Read Part 1 and Part 2

In previous articles, I discussed my recent experiences with having someone attempt to set my house on fire, as well as some simple fire prevention and preparedness things you can do around your home to help ensure you don’t find yourself in the same precarious position I was in a few weeks ago.  In this installment in the series, I’m going to focus specifically on one addition I’ve made to the security suite I maintain around my home: the NEST outdoor security camera.

I first had the NEST recommended to me by another writer on SOFREP a few months ago when I brought up concerns I’ve had about some of my window and door alarms being tripped.  I recognized it as a valuable asset at the time, but was dissuaded by the price point; at around $170 at most retailers, buying such a camera just to see if my alarms were on the fritz felt unnecessary.  Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, so the first things I purchased after the fire were the NEST camera and a few large fire extinguishers.

Despite living the vast majority of my life on the internet, I’m nowhere near as tech savvy as many of my counterparts here on SOFREP.  My younger brother, who is a professional video game player out in sunny California, is usually my go-to-guy when it comes to tech questions I’m too embarrassed to ask publicly and can’t answer via Google – so I approached setting up the NEST camera with my phone in hand, ready to start texting him about whatever elementary school-level step managed to befuddle me… but to my surprise, the camera was up and running in just minutes, and without having to send even a single text.

The NEST outdoor camera only requires a NEST account, a power outlet, and WI-FI in order to function, and it really is as simple as it sounds (I’m as surprised as you are).  You simply plug it into a power outlet, create an account using either the website or the free smart phone application, type in your WI-FI password and there you have it… you can now watch a live stream of a whopping 130-degree view of wherever you stuck your camera, night or day.

The camera’s night vision is fantastic, providing clear imaging of my entire front yard even during even the darkest of nights, and it offers a number of settings on when you’d like it to notify you of movement or people in its field of view.  That’s right, the camera will actually recognize a person, rather than my scruffy junk yard cat, and send a notification directly to my phone and e-mail when they enter my yard.  You can set it to ignore certain portions of its field of view, say, the sidewalk where people may pass by regularly, but for my purposes, I’ve left it as is.  If you find yourself in my yard for innocent reasons, I probably don’t want you there anyway (except you, beloved UPS man… please bring me my Prime Day bounty!)

Installation required just two screws that hold the magnetic mounting surface in place, plugging the thing in, and slapping it on the magnets.  I then pulled up a live feed from the camera on my iPhone and used that to adjust its angle for optimal results.  In Georgia, having lock boxes over outdoor outlets is required by law, but I added a small padlock to the outlet cover to prevent tampering.  Will this actually prevent a Bond villain from pulling the plug?  Of course not, but the outlet is squarely within the camera’s scope and uploads automatically to the cloud, so if someone ever does so, I’ll get a great shot of them in the process.  And, thanks to the notifications the camera provides, I’ll be notified as soon as they come into view.

Of course, there are some downsides to the NEST outdoor security camera.  The cost, for instance, can be a little tough to swallow without some kind of inciting incident (say… someone trying to kill you in your sleep) and it doesn’t end at the point of purchase.  Without a paid subscription, the camera will only retain three or so hours of footage at a time, meaning it’s effectively useless as a security camera for evidence gathering without shelling out a monthly stipend to the NEST company.  Subscriptions start at around $10 a month to retain 10 days of footage at a time.

Or if you’re as paranoid as I’ve been lately, you can just leave it open all the time.

There are certainly less expensive options out there, some that even come with free cloud storage, though purchasing a security camera to protect your family is, in my mind, a lot like buying toilet paper.  Sure, the cheap stuff might not let you down, but the higher price point can save you from a real pain in the ass.  The NEST’s ease of setup, intuitive design, and reputation for reliability made the price point easy to justify in my mind – despite this camera serving as the most expensive part of my home security infrastructure by a factor of exponents.

My other complaint about the camera isn’t NEST specific, and likely wouldn’t matter to those of you who reside somewhere within civilized society: its bandwidth requirements.  According to the NEST instructions, it needs a minimum of 2 MBPS upload bandwidth to keep streaming its view to the cloud – but the awful DSL internet (provided by the world’s worst provider, Windstream) we have available to us out here in the sticks offers only 1 MBPS.  Despite that, the camera works great the majority of the time – but can occasionally go offline when I’m trying to upload large documents to DropBox or videos to YouTube.

Overall, the NEST outdoor security camera has proven to be worthy of the recommendations I received from security professionals, arson investigators, and SOFREP readers alike.  It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and its notifications give me the peace of mind I need to start getting at least a few hours of sleep a night – instead of sitting up on “fire watch,” as our Managing Editor, Desiree Huitt, put it as we worked to put some articles together late the other night.

For the record, I’m not sure she ever sleeps at all.

Image courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Caitlin Brink

If you’re tech savvy, you may well be able to put together a security camera setup that does all the things my NEST camera does for a smaller price point, and if so, I commend you, but for my dollar (and ineptitude), the NEST outdoor security camera is well worth the investment.

You never know, it could save your life.


Feature image courtesy of NEST