The Security System Goes In

This past Friday we finally got an alarm system in, but it’s not complete, so we’re still staying there. The security sub contractor will be back on Wednesday – at that point we’ll have break/shock/open sensors on all accessible windows and doors. There are also motion detectors in strategic locations. And we’re putting sirens inside and out. I want to wake up the neighbors if we’re getting robbed 😉 On top of all that we’re putting redundant smoke detectors in that are tied into the security monitoring company – so they know if a fire is happening in the house, and there will be a flood sensor in the cellar in case the sewer backs up.

The shock sensors are sorta cool. If someone even bangs into the window the alarm will go off – they don’t have to break the window. Given that we have “smash proof” glass on many of our accessible windows – that works well. And one shock sensor can cover a bunch of windows. Apparently it even senses shocks elsewhere in the house – say if you drop a glass and break it.

There’s also security cameras all over the house. Four are in already and when we’re done there will be a total of seven cameras – three on the front, two on the back and two on the roof. They’re infrared / see-in-the-dark cameras. Here’s a shot of the monitor screen taken after dark…

security camera monitorYou can see a lot more detail when you stand next to the monitor – the picture doesn’t do it justice. But what you see there is that the cameras go into infrared mode at dark – the grayscale images. The back yard has so much light from the lights on the building next door that it stays in daytime/color mode. It’s sorta amazing how much detail you can see even at night – the infrared really works well.

It’s a DVR system, so the other night the outside motion sensor went off and I was able to go to the monitoring system and look at what was going on just before the alarm went off. Turns out a rat got into the garbage and the movement of the rat set off the alarm. It was sorta funny – the infrared camera picked up his beady little eyes…

The other cool thing is that we can see the cameras using an app on our iPhones and iPads. So when Dan is there at night he brings up the app on his iPad and when a motion sensor goes off, the first thing he does is start up his iPad and see what’s going on – but we can do that when we’re away from the house as well. We can also share access to the cameras with neighbors and even NYPD (if they want to see what’s going on).

The one sorta stupid thing about the security system is how it communicates to the monitoring company – it requires a phone call. We have Internet access in the house now, but Honeywell hasn’t come up with an Internet-based protocol for security systems, which is completely lame – it’s 2011 already – everything else is Internet-based. So I figured I’d get another Vonage box – but no – that’s not sufficient – the Vonage signal isn’t strong enough. You either need to go with Verizon or Time Warner – that adds at least $30/mo to the cost. HOWEVER, there’s a cellular option you can choose – costs about $300 – and it has no (additional) monthly fee. So that’s what we’re going with. Unfortunately – two units = two cellular antennas – the units can’t share an antenna.

They say your house is your castle. I never really thought about it until now – but castles need defenses – and that’s where the security system comes into play. Since moving to NYC I’ve always lived in apartment buildings and never really gave too much thought to security. The robberies a few weeks ago changed that but the security system levels the playing field.

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