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Ask HN: What home security camera setup do you use?
46 points by yourself92 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 30 comments
I'm in the market for a security camera setup for my home. Optimally, I'd prefer PoE cameras instead of Wifi, but if there's good arguments to be made either way, I'm all ears.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I use Zoneminder currently with ~$50 PoE cameras (I have an assortment based on what was on sale but most are 4K with audio). I block the MAC addresses of the cameras so they have no internet access at all. You could accomplish this also by putting them on their on VLAN that doesn't have access but I didn't have a good way to do that when I first set it up. My plan is to switch to a Reolink NVR in the near future so that my camera setup can be all-in-one instead of running in docker on my NAS.

Zoneminder can be a bit a of bear to deal with but I'll be forever grateful to it for helping me get my foot in the door seeing how I would not have bought a Reolink NVR without first proving how valuable a security camera system would be.

As with all my "Smart Home" stuff I want it all to run locally and I abhor smart wifi devices (Z-wave and Zigbee only). Zoneminder is ideal for this setup and the zmninja [1] desktop/mobile app is pretty decent as well. I run the desktop app 24/7 on a monitor above my main monitor and it's so nice to just glace up to see if there is a package, someone at the door, etc. I was never able to get ZM's detection working reliably enough (too many false positives) so I just record 24/7 and go back and check footage if needed (Older than 30 days or if the disk is low triggers a cleanup/delete).

[0] https://zoneminder.com/

[1] https://pliablepixels.github.io/

> I abhor smart wifi devices (Z-wave and Zigbee only)

Are you saying you are only OK with Z-wave and Zigbee?

Yes, I only use Z-wave and Zigbee. With the exception of my smart speakers which I see as a necessary evil to be able to control my house. I know smart speakers are a non-starter for some people but the added value and my tentative trust in the manufacturers have made them acceptable to me. An Echo from Amazon is a different story from the Alibaba or cheap Amazon (not made by Amazon but sold by them) wifi smart devices.

I feel similarly, I have smart speakers and then all zwave. I even avoided zigbee because it uses the same frequencies as wifi. However, I have been a bit disappointed that zwave devices seem to continue to be expensive while zigbee and wifi devices continue to fall in price. I recently broke down and started making some wifi and bluetooth sensors flashed with esphome. So far they have been pretty stable. But I suspect that will change if I get too many.

Yeah, I hear you on the Z-wave costs. I only have like 4-5 zigbee things (mainly light bulbs for fans that don't have seperate fan/bulb switches and 1-2 old SmartThings devices I still use) for the same reasons you mention (WiFi) as well as better range (though less mesh hops). I now have 2 Z-wave bulbs but they were not cheap (like $25 vs $9 for zigbee), I only use bulbs for fans or lamps that aren't on a switch, having physical switch fallbacks is a high priority for me.

What home automation hub are you using? I'm on SmartThings right now (been with them since the Kickstarter) but I've been eyeing HomeAssistant. I have HA running on a Pi right now with the ST integration so that I can play with it without going "all in" and I'm liking it so far. That said it's way more hands-on than ST but also feels a little more stable. I have used SmartApps extensively but always hated how fragile they felt, in HA I might have to look at a YAML file or code but it does what I tell it to do without issue. WebCORE is cool but it also worries me when it comes to long term stability since I don't trust SmartThings/Samsung very much.

I migrated off of and sold my smartthings hub after they went cloud only. I am all on Home Assistant now. It does require tinkering from time to time but once things are working, you usually never have to touch it. But when you go all in on HA, i would recommend going with an Intel nuc or other small machine. I used the raspberry pi 3b for a while and it was just a little sluggish sometimes. The new pi 4 is probably fine. But i also had sd card issues from time to time and HA is very write intensive once you start logging everything.

That's very good to hear. I have it running on a raspberry 3B right now but that's without it controlling my devices directly (it's through a SmartThings integration right now) and I was considering getting their custom "Home Assistant Blue" hardware. $140 feels overpriced for it, especially since I need to buy a Z-wave stick for it as well, but it would be a nice all-in-one that is "supported". If you don't mind, what Z-wave stick and hardware did you settle on?

I'm using the aeotec zwave stick. And you can look at what the home assistant blue is built from. It's just a droid arm something or other. You are paying for the nice case and maybe some extra support.

I use UniFi Protect but I wouldn’t recommend it.

It took me multiple days to figure out how to give another person in my house access to the doorbell camera because the UI isn’t great and in a constant state of flux. (https://community.ui.com/questions/Add-user-to-UniFi-Protect...)

Also, everything relies on enabling remote access to my UniFi router (a Dream Machine Pro) which I thought was something the on-premises UniFi stuff was supposed to help me get away from. Accounts have to be UniFi cloud accounts and not local ones. Protect is totally dependent on the UniFi cloud but they’re offloading the hardware costs onto you.

UBNT is going downhill. They require the cloud login for most of their stuff now. :(

If you want plug-and-play and you're not averse to internet-enabled cameras, I use the Hive Indoor/Outdoor cameras and find them reliable, high quality and well-integrated in the app with push/email notifications and IFTTT. The fact they can tie into the home alarm system, smart lamps/plugs etc is a big win for me. Night vision works well over short distances.

I would say that it's worth trying to see some test video on whatever you go for before purchasing. I tried out a Ring Indoor Cam which is supposedly 1080p but only 15fps - it suffered from quite bad motion blur if you walked through a room at a good pace, as well as being visibly much lower bitrate than the Hive 1080p so I returned it.

Just in case it needs to be said, I use Nest, and do not recommend.

Is there a reason beyond it’s owned by Google to not go with Nest?

Beyond the whole Google thing...

Their free tier limitations bothers me. You only get image snapshots of events triggered within the last 24 hours or something. It's essentially useless for trying to establish any information from checking your event replays.

For a while, the premium subscription had to be added per camera, which added up quickly. I think they've since changed this, because I had cancelled for a while then signed up again recently, and got premium tier for all of my cameras with one fee (can't remember how much).

Even still with the premium tier, I'm personally just really not a fan of their UI. Scrubbing through event replays is not easy to do. I've had cameras randomly disconnect for no apparent reason while others kept functioning on the same network just fine. I have one that is pointing out of a window, and it performs really poorly in low-light conditions against the reflection in the glass in whatever position I try. Granted, I also have a set of the outdoor specific ones, and they have performed really well with no downtime that I can recall, even in strong weather.

Just not worth the money IMO, wish I had went for something more open and hackable to my liking.

A similar question was asked last year on HN; Raspberry Pi seems to be the center of their DIY solutions:


I have setup 4 (with 5 more in boxes waiting to be setup) cheap Chinese PoE cameras using a Mac nvr app called SecuritySpy to record + provide real-time streaming to companion iOS app. Also offers secure access over https when we’re not home, notifications for detections etc.

I wouldn’t go anything other than PoE these days. The benefits of single cable + the ability to run a ups so the cameras don’t go dark during power outages is a winning combo.

I use blueiris for the recording and viewing (including their mobile apps), works really well. I have ~15 PoE cameras on it, adding a few more soon.

Camera's I use are all inexpensive sv3c camera's off Amazon and they have been great overall. The one exception is I do run a different brand of dome cameras. I run all the cameras on a separate lan that is isolated and can't communicate to anything but the blueiris box.

I roll my own. Cheapo PoE cameras, with a Ubiq PoE switch. Custom written app to display the RTSP streams on a web page. Only accessible over VPN and zero outbound internet access. I don't have anything doing motion detection or anything fancy, just 24/7 recording and live view playback.

I run Blueiris (https://blueirissoftware.com/). The beauty is you can run a mix of cameras, so I have decent Hikvision ones outside and whatever cheap PTZ I find at a good price inside.

Annke cameras to a Windows box running Blue Iris.

Blue Iris has a steep learning curve, but there's helpful YouTube videos. You can do anything with Blue Iris. The only bummer is that it requires Windows.

Netatmo outdoor cameras. Have been totally reliable since late 2018, can save videos to local NAS, work with HomeKit and do not need a subscription. Require wifi.

What do you all use the security cameras for? Are burglaries common in your areas? I have a house alarm but never considered a security camera setup.

Garage burglaries and package thievery is fairly common in the area I live judging by NextDoor posts about it. Considering how relatively inexpensive they are I think they are useful in a few ways: A visible deterrent for crime, video evidence in the case of a break in or package theft to give to police or at least to give your neighbors a heads up, and just a general eye out on the area for things like determining if/when a package got delivered or possible evidence in case a crime or accident occurs nearby.

Often security cameras can be set up to have 'alarms'. You can put in virtual tripwires/zone that alert you of motion is detected.

Also police love cameras as it makes charging/proving cases much simpler and in turn should help reduce criminals around.

Alarms or cameras aren’t there to stop criminals. They are there to stop frivolous lawsuits. Just like driving without a camera is crazy.

Wouldn't you want to see what caused the alarm?

Synology with Dahua cameras.

https://ipcamtalk.com is the place to go for good info.

Was going to create my own in Python on a RPi because I don’t trust “the cloud” with access to a camera in my house

Anyone knows how feasible would be to hack one with a raspberry pi 4 and a logitech c920 something webcam?

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