If you’re a frequent online shopper or love ordering food to be sent to you, you’ll know the sinking feeling of having a delivery go missing. It’s worse when you can’t be certain about whether the package in question was stolen or simply not sent.

Cameras are essential for monitoring the comings and goings of people at your front door. PHOTO: ARLO

Fortunately, with the range of security cameras available now, checking to see who’s at the door is as simple as opening an app on your smartphone. Additional functions like sirens, spotlights and two-way audio turn even the simplest of cameras into a whole security system. Here’s what you need to know before purchasing and installing one.

Where do I need the camera to go?

This is perhaps the most important deliberation. Ideally, the camera should be near an electrical outlet, so it is always powered. Alternatively, opt for a wireless camera like one of those from Wi-Fi-connected US brand Arlo. These are rechargeable via USB and can last for a couple of months on a single charge.

The Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera. PHOTO: ARLO

Whether your camera goes indoors or outdoors also matters. If it’s in an area exposed to lots of sun and rain, it must be weather resistant.

Take note: HDB regulations state that a permit is required for the installation of surveillance cameras in corridors. To avoid having to remove one if you’re living in a condominium, check with the management office before installation. 

How large an area do I want the camera to monitor?

Is it the entire street you live on or just the area outside your front door? Reminder: if you’re living in an HDB flat and have been given a permit to install a security camera, you’re not allowed to point it in a direction where it can see into a neighbour’s home. If it’s for an area like a corridor or a room, you may want to get a pan-tilt camera like the C6TC by EZVIZ with smart tracking and 360-degree panorama.

The C6T by EZVIZ. PHOTO: EZVIZ

Do I need it just for monitoring movements or for other functions, too?

Some cameras come equipped with functions such as a motion-activated spotlight and a siren, which can help deter intruders. Another good feature is two-way audio, which is handy if you have plenty of online buys delivered to your door and you need a way to communicate with the courier.

You can even speak to the person at the front door via your smartphone. PHOTO: ARLO

Where will I store the footage?

This determines whether you’ll need a Wi-Fi-connected camera. While an SD card is the most common method for storing footage, it means you can probably view the footage only after incidents have occurred. Also you risk the card being stolen.

Alternatively, some cameras can connect to a cloud storage plan. You’ll be able to view footage from your smartphone and access videos remotely without having to transfer the SD card into a device.

Video Doorbells as an Alternative

The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell. PHOTO: ARLO

Since surveillance cameras aren’t allowed in HDB corridors without a permit, how about a doorbell that pulls double duty? The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free notifies you when someone’s at the door if you’re home and allows you to talk to that person from your phone when you’re not. It’s also weather resistant and has night vision, so you can rest assured that it’ll do a good job of guarding your home.