Security, it is best implemented in layers. From web security to prisons and military bases everything revolves around layers. Much like an onion, each layer makes the collective defensive impact exponentially more effective.
When it come to home security the outer most layer begins with the perimeter of your property as this is the furthest you can extend your defenses without stepping on other people’s toes.
The principals of solid property security detailed in this guide apply to both residential and commercial property.
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- Blink Outdoor is a wireless battery-powered HD security camera that helps you monitor your home day or night with infrared night vision.
- With long-lasting battery life, Outdoor runs for up to two years on two AA lithium batteries (included).
- Store video clips and photos in the cloud with the Blink Subscription Plan and save events locally to the Blink Sync Module 2 via a USB flash drive (sold separately).
Obviously you cannot install surveillance or motion detection equipment on surrounding public land or private property, as much as you’d like to try!
So, working backwards from your property perimeter we will go over the best tactics and tools needed for implementing an effective, layered, early-detection security system for your home.
How To Secure Your Home Perimeter
If you don’t know where property lines begin or end you’ll need to find that out before proceeding with strategizing an effective perimeter home security system.
If the agent or seller you purchases your property from does not have copies of your exact property lines they can also be obtained from your local municipality as they are all stored for legal reasons.
It is important to know your own borders so you don’t accidentally over-extend your security network or even worse, miss some critical area if land you were unaware existed.
For most home owners though your property will be small enough to easily manually survey yourself.
With a notebook and pencil, sketch out your property lines, your house, and commonly used points of access like walkways, sidewalks and driveways.
These will be your routes of ingress and egress and will have to be secured with semi-permanent systems as opposed to other areas which can be secured by fixed structures/systems like fences and walls.
Once you have everything sketched out on paper you can go about actually developing, purchasing, implementing and testing (don’t forget to always test!) your complete layered home and property security system.
Step 1: Secure Your Borders
Survey your property borders. If there are no natural obstacles like bodies of water, cliffs or impenetrable undergrowth you will need to erect your own wall.
Walls can range from simple wooden fences (the least secure) to tall brick/stone walls, which are the preferred medium as they can be build much taller and much stronger than typical wooden fences.
Plans for building your own wooden fence can be found online or at your local hardware store. Doing this work yourself is smart as it is not overly technical and you can save a lot of money that you can then later spend on electronic security equipment.
Stone and brick walls on the other hand require more expertise than wooden or metal mesh fences and thus are best contracted out to skilled laborers.
*It is prudent to hire a local company to do this work as you don’t have to worry about details of your property being shared with 3rd parties.
It also isn’t a bad idea to have all construction workers and builders sign a non-disclosure agreement so they are legally prohibited from sharing sensitive security information about your property.
Most people stop with just a wall. While this is better than nothing it is far from optimal. In complete darkness there is nothing to stop a potential intruder from scaling your fence or wall as it is just one easily overcome obstacle.
There are however ways to make it much harder for an intruder to breach your security perimeter unnoticed.
Step 2: Rig Your Border With Motion Activated Camera Systems
One of the biggest weaknesses of walls is that under the cover of night an intruder has almost unlimited time to devise a strategy to scale and overcome your border security.
Installing motion-sensing lights and cameras along your perimeter is one effective way to both scare off intruders and limit more determined intruders time to breach.
Putting pressure on potential intruders is key in gaining the upper hand in securing your property.
While you could run an electrical line all around your perimeter and install traditional electrical motion sensing lights we instead recommend using solar powered light units.
Outdoor Motion Sensor Security Lights
There are a wide variety of solar powered motion sensing lights that can be had at VERY affordable prices. In fact, the average per-unit cost for solar powered lights is so cheap today that you can easily secure miles-long perimeters without breaking the bank.
The benefits of solar outdoor motion lights are numerous:
- Much cheaper than running electrical lines underground
- Compartmentalized security: as opposed to cutting one electrical line, each unit operates independently, making mass deactivation difficult
- Long lifespans. With solar panels and high efficiency LEDs some lights go decades without needing maintenance.
- Easily replaceable: because of their cheap cost broken/damaged units can regularly be replaced
- Weather-proof: unlike electric lights, these self-contained, sealed units are impervious to all weather conditions
- Flexible: Being wireless you can position these at your most critical security points for maximum protection
We particularly like wall mounted lights so you can mount them up high with a ladder during the day which makes them harder to tamper with and allows them to illuminate more ground than ground-based lighting systems.
The two most customizable, most effective, best bang-for-your-buck units available online are:
InnoGear Solar Lights
These are some of our favorite solar power motion sensing wall lights. There are a lot of different shapes and styles but we like the InnoGear 77 LED lightning system because they are long and narrow, so they can be mounted discreetly.
- Independently Adjustable Light & Panel: Other alternatives with combined light panel head could be very difficult to get enough solar absorption while pointing the light up. For InnoGear solar spotlight, you can easily rotate...
- Improved Brightness & 2 Working Modes: With super brightness, this solar spotlight can cast a focused ray to highlight your flagpole or beautiful sculpture, even on the darkest of nights. You have the option to set from High Mode...
- Advanced 1.5W Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panel: The solar energy conversion rate is 30% faster than the old versions by using upgraded technology and material. Solar spotlight detects the surrounding light condition and...
The 77’s also come with 77 individual LEDs built into each unit, which produce a LARGE amount of bright light per unit, so you theoretically need fewer units than when buying smaller packages.
Mr. Beams MB360XT Wireless Spotlights
While the InnoGear lights provide wide, broad illuminating power, the MB360XT’s are spotlight units, meaning they can be positioned to focus on a specific place and shine a particularly intense (200 lumen) LED spotlight.
These are more spotlight style motion lights compared to the fixed position LED units mentioned above.
- This next generation battery LED spotlight provides 200 lumens of bright outdoor security lighting.
- Its unique reflective face spreads the light to create a wider coverage area, making it ideal for large areas.
- The bold, durable, weatherproof design allows it to be used as a reliable outdoor spotlight.
With full 360 degree swiveling capabilities these are great for positioning around particularly sensitive areas of ingress like driveway entrances or by doorways.
Speaking of driveways, now that we have our perimeter secured we can focus to the points of entry and exit that need more adaptive technologies to secure.
Step 3: Securing Entrances With Driveway Alarms
After first securing the borders of your property with fixed obstacles you then must turn your focus to the holes in your walls, mainly your driveway.
The driveway will be the first place a potential intruder will breach with force. Given the need for fast get aways, especially for properties where escape on foot is not practical, securing the driveway will be the single most important task for any home owner who values complete privacy.
The most secure form of security is a retractable fence system, preferably made of high tensile metal, complete with an intercom system, so that all visitors can be screen and are required to manually be allowed to enter.
If you aren’t securing your driveway with a fence the next best thing will be to put up motion activated sensors that can subtly notify you when someone enters your driveway.
Best Wireless Driveway Sensors
When it comes to outdoor motion sensing driveway alarms reputation matters because if you skimp on quality and have a defective unit you open yourself up to being completely surprised.
Within the consumer-grade motion detecting alarm space there are two giants of alarm manufacturers.
Chamberlain has been in the alarm game for decades and have really dialed in their technology. Their units are small, weatherproof, have solid battery life and transmit alarms up to 1/2 mile away.
- Set includes one base receiver and one sensor (ability to additional CWPIR sensors sold separately)
- Passive infrared (PIR) sensor is weatherproof and detects motion up to 30 feet away and features adjustable sensitivity
- Base receiver detects signals from sensors up to a 1/2 mile away (in ideal situations)
Each Chamberlain unit can detect motion up to 30ft away and have customizable sensitivity settings which you can modulate if you are getting too many false negatives.
You can combine up to 4 sensors to connect to one alarm, so you can monitor multiple points of entry if you wish.
We also like that the motion sensor housing is protected by a little pill-box style slot. This keeps the sensor itself from getting damaged by brush or debris.
At just under $50, with a 1-year warranty these are also some of the more affordable driveway motion-activated alarm systems on the market.
Guardline wireless driveway alarms are the best selling consumer-grade alarm systems on the market. They have proven themselves to be extremely durable, simple to install and come with a full 2-year warranty.
- Security - Feel a sense of safety around your home with our weatherproof perimeter alarm set. It's sensitive to heat and motion during the day and at night, making it an alert system you can count on.
- Easy To Install: Ordinarily, the installation of the equipment by a technician is the most costly part of a home security system, but this set is easy to install and you won’t have to worry about anyone else knowing about it....
- Long Range - With 1 motion sensor and 1 receiver, each driveway sensor also has a wireless range of up to 500 feet for plenty of coverage around your property.
Guarline units are generally a little more customizable than their Chamberlain counterparts. They come with 30 different alarm sounds, and can expand up to 16 sensors for one alarm unit, compared to the 4 unit max for the Chamberlain system.
The motion sensing units themselves also ship in nice covert olive green and army brown colors which help them blend in with natural surrounding well for reliable, discreet driveway monitoring.
We also like they put their face to their products on their Amazon page so you can see the people behind the Seattle-based brand.
Now that we’ve covered perimeter security and motion detection it’s time to tackle actual surveillance equipment.
While border security and motion detection are designed to alert you to an intruder, cameras and microphones will allow you to get a better picture of what type of intruder it is so you can better prepare an action plan.
Step 4: Outdoor Wireless Cameras
Installing cameras around your property both allow for early threat detection when mounted discreetly along a fence or wall or even camouflaged amongst trees or natural foliage.
You can also use higher definition cameras with microphone and keypad functions integrated to install near your front door or entrance to your driveway. These types of cameras are not meant to be hidden but instead are assist the property owner to confirm identities of visitors.
The type of outdoor camera depends on the intended function of the camera. We break down the best wireless models based on whether they are designed for discreet surveillance or if they are designed for identification and communication.
Best Weatherproof Wireless Surveillance Cameras of 2020
These cameras are designed to survey property, whether there is motion/intrusion or not and are primarily designed to be hidden or installed in low-profile fashion that conceals their presence.Table could not be displayed.
Some key traits that all wireless surveillance systems have include the following:
- Small, modular units that are DIY-friendly and compact
- Part of a scalable system, so you can incorporate multiple units to cover large properties
- Discreet design, for subtle placement concealing their location to potential intruders
- Durable and all-weather friendly
- Sync with a centralized software system to an entire property can be monitored from one single command center
- Affordability is important as surveillance requires covering broad areas, meaning a single property owner may need dozens of cameras
So, with that in mind, below are some of the most popular, best selling brands that can all be found highly reviewed and purchasable on popular e-commerce sites like Amazon.com.
Best Outdoor Security Cam of 2020: Dericam PTZ
The Dericam Wireless Outdoor IP camera is professional-grade surveillance equipment at consumer prices. These are top of the line designs that are currently being used internationally by high net worth individuals and corporations alike to secure their properties.
- Powerful 5dbi Antenna & WiFi Mode : Powerful 5dbi antenna reduces environmental interference, the signal is more stable, and the monitoring is smooth, fast Internet speed, 5ft cable, easy for you to go through the wall when...
- 1080P High-quality Pan/Tilt/Zoom : Dericam PTZ Surveillance Camera, 1080P live videos, 1920*1080P picture quality, support 355 degrees Horizontal Pan and 90 degrees Vertical Tilt & 4X optical zoom, no blind spots left, commercial...
- Night Vision and Motion Detection : PTZ IP Camera with built-in 22pcs IR LEDs to achieve amazing 65ft night vision range in dark, suitable for large areas like parking areas, garage, backyard, front yard, etc. Flexible motion...
What makes the Dericam so special? It has eagle-eye design that allows for high up installation making it easy to put in a place well above eye-sight line of potential intruders.
The unit has everything a security enthusiast could dream of, including:
- Compact, self-contained design for ultimate weather protection
- Full 350 degree horizontal rotational capabilities and 80 degree up-and-down vertical rotation capabilities
- Built in infrared camera with 4X optical zoom and built in memory of up to 32gb.
- Clear, zoomable night vision up to 65 feet
- Easity control and command via computer, iOS or Android device
- Ready-to-use out of the box, with no hidden costs
This is one of the best selling brands in the professional surveillance industry and is the model we use on our personal storage properties at home.
We have units installed on sheds that have been operational for over 5 years now without any problems, installed on a pole shed in northern Minnesota, which sees brutal summer storm and winter blizzard conditions.
Wireless LED Bulb Hidden Cameras
There are a wide variety of LED Bulb cameras on the market because of their ingenious design of hiding your surveillance unit in plain site.
Bulb cams are made for both indoor and outdoor use and sport some unique features that set them apart from traditional hidden outdoor cams. These include:
- Hide-in-plain-sight design useful for properties lacking natural flora to camouflage other camera types.
- Compact design makes them easy to fit in small/tight spaces that larger units cannot
- Most sync directly with smartphone’s for use anytime, anywhere.
- Unique 360 degree camera integration because of their spherical shape/design
- Integrated two-way voice control
We personally like the Pzozpad Bulb cams because they are specifically designed for either indoor or outdoor use.
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Other models like the JBonest only state they are to be used indoors, although with adequate water protection (mounting under eaves for example) they may also be used for perimeter security.
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Make sure you specifically read your bulb cam specs before purchasing to make sure it is designed to work outdoors.
Fake Outdoor Light Fixture Camera by Kuna
Kuna is a unique entry to the hidden outdoor surveillance field because like the bulb cam, it audaciously hides its surveillance tech in plain site, the last place a potential intruder would look.
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The Maximus is designed to look like your typical run-of-the-mill outdoor lighting fixture with a boring black metal cage and frosted glass. Hidden in the stem of the fixture however is a HD camera that records when motion sensors activate the light.
Since the unit is entirely integrated it can be installed in as little as 15 minutes and provides constant access via wifi or Bluetooth 4.0 via iOS or Android deices.
We really like the design here incorporating the light with the camera which saves tons of money compared to high-end infrared models that depend on sophisticated night-vision technology to work.
Xtreme Life Rockcam SC7000
The SC7000 RockCam hidden outdoor camera from KJB technologies is one of the most creative applications of consumer surveillance tech we’ve seen in a long time.
- Video Input: NTSC/PAL Auto Detection
- Standby-time: Up to 365 days (1 Year)
- Continuous Usage: 20 hours
Embedded in a giant artificial rock is an optical camera unit and ultra-long life battery that can record from about shin-level up whenever something trips its motion sensors.
Using it’s size to its advantage the RockCam has a whopping 1-year battery life. No, that is not a typo, this thing will work for up to a full year on a single battery charge!
As we mentioned in the introduction to this guide, the most effective security is a layered system. If you install cameras at eye-level or in traditional locations you open yourself to the risk of potential identification and avoidance by a potential intruder.
Layering your eye-level surveillance tech with some ground level tech is a sure-proof way to capture every single visitor. Seriously, when was the last time you looked towards the ground to locate a camera! Genius!
The rock is hyper realistic looking so it can sit in a rock bed or be placed to look like a doorstop next to an entrance point.
The RockCam is also a complete beast in terms of durability. We don’t need to make the “built like a rock” pun here do we?
The rough exterior means this camera system is fully weather-resistant and durable as hell.
Minox Wireless Game Cams
Last, but certainly not least, are Minox wireless game cams.
The compact cammo design are dead giveaways as to why these hunting-specific cameras make excellent property threat-detection and recording devices.
- 1. HD Image & Video and PIR Function: Capture max 24MP images and 1296P videos when motion detected (monochrome at night). In "Cam + Video" mode, images and videos could work together at every trigger. SD card support up to 512GB...
- 2. Stealth Design & Energy-efficient: Camo design makes the camera stealth for wildlife observing and researching of wild animals; ideal for riding, camping and exploring as sport camera, even role as security camera for home and...
- 3. Time Lapse: Trail hunting camera takes pictures/videos at specified interval automatically and constantly, which is useful when observing cold-blooded animals like snakes and the growing process of plant, flower, birds nest....
Game cams work great for outer perimeter security as they have been designed to withstand the most rugged outdoor conditions and are also designed to elude hyper-sensitive live game, which means they’re also great for avoiding human detection.
Any reader of License-to-Shoot will know we are huge fans of the Minox range of scopes, binoculars and game cameras. The durability and reliability of the German engineered tech is the gold standard when it comes to digital camera tech.
For a full overview of Minox surveillance cameras visit our complete guide here.
Wireless Cameras for Identification & Communication
While the above models are all designed to avoid detection, the models reviewed below are all designed to be detected. The purpose is not “first alert” but visible security, often times including audio as well as video recording.
Sometimes the best security is simply the act of making your security known to deter potential intruders.
The below camera models have all been recommended based on the following criteria:
- Reputable brand names with fair consumer warranties
- Wireless function for easy installation and monitoring
- Scalability, meaning you can have one or multiple units synced to one viewing station to monitor larger areas
- Weather-resistant so they operate without issue during all seasons and in all climate types
- Microphone integration for recording and potential communication functionality
- Night vision, because let’s face it, 80% of potential threats will seek the cover of darkness to make their strike
So all the systems reviewed below will at the minimum have the above features checked off. Let’s dig into some of these gadgets shall we!
Nest: Smartest Modular Smart Home Security Cam
If you’ve been in the surveillance space for any time you will have undoubtably heard about Nest. They are at the forefront of “active surveillance and response” tech.
This means they don’t just record, they seamlessly sync with one another with intuitive applications for smartphones and all the intelligent technology that comes with them.
- Indoor WiFi camera 3 pack for home security with 24/7 live video and night vision for clear video, no matter how dark it is
- High definition 1080p surveillance camera with 130 degree wide angle view, 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, and 8x zoom
- Mobile alerts and notifications let you know when your indoor camera spots activity1; See what you missed with 3 hour snapshot history and take action or save the event to share with friends and family2
One of the smartest functions of the Nest security cameras is their built-in integration with Alexa voice control. This allows the cameras to be guided and accessed with simple voice control, something many other cameras do not have.
The design of Nest is small and compact, very discreet. While it isn’t designed to be completely hidden, they are definitely small enough to not be noticed by the casual observer.
Nest cams don’t just record, they react and think. For example, instead of pure motion detection the camera units actually listen to sounds. If they hear a loud crash or bang, like the shattering of a window or breaking of a door for example, they will send alerts directly to their owners phones.
Each unit also has a built in microphone and speaker for two-way communication. This allows the operator to interact with visitors or warn potential threats not to enter/possibility of deadly force being used.
The connectivity of Next to other functions is what truly makes them “smart”. For example, Next systems can be integrated with smart LED lights around your property, both inside and outside, to turn on lights when motion or sound is detected.
This is great for maintaining security even when you are not at home, like when on vacation or at work.
Nest systems are all integrated with the cloud, so even if a potential intruder tries to destroy a camera, the crisp, clear 1080p video will be backed up digitally in the cloud, out of reach.
Since these cameras are modular, you can install multiple units around your property and control them all with one smartphone.
These truly are on the cutting edge of predictive, active home surveillance and intruder deterrence.
Arlo Pro 2 by NETGEAR
The Arlo Pro 2 are very similar to Nest units in that they are Alexa-capable, all-weather home security cameras that sync with the cloud and provide active deterrence from home intrusion.
The ability to connect the Arlo Pro 2 cameras to other integrated cloud-based services makes them one of the best options for 21st century surveillance.
- 100 percent wire free: Free of power cords and wiring hassles
- 1080p HD high quality video with sharper and brighter details
- Flexible powering options use wire free, plugged in. Rechargeable battery
For example, you can connect your Pro 2 cameras with Amazon’s Alexa, or even Google services like Google Assistant, which is perfect for Android lovers.
How do you choose between the Arlo Pro 2 and the Nest? Well we break down some of the main differences below to help make the decision easier.
Arlo Pro 2 vs. Nest Cam
- Both record at a super high definition 1080p
- Both have integrated night vision
- Both have 130 degrees of viewing angle
- Both have zoom functionality
- Both have two-way communication functionality courtesy of built-in speakers and microphones
- Both integrate with Email, Alexa, Push and IFTTT notification platforms
- Both monitor both sound and motion
- Both work with iOS and Android
- Arlo Pro 2 can charge via battery, solar, mount or wires. Next is only via a power outlet.
- Nest units are easier to steal, but easier to install because of their simple user-friendly mounting systems
- Nest monthly subcription rates are cheaper than Arlo Pro 2 at roughly $5/month vs $9.99/month. Yearly rates are also cheaper for Nest at $50/year vs Arlo’s $99/year
If all these “smart” cameras are a little bit more than you need then there are still plenty of other more traditional outdoor camera units on the market for much cheaper prices that work just as well, just lack some of the “intelligence” of the Next and Arlo Pro 2.
PTZ Outdoor Cam by Foscam
The PTZ is a hanging-style camera which we like because it provides maximum flexibility in terms of horizontal and vertical movement to track and better zoom in on visitors/threats.
The PTZ is a beautifully self-contained egg-shaped unit that sports full 1080p resolution, full 355 degree horizontal panning and full 90 degree vertical tilt.
- Incredible Image Quality. 1080p at 25fps brings real 1080p smooth video experience thanks to powerful Ambarella chipset. 355° horizontal & 85° vertical rotation range cover a much bigger vision range. True 4x optical zoom...
- Superb Outdoor/Night Use. IP66 level weatherproof design leaves you free of worrying about rain or dust in outdoor condition. This model uses a Sony Starvis sensor and deliver true colorful vision image during low-light condition...
- Security Matters. Detect movement and send notification to you through Email or smartphone App. Captured image could be stored in multiple ways like Micro SD card (up to 128GB, not included), computer, NVR, FTP, NAS or Foscam...
Of course the unit is also weather proof and has integrated night vision for 24/7 security around the clock.
Like the more expensive Nest and Netgear brands Foscam also offers a cloud storage solution that comes with a monthly or yearly subscription, although it isn’t required and you can just used the integrated WiFi and a home storage system instead.
One real stand-out feature of the PTZ is it’s industry leading night vision technology. While most outdoor security cams have nigh vision limited to 30-60ft the PTZ’s night vision extends up to 196ft, which is by far one of the best night vision systems currently available on the market.
Foxcam PTZ can also integrate with your smartphone, send alerts/notifications and is backed up with an ironclad 2 year warranty on their CE and FCC approved camera units.
It’s no wonder this small upcoming company is constantly reviewed as one of the best outdoor camera solutions
Zmodo Security Cameras
Zmodo are known as some of the most reliable outdoor cameras for budget-minded consumers. Starting at well under $100 per unit it is hard to match the quality and functionality offered by Zmodo.
- Security-focused Hardware: Zmodo outdoor security camera is metal-made to resist extreme harsh weather, thus has a longer life. Enhanced antennas provide you with a stronger signal and wider Wi-Fi connection
- True 1080p HD Live Video Day and Night: Watch your home in true 1080p Full HD day and night, and see up to 65ft away in the dark. Videos can be viewed anywhere anytime from iOS or Android mobile devices and tablets, or web view on...
- Smarter Motion Detection: Be notified with a key image of an event when Zmodo outdoor camera detects an movement, so that you can take a sneak peak of what happened immediately. Tap into the app to check the motion video clips for...
For an unbeatable price you get some great features that are regularly only seen in higher end units that run hundreds of dollars. This includes cloud storage integration, night vision, IP65 weatherproofing, and a no-questions asked 3 year warranty that we love.
These are also very robust units. Sure, the design looks a little dated as they sport the traditional rectangular box look with big wifi antennas poking out the top, but it is a time-tested and proven design. Why mess with a good thing?
The only sacrifice to be made with the Zmodo’s is that they only record in 720p. Oh no! Only 720p! Yeah, it doesn’t concern us all that much, especially given the bargain pricing.
We would gladly sacrifice 1080p resolution for 720p if it means we have the ability to purchase twice as many units to secure our property.
If you are looking for outdoor home surveillance on a budget then the Zmodo security cams should be on your list of considerations.
In addition to the Zmodo we also recommend cameras by Wansview, 4SDOT, and Amcrest as they are all extremely budget friendly brands who manufacture decent quality cameras with warranties.
Zmodo vs. Wansview vs. Amcrest
This is by no means a 100% complete guide, this is a guide based on personal experience, aggregate reviews and common sense. There are hundreds of different security camera manufacturers out there but we’ve selected units we’ve personally spent money on or would personally spend on.
If you have used a camera system from a different brand for your home outdoor security please let us know in the comments below as we’d be interested in researching it ourselves.
Remember, security is a matter of layers. Ultimately we like to have at least two camera systems installed on our residences, one discreet hidden system so we can monitor potential intruder without being aware, and another non-hidden system so we can view visitors and communicate with them from a distance.
We detailed both solution types above and highly recommend you consider implementing a two-tier surveillance and communication system yourself to cover all potential bases.
Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API