ip cams

Anyone using an ip cam (outside of course) at vacation rentals? Am planning on tying one into Vera for a few reasons. My place is isolated and am interested if anyone is in the driveway when no one should be there. Also in the winter I want to know if the snow has been cleared. I have no problem doing it, but was wondering if anyone has done this and caught any grief from guests. I would make it clear to them that its there for security and safety purposes. It only shows the road and parking area of the cabin and nothing else. However some people can be paranoid… just looking for feedback on this subject.

I actually wanted to do the same thing with our condo at the beach. I did a little survey among friends and found that while they could see that it was aimed away from the condo, they would wonder if one was inside.

Knowing that the owner has one outside will make them wonder if there is one on the inside.

yeah… that is my concern. While all I am trying to do is make sure things are okay outside, that could be a real business killer if you have paranoid guests looking for other cams.

Bizarrely it sounds like what you need is a hidden camera on the outside to stop people worrying about cameras on the inside!

It amuses me to think that you could then tell your friends that you have a hidden camera at your rental place and a great view of everybody … in their cars :slight_smile:

We don’t have any cameras, but I have thought of having one outside so that I can get a picture of who turns up at the villa and spot potential burglars, but sometimes I think I am happier to not know too much about the people who visit.

Having said that as an excellent illustration of how people’s minds work when I talk to friends about our home automation the first thing they ask about or suggest is cameras. The more intelligent your system is the more people will feel like they are being watched!

RE: We don’t have any cameras, but I have thought of having one outside so that I can get a picture of who turns up at the villa and spot potential burglars, but sometimes I think I am happier to not know too much about the people who visit.

You may not want to know too much about people who visit your home “legally” … but you certainlly want to know all you can about persons who visit your home “illegally” such as burglars, vandals, arsonists, etc.

Has anyone investigated Florida laws or other state laws about using external / outdoor security cameras at vacation rental homes?

I imagine the laws are similar to those for Florida hotels who have security cameras in “public areas where there is no expectation of privacy” such as: the parking lots / garages, lobby area, main and secondary entry doors, hallways, etc.

I think no legit Florida Hotel has a security camera in a guest’s room where there is legally and ethically: “an expectation of privacy” The same would hold true for an indoor camera “inside” a Vacation Rental Home.

However, this does not rule out the use of outdoor security cameras to deter criminal activity. So, I would put in my VR Terms and Conditions something like this:

“For added security and safety, the home is equipped with an alarm system and a safe to store valuables. We also use outdoor security cameras and motion activated lights at primary and secondary entrances to the home”

The more I considered this topic of IP Cameras … the more I think a separate topic is needed here such as:

“Security For A Vera Equipped Vacation Rental Home”

The 4 Corners area of Osceola and Lake counties in Florida has many Vacation Rental Homes because of their close location to Disney. Burglars and Criminals target these Vacation Rental Homes. If you have a home in this area I suggest you read this from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:


After I read it, I know I will definitely be using outdoor security cameras and taking added security measures.

Many of the tips below are the “No Tech / Best Security Practices” versus “Techie” ones.

Your vacation rental listing likely provides a rundown of all your home’s amenities — a veritable virtual catalog for thieves.

And if your calendar is up-to-date, savvy burglars can also figure out which days your home will be unoccupied.

Don’t show an exterior view of your home from the road. While we recommend that you include an exterior photo in your listing, it doesn’t have to compromise the security of your home. If your home is easily identifiable from the street, consider using an exterior shot of the back of your home instead.

Many owners, especially those with homes in urban areas, will want to carefully choose an exterior photo of their home that doesn’t scream “X marks the spot.”

Secure electric meters, telephone connections, cable connections so as criminals cannot disable them to put your alarm system out of commission.

Security cameras: Some owners choose to set up outdoor cameras, or you can simply install dummy cameras around the perimeter of your home. This decoy might be enough to scare away a potential burglar. Just remember that webcams inside your home are highly inappropriate and likely illegal. If you choose to set up cameras outside (real or fake) be sure to have clear communication with your renters.

My wife and I have two cameras, one interior and one exterior, at our Cocoa Beach FL vacation condo. Although we refuse to rent it out, we do invite family members to use it, and they have done so.

A Panasonic wi-fi PTZ camera is overtly installed about 10’ up on the living room wall. Its home position is set to view down the hallway to the foyer and front door – the only access to the residence. However, the camera is capable of panning/tilting to view most of the living room (including sliding glass doors to the balcony) and into much of the dining area. It cannot view into any part of the bedrooms or bathrooms. There is no need to walk through the hallways to reach a bathroom from any bedroom – they are en-suite.

Because it is 1000 miles away from our principal residence and jobs, my wife and I are able to be at our condo only 4-5 days a month at most, and guests use it an additional few weeks a year. The condo HOA has the right to enter the unit at any time, and maintenance personnel do need access approximately every other month (HVAC, pest spraying, etc). Typically, the HOA wants a hard key, but they have tested and accepted a tag that goes in the locked key rack, giving the entry code for the Schlage lock keypads (latch and deadbolt) and alarm keypad. I occasionally set up a temporary access code for a delivery or other occasional access need. The Schlage locks send a message to my mobile phone indicating that someone has entered, and using the phone and the Vera website, I can then monitor the activity on the interior camera.

How do guests react to the interior camera? At first, there were some questions and joking. To put people at ease, we did several things:

(1) The camera is in full view, and has an LED indicator to show when it is being accessed/transmitting. Additionally, Vera is set to turn on room lights when the camera is accessed;
(2) I installed the camera on a wall on/off switch to control its line power. Guests can turn ithe camera power off, althouh we do ask that it be turned on again as they leave;
(3) I also have shown them how to unplug the camera power supply. So far, nobody has felt the need to do that;
(4) I give family members the URL and password for the camera, so they can watch it from their homes and be more comfortable with it; and
(5) the condo’s computer has a guest password and the browser is bookmarked with the camera’s access, so that guests can watch the camera and verify that it indeed goes off when they turn the wall switch off.

Now, the interior camera doesn’t seem to be an issue, although I realize we are only dealing with family members who are not paying to use the condo. Even when my wife and I are there ourselves, we don’t bother to turn off the camera, although I admit to occasionally looking over to see if the access LED is on.

The exterior camera is a wi-fi PTZ dome camera that can scan the beach, the nearby cruise port, several of the launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center, and our building’s underground garage entrance. It is mounted in place of a ceiling fixture on one of the balconies, and thus also has a wall switch on/off control. We just watched the recording of the arrival of the new “Disney Dream” cruise ship sailing into the port. The exterior camera has never been an issue with our family guests, and they enjoy remotely watching events like missile launches.

Finally, I am not aware of any legal restriction on interior cameras on one’s private premises, provided that the camera is discllosed, appropriately positioned, and any audio is disabled. Many state statutes prohibit undisclosed audio evesdropping but allow video viewing, given proper respect for personal privacy. Even in public or semi-public places, such as offices, hotels, and malls, even covert cameras have been allowed by the courts (excepting guestrooms, restrooms and dressing rooms).

IP cams is one area I know pretty well. I joined the forum to learn about home automation so hopefully we can exchange info.

I have a vacation home where we had one indoor camera looking out at the front driveway and street. It took a picture every hour from about 8AM to 7PM and ftp’ed it to my free website they give you when you sign up for internet access. I gave access to that to all my neighbors and the purpose is to see if the streets have been plowed and if my driveway snow shovelers have been by yet. Pretty simple setup, used an Axis M1011W camera, cheap (under $200), wifi and just screwed it up to the top of a window frame and ran with no computer needed. If I wanted a live view, I can connect directly to the camera from home. This is not for security, purely to check snow conditions, provides a pretty decent picture. Don’t be tempted by cheap chinese cameras that have built in IR illuminators, they just reflect back off the glass and you’ll see nothing. Also, they don’t have an IR filter for day use, so trees may look purple or brown, but rarely green.

If you are looking for real security and you want it outdoors, you need a serious camera. Personally, I use ACTi acm-1231, it’s a day/night camera, built in illuminators to see about 30-40’ out, about a 4x manual zoom and 1.3MP resolution (about the equivalent of HD or 4x what an analog cctv camera is). Of course if you want to cover your house on each side, you’ll need 4 and by the time you get that many cameras, you’ll need a NVR system to record this ACTi provides the NVR software for free, you supply a computer that’s on 24/7 (no power save mode, always fully on). These are inexpensive, about $500 each. Don’t think you can have this send you emails on motion detect, that will drive you nuts, every time a car drives by, a squirel runs across, wind blows. You’ll get 30-40 emails a day at least.

Ignore any outdoor wifi camera. First, WiFi does not travel well from indoors to out. Sure, you may get a signal, but it may be so weak that you may only get 1-2 frames per second. Second, you’ll need a 110VAC outlet, not many in eaves of house. What you need is a camera that is PoE, meaning the camera is powered by the ethernet cable. Then you don’t have to run high voltage to the camera, makes it much easier to wire outdoors.

Indoor I just want to be notified by email on motion detect with a few pictures. This is the easiest one. I’ve the same Axis camera as above and it’s great as long as there is light. Also used cheapy Foscam cameras you see on ebay from China for $80. Not great cameras, but works fairly well to let me know if someone entered my place. What you should do is setup a light switch in the room to be motion activated. Then when someone comes in the room, it turns the light on, the camera starts taking pictures, a minute later you have them on your smart phone.

I do have a blog at ipcamnetworks.wordpress.com with some reviews.