DIY home security cameras is an absolute minefield, the options are endless as is the budget.
There are pros and cons to battery-powered, Wi-Fi cameras and the same can be said of permanent power cameras. For me, having a mix of the two is a smart move to ensure that you’ve got continual coverage. One of the more recent additions to the Reolink range is the Reolink Lumus and it falls in the latter as a mains powered camera.
What is it?
The Reolink Lumus is a mains-powered security camera that also has a spotlight when movement triggers it after dark. Like many others in the Reolink camera range, the Lumus connects to your Wi-Fi and has 1080p capture capability, two-way audio and colour night vision.
Over time, the Reolink app (as well as camera capabilities) has evolved to include a lot more configuration to minimise false positives and ensure that important moments around your home are captured.
Planning, Connection and Setup
For a camera like this versus some of the others we’ve reviewed in the past, there are a couple of extra steps to installation. This is for a couple of reasons starting with the usefulness of a spotlight camera is at its peak when you put it somewhere the light and the camera will be well utilised. So while it wasn’t a perfect test location, I planned to put it out the front of our shed to light the path and provide some further security out there was a great location. I ended up putting it in the pathway from our driveway to the back door.
In the box, you’ll find the camera, mounting kit (wall plugs, screws and the required base plate) as well as a power plug. You don’t really need to reference the instruction card during setup because as soon as you turn the camera on you get verbal instructions on how to connect to your home Internet.
For a camera like this that will (in theory) be permanently mounted, it’s wise when you’re connecting any Wi-Fi style camera, to ensure it is connected as you expect it to before you fix it in position. That’s not just a timewaster, but it’s hugely frustrating if you’re unlucky enough to get a faulty unit. Happily, that wasn’t the case here and the Reolink Lumus worked perfectly from the outset.
The process of connecting cameras to an app is getting so ridiculously easy, and the process rarely varies from:
- Turn it on or plug it in
- Scan the code or search for the camera (this process is brand dependent
- Connect it to Wi-Fi/your app
Physical installation can be as quick, simple and clean as you want or need it to be. I chose the location for both safety and visibility, but also to ensure that the cabling was not easily accessible to nefarious persons who could then disconnect the camera.
Does it do the job?
Due to the original placement of the camera — some trees and bushes close by — I received a number of false positives, but I’ve moved it slightly and now it’s absolutely on the money.
There’s a couple of advantages over the recently reviewed Essential Spotlight from Arlo.
The biggest of these advantages is that because it is mains powered (and thanks to our Tesla Powerwall) it is a permanently powered solution. While the battery-powered devices are getting really good in the current era, they can be a little hit and miss with movement detection as they’re not usually on permanent motion detection. This has the added bonus of not needing to be taken down every couple of months for charging or paying for accessories like a solar charging panel.
Notifications and video quality
We’ve reviewed multiple Reolink devices in the past at Ausdroid and found the app to be consistent in the quality and delivery of notifications. One thing that really shone through with the review of the Reolink Lumus is the responsiveness of the notifications.
After a few days, I also started noticing how good the video quality is. This was particularly evident during the night. My phone (even with night mode) versus the Lumus is night and day difference in the images that were captured. In the event that your camera does happen to pick up motion, the spotlight is an excellent feature. Not only does it result in clearer, colour vision but it also provides some safety for you and your family if you mount the camera in a walkway.
What needs improvement?
I’m not a fan of the mounting option provided, while it’s pretty simple it’s not hugely versatile and — I believe — will lend itself to lazy installations. I’ve purchased a number of gutter mounts from eBay which are very versatile, with the advantage of being easily moved if you’re not completely happy with the mounting point you’ve chosen.
The other area where the Reolink Lumus has a bit of a problem is the power cable because it’s just too short to be practical. It’s only a couple of meters long and requires a PDU nearby to power the camera. This results in a camera that is going to be very easily disabled by nefarious visitors. I’d like to see the cable at least three times this length as it will add versatility to the camera and allow you to run the cable through ceiling space or to other areas in order to maximise security.
Is the Lumus worth investing your money in?
If you’re invested in Reolink cameras already it’s a definite complementary option. The additional functionality of the permanent power is excellent as it improves the responsiveness of the notifications. The video quality is exactly what you’d expect from a 1080p option and with local storage, as well as cloud options available Reolink aren’t just a budget-friendly option – they offer a full suite of functionality.
At the time of writing this review, the Lumus is on special for US$56.69 (approx. AU$96.30) which makes it an exceptionally good value offering. They also have a very good cloud recording option in Reolink Cloud which we’ve covered in previous reviews.
The offerings from Reolink are a good low to mid-range offering in terms of DIY home security. Without de-valuing what Reolink have, there’s a little bit of polish that missing when compared to the likes of Ring, Arlo and to a lesser extend Swann. Reolink holistically offers users great functionality, pretty strong versatility, expandability throughout their Wi-Fi range and very good value for money. I was impressed enough with the value offering to invest significant money in them and I’m still happy with that investment.
Reolink has not requested the return of the review item.