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Not sure how many other gradget freaks are out there, but I thought I'd share what looks to be a fairly awesome looking new product.
Dropcam just released an HD camera which, like their older models, you can access for free over the Internet. This new model is 720p HD (30 frames per second, I think and it also has nightvision - another big improvement over the old model. And, it only costs $149. I think I paid at least $300 for my original model and I know competing products are $200-$300 at a minimum. I pay for storage on top of that. I think the lowest priced plan is $10 a month for 7 days worth of footage. You can download clips from it. It also has 2-way audio. You can hear, and also speak through it.
One huge negative I see (for usage in our industry, anyway) is that it's not weatherproof. So, I think you need to find a nice dry place outside where you can point it, or you need to point it outside a window. And, I think the fact that you can hear makes it a bit over the line to have it inside the house.
How do folks feel about this? Any experience with renters complaining about security cameras?
My new dropcams ship in a couple weeks. I'll report back with an update after I've used it. I don't use my current one in my vacation rental, I use it at my home...
I don't like it. As you say, it's not weatherproof so you are not going to be able to find a dry spot outdoors to place it. It uses wireless transmission and although claims 30 fps, you won't be transmitting 30 frames per second over wifi signals. Also, you have to pay to store the footage and look at past events like a burglar casing your place or discovery of how damages occurred during the stay. Remember, it has to be plugged in so it's still got a plug that tethers it to an electrical outlet. The only cool innovative thing is the ability to act as an intercom and speak back to whoever's on the other end of the camera. Also, you can not point a nightvision camera out of a window because the infrared light that allows it to see at night bounces right back from the window and all you see is a whiteout.
The cameras I use are HD 720p as well and wireless, just that they don't use the wifi airwaves to transmit their video. They use powerline ethernet which uses the electrical wiring of your house as an ethernet cable and gives much greater bandwidth and no worries of interference from other 2.4ghz airwave devices. You have to plug them in just like the dropcams but that gives you the ability to transmit the data over the electrical wiring rather than the airwaves. They have nightvision, are weather proof and DO record for FREE to any computer on the same network. Can access them from a smart phone or website. If you don't wish to keep a computer at the house in your owner's closet you can pay $79 a year and they allow you to access the back footage through a webbrowser. Check out the Logitech Alert 750 cameras at http://www.logitech.com/en-us/video-security-systems?overview
I have the cameras in my indoor swimming pools and the front parking lot of the houses and renters have no problems with them as they are not hidden, they are in the contract and there are signs posted at the door. If someone has an accident in my pools, I feel better knowing the true cause can be ascertained. If Renters try to bring 20 cars and have a house party that was inconsistent with the rental agreement, they know there will be evidence and don't rent your place. I believe it also curtails the temptation to smuggle animals into "no pet" homes.
I agree with Rick. We need something that is weather proof. Our rental is across the street from the beach so I need to be sure it can hold up to salt air and not rust. Rick, do you know if Logitech Alert would work? We have recently had a problem with finding the doors unlocked on our rental. We live over 800 miles away so trying to figure out what is going on from here is impossible. We are thinking of using cameras to monitor who is going in and out of the house during the off season. Several people have codes but they all claim they were not there. I know some guests don't like them, but we feel the need from a security standpoint. I wouldn't want someone to encounter an uninvited guest! Do you disclose the camera's in your listing or just in your contract?
Yes, the logitech camera would work for you and if the salt air caused an early demise, you simply replace it for $240. I doubt it is much more corrosive than pool air and I've had no problems after a year. You can set the front cameras to send you a text and or an email with a snapshot anytime there is movement so it's kind of like a self monitored alarm system with regards to notifying you when someone enter's your homes personal space.
I use an alarm system that can notify me when ever a door is open or left open for a certain period of time. It also communicates with the thermostats in the house allowing me to monitor the temp, change the temp etc. It communicates with Schlage locks giving you real time info on locked/unlock status, tampering and the ability to add/remove codes on the fly or just to lock/unlock from your phone/website. I use those schlage locks on my pool pump room door and my owner's closet but use a resort lock on my front door. I could have used the schlage on the front door if I chose too and simply added/removed a new code for each renter.
I disclose the cameras in the rental contract, not the listing. They can choose not to sign the contract and not reserve the property if they don't like what they see. That did happen once and only once that I know of. I am sure that I have had prospective renters that saw that and decided to move on because they had ulterior motives on what they intended for my property. I think the knowledge of the front camera and pool camera may actually have saved me some grief that I didn't even know was coming...
Great posts, Rick. Thanks.
What do you use for the alarm system? It sounds like everything is tied into one system, as opposed to using separate logins for the locks, the cameras, the thermostats, etc?
I use a cellular based alarm system from frontpoint alarm. www.frontpointsecurity.com. If you or anyone is interested in obtaining a system through them, contact me and I will refer you and they will give us both a free month of monitoring.
The alarm system ties together lights (through lamp modules), locks and thermostats. They also have cameras but they are the non-HD wifi cameras and not worth it. The alarm is very easily self installable as all the sensors are attached via double stick tape and communicate wirelessly. The alarm communicates with the monitoring company via an internal cell radio so it does not need wifi, nor power (internal backup battery), nor telephone lines. It's impossible to disable this alarm. The alarm and all it controls is accessible from a smart phone app or the website. The cameras are from Logitech and they have a separate website/app.
theres actually a lot of different companies using the same software to control all the functions inside the house, lamps alarm, thermostats, appliances, etc, the only thing you cant control so far is the locks, Schlage has software thats universal for the locks and some other things but the downside is the lock features and dependability of the software is horrible with them. The lock features with resort lock are better than schlage, and the lock itself is better. I can think of atleast 5 different companies that make softwares for alarms,cctv, and other interior electronic items which can be controlled by a phone. Just make sure you have a secured internet network
Nice little camera but i dont think its worth the money, and whats with the monthly fee? 7-10 dollar a month is 120 plus 120 for the camera, is $300 for 300 you can buy an internet ready DVR recorder which can be accessed by cell phone or any PCrecoreds for 2 weeks. Plus this camera doesnt seem to be rated for outdoor use, which is where it probably needs to be placed, and i dont see any IR leds so it can see at night. Putting cameras inside a home or condo is probably a bad idea just due to privacy and potential lawsuits even if someone signs a discloser if the video was ever posted or seen by someone. You have to remember that some criminals are somewhat tech savy, if they hack your router on the unit which is very easy to do, they can see inside your home or condo to see if anyones home,.. Cameras are for outside to capture those that arnt supposed to be there. If it were me id spend the money put cameras at the doors and around the property and use the internet to see whats going on outside..
Just thought I'd add an update since I have received and used the cameras...
I got my cameras a little over a week ago. It took several months to arrive. I guess they sold out, but the delay wasn't messaged at the time I purchased - I got an email shortly after purchasing.
The camera is good - the HD is crisp and the night vision is very clear. The software is easy to use and set-up couldn't have been simpler. It's very easy to access the video from anywhere. I downloaded the android app, so I can pull it up in seconds.
HOWEVER, it's not working for me as a surveillance system. [edited:] As mentioned in the previous comments, the night vision lights on the camera reflect off the glass window (because the camera is not weather proof, I need to keep it inside) and thus the picture is not viewable at night - at all. So, it's basically useless to me for the reasons I bought it. I think I will just turn it around and point it inside the house for internal surveillance when no one is there, but I'll need to remove it if there are renters in there. If you wanted this to monitor a crib or a babysitter or something, I think it would be awesome and reasonably priced (and no bulky equipment). But it's not working for me as a surveillance system.
Check out the logitech alert outdoor camera. I have them at both my properties.
Jon, thanks for your follow-up on how the camera performed for you. Sounds like a nice camera--just not for outside surveillance. Good luck in finding an alternative.
I actually just noticed that Rick from SkiAndGlee actually posted the warning about the infrared bouncing off the window in his first reply, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by that afterall. Too bad I didn't post the original post BEFORE I ordered them! I'm going to check out the Logitech ones that Rick recommended.