Outfitting a second home with tech toys

smiles33September 16, 2013

I'm not sure where to even post this thread, but I figured I'd drop it here since some of this is related to organization. We are in escrow now for a second home about 2 hours for us and we hope to be there regularly (weekends, longer vacations, etc.). We do not plan to rent, but our entire extended families are within 45 minutes' drive so I suspect we will have visitors when we aren't there. Thus, I want ways to monitor the property when we're not there (e.g., make sure no one leaves the AC set for 70 degrees, water cut-off if there's a leak, etc.).

It's in a rural area so my plan right now is to:

1) Install an alarm system that I can remotely monitor. We use FrontPoint at our primary home and I get text alerts when sensors are triggered (e.g., back sliding glass door is opened during business hours when no one is home). It can also include water detection sensors, glass break sensors, etc.

2) Put in a thermostat we can monitor from home (probably Nest, as we love it in our primary home, though I've read of complaints here).

3) Put in a FloodStop system to automatically cut off water if a leak is detected.

4) I don't know if we need a gas earthquake shut-off valve (we are in CA) as the second house is on a propane tank. We have one at our primary house but it is on natural gas. Anyone know?

5) I may move our Dropcam to the second home, as we currently use it just to monitor our dog at home. But I don't know how helpful it is to have video monitoring when we're still 2 hours away.

What else should I consider? At most, we'd be there every weekend during non-summer months (it's too hot then). It's below the snow line so temps should stay above 30 degrees.

Thanks for any help!

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The one thing about video monitoring, and whether it's useful:

My ILs have a summer place not too far away. It's not snow-bound, or anything.

They had trouble sometimes with someone local breaking in and stealing stuff, or just using the house.

If they'd had video surveillance that saved its images somewhere, they'd have found it REALLY easy to act decisively to end it. Even if they hadn't known of the incursion until they got up their a couple of weeks afterward, if they could have taken the images to the sheriff, they'd have been able to arrest the guy and get their stuff back.

Or, if it had been more of a prank, they would have been able to find the kid and speak to him and his parents. So if you have a video camera, I'd look into finding a way to store the images for occasional download. Maybe every 20th image, or something, to cut down on space. There has to be a way.

You've got a heck of a lot more specific info on this than I would ever have.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Thanks for replying, Talley Sue! I've been trying to google for advice on-line but haven't seen a definitive list anywhere and thought gardenweb experts would do it.

The Dropcam has an online recording service (it records events) so I can definitely record neighborhood vandals or whatnot. Let's hope it doesn't come down to that. Thankfully, we have full-time neighbors who moved there for retirement.

I also found the Electronics forum so I posted there, too!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 4:44PM
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Some of the people on the Building a Home forum seem to be tuned into the newer technologies. You might want to post this over there.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 9:26AM
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Some security cameras have a built in SD card for recording locally-
Also these cameras can be set to record on "motion Only"-meaning they record a "base image" then only record again if there is a change in the pixel structure of the video. This saves storage space by not recording "nothing happening"

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Do you know any of the close neighbors that also could do a daily check for a small fee? Or maybe form a neighborhood check group? Or a responsible teen to check things out?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:11PM
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