This post was originally published on June 12, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Have you seen the video of a snake slithering down a Texas woman’s front door? If so, you might be thinking about investing in a doorbell camera.

But, as shocking as finding a snake on your front door may be, doorbell cameras catch more than just reptiles—they also catch thieves.

Doorbell cameras can even help solve neighborhood crimes. In 2017, two men were arrested when a Florida homeowner called the police after receiving an alert from his device. Since then, Orlando police have been urging more homeowners to purchase a camera for themselves.

These are just two of many instances where doorbell cameras have been used to catch criminals (and wildlife). Homeowners across the nation are investing in these devices to secure their properties. But, just like any investment, there are a few factors to consider beforehand. Here are four questions you need to ask your security provider before purchasing a doorbell camera.

1. How Is the Doorbell Camera Installed?

Doorbell cameras can be battery powered, hardwired or both. Battery powered devices are easier to install and can be mounted right on or next to your door. If your doorbell camera is hardwired into your electrical system, then you’ll need to contact a professional to ensure proper setup.

Whichever type of doorbell camera you choose, each should be able to connect to a secure Internet network and a mobile app. Using a secure network and staying connected allows you view recordings and manage alerts safely.

2. How Does the Doorbell Camera Work?

Doorbell cameras can feature several different components, including:

  • Controllable cameras, which sometimes include night vision.
  • Microphones and speakers that allow you to interact with who or what is at your door.
  • Motion detectors that send you a recording every time it detects activity.
  • The actual doorbell to alert you when someone is at your door.

Doorbell cameras vary in functionality. Some devices will capture pictures every time someone rings the bell and others record in real-time. Other cameras are designed to set off notifications via your phone. This enables you to see who is on the other side right from the palm of your hand.

3. Is the Doorbell Camera Theft and Weather Proof?

In 2018, one homeowner captured a video of a man stealing a package from their porch, then trying to pry the doorbell camera off the wall. Luckily, the thief was unsuccessful. Even if he had damaged or removed the camera, many of these devices archive recordings directly to the cloud. Users can easily log onto their app and view any recordings.

If you live in an area with harsh weather, you’ll want to look into the warranty and ask the manufacturer about the camera’s capabilities in extreme conditions. There are also weather and tamper-proof cases you can purchase. However, if you do decide to buy a case, ensure it’s specially designed for your device to avoid malfunctions, such as lens damage. Poorly designed cases can even alter footage recorded if it obstructs the camera’s view.

4. Can the Doorbell Camera Integrate With My Current Security System?

Home security is an evolving investment. As you add devices, be sure they sync well and integrate with one another to ensure a cohesive security system.

Ask about integration. Can the doorbell camera pair with your current home security system? Some doorbell cameras sync with smart locks and lights that are controlled through your home security app. To ensure integration, contact your security provider to confirm compatibility before buying.

Doorbell cameras are perfect for any homeowner looking to upgrade their home security system. Do your research and consider asking these questions to keep your home protected from thieves (or snakes).

For more information on how you can get started with a doorbell camera for your home, visit our product page.