IN­TEL­LI­GENT IN­NO­VA­TION

The RING Door­bell & Cam­era Sys­tem For­ti­fies Home Se­cu­rity

Home Defender - - Contents - By Paul Han­tke

Don’t let tech­nol­ogy scare you off. In­stead, use it to scare off in­trud­ers. Find out how ef­fec­tive the RING Door­bell & Cam­era sys­tem re­ally is.

Call it a blend of the “Old” World and the New World. The first el­e­ment of home se­cu­rity is a se­cure perime­ter. You can for­tify your place with fences, walls, or even hedges or planters full of thorned shrubs.

Next up is light­ing that cov­ers all four sides of the struc­ture and ad­ja­cent ar­eas. There are lots of dif­fer­ent op­tions here—from a man­u­ally switched setup, to a dusk-to-dawn timer sys­tem, to one con­trolled by mo­tion sen­sors. I’m par­tial to the mo­tion sen­sors, but there are a cou­ple of ar­eas around my house that I like to have lit up all night. That is eas­ily ac­com­plished by us­ing a fix­ture with a day/night sen­sor that turns on a low-power “ac­cent light” in the evening, but also has a mo­tion sen­sor to kick on a higher-pow­ered light when it is trig­gered.

En­ter the New. An­other vi­tal com­po­nent in any mod­ern fa­cil­ity is a cam­era sur­veil­lance/record­ing sys­tem. While there is some built-in de­ter­rent at­tached to hav­ing the bad guys know they are be­ing watched and recorded, of­ten they just don’t care. How­ever, hav­ing ev­ery­thing video doc­u­mented is in­valu­able when it comes to con­firm­ing loss and/or dam­ages … and hope­fully with iden­ti­fy­ing sus­pects.

I have re­cently com­pleted a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion of all the cam­era sys­tems that are avail­able for home se-

cu­rity, and I’m happy to re­port that there is a new sys­tem avail­able that goes be­yond the after-the-fact use­ful­ness of most sys­tems with a real-time fea­ture that can pre­vent a bad in­ci­dent from oc­cur­ring in the first place.

In fact, there are sev­eral new door­bell/cam­era/in­ter­com sys­tems avail­able, and I would, of course, en­cour­age you to do your own home­work to se­lect the one best suited for your needs. In my case, I went with the RING prod­uct as the one of­fer­ing the most in fea­tures and per­for­mance for my ap­pli­ca­tion.

What we’re go­ing to do here is to look at the RING sys­tem I chose to help you get a feel for the more im­por­tant fea­tures and func­tions and help you make that de­ci­sion which way to go. You might make a dif­fer­ent de­ci­sion, of course. As they say; “That’s why they have horse races— so you can pick one you like!”

STYLES & SYS­TEMS

The big pic­ture is that there are both hard-wired and wire­less cam­era sys­tems on the mar­ket that all feed back to a mon­i­tor or mon­i­tors and some type of record­ing de­vice.

Cam­era ca­pa­bil­i­ties range from black-and-white to color, var­i­ous mag­ni­fi­ca­tions and field-of views and a se­lec­tion of light sensitivity rat­ings. They can be a con­stant feed or mo­tion-ac­ti­vated, which­ever you de­sire. Recorder ca­pac­ity is also up to you and your bud­get. While I sup­pose there might still be some sys­tems that use tape or re­mov­able record­able

discs, al­most ev­ery­thing of­fered to­day uses an elec­tronic hard drive like the one in your com­puter.

I hap­pened to want cov­er­age of my en­try­way (front door) area, my drive­way that is three cars wide and the en­tire back of the house. I went with the RING Sys­tem, and here’s why.

THE RING SYS­TEM

The RING sys­tem mounted on my orig­i­nal door­bell was very poor for the cam­era an­gle, so I mounted an au­ton­o­mous door­bell/cam­era/in­ter­com unit on the op­po­site side of the en­try­way land­ing. This can be wired into your ex­ist­ing door­bell cir­cuit, but the lo­ca­tion cap­tures video as peo­ple ap­proach and stand in front of the door, which is per­fect.

Since it is not in­te­grated into the ex­ist­ing door­bell cir­cuit, I used an aux­il­iary chime de­vice from RING that sim­ply plugs into a stan­dard wall socket and sounds off when the mo­tion sen­sor is tripped or the door­bell but­ton is pushed.

If you have an es­pe­cially big house or spend time in the garage or an­other out­build­ing, you can plug in an ex­tra chime unit to sig­nal you wher­ever you are when at home.

The sys­tem syncs to a smart­phone, desk­top or tablet, and they will sig­nal you that way, and they also ring the chimes when­ever they de­tect mo­tion within their ad­justable mon­i­tor­ing area. This lets you know that some­one (or some­thing) is close. With the phone or com­puter, you can have a live view and then elect to make con­tact even if the door­bell but­ton is not pushed.

Those mon­i­tor­ing ar­eas are ad­justable for depth away from the de­vice in five “slices” or zones across a 180-de­gree view­ing area. You can imag­ine how sur­prised some­one who is lurk­ing about and up to no good will be when your voice comes out of nowhere to ask, “Can I help you?”

The RING com­pany stores all the video, sorted by de­vice and time/date coded, for $30 a year per de­vice. No, that’s not a typo. It’s $30 per year per de­vice. Also, you can post any video seg­ment/ in­ci­dent you choose to share with your neigh­bors, which is a valu­able tool to alert the com­mu­nity to thieves, van­dals and other mis­cre­ants.

The door­bell and cam­eras can be hard­wired into a house cur­rent power sup­ply, or you can use the recharge­able bat­tery pack. I use the bat­tery packs, and mine last around four or five weeks be­tween charges. It only takes a lit­tle while to get them back up to full power when needed. The other op­tion is a so­lar panel that mounts near the

“… THE LO­CA­TION CAP­TURES VIDEO AS PEO­PLE AP­PROACH AND STAND IN FRONT OF THE DOOR, WHICH IS PER­FECT.”

cam­era, and I use one of these on my cam­era that is on the peak of my garage roof over the drive­way and there­fore not eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

While hav­ing the de­vices hard-wired into an AC power source sounds a lot more con­ve­nient, it also leaves you li­able to ser­vice in­ter­rup­tion dur­ing a power out­age or when some clever bad guy sim­ply turns off your main breaker.

As above, the area cov­ered by the cam­era and mo­tion sen­sors can be tuned to ex­actly cover a re­quired area with­out also reg­is­ter­ing un­wanted “hits” from ac­tiv­ity nearby.

My front units cover my en­try­way, and my drive­way across the three-car park­ing space but only out to the side­walk. The back cam­era is po­si­tioned un­der the far front corner of the pa­tio cover and shows the en­tire back wall of my house, some 65 feet, and the pa­tio area it­self that ex­tends about 18 feet out from the house. This gives me com­plete cov­er­age of any pos­si­ble points of en­try around the house and a good view of the cars in the drive­way.

FI­NAL SCENE

I am quite happy with the RING sys­tem. How­ever, as noted, there are now sev­eral other op­tions avail­able, and you may find one of those more ap­peal­ing. The most im­por­tant mes­sage here is to not ne­glect the need for some type of sys­tem to help safe­guard your­self, your loved ones and your prop­erty/ pos­ses­sions.

The good news is that it’s never been eas­ier! You can find out more about this sys­tem on­line, and a Google search will present you with sev­eral other op­tions.

Wel­come to the New World of se­cu­rity. HD

This is the aux­il­iary cam­era in the back­yard that is in­stalled un­der the far front corner of the pa­tio cover. It is tuned to view the en­tire back of the house.

Top: This is the main door­bell/ cam­era/in­ter­com unit in­stalled at the au­thor’s en­try­way. It cov­ers the ap­proach and any­thing in front of the door. Bot­tom: This is the aux­il­iary cam­era and so­lar power unit that is in­stalled on the peak of the garage roof at the front of the house.

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