When someone breaks into your home or steals something from your property, it isn’t just stressful: it’s traumatizing. I found this out first hand last November when someone broke into the storage bin on our property and made off so much stuff it was shocking. Not long after that, we found out how unsettling it was to have someone come up right near our house and vandalize our kid’s swimming pool. And last, but certainly not least, we had one more break in this January when someone walked onto our property and broke into one of our cars.
What’s really upsetting about having multiple break ins isn’t the possessions you lose, it’s the sense of violation you have when someone come onto the property you own and purposely steals or destroy things. After the initial break in we’d check our storage bin and yard on a daily basis and we’d find wire cutters, tin snips, and other tools left behind, so we knew someone had come back and were trying to access it again. That’s when we started looking into outdoor cameras.
We already had a camera on our house, but because it wasn’t weatherproof, it had to remain inside behind a window. That meant any footage it captured, especially at night, was impossible to see due to the glare. We were also unsure as to what to do to secure the storage bin. We put multiple locks on it, but because the location of the bin is 400 feet away from our house and it has no power supply, we didn’t know how we could add a camera to it.
I had read about Netgear’s Arlo smart home security cameras on Best Buy, and the fact that they were battery operated and weather proof made them the only choice for us. I was a little concerned because they stream via Wi-Fi, so I never thought we could have one over on our storage bin. Turns out that hooking up Arlo was as simple as installing a range extender in the house, placing the Arlo cameras where we wanted them, and boom, we had eyes all over our yard.
My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. Here’s a look at the features on the Arlo smart home security cameras and how Arlo it works for us.
Arlo is a small, compact camera that comes in a white, weather-proof casing. You can buy Arlo individually or in sets of 2, 3, or more. Included in the box are camera mounts, and Arlo uses a very strong magnet to attach to the mount. You could literally hang it anywhere, even upside down if you wanted to, and it will work. The magnet that holds it is very strong, so you don’t have to worry about it dropping.
Because it’s so small, it’s also a very subtle security camera. Someone could easily trigger it without even knowing it’s there, and although you can see the motion sensor if you look at it up close, the red light is not not obvious in the dark.
Here’s a quick look at some of the features of Arlo.
- 100% wire-free so you can put them anywhere
- Weather-proof, so they can be outside in the wind, rain, and snow and they’ll keep working. It can stand up to temps ranging from minus 10 to minus 50
- Very easy to synch with your Wi-Fi network
- You can watch your stream live or see 9 second video captures when motion is detected
- Motion alerts, so you’ll receive a notification on your phone when Arlo senses motion
- Streams in very clear 720p HD
- Wide angle lens so you can take in a large portion of your home or yard with one well-placed camera, and you can zoom in on anything that catches your eye
- Easy to use app lets you check in on the go, and you can also monitor via computer
- Long battery life. If you use the ‘best battery life’ settings, your battery can last up to 6 months
Setting up Arlo
We brought home 2 Arlo security cameras at the end of January and have been using them ever since. I’ve set up a lot of home cameras and I found the Arlo set up very quick and easy. We have one of ours installed on the side of our house right now, and because we’re installing new paneling soon, we’ll be able to just pull it down and put it back up easily.
You have to plug in the base station and connect it to your router via Ethernet first, then download the Arlo app. The app is available on iTunes and Google Play.
Once you’ve downloaded the app and created an account, it will prompt you to choose a plan. I know a lot of security cameras come with a fee-based plan if you want to record more than 24 hours of footage, but Arlo’s basic free plan does much more than that. It gives you 7 days of cloud recording, 1GB of storage, and it will stream video from multiple cameras. Most homeowners would never need more than the free plan, but if you plan on using Arlo for your business, you might want to upgrade to store more video.
When you’re account is set up, you’re ready to synch your cameras. All you have to do is put in the batteries, hit synch, and you’ll be connected. Once your cameras are connected, you just need a screwdriver to mount the base plates and you’re ready to stream video from anywhere.
Using Arlo on a daily basis
Arlo cameras are very simple to use, and once they’re set up, they stream video straight to your phone or computer. The Wi-Fi connection, even with one camera placed really far from our house, always stays at one or two bars. That’s pretty impressive given the distance.
Arlo will detect motion depending on what your settings are. You can ‘Arm’ it and have it send you a notification whenever it detects even the smallest movement, set a schedule so it only detects motion during the night, or create a custom motion detection to suit you. If it does detect motion, it will save a video clip and send you a notification. I’ve found that the notification is almost instant, and the upload speed to see the video is under 10 seconds. Our video clip size is 9 seconds long, and that’s plenty of time to see what’s going on.
You can also choose your settings for video quality and just how sensitive the camera will be. Although better video quality will drain your battery faster, I highly recommend it. The batteries are so easy to change it makes sense to have sharper video.
As for sensitivity, I recommend you set it to high too. We had two instances where something triggered the camera at the storage bin, once during the day and once at night. I watched the day clip over and over, trying to figure out what caused the movement. It was only when I zoomed in did I realize that it was a very small racoon walking by.
The night clip was a bit harder to make out, and we still don’t know what it was that set it off. When we went over to check everything was fine, and to me that’s the beauty of Arlo. If someone sets off your motion sensor and you get an alert, you can check in immediately. If it’s something you can’t make out and you’re home, you can go check it out yourself. If you’re not home and you’re suspicious, you can watch the live feed until you’re satisfied nothing is there or you can call the police if you see something.
Watching your Arlo videos
As I mentioned, you need the Arlo app to setup your cameras, and you can use the app to watch your footage. You can also watch your footage, adjust your settings, and view all of the clips in the cloud on your computer.
I’ve used both the app and the computer to watch video streams and they are both crystal clear and lag-free. The computer obviously gives you a larger window to watch so that’s a nice bonus, but as far as zooming in and seeing what’s going on, the app works very well.
For an idea of the quality of the stream you can see, take a look at this quick video I put together with some of the footage from our Arlo cameras.
Adding more Arlo cameras
Security needs change, and if you want to have more eyes on your home or property, it’s very simple to add more Arlo cameras. Once your base unit is set up you can use up to 5 cameras at a time with the basic free plan, and there are additional mounts you can buy to put your Arlo is unique positions. The ceiling mount works for table tops or ceilings, and the outdoor mount gives you a bit more flexibility for adjustment.
The only drawback to Arlo
I love using Arlo cameras, and the only drawback I’ve found is that there is no audio with them. We have a gravel driveway and I’d like to hear if someone is walking up at night or any random noises that may not be within the view of the camera.
A few more Arlo Images
As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Arlo, and now that we have these cameras we’ve been recommending them to other friends with property or for inside the home. If you’re interested in adding a smart home security system, check out the Arlo cameras on Best Buy right now. I can honestly say they’ve given me my piece of mind back, and with Arlo watching over the yard, I sleep better at night.