What Are The Pros & Cons Of Professional Vs DIY Home Security Systems?

home security, security, business security, DIY, burglar alarm, intruder alarmRecent surveys have revealed that in up to 28% of broadband users have an active internet based security system, 24% also take advantage of a monitoring service. Most of these people are homeowners with children. And many of these people have chosen to go down the DIY path when it comes to installation.

The message put out by the manufacturers including Ring, Hive, Nest, et cetera is being picked up the consumer as a further 52% report as being “highly likely” to purchase a security system of their own, and install it themselves.

So what are the pros and cons of DIY burglar alarm and security system installations versus a professional installation service?

The first consideration is naturally the cost. Buying a system that you can take straight out of the box and put up yourself is clearly going to be cheaper than buying a system and then paying a professional to mount it for you.

Then there is the convenience. If you’re a DIYer and you have the skills and tools required you can buy a home security system, get it home, wire it in and have it up and running in an afternoon. You don’t have to make an appointment for someone to come and see your property, recommend a system, order it, and then come back and install the product. Read more

When Social Media Isn’t The Smart Answer For DIY Jobs

DIY smart devices, wireless, speakerBeing interested in all manner of smart home automation and IoT devices I’m naturally a member of several Facebook groups dedicated to the subject. Some are informative and worth staying with, some are a waste of time and better left rather than letting them annoy you unduly.

In one of these groups a question was asked by Danny: “So I was wondering anyone has done this or knows if it is possible. I use Google home across my house and I want to put approx 6 speakers in my ceiling and link them back to the Google home so the music plays through them. Does this involve taking the Google home apart and soldering new wires for the speakers ?

Now, I know social media is a great way to get tips, advice and help for a range of different DIY subjects, so I’m not criticising the original poster for that, but if you’re thinking of taking your electronic devices apart and soldering peripherals onto it, there’s a chance you might just void your warranty. Oh, and you might just add the risk of fire or electrocution if you’re an amateur permanently adding additional cable to your electronic devices. Read more

Installing Your Own CCTV Security Camera System

One of the greatest barriers to entry for home security cameras used to be the cabling. The fact that a security camera needed a cable to pass through a wall meant that location was limited, and not everyone was happy about drilling a hole thought the brickwork or rendering, especially in historic, rented or listed buildings. With Smart CCTV that’s no longer a problem.

Now that wireless CCTV cameras are now available, that problem is eliminated. Because they’re wireless, they can be installed virtually anywhere, meaning that they can not only cover doors, windows and the access to your property, they can be put in and around garages, outbuildings and sheds. It’s common for burglars to break into sheds not only to steal tools, bikes and lawnmowers and the like, but to take your own ladders, using them to get further access to your home and its contents.

When planning where to put your new security camera, there are one or two issues to consider.

Coverage

Will it capture images of people as they approach the property? If you put the camera too high the angle will be too steep to get a good look at people’s faces. Is there anything obscuring the lens creating a blind spot which could be used to evade detection by a CCTV security camera’s motion detectors?

Access

You’ll probably want to tweak the angle that the camera is aimed once it’s installed and set up, and at some point you’ll need to either change the batteries or clean the solar panel, depending on how the unit works. You’ll undoubtedly need a ladder to reach the camera, so consider whether you can do that safely regularly before you set the CCTV camera up.

Network Security

Because the camera is wireless it needs to connect with your wireless home network. If the camera hasn’t been correctly secured it could get hacked, meaning that other people can turn the camera on and off or even use it to get access to other smart devices you have around the home. Change the product name and password from the default and use something innocuous as a name and a long, complex password. Calling it ‘security camera front door’ and using the default password, or the same password you use for all your devices makes it incredibly easy to hack if you have half a mind.

Extras

You can opt to have a mic and speaker on your security camera so you can talk to people who are wandering around your property, the motion detector can be tied to security lights so they flood the drive or garden when people are coming to your door, some come with infra red night vision, human detection (so they won’t activate every time a cat or fox walks up the garden path) and motion zones so you can identify areas in frame where people shouldn’t be going.

Now that we know what you need to be looking out for, which are the best products on the market?

Depending on where you plan to use them, the features and benefits will dictate which you will choose, but we’ve looked at the best CCTV and home access devices on the high street and run them down below.

nest cctv home security perimeter camera
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

While it is technically ‘wireless’ insomuch as the data is sent over your wifi network, the device still needs to be powered by a cable, which they helpfully suggest you pass through a window or drill a hole in the wall. So it’s wireless, however, it’s cable dependent. And running a cable through a window compromises not only the window, but can damage the cable too, and if the cable is cut…

The Nest Cam IQ sends 24 hour data so you don’t have to worry about motion detection, but that means it’s data heavy since they operate in full HD. They have facial recognition and night vision with close-up tracking, so if there is a break-in you can be sure to have incredibly good footage of your intruder. It has two way audio so you can talk to people on your property, not only unwelcome visitors, but deliveries, salespeople, and unexpected guests. To get all the features and the most out of the device you need a strong broadband router, and monthly subscription to Nest security services.

ario home security camera
Arlo Pro 2

Arlo Pro 2

The Arlo is indeed a wireless, motion controlled device which saves battery by only coming on when the motion detector is triggered. While the picture quality is an average 720p it has a 130 degree camera which gives a great field of vision. It’s a very small device which is easy to install and is robust, high and low temperatures and rain don’t bother it a bit. The data can be stored locally on a USB or onto the cloud so there is no immediate need to buy a monthly subscription. It also has night vision and adjustable sensitivity, so you can eliminate hedgehogs rootling around and only start filming when people are present.

logitec home security cctv
Logitech Circle 2

Logitech Circle 2

The Logitech Circle comes with a built in battery, but that battery life is limited to 12 hours standby, and less if the camera is activated, so you have to switch over the batteries quite regularly, and if you’re leaving the house from more than a day, you’ll need to find an alternative. You get a choice of video quality capture, 720p or 1080p HD and nigh vision. It has facial and motion detection. Facial recognition means that the camera won’t activate when it recognises you, your partner and kids, but will activate when anyone it doesn’t recognise appears before it. It has 24 hour free cloud space, and a subscription service is available to unlock other features and benefits. The Circle is really a more robust version of the same device designed for indoor use, to record activity and monitor what happens within the home, rather than being designed specifically to use outside. Essentially it works better if located indoors looking out of the window than it does outdoors as thick walls can interrupt the signal when operating wirelessly.

Briant Communications can help you with all your CCTV security camera requirements. From a free quote for installation to a full coverage review, location plan, supply and installation we offer a full service package. Get in touch today for a visit from one of our experienced engineers.

DIY HiFi, How And Why?

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flat-pack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over a period of years.

DIY Is Often More Expensive Than Hiring Professionals

Instead we’ll stick to covering the mistakes and mishaps that can happen when you’re installing your own home entertainment systems. These mistakes can prove costly, and incredibly inconvenient if you have to replace expensive TV or hi-fi equipment when you break it. Others, while not needing a pricey fix, can be really irritating if you get them wrong.

Cabling. Even speakers, routers, and other devices named ‘wireless’ still need power cables, so the cliché runs as true for them as it does for traditional cabled equipment, you can always cut it shorter, never longer. Always buy and fit more cable than you think you’re going to need because you’ll always want to move things around, change your mind about positioning, find the wire has to go around something, and no matter how good your wire is, it never ever stretches. Once your speaker is in position there’s nothing as irritating as pulling it out to adjust it and the cable comes out, and then slips back down behind the bookcase you’ve put it on!

On the subject of cabling; ID your ends! Once you start to get into a multichannel system with amps, DVD players, CD players, decoders, computers, HDTVs etc you’re going to find that you have A LOT of cable and they’re all going to start looking very similar. If you haven’t identified the ends of each cable you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and trouble tracing each line from one end to the other, scrabbling around behind furniture, untying and untwisting knotted wires… All you needed to do was stick a label made of masking tape to the end and all your woes would have been solved. Read more

Safe, Simple Wireless Technology Security, A ‘How To’ Guide

We’re not suggesting that the typical burglar has added a laptop to his traditional striped top, mask and duffle bag with ‘Swag’  printed on it, but as crime rates climb, it increases in the cyber realm as much as it does on the streets. Criminals aren’t the kind of people to let opportunities slip past them, and once the thief or burglar catches on to the fact that they can use wireless technology to make their lives of crime easier, they certainly will.

The ways that criminals can take advantage of your incorrectly secured wireless home network can manifest themselves in several ways, many of which we’ve probably never thought of yet, but they currently include identity theft, credit and debit card data scraping and cloning, disabling security cameras and controlling webcams. It’s a truism to say that you wouldn’t go out and leave the house unlocked, but if you don’t lock down your home wifi network, that’s exactly what you’re doing with your data, and, as Wi-Fi enabled access control becomes more prevalent, your front door too. Read more

How To Proof Your Home Against Hackers

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.In many senses the latest advances in wireless technology can go a long way to making your home safer. From CCTV to baby monitors, from smart doorbells to fire, smoke and O2 detectors, there are a plethora of different devices which make home security far easier and more practical than ever before.

Who Watches The Watchman?

The upside of accessibility is that you can attach any number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to your home hub and control them all from the comfort of your sofa, or from anywhere else in the world for that matter, so long as you have an internet connection. The downside is that, unless you follow a few basic security protocols, so can anybody else with a will, a little know how, and a laptop.

As the number of devices which are online via the IoT, so does the number of potential breeches in security which could be abused by a hacker.

As your home network grows you may find that your wifi router can’t keep up with the volume of data which is being processed, and you want to buy a new one. That’s good in at least two ways. Old WiFi routers weren’t built to ward off determined hackers. All the old security was concerned with was keeping people out and preventing them from piggybacking your bandwidth. New routers are far more secure, and designed to keep out hackers who would want to get into your network for several reasons. As with so many things, the more you spend, the better the features and benefits. A top end router doesn’t only deliver a better signal and speed, it also offers better security protocols.

The first thing you should do when you’re installing any new equipment or IoT device, you need to create a long, complex password for each item. And don’t write them down, especially don’t create a document on your computer with them in. If anybody gets their hands on your computer, they get access to all the devices you can’t remember the passwords for. As well as being long and complex, you should also update your passwords regularly, especially after you’ve shared your WiFi network with guests and visitors. More than half a million phones are stolen every year, and if one has access to your router, they essentially have the keys not only to your door, but your bank account, emails, and every other part of your life which lives online. Read more

DIY Hi-Fi, WiFi And Home Entertainment Pitfalls

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flatpack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over the period of several years. Read more

What’s The Best Way To Hang A Flat Screen TV On The Livingroom Wall?

Flatscreen TVs are virtually made to be hung rather than set on a sideboard or on the floor like old TVs once were. They’re not the big clunking great piece of furniture they once were. Today they resemble framed pictures, and, as such they look particularly good when hung up on the wall.

The problem with hanging them is that they are heavy, have many wires which need to be attached, and they can’t just be nudged a bit to make them straight if you didn’t get put the mount up in quite the right place.

If you’re experienced in putting up shelves, and home maintenance generally, then hanging a TV will offer you no problems whatsoever. But if you’re new to DIY you might want to think about getting a professional TV installation company in to do it instead. They might cost a bit to do the job, but when you compare that with the costs of doing it wrong, the price is negligible. Read more