Security cameras or security alarm?

Are cameras better than an alarm?

A great supplement to your security system!

A great supplement to your security system!

Security cameras let you SEE what’s going on at your home or business. That’s great! I think that the more information you can get- the better! Lots of companies are marketing cameras as a substitute for an alarm system. Are they really a good substitute?

Let’s consider what they do and don’t do.

Cameras let you see what happened or is happening. I’m a big fan. I love my doorbell cameras and home security cameras. Really, I do. I use them daily.

Cameras can alert you to motion or the presence of people in the view of the camera.

Cameras can record evidence needed for prosecution. Huge plus! But— they can be foiled by masks or sabotage— spray paint or destruction.

Cameras cannot reliably tell if you need the police. The presence of a person at the site does not mean police are needed. You have to look at the video to make a decision, then call the police.

Cameras cannot (and should not without human review) summon police or fire departments. Even with built-in face recognition, which is another issue entirely, a human should look at the video to see what is actually happening before a call is made.

Alarms detect entry. Cameras don’t show you anything until a person is in the frame. If you have entrances not “covered” by cameras, a person could get past and you wouldn’t know it. An alarm can alert you to a door or window opening or interior motion (without being intrusive or sacrificing your privacy).

Alarms can get a response without you and your cell phone being in an area where you can view video. How many times have you had slow WiFi or a slow video playback on your cell phone? An alarm system can get the response you need more quickly than cameras. You aren’t always “on call” having to view videos and make decisions if you have an alarm. You can count on a response and on the off chance that it was an accidental trip, you can cancel the police or fire response.

Bottom line:

I do not think cameras substitute well for an alarm system. They are a great addition to an alarm system and can complement their function. It’s handy to have a video clip to review if you are away and your alarm is tripped— but knowing that if I can’t get the video to load there will still be help on the way is valuable peace of mind.