What Is A Plug And Play Home Security Camera and How Does It Work?

History of Plug and Play (What is it?)

The idea of plug and play (PnP) was invented by Microsoft back in 1995 which involved plugging in a device to your computer, and having the computer automatically recognize that the device is present. 

This technology was first integrated into the Windows OS, and, eventually, into Mac OS.

This feature was intended to make things easier on the user, who usually has to install a driver or some sort of software to make a certain device compatible with their computer.

With plug and play, this additional setup is theoretically not needed.

Advantages of Plug and Play over other cameras

It took some time, but eventually the idea of plug and play devices reached the home security market, which worked to integrate it into their devices, such as IP security cameras.

When you buy an IP camera, sometimes there can be additional procedures in order to synch up the camera with your device of choice, whether it be a PC or smart phone.

That said, the majority of IP cameras these days are designed to be plug and play, as a way of telling the customer, “Hey, this is easy!  Do not be discouraged!  The camera will be easy to set up, don’t worry!”

Whether this is actually true depends on a few factors, but, ideally, when you purchase an IP home security camera, the plug and play concept should be something that is easily attainable.

What’s The Reason For Having Home Security System?

This seems like a silly question, but let’s answer it anyway.  Security systems in general operate on the notion that you are securing certain entry points to your property, by keeping a lookout for unwanted visitors.

The news is full of stories of break-ins, burglaries, and so forth, and this has put the fear into many people. 

While we here at Your Home Security Watch don’t believe in over reacting to these situations, a reaction of some kind is obviously necessary, which is why we encourage people to get at least ONE home security camera for their home or business, unless you live in a walled and gated community that is well fortified.

In our opinion, buying a home security camera is not being paranoid, it’s being sensible. 

There are obviously other components to a complete home security system, such as locks, alarms, lights, sensors, and so forth, but here we are just focusing on cameras. 

To learn more about what a complete home security system involves, just take a look around this website!

Why Some People Refuse to Purchase A Security System

In any case, the reason, we know, that many people don’t want to buy a home security camera system of any kind, much less one camera, is for two basic reasons – A) many people don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a security camera, and B) people are often put off by things like installation.

These moments of indecision and stress can make you think things like, “A security system is too much money, so forget it!” or “Cameras are too complicated.  I’m not tech-y enough to install one!”

Here is where we mention plug and play security cameras again, because the entire purpose of plug and play security cameras is to side-step the usual stresses of buying and installing any sort of home security gadgetry that might usually leave you buried in wires and manuals, weeping bitter tears of frustration.

Plug and play, in theory, states that the camera will not take long to install, and there will be no need to call Uncle Ned to have him rooting around your walls trying to run wiring. 

In fact, many plug and play cameras are wireless and operate on batteries, so that’s something to consider as well.

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How do I hook up a Plug and Play IP Security Camera?

There are not many steps to follow in activating a plug and play IP security camera.

Once you have the package in your hands, whether it be by delivery or by a store purchase, the essential steps to getting it all working are:

Assess at what you have that comes with your package. 

You should have something to indicate the ID of the camera, and a password.  This can come on a piece of paper or a card that you can throw away afterwards.

There should also be a quick install guide. 

There should also be some software, as you’re going to need some sort of application to run the camera off of.  This will be installed onto your PC or smart phone.

And then, we have the camera itself.

Also, there’s the cables that you need to plug in. These should include just a couple of cables.  They would be a network cable, and a power adaptor.

The network cable (ethernet) obviously attaches to your router, and the power adaptor goes into a power outlet, unless the camera is wireless, in which case there should be batteries, or you’ll need to get some for the camera to power it up.

Once the software is installed, you’ll need to verify your purchase with the ID and password by entering it into the app that came with the camera.

There’s a chance you might need to download something, but hopefully not, because needing to download something means it’s not plug and play.

You will still have to familiarize yourself with the user interface of the application that comes with the camera, but many of them are similar.  You select which camera is which according to what they’re looking at, and you can then switch between the different views to see what is happening. 

Here’s a video to show you how easy it is to get your plug and play security camera set up.

Where should I position my security camera(s)?

Once the camera or cameras are up and running, you need to figure out where to put them. 

Actually, you may have already given thought to this, and, if your mind is made up, you will simply install them where you want.

If you are wondering where your cameras might go, this is where the strategy comes into play.

Everyone has a different home or business layout.

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It also makes a difference if we are talking about indoor or outdoor cameras. 

Since some cameras are indoor / outdoor, you need to decide first if you’ll be focusing more on the indoors than the outdoors, or if it will be somewhat equal.

If you have just purchased, say, one dozen cameras, then you have some room to experiment here.

If you just purchased one or two, then it is essential that you put them in the right spot. 

Let’s assume you are placing them only outside, for the moment.

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Let’s also assume you’ve got the cord situation figured out here, whether you are dealing with cameras that do have cords or do not, including both power and wi-fi cords. 

This will be a concern to figure out.  If you’re running a wireless IP camera setup, then batteries will do the trick.  On the other hand, you’re dealing with how to get power to the camera.  This all depends on where the cameras are going to be going. 

Hopefully, you’re reading all this, and hypothesizing what you will be needing for your given situation before a purchase, not after.

Another thing to avoid, which would seem obvious, would be: make sure if you buy a wi-fi based camera, that you have wi-fi on your phone or laptop.

The benefit to wi-fi cameras are that you will be able to check in on things from anywhere within wi-fi range.  Unless of course you are tethering to a hotspot in order to access your cameras wi-fi. 

Imagine this.  You didn’t pay a cell phone bill, and your camera tries to notify you of an intruder, but you don’t have wi-fi.  Therefore, no notification from the camera to your phone.  Not good!  It’s one of those crazy situations that could happen if you aren’t thinking about all of the variables involved in the selection of your camera, and how the camera interacts with your phone.

Anyway, once you do sort out everything related to which camera to buy, then you are free to strategize where to put your cameras.

One thing to think about is how obvious (as in, obviously visible to others) your placement of these cameras will be. 

Like house keys, if you put the camera in the most obvious place possible, this might be a mistake.  A burglar is going to know what to do if they see a camera in one or two very obvious places, and that is to slip in a different direction and avoid them.

Unless of course you’re using your security camera as some sort of “beware, you are being watched” type of symbol.  This can work, and it does deter some thieves, but if it doesn’t work, and the criminal doesn’t care about the implied “threat” of the camera, then the burglar is then going to simply try to get around it however possible, perhaps assuming they know where your only camera is.  This is where you can position another camera hidden nearby, treating the first camera as a red herring or decoy.

There are ways to place your camera so that a burglar doesn’t notice them at first, whether it be putting the camera up slightly higher than you might expect, or off to one side, or behind something to slightly hide it. 

We have no way to make any kind of definite choice for you, because only you know your home or business layout best, but you might have to try a few things to get the ideal spot to make the camera the most effective for what you will use it for.

What’s Your Plan For The Camera?

The purpose of the camera also comes into play.  If you’re a business owner, maybe you just want to see who comes to your gate, or door.  Maybe you aren’t worried so much about burglars, but, instead, want to get video footage of anyone who might even drop by for any reason.

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For parents of young children, indoor cameras are placed such that you can best keep an eye on them, maybe in their rooms, maybe while a babysitter watches them.  In cases such as these, hiding the camera isn’t going to be necessary, unless of course you are trying to catch someone in the act of something, in which case a hidden spy camera might be a better choice for you.

If your camera is a pan-and-tilt model, you have even more options at your fingertips.

Pan and tilt cameras can be operated remotely, and you can more easily survey the scene.  If your camera has motion detection, a number of features become very handy all at once, such as night vision, pan-and-tilt, and voice communcation through the camera.

For instance, if a racoon is visiting your front porch, you can at least speak to it and say “Stay away from my garbage cans!”  The motion sensor should let you know the racoon is there, the pan and tilt lets you move the camera to see him better, auto-zoom to zoom in on the beast, and 2-way intercom to tell it to get lost.

Plug and Play IP Camera Features You Might Want

To recap, some of these desireable features you’ll be looking for in an IP home security camera include:

  • Zoom (Auto or controlled by user)
  • Night Vision (pay attention to range)
  • Weatherproofing (IP rating, such as IP65, full water proof, dust proofing)
  • LED lights (ie. so you can see at night and not need night vision)
  • Pan and tilt (control angles remotely)
  • IR Cut filter (better, smoother transition to high quality night vision)
  • Wide lens / large field of view (check the lens width stats and picture where the camera will be going)
  • Motion Detection Sensors (records when activated, should ping your phone as well)
  • HD resolution (ie. 1080p, look for appropriate resolution you’ll be needing)

These are just some features to look out for. 

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The size, shape, colour, and style of your camera will obviously be determining factors in your purchase.

In terms of shape, there are bullet cameras, dome-shaped cameras, and various other types of visual design aesthetics you will encounter.  Each shape you will see can be better for different purposes. 

For instance, bullet cameras are often shielded so that if someone throws a rock at them, it can bounce off the metal housing and the camera will keep working.

Some security cameras are less “serious” looking, and so the people who see them may underestimate their abilities, or they may seem more inviting to welcome guests.

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Some cameras don’t even look like security cameras, and this can be an advantage in its own way also.

In conclusion, play and play cameras should be easy to install and use right away, as soon as you get the camera.  The only thing you might need are a few extra cords, if the camera isn’t wireless, which is a reason to go wireless. 

On the other hand, if a few long cables don’t scare you, then there should be no problem.

Once the camera or cameras are installed, you should start to feel more control over the security of your own home, making things safer and life that much better.

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