'm very happy I took the time and money to invest in these two systems to aid in home security. The neighborhood isn't the best and I now feel much safer coming home knowing that no doors or windows and no motion captured before walking in the door since my departure. I also am happy to have days worth of video readily accessible in case I had to identify a vehicle or person that may have caused damage, tried to gain entry, or stole property.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask and I'm sure there's others here with these and other systems to help aid in home security. Remember, the firearm is the last line of defense.
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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby Gramps » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:53 pm

Is there an audible alarm?

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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby ArmedAviator » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:23 pm

Yes, the security system sounds an alarm instantly if there's motion detection in "Away" mode or, in "Home" or "Away" modes if any door or window is opened and a pre-set time (user selectable, default is 60 seconds) has elapsed without the security code being entered on the keypad or disarmed on the mobile app. There's also a setting in "Home" mode to sound the alarm immediately upon opening a door or window. One might use this mode when sleeping, for example.
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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby dingode » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:40 pm

I've had Frontpoint for a number of years and it's been almost problem free and I'm very satisfied with it. I had one door sensor go bad after a couple years and they overnighted me a new one at no cost since it was still under warranty. Batteries last almost forever. I'm sure some of my door and window sensors are still on the original ones, I know the motion sensors are.

I will say that $45 a month is starting to grind on me a bit when I hear the SimplySafe commercial advertising $14 a month. But I think to use the SimplySafe App it cost $24 a month. If you want the lower cost plan you have to use the web browser to interact with the system. It doesn't grind on me bad enough yet to do the math to see if or how much I would save if I swapped.
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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby Bruenor » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:04 am

I went a slightly different route with a commercial system that I purchased from Amazon/Ebay and installed myself.

I started with the Honeywell /Ademco Vista 20P kit, which included the panel, A keypad with Wireless transmitter, 10 Wireless Window/door sensors, siren, battery, power supply, and cabinet. the panel supports 8 hardwired loops, and 128 addressable wired / Wireless zones. In the system I chose the keypad is hard wired to the control panel, and adds wireless capability to the system. There are other options for adding wireless support. There are also wireless keypads you can place at other entrances to your home and in your bedroom if so desired that do not require wires..

I added a several wired and wireless motion detectors and Smoke detectors, and an EyeZon IP remote interface.
the Eyezon interface allows remote control of your panel, and also sends you alerts.
Remote Arm (Away & Stay, Quick Arming)/Disarm/Zone Bypass/PGM Control (depending on panel model)
Event Logging
Receive Alerts by e-mail or SMS.
See at a glance zone status.
New “Smart Phone” optimized version of the ESP portal. Works with iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.
Portal access and the app are free, as are the email and SMS alerts.
Central station Monitoring through Eyezon runs $8.99 a month with a $50.00 one time setup fee.

I'm in for about $600.00 out the gate, so my upfront costs are certainly higher, but I felt the higher cost also gave me the freedom to choose my monitoring company. The installation is certainly more difficult than what ArmedAviator described, as the system requires programming each sensor to the panel. If I program a sensor incorrectly the system will not notify me, that sensor just won't work till I fix the issue. Since this is a commercial system the amount and type of available sensors pretty much spans the gamut of everything you can imagine being available.

The alarm panel arming modes are as follows.
Away - entry delay all perimeter and internal motion sensors activated
Stay - Entry delay, all perimeter sensors activated, internal motion detectors inactive
Instant - no entry delay, all perimeter sensors activated, interior motion are deactivated.
Maximum - no entry delay, All interior and exterior zones activated.

In addition to multiple entry codes for individual users, you can also program Duress codes, so if you were to arrive home and were forced to disarm the panel you could do so in a manner that would send a silent alarm. if your alarm code was 1234 in a duress situation you might enter 1235 OFF. (your normal code +1 to the last digit) the panel would disarm and everything would look normal locally, but in the background it would be sending a silent alarm signal to the monitoring station notifying them that you were forced to disarm the system under duress.

Wireless fobs are available that can be used to arm, disarm, panic alarm or summon medical assistance depending on how you program them (the last two functions of course require central station monitoring if you want someone to respond)

The alarm panel has an alpha numeric display on the keypad so you can program plain English descriptions for the zones so instead of Zone 2 or zone 3 it would say Front Door, back door, bedroom window much easier than trying to remember what zone number is what, and with 128 addressable zones, every sensor can be explicitly defined.

The system can be setup to have 2 partitions, so if you would like to alarm your garage or barn separately using the same alarm panel that is an option. Each users alarm code can be assigned to a particular partition, or can be granted access to go between partitions so it can arm and disarm both partitions using the same code.

After I purchased my system I saw that Honeywell came out with the Home Automation Module which you would use instead of the Eyezon module, to give you the remote management capabilities, IP connectivity, and ability to control z-wave devices, so if you are into the whole house automation, that's an option for you. Lighting, HVAC, and anything else you would like to control. Not sure what the app and monitoring options are for that unit. - some videos about it..

Just a heads up when adding IP cameras to your home network. Many of them use uPNP (Universal Plug and Play) to automatically open ports on your internet router so the video can be viewed on the Internet. If you don't want this to happen be sure to disable this feature in the cameras and in your router. If you don't disable the feature it may open this external access without your knowledge. If you Do intend to access the cameras over the Internet, make sure to change the default passwords on everything, and keep the firmware up to date. There are entire voyeur websites dedicated to finding unsecured video cameras people can watch. Nothing quite like putting yourself on display for the world.

I still need to add cameras, haven't been happy with any I've looked at so far. the nice ones are typically very expensive and the inexpensive ones have poor video quality. will have to take a look at those Reolinks ArmedAviator recommended $65.00 for a HD camera is crazy inexpensive.

Curious what you used as a POE switch for them or if you just bought a POE injector to use in conjunction with your regular switch.

How/why I finally got motivated to install a home alarm...
I bought a Liberty safelerta few years back and installed it in my gun safe. So I'm at work one day and my phone starts receiving text alerts saying the safe is detecting movement. well no-one is home the safe should most definitely NOT be moving.. called and verified the wife is at work, just to make sure. I then called the Sheriffs department to report a possible break in at my house. I explained to the lady that answered the phone that my GUN SAFE was detecting movement and there might be someone in my house trying to steal my firearms, and could they please send a car over. She responded that "She wasn't sure if they could do that." Uhh what ? Someone is trying to steal firearms in your county, and you guys don't care ? really ? So she asked for my number and said she would check and call me back. I gave her my number and hung up. My work commute is about an hour, so I told my boss I had to go. no sooner did I get in my car than I get a call back from the Sheriffs department that yes they could check on it, and had in fact sent a car by , they already checked my house and there was no sign of any trouble. I thanked her, hung up, and made the commute home in about 40 minutes. There was no way they got approval, arrived at my house, and checked it within the 5 minutes since I had hung up with her from the first call, unless the sheriff was already parked in my driveway when he got the dispatch. This was during the time when the Sheriff was complaining about resources and saying he only had two cars on the road in the largest county in the the state. I arrived home to find the house sealed up tight, everything was fine and battery was low in the Safelert so it was sending false notifications. That is when I determined it was time to quit putting off the home alarm since my Sheriff didn't seem to give a hoot, just glad I figured it out on a false alarm. yet another strike against this sheriff and I'll vote for pretty much anyone that runs against him, please someone run against him.

(Full disclosure I used to buy from Ademco Distribution in Oakwood Village, and install these alarm systems in an office building I managed, back in the day, so I didn't choose this system blindly.)
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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby ArmedAviator » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:03 pm

I wish I had heard of these systems before I pulled the trigger on Frontpoint. I like having the basically unlimited customization option and cheap monthly costs. Even with a more complex setup, it' generally a one-time thing, so take your time, do it right, and have proper monitoring.
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Re: My New Home Security & Surveillance

Postby Hyflyer » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:49 pm

Thank you both for your detailed descriptions of your systems. It's something I need to look into.
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