How to Add Surveillance to a Home

by Joe Murray

    Home surveillance differs somewhat from a simple burglar alarm system. Alarm systems are generally a combination of magnetic window and door detectors wired to a central alarm and auto-dialer that notifies your cell phone or your alarm company when a magnetic switch is tripped. Such systems can also include a motion detector to report any unauthorized movement within your home when you are not present. Surveillance systems add multiple video cameras often coupled with microphones and infrared night vision capabilities. In addition to a video monitoring system, two-way audio communications between each camera and the base station and remote video surveillance capacities are generally included.

    DIY Tool Requirements

    Before purchasing any surveillance equipment, perform a survey of the locations on your property and in your residence where you will place your cameras, base station console and monitor. Your cameras require both electrical power and in most cases audio-video wire to carry the signal to and from your base station. If outdoor wires are to run under ground, use PVC pipes to avoid damage from gophers and other wildlife. In addition, you need a ladder tall enough to reach your highest surveillance camera location, an electric drill with fittings to cut through your home’s exterior, a wire puller and a stud finder and retouching materials for post installation cleanup.

    Equipment Requirements

    After determining the number and location of your cameras and your base station, select the appropriate kit from the wide selection available. You can also choose to start with a base station and one or two cameras and add cameras as they may be desired. This second method tends to be far more expensive in the long run. Follow the instructions in the installation manual and remember to use weather-proof infrared cameras for outdoor applications. You may also consider additional outdoor spotlights to enhance your monitoring capabilities.

    Remote Monitoring Requirements

    In order to remotely monitor your home, purchase one or more tilt-pan-zoom webcams along with software designed to allow you to assign an IP address to your cameras and control their motion. Free software bundles as well as several more costly varieties are available on the Internet. You can also download apps for monitoring your webcam IP addresses on your smartphone or tablet computer as well as any laptop or desktop computer with a high-speed Internet connection.

    Professional Installation Requirements

    For professional installation, contact a home surveillance firms to get an estimate. It is advisable to obtain three or four of these before making a decision. Several offer free installation with your commitment to a multi-year contract. Others offer reduced pricing and additional services with the same long term contracts. After installation you will be able to access your home surveillance system from your computer, smartphone or tablet from anywhere on the planet over the security company’s Internet website. Subscription costs are paid monthly and vary depending on the level and number of surveillance devices installed; penalties are often incurred for false alarms.

    About the Author

    Joe Murray San Francisco, CA, US Joe Murray began writing professionally in 1980. As a technical writer, he authored numerous white papers, journals and articles for publications and websites for Hewlett Packard and Intel. Since retiring, Murray has written several home-exchange travel articles for and CHECtravel, among other outlets. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Santa Clara University. Murray has made more than 50 vacation home exchanges worldwide.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images