Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras

Trying To Decide If We Should Keep This Setup...Slow Doorbell Cam...Solar Charging Issues??

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tl:dr - I've got until the weekend to return all this Arlo stuff to Best Buy. Trying to decide.

 

My wife wanted security cameras, so we went off the Best Buy and ended up deciding on an Arlo system.

 

Got a special on a package that included four Pro2 cameras and the base unit. To that, we added the Arlo video doorbell and an additional camera, an Arlo Pro3.

 

Two of the cameras are mounted in rather inaccessible places, so we also got solar panels for those. (One of them is a Pro2, the other is the Pro3).

 

Concerns:

 

  • The video doorbell initially had severe delays, making it functionally useless. For example, if you push the doorbell button, the notification on one of our phones might not show up for 60 seconds. Once a connection is established, there was so much delay (30 seconds or more), that conversing with whoever was at the door is impossible. That problem "seems" like it has gotten better, but I'm concerned that it will come back. Did some testing yesterday, and it seemed to be working fine. Any experience with this?

  • Batteries not charging due to cold. We're in Omaha. Both cameras (one Pro2 and one Pro3) with solar chargers are positioned such that they get direct sunlight for at least most of the day. Over the past week or so, it has been cool, but actually relatively warm by December/January standards. Frequently in the morning, we would get a "battery is too cold to charge" warning, but after a few hours of sunlight, things warmed up enough for charging. In that way, the solar panels kept both batteries at 100%.

    However, this morning it was colder. 20F at 8:00am. Both cameras read "too cold for charging". Now it is 11:30am, air temperature is up to 27F, both cameras have been in direct sunlight for several hours, and the "too cold for charging" warning is still present. 

    Should I be concerned? In my limited experience, the solar panels will charge the batteries quickly once they get the chance. It seems like they could go several weeks without charging and still be fine, assuming they started at 100%. But if we have an extended cold period (which means no charging), they could run out. Any experience running this sort of setup in a cold weather environment?

  • Subscription Required. This is more of an annoyance than anything else. Our Blue Shirt at Best Buy was misinformed. We were told that with our purchase, we would receive free, rolling 7 day cloud storage service with no monthly charge. Turns out that only applies to the four Pro2 cameras we purchased. The Pro3 and the doorbell both require a monthly subscription. If I understand it right, I'll need to purchase two "single camera plans" at $2.99/mo each in order to keep using our Pro3 and doorbell after the trial period expires. That really rubs me the wrong way.  I also want to confirm that I don't need to purchase any subscriptions to continue using the four Pro2 cameras we have. Is that correct?

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any experience or advice you can offer.

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@0maha wrote:
  • The video doorbell initially had severe delays, making it functionally useless. For example, if you push the doorbell button, the notification on one of our phones might not show up for 60 seconds. Once a connection is established, there was so much delay (30 seconds or more), that conversing with whoever was at the door is impossible. That problem "seems" like it has gotten better, but I'm concerned that it will come back. Did some testing yesterday, and it seemed to be working fine. Any experience with this?

It sounds like the connection to your router is marginal. You can use a WiFi detector app on your phone at the doorbell to see how strong the signal is. Metal objects in the signal's path at any point can cause this.

 


Batteries not charging due to cold. We're in Omaha. Both cameras (one Pro2 and one Pro3) with solar chargers are positioned such that they get direct sunlight for at least most of the day. Over the past week or so, it has been cool, but actually relatively warm by December/January standards. Frequently in the morning, we would get a "battery is too cold to charge" warning, but after a few hours of sunlight, things warmed up enough for charging. In that way, the solar p

I'm in Rochester, NY so have at least somewhat similar temps. Li-ion batteries shouldn't be charged in freezing temps so the camera protects the battery. This is normal. You may want to keep a closer eye on battery level in an extended cold period so you don't run out of battery. You'd need to bring the battery inside to charge.

 


Subscription Required. This is more of an annoyance than anything else. Our Blue Shirt at Best Buy was misinformed. We were told that with our purchase, we would receive free, rolling 7 day cloud storage service with no monthly charge. Turns out that only applies to the four Pro2 cameras we purchased. The Pro3 and the doorbell both require a monthly subscription. If I understand it right, I'll need to purchase two "single camera plans" at $2.99/mo each in order to keep using our Pro3 and doorbell after the trial period expires. That really rubs me the wrong way.  I also want to confirm that I don't need to purchase any subscriptions to continue using the four Pro2 cameras we have. Is that correct?

True. The Pro 2 cameras will remain on the free plan. If you use a thumb drive inserted into the base, local recordings can be made and viewed using the latest app. Go to the Library and click on the "Cloud" button which will give you access to the local recordings from the Pro 3.  With your doorbell connected to your router you won't have local recordings since the base is needed.

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@jguerdat wrote:

It sounds like the connection to your router is marginal. You can use a WiFi detector app on your phone at the doorbell to see how strong the signal is. Metal objects in the signal's path at any point can cause this.

I don't think that's it. The WiFi router is at most 20 feet away from the doorbell, and there's only one wall between them. In addition, the signal indicator on the Arlo app shows a full signal at the doorbell.

I'm in Rochester, NY so have at least somewhat similar temps. Li-ion batteries shouldn't be charged in freezing temps so the camera protects the battery. This is normal. You may want to keep a closer eye on battery level in an extended cold period so you don't run out of battery. You'd need to bring the battery inside to charge.

Do you have direct experience with this solar panel setup in that climate? We've got a total of five outdoor cameras. Three of them are in reasonably accessible locations, so periodic battery swaps would be realistic. Two of them, however, are way up high. The whole point of getting the solar panels is to avoid having to climb a ladder up 20 feet every few months.

From mid December through early February, our average daily high temperature is generally right around 32 degrees. If we happen to have an unusually cold year, it's possible we could go 30 days or more below freezing. 

In my mind, unless I can reasonably count on the battery (alone) being sufficient to carry the camera through a ordinary cold period in winter, the solar panels are useless.

 

Thank you for your comments!


 

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@0maha wrote:
In my mind, unless I can reasonably count on the battery (alone) being sufficient to carry the camera through a ordinary cold period in winter, the solar panels are useless.

 


I live outside of Boston and have an Ultra with a solar panel.  The panel reduces the battery drain, but I still do need to charge the battery occasionally.  That's not a huge issue for me, since I don't need a ladder to reach that camera.

 

 

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Fly like a bat out of hades to return it!
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I have very fast internet (200 up/down) and good signal strength.  The delay for my Pro 2 is at least 15 seconds, sometimes more.  The delay is too long to have a conversation with a person at the door.  By the time you receive the notice and connect to the camera, they will be gone.  I cannot help you with the solar charging.  Try plugging it into an outdoor outlet to see if it charges.  If it does not charge, then the battery might just be to cold.

 

Arlo is moving to a subscription based fee model.  This is understandable because offering a free service when there are continuing back-end costs means the new sales have to support the embedded customers.  This means they are going to make the free service difficult to get you to subscribe.   For example, Arlo removed the Manage Camera Status feature which allowed one to activate or deactivate cameras to say under the plan limit. I used this to manage six Pro2 cameras under the free five camera plan that I am on.  I was told I would now have to subscribe for six cameras (5+1).  Look under Alro Smart forum and there are a lot of people upset because the new subscription plans are more expensive.   

 

You mentioned you have a four Pro 2 plan, with two additional camera.  Arlo might require you to get a 6 camera plan, you should call to verify.

 

I have found the Arlo system to be unreliable (see my other posts) and the customer service is poor, so my recommendation is return it and look for security camera company that has a long track record with good customer service.  This might mean paying a monthly fee, but you get what you pay for.

 

Good luck

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