Some peace of mind for travelers

No, I’m not talking about travel insurance. I’m referring to keeping an eye on your home while traveling without giving it much thought, knowing that it’s safe and secure. It’s become remarkably simple and inexpensive to do so with some of the latest security gadgets.

I once envisioned having a laser beam encircle my home and knowing if the perimeter was ever violated. While that’s more the subject of science fiction, it’s now possible to do essentially that using a few wide angle security cameras strategically positioned around your home. And for good measure it’s become even easier to add motion-sensitive lighting to your yard to scare away prowlers and improve the cameras’ effectiveness. And all of this can be done without the need for an electrician. That’s because many of the latest cameras are battery powerd and last for 6-12 months on a set of AA batteriies, and many of the new lighting fixtures are solar powered LEDs, requiring no wiring.

This new breed of lighting device use energy efficient LEDs to provide the illumination, coupled with a small solar panel to keep the internal batteries charged. They are maintenance free and there’s no need to wire them to your home’s power. We’ve gone from replaceable light bulbs to completely replaceable self-powered light fixtures. And they’re surprisingly inexpensive.

For about $300 you can protect the perimeter of your house with a few cameras and lights. Many of the cameras can send a you a text to you when motion is detected and let you check its cause.

Here are the products that I use and like a lot. They’ve been in operation for more than six months and have worked flawlessly. There are many similar products that work just as well.

Outdoor lighting

The Intelamp Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor light (illustrated in the cover photo) is a triple LED floodlight combined with a solar panel. It’s sleek looking and provides adjustments of the lights and panel over a limited range. The flood light has three lamp heads providing a very wide illumination field.It has three lighting modes: (1) Lights set on low brightness setting at all times at night and illuminate brightly when motion is detected (2) lights are normally off and will illuminate brightly when motion is detected. (3) lights remain on low light throughout the night and motion sensor is deactivated. I prefer (2).

The unit attaches to the outside wall or eaves, or even a to tree, with 2 screws or a strap. The biggest challenge is figuring out what mode you’re on, since there’s no display. They cost just $28 each.

The Solar Motion Outdoor spotlight is an aluminum spotlight with a solar panel attached. It provides a bright spotlight when motion is detected. It’s a little more rugged and more compact than the one above, but complements it nicely where you don’t need as bright a light. I’ve it set up next to a camera and to go on in the evening to a low level and then brighten when motion is detected. It also improves the camera image at night.

The Vgogfly Sensor Lights Bulb Dusk to Dawn LED Light Bulb is one of the simplest solutions to your porch lighting. SImply replace the bulb in your porch light fixture or lamp post with one of these and leave the light switch on. Built in electronics turns the lamp on at dusk and off at dawn. There are no settings to bother with. Just $7.50.

Blink Outdoor cameras from Amazon are often available for less than $50 each, although currently they’re almost twice that. (Check Amazon’s Prime Day on October 11.) They provide the ability to monitor your yard and send a message to your watch or phone when it detects motion. No subscription is required if you use their bridge device with a memory card.

These are just a few options; there are many others that all work equally well. In fact, you can get floodlights combined with cameras, and a variety of other combos from many different brands including RING, Arlo, Nest, etc. The choice can be overwhelming. My advice is stick to something simple because when you’re traveling you just want to be alerted when there’s an exception. No news is good news.

by Phil Baker