Easy (and Free) Home Security and Video Surveillance

Ya’ll this world is going to hell in a hand basket. Alright not really but there are a lot of reasons you might want to beef up your home security options. One popular way to do that now is with surveillance cameras but that’s really expensive and complicated right and who wants another expense and hard thing to learn? No one that’s who! Well I found a way to get motion activated, multi angle, live, remote access for free. Interested? This post is in no way sponsored and is only motivated by something I truly use and enjoy. Also included are our general recommendations for beefing up your home security for cheap what we share with our customers.

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honey got a drone last year and he loves to play with it!

Why you (and I) might want video surveillance: I’m not really a the world is out to get me, lock the door, load a gun type. Although I’ve had some funny middle of the night weapons in response to a bump in the night over the years. Haven’t we all? You would be surprised about the reasons that might prompt you to add cameras to you home. Things like:

  • Issues with neighbours
  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Watching your kids
  • Home protection
  • Break ins in the neighbourhood
  • Passive, remote evidence collection
  • Being away a lot

We had a few issues back to back that prompted me to figure it out and then was discovered a few more reasons to keep them once they were installed. With out airing other people’s dirty laundry we’ve had some folks move into a family home with an out building and they’ve tried to force access through our private driveway to the out building. The thing is if you allow access the person can then essentially claim squatters rights only its called historical access and we don’t want that. Plus they have access through their own property but who gets to use it is part of a family feud. For lots of other reasons really but especially since it would mean a basically public link to the trail and the beach and we’d have more ATVs (quads) screaming by 6 feet from our house at all hours as it would be the most obvious and convenient way to access the beach.

We haven’t called yet but in dealing with the RCMP and customers going through the same sort of things we’ve realized that just a picture of someone breaking the law isn’t enough any more. Also taking a video from a hand held camera isn’t the best either. Video captured will show people noticing the no trespassing signs and moving the blockade to trespass. Plus their identity and licence plate. Plus you can show the video that was gathered passively of the person trespassing and the officer always says if we want we can submit it as evidence for that cause. We’ve always settled for a no just call them back and then them they are clearly not allowed here option and that will be fine.

Which is to say we’ve learned that passively gathered video is the gold standard in home security now as no one can manipulate the angle of the clip. Plus the video is stored in the cloud so should someone ever break in and take the camera we still got you! In the process we’ve also been able to see people that ought not to be there while we’re away all day, other people taking things with out asking (family members) and the clear picture on what other wise might have blown up into bigger issues. Which is to say we’re going to keep them. Plus you can tell if the wifi is working even if you’re not at home. Or if the power is back on at your house during a christmas day storm if that applies to you too.

Free video surveillance how to

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One day I was fed up with loosing yet another wheelbarrow that was blocking the driveway and I angrily searched the web to a solution and I quickly found it. That solution is the presence app and an old iPhone. We installed the app and set it up in a window. I’m on the free plan so it’s locked down a little for me. When it senses motion, down to a bird in the sky it waked up and takes video. Since I’m still on the free plan, it then goes inactive for 5 minuets. You can also set up multiple phones or iPads as cameras for different views. I have mine set to send me a still from the latest video at most every half hour via emial. That way we can always have eyes on the house if we need to. They also have an android version of the app as well. I haven’t done it yet but on iOS there are in app purchases possible from as low as $2 a moth to either increase your storage and or decrease the shut down time between videos. Every few days depending on you settings you do have to go in and delete videos but if you need it it’s free and instant. Chances are you might be in a stuff is happening mode and there just isn’t time to get professionals out and then after a few days the need passes. This is perfect for that.

You can customize a lot of settings, how long the video runs, how often it can be triggered, how sensitive the motion detection is, how often you’re emailed and a bunch of other stuff. If you’re interested in adding some home surveillance to your property definitely check it out!

Other home security tips

A (big) barking dog

Kind of a commitment but it works. Train him to bark (and then stop why you tell him to) and that should keep your home really safe. Most thieves at least won’t mess with a house if they can hear a dog. It’s a risk for breaking in but also alerting the neighbours that someone is up to no good at your place.

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Doesn’t he look impressed that’s my snowman hat from the reindeer run and the big dog he bought to cheer me up after my car accident

A sign

Again for break ins a security system sign will usually deter thieves even if you don’t have one. Ask your friends with systems to get you one from a local company if you can! You could also think about a tongue in cheek sign like ‘Proud NRA members live here’, that might keep people guessing.

Smart lighting

You might think more is more and motion lights are the way to go but that’s not the case. Personally I think it’s pretty douchy to light up the entirety of your house all night though under eave lighting is becoming popular but it doesn’t work for home security and it’s nasty to the environment. We recommend a light that stays on all night by each door and motion lights in dark places. The motion lights serve to alert you or your neighbours that something is up. So it’s important to make sure they work but aren’t too sensitive since if they go off all the time no one will look. Re-read the boy who cried wolf. Place these places you, like where you sit in the evenings, or your neighbours are likely to notice the flash on. You can turn any fixture into a motion light by connecting it to a motion eye, just ask your electrician and the ones made for marine environments last the longest. You want you driveway, doors and other dark access points to be lit or motion activated.

Bright lighting

You need these lights to be bright enough to be a deterrent and that’s bright. Pick a fixture with a  large bulb home and thank whoever you pray to for LED lights. You can still go to the maximum wattage even if it is brighter than the recommended bulb would be. LEDs are great for that just make sure the bulb end is the the same size as the receptacle.

Clear sight lines

If at all possible you want to hit that delicate balance in your landscaping between privacy and clear sight lines. Wrong doers don’t want to feel ‘exposed’ when their crimeing. Keep that in mind when your installing things like fences, trees and shrubbery.

Old school patio doors

If you have an old sliding patio door it’s a really easy way for people to get into your home. All you need is a flathead screwdriver or a flat strong stick. Get a piece of dowel cut to the length of the track on the bottom on the inside and it becomes impenetrable.

Be friendly with all you neighbours

Probably the best defence we have going is amazing neighbours! We’re friendly with them for the most part and we do nice things for them. And them for us. There’s always baked goods and fresh fish criss-crossing the lawns here. We chase the neighbour’s toddler (to tire him out in a nice way), mow three lawns when we do our own, have hill parties and generally stop to chat. We pick flowers for each other and invite each other to thanksgiving. So they know our phone numbers, we’re facebook friends and the older lady next door and I email dirty jokes back and forth. So when something is up they let us know. Things like:

  • You have a headlight out
  • Someone was at the end of your driveway for an hour (we were broken into an he had the make and model of the car, a physical description of the driver and licence plate.)
  • Someone moved the barrier
  • The city was up your driveway
  • Your cat got really close to the road
  • There was a strange car parked in your yard while you weren’t home
  • Your kids were up to no good (sorry)
  • Your son left with a truckload of your staging
  • And your music is too loud back in the day
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Fresh lilacs for me and the neighbours this week but it was a group effort. I grew the tree and cut the flowers as the neighbours two year old picked them out and handed them to his mom one at a time. He’s tiered and we both have pretty smelling kitchens!

And we do the same for them. Be on great terms with your neighbours and it’s like having a whole home protection squad.

By the way as I write this we’re hearing loud pops. Gunshot? No, it’s just the return of firework season as we live on the ‘party’ beach. I’m not mad at nightly firework displays as long as their wrapped up by 11:30. Do you have any easy home security tips? Ever have any fail? Leave your tips and tricks below.

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