If there would be a list about the most common infuriated questions regarding home security services, then ‘Why does monitoring cost so much?’ would be definitely on the top. Although homeowners are more than willing to pay for top of the range hardware (cameras, alarms, sensors and the like), charging a hefty fee on a monthly basis just for the privilege of using a monitoring smartphone app is ridiculous to many. Luckily for you, there are dozens of free alternatives without monitoring subscriptions on the internet. That’s right, you can download an open source home security application developed by independent programmers that works just like the ones offered by big name companies.
Named after the fearsome guardian of hell, Kerberos.io is open source video surveillance software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The aim of the programmers was to design a solution that is free, easy to setup and works with a wide variety of cameras. The client is available for everyone and, after a few minutes of installation, you’ll gain access to your very own private surveillance system. Although the basic version is indeed free, users may opt to become a gold member and gain access to other features, such as the smart AI that sends notifications to your phone. It’s also worth mentioning that Kerberos.io is compatible with custom systems, too, like Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi and Docker.
Unlike the other open source surveillance systems, LinuxMCE goes one step further and presents a whole home automation suite. In other words, your reach extends to controlling home devices as well. Smart lighting and the intelligent thermostat might be the selling point, but if you have a Linux system and wish to organize media content or port games then LinuxMCE is the right choice for you. As for the home security solutions, the software is a match for any home automation app, allowing you to monitor the surveillance camera feed, arm and disarm the alarms from afar and most importantly getting a call should there be a security breach.
ZoneMinder heavily emphasizes platform compatibility: the open source surveillance software is available on Windows, Android, iOS, Gentoo, RedHat Debian and even Ubuntu systems, therefore catering to even the most hardcore tech-jockeys. The main features include the ability to connect any off-the shelf camera found in your local hardware store to your computer or phone, while maintaining complete control over your data (in other words, no peeking third party eyes). The software is easy to install for family homes and also has the depth and flexibility for business use as well.
iSpy is probably the most feature rich surveillance solution from the four here. The software was designed with multi-functional use in mind: other than security, your cameras might be optimized for baby or pet monitoring, office surveillance, neighborhood spying or even watching the sky for UFOs. For this very reason, iSpy is capable of handling night vision, motion detection features and two-way audio built into the recorders. Even better, you have the ability for network broadcasting, live video streaming, YouTube uploading, video scheduling and password protection. But don’t worry, iSpy’s homepage offers a comprehensive tutorial for every available setting.
Pros & Cons of Open Source Home Security Systems
As you can see, open source security suites are not far behind the apps provided by professional home alarm companies. But is it really safe to dismiss the expert monitoring service in favor of a free solution?
It goes without saying that you can save a lot using free software, even if you opt for a premium membership or donate a sum to the creators. Most suites are available for every major platform, including smartphones. The installation isn’t over-complicated either, but messing with the options demands some technical know-how. For even bigger savings, consider choosing software that supports Raspberry Pi or any other building environment. And as seen in the case of LinuxMCE, even smart home control is possible.
Bear in mind that despite boasting a huge catalog of supported cameras, most high-tier cameras cannot be used with open source programs. You also receive value for your money when opting for professional monitoring service: the app is well refined and completely bug-tested, eliminating the need for constant patching. Setting up advanced functions like streaming or receiving notifications is also very tricky, while official home security apps are integrated to work flawlessly with the equipment. And last but not least, you won’t be connected to the company’s own monitoring team, who serves as a second line of defense, monitoring incoming alarms and acting on your behalf by summoning the police.
Best Home Security Systems of 2020
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