It would be advantageous for us to pick one camera system and stick with it. It would also be a bit boring. This year we have used HikVision IP, Flir IP, Ring Stick Up, Nest Cam, Luma by SnapAV and UniFi IP. IF you want us to get to the point, then our answer is the UniFi system. If you would like to know why, then continue reading.
Want to pay monthly?
The Nest and Ring camera system record to the cloud instead of an NVR(network video recorder) in your home. On the upside, it allows for improvements to the user interface and for your recordings to be stored off site in a secure location. This comes at a cost, though, and that cost can be as much as $30/month for 1 camera if you want 30 days of recording history. This cost comes down if your shorten the number of days that the recordings are saved for and you will also get a break for additional cameras. This could be the right model if you only want 1-2 cameras and would like a setup with zero effort spend on maintenance in the future. If you choose this route, ensure that your WiFi coverage is adequate and that your internet provider is giving you enough room for the additional upload bandwidth that you will need.
Want to open ports on your router?
Of all of the manufacturers that we tested, only Luma still requires port forwarding of your router for external access. We shun this older method as it can create security risks in your network and will also require changing your routers configuration to make it work. The router config is not difficult, but it must be done each time you get a new router or when your ISP pushed a firmware update that restores the settings back to default. This has been a common service call for our clients, especially with AT&T Uverse, so we no longer use this system or any like it.
Want a set number of cameras?
This is where UniFi really pulls away from the other camera systems. Their NVR system has a fast processor that allows it to handle many cameras at once. It also uses a design in which a separate switch is used allowing expansion of the number of cameras used. We will often do a system with 4 cameras which the client will have us add a few more a year or two down the road. With a standard NVR, we would have to upgrade it from a 4 camera NVR to an 8 camera NVR or even a 16 camera NVR. With UniFi we can leave the NVR in place and just add a larger switch for the new cameras.
Other UniFi Goodies
The UniFi system also allows us to pick different areas for motion. This is really helpful when you want to separate your motion recordings by where they occurred. All of their cameras also include microphones so that you get audio along with the video. The cameras are also available on Amazon and other locations so they are easy to obtain.
Matthew Mathis designs home entertainment and automation systems for clients in the Dallas and Ft. Worth area. Split between the world of high tech and an affection for the simplicity of life, Matt spends his days in the future of home technology and his off time in the past running a small permaculture farm.