It’s natural to feel concerned about your home’s security while you’re traveling or away for extended periods of time. Even with an active home alarm system, would having access to what is happening inside and outdoors ease your concerns? Panasonic’s Home Surveillance System and add-on Smart Plug were designed to provide a convenient way for users to monitor their home at all times with hidden, and not-so-hidden, cameras.

Panasonic’s Home Surveillance System is one way to keep an eye on your home while traveling. (Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.)

Panasonic’s Home Surveillance System is one way to keep an eye on your home while traveling. (Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.)

Living in Chicago, in an active part of the city that is near public transportation, an expressway and major streets, we don’t leave our security up to chance. We’ve always had an active security system but home surveillance systems intrigued me. What’s stopped me from adding it to my home’s security arsenal is that the device needs to be connected to one’s home WiFi. While I like the idea of being able to see what’s happening inside my home while I’m traveling, the idea of someone hacking into my WiFi and having access to that same view is not something I wanted to offer up to criminals.

Dan Tarwater, East Training Manager with Panasonic, confirmed that the Hub (control module) of their Home Surveillance System (KX-HN6002) does need to be connected via WiFi to work. However, he also assured me that the Hub, cameras, and the Smart Plug (KX-HNA101), a device that helps schedule devices to turn on and off with a button, “behave as a closed system and are accessed by a Panasonic app, which is password-protected.

“If you are comfortable with your password protection on your WiFi, then I would feel comfortable with the level of security on the password protected Panasonic surveillance system,” he added.

But that’s the thing, right? How comfortable are we with things we think are protected and yet aren’t? Things like our credit cards that get hacked when used at major retailers or online? Can I be assured that pointing a camera into my home is only going to be viewed by those who have clearance to view the actions? Can we live in this kind of fear, though?
TMOM Travel Disclosure

I’m setting aside my fears and installing the surveillance system by adding the outdoor camera first, in our very-busy-at-all-hours alley. According to Tarwater, the process is simple. “Like the cameras, connection is easy and basically amounts to pressing a button on the Hub and a button on the Smart Plug,” he explains in one sentence. Sounds easy enough.

It also doesn’t come with a monthly service fee which is very nice considering our home alarm system likes to increase our monthly fee whenever they feel like it (or so it seems). The fact that it’s part of an app means I can view activity on my phone from anywhere, whether that’s a few miles away or the other side of the world. That’s another bonus.

Fran Capo, Adventure TravelingMom, did a nice job outlining the benefits of the system here while Christine Tibbets, Blended Family TravelingMom, reminds us that the system provides benefits other than deterring criminals: it can help us identify critters in her garden! Considering my insomniac neighbor recently told me I had skunk, raccoons and even coyote galavanting through my yard at night, I want to know if she’s pulling my leg (and imagination) or if there really are such critters in my yard (in which case I need to be even more diligent in keeping them out of my home).

I’m keen to see how the app works with the system and, honestly, to see if we can deter some questionable activity in our alley. Just this weekend, at 1:30 a.m., the Chicago Fire Department came out to our alley to put out a fire caused by some rubbish thrown out near our garage (not ours).

Our alley attracts activity because people like to use it like a sidewalk from the train station to the neighborhood and because there is enough space for a car to park (illegally, but that’s another matter). I wonder if having a camera there to record activity might make someone pause and consider moving on, knowing their actions are being monitored. Or whether they’ll think it’s cute and just vandalize the camera.

I won’t know the reaction until I try.

While I was hesitant to install the Panasonic Home Surveillance System and Smart Plug for security reasons, I’m going to give it a shot with the outdoors camera first and see how easy it is to use. Ideally, I’d love to deter any illegal activity in my alley and help make my neighborhood feel safer for everyone.