Three Reasons You Might Want a Home Security Camera

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Home security cameras are all the rage, but you have to start with the reason you want one in the first place. Do you want to record criminal behavior? Spot wildlife? Know your kids came in before midnight? It’s all about intent, and many people discover they have multiple overlapping desires.

Another good reason is to check for storm damage while you are away. This happened to us during a recent overseas trip. A severe storm hit Sydney and I was able to check for flooding and exterior damage. It turned out that our suburb experienced a power failure that lasted 26 hours. Fortunately we have a Tesla battery that kept the fridge (and security cameras plus router) going during this period. I found out about the power failure, and was able to monitor the situation, via the Tesla iOS app.

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That is a fantastic reason—to have a battery backup, too.

My first use was to check from bed, or when away from the house, whether the garage door was closed.

I first purchased home security cameras because my wife has young-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The motion sensing feature is key for knowing if she gets out of bed (and will need my help) when I’m not in the room. (I placed a camera on the floor next to the bed in a way that I feel does not violate bedroom privacy!)

I’ve spoken to many people in the caregiving community who use them to keep an eye on loved ones with dementia.


Speaking from experience you need to get over the modesty issues. When they do fall, and they will you want views of everywhere they might be. If they are just flumuxed and can’t get up up to their feet, you can delay things a bit. If injured
and/or not moving, you want to be able to call 911.

And as much as those I’ve fallen and can’t get up necklaces CAN be great, if they require someone to push a button a stubborn elder will many time ignore it as they spend hours trying to deal with getting up on their own.

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There is one primary reason that I have not purchased any home security cameras. I do not want my audio/video leaving my network and being stored on a 3rd party cloud service. If I could find a camera that records video to my big cheap local 10TB hard drive and includes a server to serve up that video to my iPhone either on my local network (like iTunes does) or over the internet (like Air Media Server does), then I will buy it. I don’t want my video/audio on some 3rd party cloud service being used for who knows what. I believe that that one feature of “nothing leaves your private network” would be a huge selling point and could be built with exactly the same user ease as the cloud services. Even better if the server pumps the video through the AppleTV secure internet gateway between my home network and the internet.

The way to avoid a 3rd party cloud service is to run your own local software/server and use local storage for the video. Both Windows and Linux have great programs for this, Blue Iris for Windows and ZoneMinder for Linux (of course there are others as well, but these come to mind). They also both have associated iOS and Android apps. I’m looking for recommendations for an equivalent package that runs natively on the Mac. and with a supported iOS app (rather than just using a browser to access the video remotely).

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I hear you. I would never install a camera or mic in my home if the recorded data left my network and my control. I can’t get over how many people don’t seem to care about this as they fill up their homes with multiple Alexas and cameras. Shudder.

This seems like a business opportunity. I know I would be willing to pay a bit more to avoid having all the audio and video inside my home commercialized and analyzed.

Andrew, If you identify any Mac software that will do this please post. Having local software and storage is exactly what I outlined. Ideally the local server would allow me to connect when I am outside my home using the AppleTV as the secure gateway. I am unaware of any setup that will do this.

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We had a necklace and a bracelet for my mom, and the alarm would go on automatically if the button wasn’t pushed in one minute after a fall was detected. The timing could easily be changed. Almost all of the alarm services we checked had this feature. It helped keep my mom in her home, and it worked well.

I’m so sorry to hear of this, and I’m so glad this has been a helpful tool for you. All my best.

Fortunately, my book covers this. I would primarily recommend Lorex, which offers multi-camera wired and wireless systems that connect to a central network video recorder (NVR), which comes with at least a 1 TB drive. They have good reviews and good documentation. You can get 2, 4, 8, 12…however many cameras you want! They’re very cheap if you go analog (the NVR digitizes the video), but they have quite affordable digital cameras, too, that use Power over Ethernet (PoE) connections. The Wi-Fi connected models are more expensive and have more limitations.

With Lorex and a few other systems, you can store all video locally. They don’t even have a cloud option. There’s an option to enable remote access (not storage) via an app, but it’s not required.

Apple also now offers HomeKit Secure Video, which provides end-to-end user-owned encrypted (just like iCloud Keychain) for iCloud storage. Logitech and other camera makers are offering HomeKit Secure Video support. In that scenario, only possession of one of your iPhones or iPads and the passcode to it or biometrics (face or fingers) would let someone else see your video. Apple doesn’t even have the keys. (Also discussed extensively in my book.)


I have the book and while there’s a lot of good information in there, I’m still looking for the perfect system. I currently have the older Arlo and since I only have 5 cameras, my online account is free (with limited term video storage).

What I like: very easy to set up and configure, reasonable cost, motion sense triggers, IR for night capture, iOS app notifications when a camera is triggered, live video capability.

What I don’t like: changing batteries (I do use all rechargeable batteries now), relatively low quality video, motion sensing that doesn’t always trigger.

I have hopefully mitigated any network security issues by putting the Arlo gateway on a separate VLAN through my router. I also keep any internal cameras facing the wall except when I’m traveling.

What I think I really want: any number of cameras powered via PoE, higher quality video, motion sense trigger notifications to an iOS app, ability to watch live video and review video captures via iOS app, avoiding a subscription if possible, avoiding a lot of system to cloud traffic (I’m on a capped Internet connection). Seems like I need a combination of a system like the Lorex (although I don’t really need lots of local storage) and the Arlo…

I think the Lorex is exactly what you want, with remote app access or a VPN configuration, where the remote access is turned off, but you could VPN into your local network and use an iPhone as if it were on the LAN instead of via the Internet. That keeps all video local, no cloud traffic, etc.

You can have the Lorex push alerts, though that requires letting the company have some interaction with your system. I believe it’s all outward: your system pushes an alert to Lorex, which passes it through the app.

The local storage mitigates cloud storage, and you can get the minimum 1TB or 2TB drive and just store motion clips, or store full-res video with a larger drive for a long period of time. The Lorex systems all do video compression, H.264 typically, IIRC.

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Thanks for the response Glenn - looks like I have a bit more research ahead of me. Keep up the good work on your books (of which I have many)!

Not all falls are “falls”. My mother in law manged to get on the floor twice by sliding down off of her bed. Slowly but she did get to the floor.

Also check out Ubiquti’s Unifi Video line. A bit of a step up from consumer but no where near the full blown commercial units in terms of price.

The key thing is the system integrates with their Unifi networking system. Which is great.


If you want to stay 100% local you can use It has great configurable motion detection, works with many different cameras, and has other features but not super cheap. But also not a subscription service. You can view on your smartphone or a computer screen. You can also remotely access your local storage via the smartphone if you make a router change. I have used it for a few years and I record for several cameras.

I also have a ReoLink camera. It has a cloud option but it can also store on a built in SD card. You use your smartphone or computer to view the video via the cloud or the SD card but the connection (not the video storage) may leave your network.

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I just checked out the SightHound website. For ONVIF cameras, which I use, they don’t support audio recording and PTZ controls. I think I’m going to keep looking elsewhere.