Photo: fotolia.com / J.A
Question: I want to install cameras to keep an eye on my cabin when I’m not there, but I don’t want to spend thousands on a high-tech surveillance system. What other options do I have?
– Ron, via email
It’s a great idea to install a few extra “eyes” around your cabin – you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your precious getaway from burglars and vandals
. Even remote cabins are at risk, especially those that have few neighbors (aka potential witnesses). Besides making your property less attractive to sneaky thieves by removing valuables, installing deadbolts, and even a central alarm system, another way to increase security is to install cameras around the outside of the cabin to capture any suspicious action while you’re away.
The images will provide you with evidence (should you need it) and alert you to potential gaps in your cabin security. High-tech surveillance systems are nice, but webcams and trail cameras can be less expensive alternatives.
These cameras are small and inconspicuous, and the most basic models are widely available at affordable prices. Set up multiple cameras around your property, then connect them (using cables or Wi-Fi) to a computer inside the cabin. The photos taken by the camera are automatically saved to your hard drive. With Internet access, you can feed images directly to a private website, allowing you to access them from any computer or other web-ready device.
Adding an appropriate app or other security software (high-end cameras often come with their own) will allow you to further manipulate your DIY system. Some let you define what types of motion to record (you want to know every time a window or door opens, but you probably don’t need to see each frame of a squirrel scampering past). You may also be able to receive notifications of any activity via email or text message, and program your computer to emit a criminal-deterring sound if triggered.
Rather than installing software, you can also use web-based security tools, or webware. These sites are compatible with most webcams, as long as they are properly connected to the computer. Some can even support live streaming of multiple cameras at once, but archiving space may be limited. For a few more dollars, you can get a webcam that will tilt and pan, controlled remotely from your primary-home computer or mobile phone. These types of models don’t require an on-site computer, only a working wireless router in range.
If you have neither a computer nor Internet access at your cabin, another surveillance option to consider is a motion-activated trail camera. Hunters and wildlife photographers often use them to monitor animal activity. But many people have found that these weather-resistant, discreet cameras are also well-suited for security purposes.
Trail cameras take digital photos and sometimes videos of movement, storing the images to a memory card inside the box. They are typically battery powered, but some offer solar-power options or may be connected to your cabin’s electrical current for long-term operation. Most also include no-flash, infrared technology for capturing images in the dark.
You can opt for a very basic trail camera for less than $100, but there are also more expensive models that takes high-definition images at speeds as fast as three frames per second and can capture license plates of vehicles moving as fast as 50 miles per hour, even at night. With models like that, you can schedule when you want the camera to be on or off, so you don’t have to manually shut it off when you visit the cabin on the weekend.