Please help: Need Recommendations for Security & Cameras (suddenly unsafe dwelling...)


(Raeven Phillips) #1


I find myself in an unusual situation. I generally a thorough researcher (nearly compulsively so) and would spend a great deal of time researching any new tech purchase - particularly so for HA tech. But, we had a recent change in property manager for our apartment building and went from being extremely secure in the management to worried. We initially heard negative things from a good (and highly trustworthy) friend of ours about 5 years ago about the person who has taken over as property manager and, unfortunately, recent negative info is growing quickly and steadily. But most worrisome is that we learned today, (against lease terms), the new manager is entering apartments without warning when tenants are away and there is widespread concern (though directly unsubstantiated, thus far) about that person having potential substance abuse. So, the idea that things could go missing from our apartment while we’re out is worrying to say the least. While we’re talking with other tenants about potential ideas for seeking a different property manager, we are also looking for more immediate options for keeping our apartment (and family) safe. Suffice it to say, there is much more negative & highly questionable behavior that we are concerned about that I don’t feel able to mention at this point.

I hate to even give that much background but it’s the only way that I know to convey the situation we’re in. While normally, I’d take all the time I needed to research the best HA options for our setup and system, I don’t honestly feel like I have the luxury of that about of time right now as we’d like to get a few things added to our setup for our own peace of mind. In addition, we’re leaving a week from today on a 4k mile road trip for me to have a surgery (and I cannot fly due to health issues). So, we’ll be gone for 2-3 weeks and I’d love to have something in place while we’re away.

I’ll try to keep the info as succinct as possible:

We’re longtime SmartThings users (Gen2 Hub). We have Philips Hue lights, two ST multipurpose sensors, one ST motion sensor, two Aeotec multisensor 6. (We’re under-using the sensors, really.) We also have an Ecobee 3 with a couple of remote sensors, an August Lock Pro 3rd Gen (with added keypad), Harmony hub remotes, and multiple Google Homes. We also have 8 of the Lowes brand smart plugs that look like the ST smart plugs but that have both Z-Wave and Zigbee (only mentioning as these make a fairly reliable Z-Wave mesh in addition to Zigbee). We have one or two other things (like a smart vac) but I don’t think that they have any bearing on this.

We’d (obviously) like to add some security. I’m thinking some sort of cameras, security system - or a combination of both? I’m not really wanting full professional monitoring but I do need a notification of if/when someone were to come in. I’d love integration with the August Lock and perhaps Google Assistant. We’d consider some sort of low monthly fee, especially, if we could add and drop that fee month to month if needed (like to be able to potentially add it while traveling and drop it when we’re home). As far as cameras, we’d like to have audio ability. We have an indoor apartment entrance and no traditional doorbell so while adding a smart doorbell/camera would be nice at some point, it won’t happen before we leave since we’ll have to work out something for the wiring and we don’t have time for that before the surgery trip. However, I wouldn’t mind thinking ahead to that potential in what we purchase for the possibility of integrating that in the future. My spouse and I also have health issues/disabilities and we’ve wanted to add cameras to be able to check on each other for awhile but had wanted to wait until there was more potential integration with ST or other HA.

I’m curious about the Nest system, with cameras, perhaps Ring, though less sure about that since Amazon’s bought them out, Arlo, maybe Simplidafe, and there was another security system that was talked about a lot with SmartThings a couple of years ago but I cannot remember the name. It was similar to the Nest (though less sleek) and included an alarm, etc and optional monitoring. I think it had a fox/dog/wolf in the logo? I could be completely wrong but I didn’t see it in the current ST list (or other security for that matter, so I may not have found the right section though I kind of looks like ST may have done an exclusivie deal with ADT now??).

I don’t really know how important ST integration is for the security and cameras, though obviously, it would be nice. I also don’t know exactly what it would do - and if there is community integrations for things like Nest that might now have official support. Regardless, I don’t know of a more informed community anywhere on this subject than the ST forums so I wanted to start here. I won’t add any more info at this point, to try to keep this from getting longer but if I’ve left any pertinent data out, please let me know and I’ll add it. Thanks SO much in advance. This community has always helped me learn and figure out so much - and I’m truly grateful!

(Jimmy) #2

A cost effective and easy solution would be to buy some Wyze cams for each room in the apartment


I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. :disappointed_relieved:

When it’s an unauthorized landlord entry and you only have one door, as most apartments do, generally the only thing you need is a single camera pointed at the front door to capture an image of someone coming in.

If you want it to integrate with SmartThings, the easiest way is either just to get an Arlo or a camera that has IFTTT integration. But for the situation you describe you probably don’t even need that: you just need the camera to tell you if someone comes in.

Rules on when landlords can enter an apartment do vary from state to state and in some cases city by city, so contact your local fair housing office and they should be able to tell you what applies in your area.

It’s up to you whether you think the camera needs to be concealed or not. It’s often more of a deterrent in an unauthorized landlord entry if it is not concealed. Just a camera sitting there pointed at the door may be enough to stop the intrusion.

There are lots of good cameras that would serve this purpose available if you don’t need SmartThings integration, so you can just do your regular research or I’m sure community members can make suggestions.

Again, I’m very sorry you have to deal with the stress of this on top of everything else.

(Borristhecat) #4

personally i had the ring doorbell and now have the nest hello. i alway liked nest but as the ring was given to me to try i gave it ago as the hello wasn’t in the UK at the time. I was never happy with the RING, it missed beats and the speaker/ mic wasn’t great; once i changed over to the nest camera I realized straight away how much better it was than ring.
Although nest isn’t officially integrated with ST where as RING is, the community NST manager app is great and will allow you to see the stream. Having said that for you situation that won’t matter for the time being as the nest app is also much better than the RING one. Even without the extra capabilities of the paid monthly version its super fast at picking up people and notifiling you as well storing the image for a period of time (think 3 hours?). Im tempted to give the monthly fee ago just to try the extra stuff :slight_smile: . For you this is all assuming that the internal plug in camaras are as good as the hello but im sure they will be! If you then mange to set up NST manager and webCoRE you can then make it so that if you leave, NST manager will send your nest system to away and it will make your camaras stand to attention :smile:

(Mavrrick) #5

Have someone go to Best Buy and get the Arlo Q. It is onsale at Amazon for 149 so that will help lower the price.

For no more cost it will upload 1080p video with 7 days free cloud storage.

It also has:
2 way audio.
Motion detection
Audio detection
Night vision
has a stand that is can be also be mounted with magnets.

You can also subscribe to Continious video recording for $10 per month per camera.

If you want a audible alarm you can do something like Arlo Pro 2 and that has a 100+ Alarm decidable siren. The Arlo Pro 2’s be be a bit pricey though.

When you leave have Arlo set to Armed mode and set it to notify you when it detects motion. I would also suggest putting a door contact sensor on your main entrance and setup a notification in Smarthings if anything opens that once you are gone. Could be as simply as just using SHM to secure your house.

(Mavrrick) #6

If you want to try an actual alarm system there is the Smartthings ADT system. It has worked well for me. the monitoring isn’t as cheap as some of the new up and coming systems like Ring and Nest, but you do have ADT and all of the stuff they can do with the alarm. You also don’t have to subscribe if you don’t want to. It is a full fledged alarm system with keypad and such and by default comes as a table/countertop setup. The Smartthings side is a full Smartthings implementation.

The biggest complaint about it is that it doesn’t use standard Zwave/Zigbee contact/Motion/Leak sensors to notifiy ADT. If you haven’t invested in those things already then that shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure if you need more then the sensors in the box to report to ADT you purchase the dual logo ADT/ST ones.

If you the Smarthings ADT panel route the basic kit comes with 2 door sensors and a motion sensor. That should be enough to secure your apt. You can enhance the integration of the Alro camera by using a Smartapp called Arlo Pilot. That would allow you to manage several aspects of those cameras I mentioned above. Then you can use another smartapp called ADT tools to enable bunch of other functions activity with Smartthings.

I actually use the Combination of the Smartthings ADT Panel and Arlo q and Arlo Pro 2 camera’s if you have any questions about it let me know.

(Mark) #7

If you wanted to go this route, I’d say Blink is a good option since you want something quickly and this would be a pretty cheap way to do that and then leave time for a more comprehensive solution that you can research later.

If you get a blink XT camera and sync module, you can setup the camera by your door and arm it while you’re away. If someone comes in, a video will record and you’ll get an alert from the Blink app.

Since you plan to use this to catch someone committing a criminal act, it might be relevant that Blink cams don’t have a timestamp watermarked on the videos they record. Some people in the blink community forum claim that makes them literally worthless to law enforcement. I have no idea if that’s true though, I’m not a lawyer.

(Mavrrick) #8

Something else to consider.

That just s showed up yesterday. Interesting option for monitoring