UNTIL RECENTLY, home security systems tended to be pricey, call-in-an-expert affairs. And if your permanent, custom system went on the fritz and you couldn’t recall the passcode to silence the alarm, it seemed far simpler to go into moaning meltdown mode than to deal with it.
With, however, the advent of relatively easy-to-install wireless home-security devices, like smart doorbell cameras, you can build out your own protection and surveillance a-la-carte for far less money (and take it with you should you move). These systems let you function as your castle’s sentry while poolside in Antigua—provided the cabana has Wi-Fi.
Got a “porch pirate” in the neighborhood, stealing Amazon deliveries? A doorbell cam pings you an alert if someone sidles up to your entry, allowing you to startle a possible perp by speaking a few choice words via two-way audio into a connected device. If you miss him, you can post surveillance footage captured by the cam to apps like Nextdoor or Neighbors, and/or send it to the police—who in locales like Frisco, Texas, have used the videos to nab criminals. “We can’t have eyes everywhere, so when we have residents sharing footage, it can become invaluable...evidence,” said Frisco officer Radd Rotello.
Most doorbell cams are a tad bulkier than traditional doorbells. Once you’ve seen a few, they’re pretty easy to identify. Theoretically, the mere sight of one might deter a potential thief, but you’re just as likely to use it to dispatch unwanted solicitors without needing to leave the couch and stand pajama-clad in your foyer, shouting through the door.
Some visitors are, of course, welcome. If a neighbor drops by while you’re on vacation to invite you for margaritas on the back patio, you can reschedule from the airport gate. You can also rely on a doorbell cam to log exactly when your kids get home and count how many neighbor kids they brought along.
With luck, the most interesting thing you’ll spy with a doorbell cam is who’s eating the nasturtium flowers, be it a rabbit, moose or the culinary student next door.