Security cameras for smart home

When designing and implementing smart homes and apartments, the most complex and at the same time the most controversial topic is the camera monitoring system. It is demanding not only from a technical point of view, but above all in terms of functionality, security and privacy.

Recordings from the cameras during your absence will be used to record possible disturbances, and you can check the current status of monitored rooms or outdoor areas at any time via online image transmissions. For example, whether you turned off the light when you left, did not leave the iron on, although in a truly intelligent home you can check it through the lighting control system and smart sockets.

In the case of housing, there is a limit to the degree of automation, the exceeding of which leads to the restriction of people, in other words, the intelligence in the building ceases to contribute to the quality of life and begins to interfere with their privacy, which naturally leads to tension and stress. Images identifying a thief in the living room are useful, as is the ability to visually inspect your apartment remotely, but is it worth feeling that you are constantly being watched? Of course, you will logically argue that a simple compromise can be found when the cameras are turned on only in case of absence and at night, but on the other hand you know that the cameras are there and you can not be 100% sure that someone from different motives did not turn them on. Although a CCTV system is part of the security system of your home, if it is not sufficiently secured, it can paradoxically perform the exact opposite function. A hacked camera system will provide a potential intruder with invaluable information to realize his ill-intentions.

When choosing surveillance cameras, you should consider several important criteria, especially the image resolution, angle of view, IR lighting for night vision, the method of connection and power supply, or the possibility of integration into your smart home systems.

By far the most important parameter of surveillance cameras is the quality and resolution of the image. The information that a blurred and scattered figure was moving in your apartment is completely useless to you. A clear and contrasting image, full of details, is needed to identify the intruder. On the other hand, the higher the camera’s resolution, the more capacity is needed to store the recordings, whether on a memory card, in a NAS server, or in a cloud. A good compromise is the full HD resolution, ie 1920 × 1080 pixels, also referred to as 1080p. For laymen who are not told much about this designation and numbers, we state that this is the highest resolution in which our television stations can be viewed. At first glance, such a distinction might seem sufficient for any purpose, as you recognize the faces of the performers down to the smallest detail. Yes, but only if the camera has a high-quality zoom lens, it is able to contain the room on a camera crane and is controlled by an experienced cameraman. Therefore, if the camera is pointed to take up more space, we recommend considering a Super HD resolution of 2560 × 1920 pixels, which is 2.4 times higher than 1080p. The camera, for example, has this resolution Reolink RLC-423 or camera Reolink RLC-511. Of course, cameras with a 4K resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels, for example, will provide the most detail in the transmitted or recorded image. Reolink B800.

The viewing angle of the camera, which is given by the focal length of its lens, is also important. The angle of view is chosen according to where the camera will be located and what space it will capture. A camera that has a lens with a longer focal length and a narrower angle of view, such as 45 °, is suitable for narrow spaces. In contrast, to capture more space, you need a camera with a wide-angle lens that has a wide angle of view of 80 ° or more. For ultra-wide-angle lenses that have a viewing angle of 120 ° or more, you must take into account the barrel distortion of the image. If you want to change the angle of view, you need a camera with the possibility of zooming, technically speaking, a camera with a varifocal lens.

The camera needs power and data connection for its operation. The connection can be wireless via Wi-Fi, GSM data connection, or the camera is connected with an Ethernet cable. In terms of reliability, a mobile data connection is the most advantageous. Unlike Wi-Fi cameras, the operation of which depends on the Wi-Fi router, cameras with a GSM connection will work and transmit the image to the cloud service even after the electricity in the monitored object is switched off. Of course, only if they are powered, for example, by a battery charged by a solar panel. For example, we recommend a camera to monitor areas without Wi-Fi coverage Reolink Go.

For Ethernet connections, we recommend cameras that support PoE (Power over Ethernet). Such a camera is powered by 48 V via an Ethernet cable, so you only need to bring a single cable to it, which simplifies installation and increases reliability. You can connect the PoE camera directly to switches or recording devices that have ports that support power over an Ethernet cable. If your switch or recording device does not have such ports, you still need a PoE injector. It is a device that connects as an interface between the camera and the device to which the camera connects. PoE devices have a maximum power of 15.4 W per port and devices with the new PoE + standard offer up to 30 W per port, so this method of power supply will provide enough power not only to power the camera electronics, but also for possible lighting using infrared diodes. PoE is supported, for example, by the already mentioned cameras Reolink RLC-511 or Reolink B800.

Classic cameras with Wi-Fi or GSM connection only need a power cable, which in many cases can complicate installation. Therefore, solar-powered cameras, which are completely autonomous, are becoming increasingly popular. As the camera must be oriented to take up the required space, and the solar panel, in turn, so that the sun’s rays fall on it as long as possible, they are supplied as separate devices that are installed close to each other. The camera also includes a battery with enough capacity to operate the camera in the evening and at night. We recommend a tandem GSM camera with a solar panel for monitoring remote areas where the electrical network is not available, for example for monitoring cottages, construction sites, farms and similar objects. Reolink Go PT.

If you need the camera to work even in low light conditions, ie in the evening and at night, when the lights in the room are off, you need to get a model that illuminates the area with diodes emitting infrared light invisible to the human eye. In marketing, such devices are referred to as night vision cameras. An important parameter is the range of IR illumination. Manufacturers state the maximum value at which something else can be seen in the image. To get usable images, I recommend choosing a camera with twice the range than you need. For example, if you want to cover a space of up to 10 m, buy a camera with a range of 20 m or more. Many cheap cameras equipped with sensors with low brightness dynamics in the IR area have a problem with overexposing close objects. In other words, if a person is in close proximity to the camera, their face may be overexposed so that you will only see a white area without details that would allow you to identify the person.

Especially when choosing cameras for outdoor monitoring, it is necessary to take into account the robustness and resistance not only to weather conditions, but also to vandals. Here, too, of course, the rule is that the intruder will not damage the camera, which he will not see and find, or which he will not reach. Durability also depends on the design. The most durable cameras are housed in a hemispherical housing, designed so that they can only be removed using special tools. Cameras that have a cylindrical body on a metal rod are suitable where they cannot be reached, as some cameras of this type can be tilted with brute force so that they do not take up space of interest. We recommend models with a robust metal body with sufficient protection against moisture and water. Outdoor cameras should have a minimum degree of resistance IP65 to be resistant to dust and dripping, or even for a short time against splashing water. Such a camera is not hindered by the wind with rain or unwanted splashing with a garden hose.

We recommend a cloud service for archiving camera and other security recordings. Locally stored records, whether on a memory card or other device, can be found and damaged or stolen by unwelcome visitors. If data is transmitted to the cloud service in real time, the intruder will not be able to erase traces even after all monitoring components in the house have been eliminated. The main reason for using cloud services is that one of the most attractive features of smart homes and apartments is the ability to monitor and control almost everything via a smartphone, even when you are not at home. This requires a server to which you will connect from your smartphone.

When installing a camera system, it is necessary to distinguish whether it is a private or public space. Monitoring of a public space, such as a parking space in front of a house, falls within the scope of the Personal Data Protection Act. Therefore, the camera system must be installed so that it only occupies your land, not the street, sidewalk or neighbors’ land. If the camera occupies a parking space on the street or an unfenced area in front of the house, it should be visibly indicated that this public space is being monitored.

Reolink RLC-423

The security IP camera has an aluminum alloy body with IP66 protection, a resolution of 2560 × 1920 pixels and a lens with motorized zoom control and autofocus. Allows night vision up to a distance of 60 m. You can rotate the camera horizontally a full 360 ° and control the tilt by 90 °. Power over Ethernet (PoE) allows you to transmit both image and power with a single cable. You can watch the image using free applications on your smartphone and computer, as well as through a web browser.

Price: 270 EUR

Reolink Go PT

The security camera with mobile 3G / 4G LTE data connection and power supply with solar panel with rechargeable battery is IP64 certified, so it is suitable for outdoor use. It has a resolution of 1080p and thanks to night vision Starlight works in low light even in complete darkness. The lens has an angle of view of 105 °. The camera has a PIR sensor and triggers an alert when motion is detected. The recording can be saved on a memory card and played in a free mobile application. Thanks to the solar power supply and GSM connection, the camera is completely autonomous, also ideal for monitoring a cottage or construction site.

Price: 299 EUR

Reolink Argus PT

IP camera with Wi-Fi connection, with IP65 resistance, 1080p resolution, 105 ° viewing angle and night vision up to 10 m, designed for outdoor use. It supports microSD card recording and two-way audio transmission, so you can talk to the postman or children, for example. The camera can be rotated in the range of 355 ° horizontally and 140 ° vertically. The PIR sensor detects every movement. You can also charge the battery in the camera from the solar panel. It is perfect for watching the garden or the surroundings of the cottage. You can watch the image via the mobile application and also upload it to the Reolink Cloud service.

Price: 144 EUR

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Source: Nextech by

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