What Goes into Rating Security Systems?

There are a zillion different security systems out there. All of them have their benefits for various circumstances. The question always comes down to, which one works for my needs and how do I narrow down the scope of options, features and functions to make a final decision?!

With our unique experience we have turned out to be better than expected at picking out which surveillance systems will work well within a given situation

While we won’t be going through every aspect of the detailed reasons why you should choose ‘x’ security system. we have nailed down a few strategic considerations when evaluating security systems for your home.

We reviewed close to 10 different systems and are leaving the final choices to five just because it is less time intensive. Seriously, reviewing all this takes time and resources to do properly.

Before we get into the different systems I want to point out the difference between a ‘security’ system and a ‘surveillance’ system.

Security Systems or Home Security Systems

A security system can use several different types of sensors and is usually tied back to a company that provides monitoring of activity around a residence. In the vent there is an unauthorized entry they often call law enforcement on behalf of the property owners or call the property owners to verify any activity.

Ideal environments for this type of a system is:

  • Suburban neighborhoods
  • Urban communities

Surveillance Systems

A surveillance system provides live video and/or audio recording and either records the images to a device on premises or transmits the feed to an off site location via wifi for offsite back up and storage.

Benefits to Surveillance Systems

  • Often provides evidence needed to prosecute in court
  • Can be used in any type of neighborhood/community
  • Surveillance Systems can send data offsite or be retained on site
  • Data can often be shared via Smartphones

Top 5 Home Surveillance Systems

Our testing process is practical… We don’t have a fancy numbered rating system for our testing process, or the PITA factor for setup. So, we will keep it simple and easy to explain.

Here are our favorites and a few reasons why for each.

FOSCAM

Foscam lacks audio recording, which is a bit of a minus for this. Other systems we looked at had audio capability. We tested a system that comes with four cameras and a 1TB hard drive in its NVR.

Foscam uses Ethernet cables to power and get video from its cameras, which makes it easier to set up than most wired systems, which we found use separate power sources for the NVR and cameras. (This can make it tougher to use for people living out in the country or more rural areas.)

Night time brought awesome recording without much graininess in its recordings.  Foscam offers a two-year warranty with most of the others we reviewed only having a one year warranty.

Foscam does use Ethernet cables to power and get video from its cameras, which makes it easier to set up than most wired systems. (You will need a strong wifi signal for optimal performance.

Lorex

Lorex was very close to the Foscam system in a number of ways but the video quality was noticeably different when it came to night quality on the video.

The system was easy to use and came with app integration and push notifications for motion alerts, snap shots and email notifications.

Night recording brought more graininess and a tendency to have blurred images with movement. With multiple options for NVR size and the number of cameras you can easily pick which size system is best for you.

Swann

The Swann system was pretty easy to work with. We also looked at the wired system they had and well… wired systems are tougher to install no matter which one you use but this one came packaged perfectly with extra connectors.

This system came with a NVR with only a 500GB drive (yes, to me bigger is better when it comes to hard drive memory).

The night vision range is rated for 100 ft but we found that it was more like 70 ft. with a tendency to blur a bit for quick movement on the longer ranges at night.

Otherwise this system has a zillion great features (like the other systems):

  • Instant playback
  • Motion alerts and notifications
  • Push notifications to email and devices
  • ethernet and wired options available
  • Smartsearch tools for easy scanning large amounts of footage

Amcrest

Amcrest is a reliable brand for wired surveillance systems with awesome video quality during the day. There was more blurring and visible white noise on the night video. The range of clarity was shorter than Foscam and Swann but it would be a great system for more urban and suburban environments where homes tend to be closer together.

They do offer great customer service and support for their products.

Amcrest is a fully wired system including a wire to connect to a router for internet/wifi connection so get ready to manage the wiring that comes with a fully wired system

Nest

We had to look at a fully wifi based system just to compare with the other systems that were more wire than not. So, we love NEST for a zillion reasons. Most of those reasons are the awesome branding and design of the product. It just feels so… fashionable to open the package to completely tailored products, wiring and packaging.

However… branding design and hip packaging there are a number of things lacking with NEST.

  • NEST has both Indoor and Outdoor Cameras, most kits come with one or 2 cameras and you have to purchase additional cameras separately.
  • NEST is a wifi based system requiring a subscription for off site data storage.
  • Recording is constant but playback with other features require the subscription.
  • Cameras require an outlet to plug into for power. They can have lithium ion batteries to augment power needs.
  • Great phone sync and app to use with subscription.

We use a Swann system and are very happy with it. We have the offline and online functions for both offsite backup and have a NVR for local recording and playback. It is a feature rich system which can help keep any stalkers or miscreants at bay.