Using a Trail Camera for Your Home Security
You might have heard of trail cameras: you know, those things that burly hunters tie up to a conspicuous tree, in the wee hours of the morning, bundled up from head-to-toe in their camouflage. So why should you care about a trail camera (or ‘game’ or ‘trap’ camera)? Easy: they are the best camera to catch a thief.
Security trail cameras have significantly increased in popularity due to their ease of use and increasingly impressive specifications. From high-quality picture and impressive storage capacity, to long-lasting battery life and - perhaps most enticingly - discrete presentation, everyday people are using security trail cameras at their homes and offices, and everywhere in between. If you're looking to understand the differences between cameras, check out our trail camera buyer's guide.
Trail Cameras for Home Security
If you are wondering if you can use trail cameras for home security, the short answer is yes! Security trail cameras are becoming increasingly popular for both home and other premises security needs.
Now that we’ve got that squared away, your next question may be, how effective are security trail cameras as home security systems? Do they work as well as the security company cams with all the bells and whistles?
If you think about it, the very reason that game or trail cameras are so popular in hunting are what makes them such great home security devices. They are discrete, they work on a motion sensor basis, all images are time-stamped, and many new devices allow instant, or ‘real time’, transfer to your smartphone. Security trail cameras can be a budget-friendly alternative to decked-out home security packages, which makes them an enticing choice to many people on the hunt for the best camera to catch a thief. Additionally, a security trail camera will work in rain, shine, hail or snow - they are made for the elements, and will stay standing through them all.
Trail cameras work at night in one of two ways: either with a white bright flash, or with an infrared flash, which can not be seen. The quality is slightly compromised with an infrared flash, however the camera stays discrete, and a potential thief will not know if they’ve been sprung. These are called ‘no glow’ trail or game cameras, and they tend to be the best camera to catch a thief. Of course, if you would like your thief to be scared off, a regular flash will do the trick.
One thing to take into consideration when purchasing a trail or game camera for your home security needs is whether or not it is capable of capturing video. Just like the varying price points, the capabilities of security trail cameras vary wildly. If motion-detected, time-stamped images are good enough for you, you may be able to get away with buying a less expensive model. However, if you want to stream your security footage, you may need to spend a little bit more. Additionally, some security trail cameras record audio too. If you are recording inside the home or office, a game camera decked out with photo, video and audio capability may be the best camera to catch a thief and keep your home safe.
When it comes to home insurance, the specifics of a lender’s requirements is dependent upon a number of factors. However, most home insurance plans slash premiums when you have professionally installed home security. This can include alarms, deadbolts and - yup, you guessed it - security trail cameras. If you are wondering whether or not a security trail camera will lower your home insurance costs, it is best to discuss with your broker today.
Your Guide to Trail Cameras for Home Security
So now we know that the best camera to catch a thief is indeed the humble security trail camera. You are now armed with this knowledge, so it’s time to enter the marketplace. Which security trail camera will be the best fit for your home? It really depends on what you are looking to get out of a home (or office, or just about anywhere!) security system.
We want to give you the lowdown on finding the best camera - and, psst, we think that a game or trail camera may be the way to go. From the capabilities of security trail cameras, to the accessibility of your footage captured, to the installation in your home or office - we’ve got all the answers to guide you when buying a security trail camera.
An obvious advantage to trail security cameras is their wireless ability. Made for hunting and nature-watching, the discretion of this device is key. Often, hunters will tie the camera to a tree where it camouflages in, and watch their footage from afar. Similarly, this is an advantage in the home security realm. A small, compact device that can hang from virtually anywhere is beneficial for homeowners looking for peace of mind. Whether the trail camera feeds footage directly to your smartphone, computer or tablet, or uses an SD card in the ‘old school’ way - these devices are a totally wireless alternative to home security.
Trail cameras are originally made for the outdoors - making them the perfect choice for all outdoor security. We recommend a security box for additional safety surrounding the compact device. Whatever the elements, your security trail camera can weather it.
Because there is such a huge variation in prices of security trail cameras - and in their abilities - we recommend focusing on the following three elements if you are looking for a budget-friendly device.
Firstly, make sure that the device fits your needs in terms of picture quality and flash type. This is paramount in choosing a device, as the very reason you are purchasing the trail security camera is to receive clear intel on the happenings in and around your house. Secondly, the ease of accessing the footage - do you need the footage in real time, or can you wait to upload it with an SD card? This decision could save you big-time in the hunt for a security trail camera. Lastly, take into account whether or not you need video capability - this is one feature that will save you big if you are happy enough with time-stamped stills.
With these points in mind, let’s discuss some of the more premium features many security trail cameras on the market today offer.
Accessing Your Security Trail Camera Footage
Welcome to the 21st century - where anything and everything can be uploaded to your pocket-sized device in real time. Yup, security trail camera footage included. When you think of a trail or a game camera, you might think, ‘old-school’ - not high-tech. However, many models of security trail cameras offer instant access to footage, truly making them excellent cameras for home security.
Most modern trail cameras offer some way to view your footage almost instantly. There are two types you can purchase: a wifi security trail camera, or a cellular security trail camera. A wifi security camera makes perfect sense in a home setting (and less so in a remote setting like, um, the middle of the woods). Connecting to your home wifi, the security camera can feed you your images, video and audio direct to a smart device via an app. Similarly, cellular devices send you images in real time but have their very own network built in.
If you are looking to survey a premise without wifi, a cellular security trail camera is your best option for instant access to your footage via your smartphone or computer. These cameras utilise 3G or 4G networks, just like our phones. Of course, there is always the option to review your footage later with the classic SD card. When you are finished recording for a period of time, you simply pop the chip directly into your computer or a chip reader to access your footage.
Your smartphone is your best friend when it comes to modern wifi or cellular security trail cameras. Compatible apps are dependent on device type, and they are optimised to be able to send captured images to multiple phone numbers at one time. If time is on your side, you may find viewing your pictures on your computer a more budget-friendly option with a removable SD card.
Installation of Your Security Trail Camera
You’ve done the hard part: all the research that goes into finding the best camera. You’ve settled on your ideal device, it’s arrived in all its glory, and now it’s time to install the thing - and maybe catch a thief while you are at it!
Do you need a professional to install a security trail camera? Absolutely not. This is one of the major money savers, and a reason trail security cameras are becoming increasingly more popular. With some simple tools and a mount, you should be able to install your device with no issues. If you are less than adventurous, and are planning on installing your device in a hard-to-reach space, you may want to enlist the help of a professional for security trail camera installation.
First thing’s first - decide where you would like to perch your trail camera. The world is your oyster here: trail cameras were made for the wilderness, so they can be mounted on almost any surface. Before you decide where you would like to mount your security trail camera, think about the visibility of the area. If you are mounting it in a tree, will branches ruin your shot? If you are thinking of an indoor area, will your potential perpetrator be able to reach and remove the device?
Here are our top picks for places to install your security trail camera:
1. A camouflaged area
Think of all the discrete places inside and outside of your home: wooden pillars, cracks in rooftops, hard-to-reach nooks and crannies the wandering eye would never come across. These are always the most effective places to hide your trail security camera. If your view is unobstructed, it’s even better. If your device is not camouflaged enough as it is, you can purchase a different style of camouflage box to make it even more conspicuous.
2. An animal cage
Have an old bird cage or animal cage lying around? This is the perfect discrete space to perch a security trail camera, without worrying too much about a laborious installation. The gaps of a cage mean an unobstructed view, and no thief would think to check there - the device itself just resembles a box.
3. A tree
Just like how the trail camera was initially intended: for use in nature! If you’ve got a tree of epic proportions on your property, try your hand at mounting it to a secure part of the branch or trunk, hidden away from prying eyes (and swaying leaves, for that matter).
4. A telephone pole
Perhaps you are less concerned about your particular property, and more concerned about a neighbourhood watch. Did you know you can actually mount your device to a telephone pole or a light post? Undetectable and covert - and also highly effective at covering up to five houses in one shot.
5. On your window
If you are looking to keep your trail camera on the inside, we recommend a window pane as the perfect place to still get clear, crisp footage from the outside. As long as the lens is in focus, the rest of the box can remain virtually hidden from the outside. Plus? No finicky mounting, and simple battery replacement.
Next up, find a mount that will best suit your device - there are many universal mounts out there that will fit any device, and be fit to mount your trail camera anywhere. You can choose between a direct mount, which holds your device still until you move it, or a swivel mount, which allows for some movement. A swivel mount is especially helpful if you have a device with a remote control for movement.
If you are looking for the best camera for home security, you can spend all the money in the world, but it will not matter if a potential thief catches a glimpse of your home security set up and takes a swipe at your device. Your mount should be solid, secure and heavy-duty - and way out of sight. In an environment like an office or other commercial spaces, the outdoors will be your best friend when it comes to finding a covert space to mount your security trail camera. You will also want to ensure your security trail camera is mounted out of direct sunlight to avoid the hot rays obstructing your view.
If you do not have a camera with wifi or cellular capability, we recommend not taking down your device to check your footage often. Messing with the placement of your security trail camera can compromise its conspicuousness and encourage regular perpetrators to notice it’s movement. The best camera is often the most discrete one: first in size of actual device, and secondly in where they are hidden. Make sure to take great care when hiding and mounting your trail security camera.
The Bottom Line: what is the best camera to catch a thief?
The tiny device with humble beginnings has certainly grown into bigger and better things. Hunting and nature-watching are still valid uses for trail cameras - but home security, or security for any residential or commercial premise for that matter, is increasingly popular for a number of factors. Perhaps budget is the most pertinent: a comprehensive home security system can set you back tens of thousands of dollars, whereas a trail camera (or two, or three…) can be purchased for a reasonable price individually. They offer more convenience, autonomy and, often better quality than traditional home security options. This alone has us convinced that security trail cameras are the best camera to catch a thief with!
With this knowledge, choosing the best device for your individual needs is the next most important step. From picture quality, to storage capacity, to video and audio capability, to accessibility of images - you are the only person who can make this decision based on what is important to you and your surveillance needs. When choosing the right device for you, look for things that are important to you like battery life, picture quality, and trigger speed.
Trail cameras have truly been brought into the modern world with increasing popularity in wifi and cellular devices, which enable the cameras to send footage directly to your smartphone or tablet. This sort of real time communication gives you the surveillance you need, when you need it.
Mounting your device is where security trail cameras make it or break it as home security devices. If you mount and place your devices securely and strategically, they can perform just as well - if not better - than many more expensive home security options. If you do your research, and select the best device for your needs, security trail cameras can absolutely be the best camera to catch a thief with.