As with most things nowadays, it seems like everyone is trying to take a bit of your paycheck with subscription fees.
From the software on your computer to your smartphone apps and even to the home security camera systems you buy outright in full. Not paying subscription fees can limit the features available and the amount of storage you get.
So when my mother and father in-law were looking for a security camera system for their home, I dreaded the fact that I might end up picking one of these new smart camera systems that are so popular and prevalent now. I hate the fact that most of them require a subscription fee in order to have decent features that should really come out
of the box.
What we needed
My in-laws wanted a security system that provided some piece of mind for when they are away from home. For them, it needed to just work hassle free, is easy to use from a smartphone from anywhere, provide motion detection notifications and recordings, has 2-way communication and can be installed indoor and outdoor.
Because I’ve installed many different kinds of security camera systems for my own parents business and for their home, I had further requirements.
I also considered ease of installation, good recording/detection/notification capabilities, night vision, Local storage, Field of view, ease of maintenance and No subscription fees.
Check out our YouTube video review if you want to get the full experience!
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Looking back, I’ve had experience installing wired analog security camera systems that recorded to VHS tape, believe it or not. Then moved on to IP camera based systems that recorded to a Windows PC. I even installed a dual dashcam on my car. I love how technology has improved so much in these systems, over the years, that I’m able to easily catch criminals stealing at our business or security guards stealing candy from my cubicle at work.
BTW, if you are interested in DIY and want to catch people stealing your stuff using Web cams or IP cameras, then check out my video on a really powerful and free security software that I still use. It has many great features including face detection, motion recording and alerts plus it supports many different makes and models of cameras from Web cams, USB cams to IP cameras and more.
What we considered
Now… back to eufyCam E Experience… Right away, I decided not to go with a door bell camera because they can be easily stolen or vandalized. Also, my in-laws don’t get many visitors to the front door. So a security camera with 2-way communication, like the eufyCam E, will do fine here.
I also considered going with an IP Camera setup but decided against it as these will require a dedicated computer system or Network video recorder for recording the footage. Plus, the Windows systems require more knowledge on setup/configuration and the NVR systems I found did not have 2-way communication features.
In the end, through my research I decided to go with the eufyCam E Homebase system.
Our experience so far is that we really like this system. Though it does have some short comings, it fits our needs for home use and is easy to install yourself with a very user friendly app. Let’s dig deeper!
What we bought
Recently, during Amazon Prime Day the system was on sale and I ended up buying two 2-camera base systems. We wanted a 4 camera system but buying a 2 camera system and adding 2 cameras was more expensive than buying 2 base systems. Go figure! And YES, the cameras are inter-changeable!
Ease of Installation
The fact that these cameras are truly wireless makes for very easy installation [Battery power + WiFi]. No network or power wires to run through walls. Installation was easy. It just took time to charge each camera, find the optimal locations to install the cameras then drill, mount, sync and configure.
See how easy they are to install!
The alert notifications are quick and can link to the video for quick video review. You can lower false motion detections by adjusting the sensitivity. If you start using the new beta Activity Zone feature you can also reduce the number of notifications you get. This feature is great because when the camera detects motion it will start to record. If the motion is outside the activity zones, it will not push an alert notification. Otherwise, it will send an alert. This allows you to have recordings as long as motion is detected but only push notifications if it occurs within the activity zones you set. This is a great feature to prevent getting bombarded with notifications while still having all recordings of detected motion.
Another important point to note is that motion detection on these cameras are done using a PIR sensor and not by image detection. The Passive Infrared sensor uses heat signature movement to detect motion. This is similar to the motion sensors of typical home alarm systems. This helps to avoid false motion detections that regular image detection can have but also has its own limitations. For example, the Infrared that these cameras detect do not go through glass and so placing these cameras behind windows or glass will cause the motion detection to not work.
Sound quality, 2-Way audio
The speaker and microphone of these cameras are pretty good. The speakers are clear and loud and the microphone picks up sound very well. I really like the sound quality of the eufyCam E. There are countless other reviews of the eufyCam E vs. Arlos and it’s clear that eufyCam E wins the battle here. The 2-way audio feature works great and is easy to use though it is slightly delayed by a second or so.
This is a good feature to have as it can help deter theft of the cameras. The supplied outdoor mounts are not theft proof though. Someone only needs to unscrew the camera to take it off. Pretty much all home based camera systems use mounts like these, where the camera is only screwed on. [TIP: Mount cameras high enough to be out of reach]. As for the magnetic ones, you’re not supposed to use them outside. If you turn on the anti-theft feature, and someone knocks or moves the camera with enough force, the alarm on the camera will go off along with the base station alarm.
I found a BUG!
Now, this is where I found a bug that I mentioned earlier . Notice that each of these cameras has a sync button that is used to link the camera easily to the base station. It turns out that if you trigger the cameras anti-theft alarm and then you press the sync button, it will unsync the camera from the base station and stop the alarm. I have informed Anker about this and I hope they fix this in a future update. Great thing about these smart security cameras is that they can be fixed very easily with a firmware update as long as the manufacturer continues to support it.
Another good thing is that the batteries cannot be removed easily. Unlike the Arlo cameras that allow easy removal, which can allow someone to steal the camera and unpower them instantly. On the other hand, when the batteries eventually give out on the eufyCam E, you cannot replace them easily. But for us this won’t be an issue for me as I plan to power them continuously.
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New and Beta features
I already mentioned the Activity Zones which is a great new feature. Anker has also rolled out beta features for Smart integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. The great thing about these smart camera systems is that new features like these can be added and existing bugs can easily be fixed and rolled out with a future firmware update. Another one that I like is Snooze Alerts. Sometimes you might be going back and forth doing some house work while causing a lot of push notifications. Instead of getting bombarded with constant alerts, you just snooze the camera for as long as you need. Lastly, I have read that a Geofencing feature is to come in a future update.
I love the local recording feature. It saves all the footage to the included 16 GB MicroSD card. So far, after 23 days of use with a 4 camera setup, we have used up 12.5 GBs. We won’t get the rated 1 years’ worth of footage because I set the working mode on 2 of the cameras to Customized Recording mode. They were set with higher recording lengths and shorter retrigger intervals as I don’t want to miss anything if something were to happen. And the last two cameras are set to Optimal Surveillance and Optimal Battery Life modes. Based on our current usage, 16 GBs is only going to give about 25 days’ worth of footage. This should be more than enough for most. But if not, this can be easily solved by switching out to a 128 GB microSD card. Note that your usage will be different than ours. Lastly, another cool feature is that the eufyCam system supports Network Attached Storage for much more storage capacity (for the geeks out there).
The cameras are rated for lasting 365 days between charges but that is very optimistic. We won’t get the rated battery life because of the Working modes I set for the 4 cameras as mentioned before. Also, with 4 users accessing the cameras and viewing the live feed regularly, it will be interesting to see how long the battery life plays out. So far, after 23 days, 3 of the cameras are at 5 out of 5 bars and 2 are at 4 bars.
After about 39 days 1 camera was at 5 bars, 2 at 4 and 1 at 2 bars (Garage camera). The garage camera gets a lot of motion activations and is also set to a customized working mode with 60s recording length and 0s retrigger interval. That is one reason why it drained so fast. The other reason is that on one of the days, motion activations were being triggered constantly for a 7 hour long period. This drained over 1 bar of power. TIP: If you find yourself in the same type of situation then you can easily just turn off motion detection or set the system to a security mode that does not have Record Video enabled.
But like I said before, this isn’t an issue for us because we have now installed external power to the 2 front cameras. Watch our videos on installing external/solar power to eufy for more info. It’s a lot easier than you think!
One other concern on battery life is that in the winter season, we get temperatures down to -28 °C and lower and there’s a note on the box that says “battery life will not perform at optimum levels when the ambient temperature is below -4 °F.” That’s -20 °C.
Because I have installed external power to our eufy cameras, I believe we no longer need to worry about this. Our cameras are all fully charged overnight. Also, it would have been very inconvenient to have to unmount the cameras in the cold of winter in order to charge them.
Update: After using the external power solutions for some time now, during winter, we received a message from the app stating: “Unable to charge. The camera battery is unable to be charged when ambient temperature is higher than 45 °C (113 °F) or lower than 0 °C (32 °F)”.
It appears if the temperature of the batteries falls below 0 °C then it cannot be charged by the solar panel. We’re looking for a solution for this and hope to release an update in the future.
Find out more about our first winter with EufyCam in our update video below.
Lastly, the battery idea is a great one and when I bought this kit I thought the base station also had a backup battery based on what I was reading online. But I guess the devil is in the details… It’s the base station for the original eufyCam system that has the backup battery, not the eufyCam E system.
Important Winter Note: After using this solution for some time now we received a message from the app stating: “Unable to charge. The camera battery is unable to be charged when ambient temperature is higher than 45 °C (113 °F) or lower than 0 °C (32 °F)”.
It appears if the temperature of the batteries falls below 0 °C then it cannot be charged by the solar panel. We’re looking for a solution for this and hope to release an update video in the future. Stay tuned!
Image Quality, Night Vision
The image quality is superb. I’ll let you judge with your own eyes. The night vision mode is pretty good as well. There are 2 infrared LEDs which are used to light up the darkness.
Field of View (FOV)
I like that the FOV is 140 degrees. As you can see in the screenshots, we get great coverage from the cameras.
Aside from reviewing the eufyCam E, I would like to provide some thoughts on how secure these systems are. As with most security systems, there will always be a weakness and anytime you make something easier it usually comes at the cost of security. In the case of wireless camera systems they can be easy to install but, the WiFi signal can be jammed using electronics you can find online. This could, for example, prevent the camera from notifying you of an event until it is too late and the criminals are long gone. On the other hand, if the camera requires a connection to the base station to be able to record, then it may not even record anything if it loses connectivity to the base station.
2nd, this system only is able to record once the PIR sensor detects motion. This means it takes time after motion detection before recording is able to start. This results in some video recordings missing the action and capturing nothing. Though this is where placement of the camera can help a little so follow the instructions for mounting. For those of you that need continuous recording such as for businesses, this may not be suitable. But for home use, it’s more than enough.
So, that’s our experience in a nutshell. We love the eufyCam E and would recommend it to anyone looking for a smart security camera system. It does what we need, is easy to install and maintain, plus there are no subscription fees.