SmartHome Newbie Seeks Camera System Recommendations

I’ve never owned a camera system, and need one. I welcome everyone’s suggestions! Needs/Desires:

• A security camera system that integrates with Smart Things (or at least z-wave).
• 2 outdoor cameras – ideally solar – but long battery operation may also work. I need to be able to turn those on and off, independent of when I turn on/off the in-home cameras. No need of motion sensors.
• 2 outdoor cameras – motion-activated. Wired, but with some type of battery backup in case of power outage.
• 6 indoor cameras – motion-activated. Wired, but with some type of battery backup in case of power outage.

All cameras must have night vision.
Free cloud storage would be great!
I’d like to be able to just turn on the entire indoor camera system with my cell phone, when I go to bed.
I need my cell phone to receive instant alerts, plus video or stills, which are prompted by motion sensed by the cameras.
I need something very affordable. I hope I’m not asking too much! Thanks for your help! :slight_smile:

“Affordable” means very different things to different people, can you be more specific?

You’ve listed 10 different cameras on your punch list. To some people, “affordable” would mean cameras that cost between around $500 each – – others are hoping to spend under $125 per camera. It will make a big difference in Device selection.

Also, there aren’t any cameras that “work with zwave.” Zwave is intended for tiny messages sent infrequently, and doesn’t guarantee the order in which the messages will arrive, so it’s just not suitable for video. But there are quite a few that can be made to work with a hub which also supports Z wave. Is there any particular reason that you mentioned Z wave?

( also, I’ve moved this thread to “projects” so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences. :sunglasses:)

Why do you want the cameras to be used with ST?
ST is not reliable.

You are better off using POE based cameras for outdoors and either POE or WiFi ones for indoors. The one I linked below is awesome at low light and this seller is highly recommended. There are also other styles like bullet and dome versions. You have to watch were you buy Dahua camera’s, the seller in the link has genuine OEM versions, a lot of what is on Amazon are Chinese knock offs. The prices on these are very reasonable for what you get.

I would not based your camera selection on Smartthings, because this will really limit what is compatible.

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mmm, yeah. I don’t think you are going to find one system or brand of cameras that punches all those boxes.

I would agree with PoE as well.

I have 3 outdoor PoE cameras from Amcrest (Hikvision is another good make), PoE never fails (other than power outage if there is no UPS) and there is only 1 wire per camera. The only issue is the work of running the wires unless they are battery powered such as Arlo, Blink or Ring. I purchased a 500 ft spool of underground Cat 5e and ran my cables between the garden and the hub. Lots of work but stable.
My system also is not connected to ST, there is no need to and given the poor reliability of ST it probably shouldn’t be connected.

Thanks for the responses so far!
Affordable to me means this: At Amazon I found a 4.5 star kit that includes 8 indoor + 8 outdoor cameras, a DVR, and the wiring, for under $400. This is a China kit I’m sure, so I will lean heavily towards American kits and I’m willing to pay reasonably more for American.

I wanted SmartThings because ideally I’d like to be able to manage 100% of my home’s security on one screen on my cell phone. (I’ll be shopping for motion detectors, door sensors, and a video doorbell as well.) I see now that one-screen one-app monitoring is probably not going to happen. I see that I may have to run at least two apps on my phone to check on everything. I will not base my camera system choices on whether or not it’s compatible with ST.

I see that I will probably have to have two different camera systems since there doesn’t seem to be one that punches all the boxes. I saw the app “Blue Iris” recommended in this community. Perhaps I can use it to help me monitor and manage two different camera systems.

Thanks again, and please keep the suggestions coming! (I’m a complete newbie to smart-home stuff - so far all I’ve ordered are digital door locks which are on the way.)

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I would go with Blue Iris wherever you can run wires and Blink where you can’t.

There are only a few battery operated outdoor camers. Of those I have no experience with. However I’m currently looking into the ezviz outdoor wireless camera. I have two of the ezviz Husky outdoor cameras and I’m happy with them so far. They are wifi or POE and integrate with alexa so I can view them on my Echo Show. I also have them integrated with ActionTiles so I can view the cameras on my “home dashboard”. Aside from that ezviz has their own app so I can view live or recorded. They offer a “cloud” service for DVR but there’s also an SD card in the camera for local storage so no need to pay for cloud DVR. They offer motion sense, are night cameras and are actually Hikvision cameras branded under ezviz for “affordability and consumer friendliness”.

The ezviz so far are good cameras and they are workable without paying for the cloud service. However they are easy to use for normal purposes and have extended capabilities if you delve behind their “user friendly” app.

You do not need 2 camera systems.

You could go with a Synology NAS if you have the budget and connect both wired and wireless cameras. They have their own iOS and Android app called DS can which sends you push notifications and allows you to view live recording as well as past recording. You own the storage, there is no third party cloud involved and you can have redundancy if you get a multi drive system.
It supports up to 90 cameras, compatible with a ton of various cameras and it is user friendly.
When you buy a NAS you get 2 cameras licenses, you can purchase more licenses at $55 each or $199 for a 4 pack.

I do not know if it works with battery powered cameras like Blink but you could ask them. The thing with battery powered cameras is that you can’t use them for a 24/7 recording, only for motion detection recording so they are limited and motion is finicky, I like recording 24/7 so I don’t miss anything in case the motion did not fire. Also if you have a lot of motion false alerts, it will drain the batteries fast.

Those $400 SVR packages like Lorex are unbeatable for the price, some come with with weatherproof cameras as well, make sure you can replace the cameras or use third party cameras.

If interested in Synology:

Compatible Cameras

General info on Surveillance Station

If anything just make sure whatever camera you choose has direct IP viewing or ONIVF for use with a DVR system. As long as you have direct IP then you can pick and choose whatever DVR or system you want to put behind the cameras.

I use for my ezviz cameras. In the past I used Blue Iris and Xeoma as well. But is free.

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@jeubanks am I correct in understanding that the Ezviz cameras works with Alexa Show/FireTV to view streams and also Blue Iris without any monthly fees? if so, this might be the magical combination i’ve been looking for.

This is a really really bad idea to manage any security via your SmartThings Hub (I’m assuming a v2 hub), let alone 100% of it. If I wasn’t clear above, bad bad bad idea. :grin:

Over the last month and a half a lot of community members have found this out the hard way with all of the outages with SmartThings that have occurred. Sirens going off and not being able to turn them off, or control of any other devices, creating major headaches. The v2 Hub is not intended to be used as a security system.

If your primary goal is home automation, then the SmartThings v2 hub is a great solution that allows you a lot of flexibility and integration choices.

However, if your primary goal is security (need to understand your definition of security), I would not go down this route. Although some of us incorporate certain security like features / devices with SHM in SmartThings. You might want to either look at the ST/ADT Security system (don’t believe cameras work yet) or a combination of a separate security system and then the SmartThings v2 Hub for automation purposes only.

I know @JDRoberts will have more to add on that subject alone. :sunglasses:

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Everyone, thanks for the amazing advice - please don’t stop now! Thanks for letting me know about ST’s shortcomings when it comes to security. OK, I won’t try to monitor my security system(s) with ST.

Yes, security is my main concern, and for my definition of security, let me paint you a picture: I feel like my home has turned into a half-way house with teenage criminals who stop at nothing to break into my home-based-business’ offices and steal stuff - again and again. They also steal money, keys, devices, jewelry and other personal items from family-members’ bedrooms. This is happening at the rate of twice a month and we’ve gone through six sets of door locks on our offices over the past 3 years. One of the teens has turned himself into a lock picker AND a hacker, so I’m worried about him hacking into whatever system(s) I use to monitor all the security equipment. Help!

I just ordered door locks that are so secure, there is no key. Even so, it’s clear to me now that I must invest in security cameras, door sensors, and motion detectors too - just in the hallways and offices - all with push notifications to my cell phone when someone enters the offices after-hours. I think this is what it will take to convince these teens that they will be found out - they can’t keep just blaming each other for the break-ins and burglaries. So I want an entire security system that can be easily managed by a couple of apps on my cell phone.

I look forward to advice from @JDRoberts and everyone with all those good ideas/suggestions/recommendations - please keep it coming!

Are these teenagers family members, friends of family members, foster kids, part-time employees, lodgers, neighbors, or?

I ask, because the laws involving video inside a home vary a great deal from state to state and can get quite complex. In most states you can set up video cameras for your own family members who are 18 or under, but in many states filming anyone else gets pretty complicated. So you will want to look into that.

As far as security and smartthings, since November 2017 The “security” links on the official smartthings website willtake you to the ADT/smartthings security panel model line, And that’s the only one that I think should even be considered for home security. Not the regular hub. But it doesn’t have any integrated cameras.

But there are a lot of good nonST camera systems that you can consider, as others have mentioned in the thread. But first you need to check into the legality of what you can deploy

The other question to ask yourself before you buy anything is what will you do at the moment that your security camera captures something? Will you be home to do something immediately?

When someone knows that a security camera is there and they have access to the house, they are often a lot of ways to get around being identified.

What happens if you’re away from home and your home office camera detects movement and then shows you this:

Will you be any better off than not having a camera at all?

That’s why the question of who you think you’re trying to catch also matters.

A hidden camera, like a nanny cam, will only be legal for some people and some parts of the home, depending on the state where you live. But even so, say you catch a teen stealing from your office once. Once they know the camera’s there, it may not be a deterrent.

I’m not saying don’t get cameras, particularly exterior cameras. They can be a very valuable family security tool.

But if your issue is with people that you know who have permission to be in the house, interior security cameras are only one step in treating the problem. You need to think about both the steps to come before and steps to come after The camera catches the image. And when it’s a frequent and prolonged problem, like you’ve described, you’re not looking to just solve a one time event, and that makes everything much more complicated.

So just some more things to think about. :sunglasses:

I am myself a medically fragile person and have home health aides. I also have two roommates and we all have friends and family, so we have a lot of people coming through the house. We did have a problem with theft at one point, so you absolutely have my sympathy – – I know how frustrating and annoying it can be. Our circle of suspects was pretty small: One crazy girlfriend (not mine!) And one of the new health aides. Our goal was mostly to clear the innocent person, to be honest. But we only needed to catch the person once as neither of those two people lived in the house, although both sometimes stayed overnight. We just needed to know who it was so we could then take the next steps. So we took steps, found out who it was, and then just barred that person from the house. But that’s a whole different situation than when the person lives there. :scream:

You can still use interior cameras, but you might use them in a different way. There are cameras for example, that can do facial recognition, like the Netatmo.

If one of your kids has a dodgy friend and you have told your kid not to let that friend come to the house, and you use the facial recognition for things which the kids like to have happen when they get home, then you could get an alert if they did have the dodgy friend come over. That could be useful.

But if you have a persistent problem with someone who lives in the house, it’s a whole different kind of issue, and the camera will only end up being one very small part of what you have to do to solve the problem.


Thanks for all the advice, everyone! These are my own kids, in my home. They are young teens. They tend to get into trouble so I always have a sitter, on the rare occasion when I am not at home and they are. My main goal is to ask the sitter to go check on this or that office, when my cell phone receives a signal that someone has entered the office. She will make sure that the teen goes back to his or her room, and that the office is re-locked.

Then when I talk with the teen whom the sitter caught red-handed, and the teen denies it, I will show the teen the video. I do believe that all the security things working together will help cut way down on the in-home B&Es. (If they wear costumes during the B&Es I’ll still be able to figure out who is who, because one is a good deal taller than the other.

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@bamarayne might have some ideas as well, he’s got about 12 kids and has home automation in every room. :wink:

@JDRoberts thanks for thinking of me…

I’ll start with the outdoor cams. I use ring. I have the video doorbell on the front and rear doors. Those two are powered with built in battery backup. They are motion activated, send alerts, and have two way audio.
I also have the ring stick up cams outdoors. They are solar powered and have built in battery back ups that last for a few days (for me). They also have the two way audio.

All of the cameras have very good night vision.

Ring offers a service of 10.00 monthly for unlimited cloud storage. But, with that you also get the insurance that if you’re cameras are broken or stolen during an intrusion they are replaced. The price is for the account, not per camera.

Indoors I use the Netatmo welcome camera. They feature HD video recording with audio (not two way), outstanding night vision capabilities, as well as local and cloud storage. They record to a SD card in the camera and upload to the cloud. Mine go to my setup box account. You can also customize who it records video of. So, if you do not want video of yourself at 2am it will not record you.

Each camera has a very impressive facial recognition. It takes a little while for the accuracy to improve, but within a couple of weeks it is rare for it to get it wrong. Mine even tell me which of my pets go into my office.

The ring doorbells integrate with ST, but the stick up cams do not. That’s ok because the app works really well. The same for the netatmo. Yes, it’s a couple of extra apps, but they are worth it. They do both integrate with IFTTT so you can work them into ST there.

As far as affordable… Retail price…
Ring doorbell is around 250.00. You can get a bundle at best buy of two cams and a doorbell along with a remote speaker for 500.00.
The netatmo cameras run about 180.00 each.

But, you can get these all on sale quite often.

I recommend all of the above from my personal use.

Edit ,
The netatmo cameras also integrate with ST via a custom community app.

Another Edit,
If you are using the Amazon Show you can say Alexa, show me xxxxx camera. It works with the Ring cameras.

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