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Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:24 pm


I am looking to install a video camera to the front and back of my house for a bit of added security.

I have a Linux server that runs 24/7, so my initial thought was to connect a couple of RPis (running motion) and record to the server.

I was just wondering whether, in practice, this is the best route - does anyone have any firsthand experience, even?

There are lots of ready-made IP cameras on the market and I was just wondering whether these might be a better option (practically or cost-
wise). Is it even advisable to avoid using the server completely and just buy a separate kit with a DVR and cameras?

Any tips would be appreciated, before I take the plunge.

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Re: Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:32 pm

Its very hard to evaluate money versus performance and flexibility and agree on what is "best option".
And peoples opinion will vary a lot depending on how much they enjoy tinkering with Linux and the Pi, and how they value their time.

- Are dedicated IP based securitycameras better at their job, easier to setup and already weatherproof for outdoor use ? Yes.
- Do they usually cost more than a Raspberry Pi plus Camera ? Yes.

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Re: Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:33 pm

Using equipment designed for the purpose is almost always going to be a better option.

The Pi is amazing but it is great because it can do so many things not because it does them brilliantly. If you want to learn how to make a security camera, use a Pi. If you actually want a dedicated security camera system, buy a professional one.
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Pi Interests: Home Automation, IOT, Python and Tkinter

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Re: Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:04 pm

Third-party security products may always be better because it's 'their fault' if it fails to do its job or fails to fulfil its intent, not your own. It's always easier to blame someone else for failure.

If you do build your own system you will have to consider all those things a third-party should have already considered and dealt with. They should have more experience with knowing what the issues and problems are likely to be.

The idea of the server recording what the Pi's see is a great idea until the burglars have taken that server with them, possibly the cameras as well. It's one of those cases where I might suggest cloud storage is better.

And there's a bigger question; why are you installing the cameras, what advantages do you believe they will give you, will they do what you expect them to do ? Do it badly and you could just make yourself a more likely target for what you hope to avoid.

The best way to reduce the risk of burglary may well be to not wash your net curtains, let the paint peel on your windows and doors. That's a zero cost option and may even save you money.

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Re: Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:51 pm

this may be perfect for you www.kerberos.io

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Re: Is using a Pi as a security camera the best option?

Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:44 pm


I've used both, and I cannot recommend that you go for wired strongly enough. If you get wireless that run over wifi and are monitoring or recording them with a computer or DVR, you are looking at a constant 5+ Mbps stream per camera bogging down your network. Also if you're comfortable running Ethernet, I would run that to each location and get a decent POE switch. Then you can get one UPS and centrally power everything, and upgrades in the future will be easy. I've had mixed results using one of those Ethernet over power line adapters to add a camera in a detached but powered garage. It will work for months at a time and then just up and crap out. Rebooting fixes the issue, but since the building i'm monitoring is a vacation home that can be unoccupied for weeks at a time, that doesn't really help me.

As far as cameras go, I've recently had excellent luck with Q-See best outdoor surveillance cameras They make decent weatherproof cameras, I've got two currently mounted outside, one that keeps an eye on a dock (in the summer) and one that keeps an eye on the house year round. Both of these include IR lights and the quality is also quite good at night.

As far as viewing, I run BlueIris, it's a little bit of a resource hog but does the trick. There is a webpage I can access, android, and ios apps, and it emails me a 15 second video clip if motion is triggered on certain cameras. If you stick with one vendor (such as Q-see) you might be able to use their DVR and software, but since my installation has been a constantly evolving one with occasional camera upgrades, I like not being tied to a specific vendor.

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