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Security Cameras For Vacant Homes and Abandoned Buildings

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No electricity, no WiFi or internet connection. How can you monitor and manage vacant property or even an abandoned building as a real estate investor, contractor or property owner who can’t afford to have 24-hour security guard service watching over their property? If you don’t hire a security guard firm to watch over your property then the next logical step is to hire a security camera company that will offer you a less expensive but still cost prohibitive lease on a security camera system with solar battery rechargers powering a few cameras off a telescopic pole. If you’re a farmer trying to cover an even larger area, you would need several security camera modules spread out over fields and non-productive areas at an enormous cost.

Nowadays, these expensive solutions are no longer necessary. A new crop of small-sized security cameras that can connect to any cellular service, can work for months on battery power or continuously with a small solar panel the size of a paperback book has become available and they have features that will revolutionize the way vacant homes and buildings are monitored and secured from now on.

These wire-free and Wi-Fi free security cameras can be placed anywhere inside and outside a building without the limitations of wiring or an Internet connection. In fact, they can monitor an area using their PIR sensors to detect particular heat sensors from human bodies from a certain distance. You can receive instant alerts on your mobile phone and view the video live or playback video directly from the camera’s SD card or Cloud connection.

Features many other security cameras don’t have

Siren – You can set off a loud siren from the security cameras themselves to ward off intruders. This will scare off pretty much anyone immediately when they hear the high decibel siren go off. A loud siren will alert nearby neighbors, security services or police that are within a listening distance which can be several hundred yards.

2-Way Talk Communication – Being able to let a person know they are being monitored is another great feature these cameras possess. Imagine the cameras notifying you that someone is in the camera’s view. You see the person live from your phone or computer and you shout at them to leave the premise or that the police is on their way. That’s enough warning to stop the trespasser in their tracks. Also, when you turn on the sirens after your announcement that will be that extra bit scare that gets them running away fast.

Cellular Connection – 4GLTE is fast and reliable enough to receive smooth 1080p crisp video at a high frame rate but not all cellular service work well in all areas. In the vacated home or building you choose to install security cameras, make sure you can receive a great phone connection. I use my phone and a friend’s phone with a competing service to see which one has the best cellular service for the building or home I’m trying to cover. Once you are satisfied with the signal strength of a particular service, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon or any other low-cost cellular service that works great in that area, then purchase the SIM card for that particular service. Don’t worry, activating and inserting a SIM card into your camera is a lot simpler than you think.

Cloud Connection – The two big contenders in this market are Arlo by Netgear with their Arlo Go camera and Reolink with their Reolink Go camera. As of this writing, Arlo charges a monthly fee to connect to their cloud service with some free caveats while Reolink offers free cloud service (as part of their beta plan to compete with Arlo), up to 10 gigabytes. That’s a lot of stored video. Cloud stored videos are different than locally stored video on an SD memory card. If the camera is ever stolen or destroyed, you can always view the recorded video from the cloud service. Each company allows their customers to view their cloud recorded video right from the same app that allows them to view the video that is recorded directly to the camera.

Long Battery Life – wire-free security cameras carry dense battery packs for long battery life and the ones that are also WiFi or wire connection free have an even larger battery for weeks and even months of use depending on how much traffic it needs to monitor. For camera systems that need to be as maintenance free as possible at buildings and homes that may be abandoned for months or even years, you need to have someone to charge the batteries when the cameras notify you of low battery power. Which brings us to…

Solar Panel – Each security camera can be powered indefinitely with a solar panel the size of a paperback book. Actually, the solar panel doesn’t power the cameras directly. They charge the battery throughout the day, topping off the battery at a constant 100%. In areas with very little sun exposure during the winter, expect the camera’s batteries to top off between 30 to 40% as far north as Alaska during the winter and between 40 and 60% during a Chicago winter. That’s more than enough for a continuous power connection.

Extreme Night Vision – Not only do I write about security cameras, I actually install them for a few customers and I’ve noticed that the Reolink Go security camera I’ve installed recently had extremely high night view coverage over an empty farm field in Central Florida farmland with no ambient light from any direction. The customer was able to see and count deer eating and crossing his fields with the occasional person walking across his fields when the grass is cut short which surprised my client.

Who Benefits from these type of wire-free cameras?

Construction companies – The cost of stolen material and tools is factored into the cost of doing business when a home or building is being built. Wire-free security camera systems with instant notification, sirens, and 2-way communication can eliminate most problems at a site and considerably bring down the cost of stolen building material. The camera(s) can be moved around as parts of the building project are completed. Keep in mind, accidents and bodily harm caused by trespassers at night can halt precious work days because of police investigations.

Property owners and investors – vacant homes and buildings are also targets of thieves who steal copper wiring, lumber, plumbing, and appliances. Vagrants can occupy a building for months before someone even notices them. Property owners can save themselves a lot of headaches by overlooking their property either from the inside or from trees or poles located in the back or front yard of the home or property.

Farmers – Pop-up meth labs and illegal weed growers can occupy farmland that is hard to cover with traditional security cameras that need a connection to a security DVR and/or internet connection. No farmer wants to spend more money than a problem is worth but they also don’t want authorities or trespassers to believe that they approve or turn a blind eye to some of the problems that can occur on their property.

Video connection and the cost of cellular service

I pretty much get away with using a 2nd tier cellular service called FreedomPop. I normally choose their quarterly service (3 months per payment) for about $12. Since incidents are usually infrequent, 2 gigabytes of data is more than enough for about 2 to 3 months of video capture, cloud service, and the occasional check-in to look in on property or land. In some cases, I’ve also used T-Mobile and Verizon SIM cards in certain areas. You can find great deals for data on SIM cards from just about every provider. Remember to also add an SD memory card of at least 64G to the camera as well to make sure it records events when you’re not available to respond to them live.

If the idea of connecting SIM cards and SD memory cards to a wire-free security camera seems daunting then hire a pre-teen or a techy teenager to insert the cards, download the app and connect the camera online. If you’re using a family member, $40 and some pizza can go a long way if you are connecting several cameras. When it comes to physically installing the cameras, all you need is a drill, a screwdriver and the time to install it which doesn’t take long at all. Or you can have a handyman install it for you once the cameras have been programmed. Hiring an expert to program and install the cameras for you will cost somewhere near $125 per hour with a 2-hour minimum, so keep that in mind when you’re budgeting several cameras to install.

Final Tips

Program and turn on the cameras for a live feed before you install them so you can look at your mobile phone app and view the video live while the camera is adjusted and pointed in the right direction.

Reolink Go at this time of writing is the most affordable completely quite free camera in the market to buy and monitor and has a higher rating overall than the Arlo Go.

Use a camouflage sleeve or tape to cover the camera if you are going to place it in a tree or any background with a darker background.

 

 

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