Home Security Cameras

Everything You Need to Know to Make a Smart Decision


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A home security camera is a wonderful investment for your residence if you want to keep an eye on what’s happening when you’re not there. Security cameras provide a peace of mind knowing that your home and family will be safer. Today, there are a plethora of options to choose from. With that said, finding the correct security camera for your home can be a challenge. Having a better understanding of the different types of security cameras available and seeing how the various features align with your lifestyle will allow you to make an informed decision and keep your home safe.

What to Look for in Security Cameras

Just like anything else, depending on your lifestyle, some features may be more important than others when looking for a home security camera. To get started, let’s consider a few popular important features when comparing options:

Field of View

Field of view on the vast majority of cameras range from 90 degrees up to 140 degrees. If you want to keep tabs on your backyard or a very large room, then you’ll want a larger field of view to better monitor the entire area. If you just want to monitor the front porch or entry way, then a narrower field of view will be all you need.

Night Vision

Most security cameras offer a form of night vision. This is extremely useful if you want 24/7 monitoring. Its also very useful for people who live in rural areas or anywhere that nocturnal animals roam, like raccoons so you can be sure what is making those noises and knocking things over by your house.


4k TVs and monitors are great, but not very practical for security camera systems. That level of resolution takes up a lot of bandwidth and storage space. Range of resolution in security cameras generally ranges from 480p to 1080p for much better detail.

Low Light Performance

Dimly lit areas won’t activate the night vision capabilities, and generally require a camera that has a wide aperture. A wide aperture allows the camera to absorb more light from dimly lit areas, so instead of just seeing shadows and barely discernible features, you’ll actually see more details and you will better able to identify what is happening.

Motion Detection

Motion detection will alert you whenever a specified area has movement. Whether it be a delivery man, vandals, or animals. Some cameras have motion detection of only 90 degrees, and some up to 270 degrees. Some outdoor cameras come with lights that will be activated whenever it detects motion. Motion boundaries can be set on some cameras, from a few feet to over 100 feet.

Source of Power

If you’re a handyman or have a professional installer, then wiring your security system directly into a power line will allow you to place your cameras anywhere without the eyesore of power cords. Battery powered security cameras are easy to setup, and easy to place anywhere you want them, but may need frequent battery changes. You’ll have a constant power source with cameras that can be plugged into outlets, but they’ll need to be placed near an outlet, and their power cords can be an eyesore.


Not all cameras can record any audio, and fewer allow for two-way audio. Two-way audio allows you to communicate to whoever is in view of the camera, such as asking a delivery man to leave the package on the porch. Some security cameras can set off a loud siren to scare off intruders or animals.

App Support

The modern security system comes with apps that you can use on your computer or phone. Connecting the cameras to your app is not always simple, with some cameras doing a better job at syncing everything together and sending you notifications without issue.

Storage Plans

Most cameras have an additional storage plan so that any motion detection events are recorded and stored on a cloud storage platform provided by the security camera manufacturer. Plans can range in size from a few gigabytes to over 100 gigabytes.


Size can be a factor on where you can place the camera. Some cameras have a slim platform and long neck that make them easy to point in any direction and install anywhere. Others are on flat platform with no neck, limiting where they can be pointed but are more durable.


There are upfront costs such as the camera itself, as well as installation fees for full house systems. Monthly plans to unlock all the features of your system can reach over a $100 depending on your needs.

Indoor Security Cameras

Indoor security cameras will give you peace of mind that your belongings are accounted for, and to be sure your children and pets are doing well while you’re away.


Yi Dome Camera

Canary Flex


Nest Cam Indoor

Amcrest ProHD


Arlo Pro
















ProsGreat camera with full tilt and pan functionality for better field of view.Great build and camera quality, can be placed anywhere and positioned towards any angle.Good bang for the buck between cost and camera quality, allows for local storage.Easiest to setup, great battery life, great camera quality and reliabilityBest resolution, great night vision, and flexible cloud storage plansLow cost per camera, local storage optionEasy to set up and reliable, all wireless, has some free cloud storage and great prices on their paid cloud storage plans.
ConsComplaints of data mining through the app, app is not the most intuitive with frequent ads if you don’t pay for the subscriptionHighest cost per camera, reports of camera not sending motion alerts as needed.Connectivity and reliability issues according to customer reviewsExpensive cameras and expensive cloud storage to unlock all the featuresLimited field of view, reports of some reliability issuesLow resolution, very limited field of view, reports of poor app supportInitial setup cost is pricier than other options due to requiring a ‘base station’.
Field Of View112°116°111°130°90°54.9°130°
Night VisionUp to 10ftUp to 25ft


Up to 32ftUp to 16ft

Motion Detection







Source Of Power

Battery or Outlet

Hard wired or outletHard wired or outlet


Audio Features2-way audio2-way audio2-way audio2-way audio2-way audio1 way2-way audio/100+ decibel Siren
Online FeaturesApp Support – Live View, Motion Alerts, Remote Pan/Tilt Camera ViewApp Support – Live View, Motion AlertsApp SupportApp Support – live view, motion alertsApp support -live view, motion alertsApp Support – Live view, smart alertsApp Support – Live view, smart alerts
Cloud Storage CostFree 7 days of motion and audio recording for up to 5 cameras.

$10/mo or $100/yr for 30 days of recording on up to 10 cameras.

$15/mo or $150/yr for 60 days of recording on up to 15 cameras.

One month free trial, then $9.99/mo

or $99/yr for 1 device, $14.99/mo

or $149/yr for 2-3 devices.

Gives 30 days video playback, advanced detection, one touch access to first responders

One Month Trial with 7 day playback, $6/mo

or $60/yr for 7 days of storage, $11/mo

or $110/yr for 30 days of storage

10 day video history with intelligent alerts, timelapses, and custom activity zones for $10/mo

or $100/yr 30 day video history for $30/mo

or $300/yr, cost is per camera

Free 4hr storage for one camera, with 2hrs live view per month.

$6/camera per month for 7 day playback

$10/camera per month for 14 day playback

$15/camera per month for 30 day playback

Free 4hr storage for one camera, with 2hrs live view per month.

$6/camera per month for 7 day playback

$10/camera per month for 14 day playback

$15/camera per month for 30 day playback

Free 7 days of motion and audio recording for up to 5 cameras.

$10/mo or $100/yr for 30 days of recording on up to 10 cameras.

$15/mo or $150/yr for 60 days of recording on up to 15 cameras.

Amazon Reviews4/5 – >2,500 reviews4/5 – >2,400 reviews3.5/5 – >200 reviews4/5 – >6,000 reviews4/5 – >8,500 reviews3.5/5 -> 3,500 reviews4.5/5 -> 9,000 reviews
Additional FeaturesLocal Storage with MicroSDLocal Storage with Micro SD or propreitary 1TB hard drive/Amazon Alexa CompatibleNoneLocal storage with MicroSD, FTP, or NVRLocal Storage with SD CardLocal Storage Option/ Compatible with Home automation
Best ForApartments and pet owners. The ability to pan and tilt nearly 360° makes a single camera perfect for apartments with a main room and to find where your pet may be lounging.Families with a larger budget in single family homes wanting the added security of a siren when intruders are present and to more rapidly alert first responders.Elderly and techies, the compatibility with Alexa makes it easier for the elderly to use and funner for techies.Families, elderly, and non-techie people in houses or apartments who want to monitor their kids and pets. The setup is very easy, just plug and play.Single family homes where the higher resolution will give better details in the event of any security issues such as theft.Techies on a budget and only wanting to monitor narrow areas such as a doorway or entryway. You’ll be able to hook this straight into your computer or smart tv if you are fluent with technology.Small businesses and techies. The cloud storage plans are the most economical for locations needing a lot of cameras that provide good quality video recordings and extra security features such as the siren.

Outdoor Security Cameras

Outdoor cameras have much higher demands than indoor cameras. They need to be weather proof, have quality night vision capabilities, and great motion sensors.


Ring Floodlight Camera

Canary Flex

Nest Cam Outdoor

Arlo Pro

EZVIZ Outdoor












ProsThe most features with floodlights and siren, great camera quality, and great app supportGreat build and camera quality, can be placed anywhere and positioned towards any angle.Ease of setup, great video quality and field of view.Battery operated so they’re easy to place anywhere, with excellent customer support and very good cloud storage plans.Great camera quality at a very low price. Cover all areas of your property with their 4 camera kit
ConsVery high cost per camera.Highest cost per camera, reports of camera not sending motion alerts as needed.High cost per camera, cloud storage plans add up fast.Initial setup cost is pricier than other options due to requiring a ‘base station’.Setup can be difficult as it is powered by an outlet only.
Field Of View140116130130107.5
Night Vision

Up to 25ft


Up to 60ft
Motion DetectionYes, Customizable Motion Boundaries



Yes, Customizable motion Boundaries
Source Of PowerHard WiredBattery or Outlet


Hard wired
Audio Features2-way audio/110 decibel siren2-way audio2-way audio2-way audio/100+ decibel SirenOptional Mic
Online FeaturesApp Support – Live View, Motion AlertsApp Support -Live Voew.App Support – Live View, Motion Alerts and ReviewApp Support – Live View, Motion Alerts and ReviewApp Support – Live View, Motion Alerts
Size6.5 x 12 x 9.5in1.9 x 1.9 x 4.35in3.5 x 2.8 x 2.8in1.9 x 3.1 x 2.8in2.75 x 6.46in
Cloud Storage CostOne month trial then $3/mo for up to 30 days of recording, per camera.

$10/mo or $100/yr for cloud storage on an unlimited amount of Ring cameras.

One month free trial, then $9.99/mo or $99/yr for 1 device, $14.99/mo or $149/yr for 2-3 devices.

Gives 30 days video playback, advanced detection, one touch access to first responders

10 day video history with intelligent alerts, time lapses, and custom activity zones for $10/mo or $100/yr 30 day video history for $30/mo or $300/yr, cost is per camera.Free 7 days of motion and audio recording for up to 5 cameras.

$10/mo or $100/yr for 30 days of recording on up to 10 cameras.

$15/mo or $150/yr for 60 days of recording on up to 15 cameras.

One Month Trial with 7 day playback.

$6/mo or $60/yr for 7 days of storage.

$11/mo or $110/yr for 30 days of storage.

Amazon Reviews4.5/5 – >1200 reviews4/5 – >2,400 reviews4.5/5 – >2,900 reviews4.5/5 – >9,000 reviews4/5 – > 375 reviews
Additional Features2 floodlightsNoneNoneLocal Storage Option/ Compatible with Home automation.Built in 1TB storage/Smart Home Enabled
Weather ProofYesYesYesYes
Best ForFamilies in homes with large yards where floodlights would be useful.Families with a larger budget in single family homes wanting the added security of a siren when intruders are present and to more rapidly alert first responders. Can be used as an intercom system as well with its 2-way audio.Families, elderly, and non-techie people. Nest is known as the easiest to set up, and very reliable, with an intuitive app. It just works, you don’t have to have technical knowledge.Small businesses. The cloud storage plans are the most economical for locations needing a lot of cameras that provide good quality video recordings and extra security features such as the siren.Techies with a family in a home. The set up is not the easiest, and will take someone with experience to set it up, but if you have the time and knowledge then this is a great low-cost option that has great camera quality.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Home Security Camera System

Choosing the right home security camera for your particular situation seems like a daunting task. There are so many different systems, options, features, plans, and equipment out there how do you possibly choose?

Well, it all begins with learning the basics. Once you know the basics, you will be able to make an educated decision about which home security camera system best fits your needs, skill set, and budget.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to select a home security camera system. You can also use this guide as a checklist for what to look for and what you need to know for each step of the decision-making process.

Home Ownership

A big part of owning a home is making sure you have systems in place to protect your family and property. However, just like anything else, there are some security systems for homeowners only, and others that will work for homeowners and renters alike.

The first thing you need to determine is whether to purchase or lease your new security system.

If You Own Your Home

If you own your home and plan on living there for a while, you might consider buying a permanent wired or wireless system. Permanent security systems can generally be purchased at a lower upfront cost and have longer-term monitoring plan commitments. The security company will take a loss by selling you the equipment upfront at a reduced rate and make up that loss by having you commit to a long-term monitoring contract. So technically, it’s a win-win for both of you. Not to mention that you will own the equipment which means you can take it with you when you do decide to move if you so choose.

Some security companies will want to lease you a security system while appearing to offer you the equipment at no cost. But the cost of the equipment for a leased system is built into the price. So the problem with leasing a security system rather than buying one is that you will continue to pay the higher monthly cost for that system even after the initial cost of the equipment has been recouped which is generally around 18-36 months. However, with that being said, there are times when leasing a security system makes sense like when you live in a rented home or won’t be staying in one place for a long period of time.

If You Are a Renter

If you are renting a home, apartment, or similar living arrangement, you might consider buying a portable, wireless DIY security system for three reasons. One, because it’s portable and, therefore, you can take it with you when you move. Two, because with a wireless, portable DIY security system, you won’t be putting holes in walls or causing any other type of damage to your rented home. And three, because you won’t find yourself stuck in a long-term contract that you will have to break when you move costing you an exorbitant amount of money in contract cancellation fees (unless you opted for and signed a long-term monitoring contract for that system).


Compatibility is another factor you need to consider before buying a home security camera system. Because you don’t want to end up paying for an expensive system that isn’t compatible with your home or wireless equipment, etc. Nor do you want to end up signing a long-term contract only to discover upon installation that the equipment you bought isn’t compatible. In addition, there are different types of alarm systems for different living scenarios. For example, some alarm systems are specifically designed for rural areas, whereas others can be used just about anywhere.

So the second thing you need to determine when choosing a home security camera is whether or not it’s compatible with your home.

There are two types of home security cameras which are Wi-Fi cameras and hardwired cameras.

Wireless Home Security Cameras

A Wi-Fi security system, also known as a wireless security system, uses individual wireless sensors that are located throughout your home and they communicate wirelessly with the control panel, usually via a radio frequency signal. The control panel will then connect with an outside source using a cellular uplink. These security systems also allow you to put features in places where wired systems can’t be placed. So before you go any further, you will need to determine if your internet connection is compatible with the home security equipment you want to buy.

There are a few drawbacks that come with a Wi-Fi security system though. For example, the drawbacks of a Wi-Fi security system are its reliability, because Wi-Fi routers and cell phones are subject to downtime and interference that could cause your system to fail to respond, or respond inappropriately which might trigger a false alarm. In addition, a Wi-Fi security system could experience electromagnetic interference from things like baby monitors, remote controls, microwaves, and power lines. You could also experience structural interference such as from walls, floors, ceilings, etc. However, overall, there are very reliable.

Hardwired Home Security Cameras

A hardwired security system will connect the sensors to the control panel through a network of wires that are installed inside the walls, ceilings, and floors of your home. They then communicate with an outside source using your phone lines. Many systems also come with a cellular backup to keep your system running if the phone lines go down or are cut.

If your home is already prewired for a security system, you could choose to use the same provider by calling to have new service setup. However, if you don’t want to use the same provider, you might be able to just reprogram the phone number and have the control panel updated since, in most cases, security systems generally use the same types of technology.

So if you choose a hardwired system, all you need to do is either have the existing hardwired system reconnected and updated. You will also need to have a landline connected if you choose that type of system. Then you will need to consider your preferences, the design of your home, and the feasibility of the installation process with regards to the wires and the aesthetics when it comes to drilling holes in walls and floors and the visibility of the wires that are present.

The Different Types of Security Cameras

There are several different types of security camera systems from which you can choose. Then you will need to determine which types of those cameras best fit your particular needs. There are a lot of them to research and compare before deciding on which one best fits your needs.

So the third thing you will need to do is to decide whether you want indoor security cameras, outdoor security cameras or both.

Indoor Home Security Cameras

Indoor security cameras come with a wide variety of available options such as hardwired, wireless, DIY installation, professional installation, professional monitoring, or self-monitoring. Traditional home security cameras were all IP cameras, but with today’s smarthome functionalities, many security cameras are designed to work with smarthome automation features rather than via an internet connection. Old camera systems were, and some still are, difficult to install, but many newer camera systems are plug and play installations that can be accessed, monitored, and controlled by an easy to use mobile app.

So you will first need to determine how you want to use your indoor security cameras before you will be able to decide which camera system or security equipment package you want to purchase. Do you just want to keep an eye on your kids, pets, or babysitter? Do you want a security camera that you can move around or do you want it permanently installed? Do you want to be able to save the video footage, if so for how long? Do you want to be able to use your security cameras with your other devices? And how much do you want to spend on your new indoor security camera system?

Let’s take a look at the different area’s you need to explore in order to make an educated decision about which indoor security camera system you need.

  • Video Quality – Most of today’s indoor security cameras offer 1080p video quality which has a sharp picture that’s easy to stream over your Wi-Fi network. There are also some 720p indoor cameras still on the market as well. The picture won’t be as clear, but the pricing will generally be lower.
  • Night Vision – Night vision is an important feature when you’re talking about any security camera. This is what will enable you to see what that noise is that’s coming from another part of your home. The main thing you need to look at here is the range of vision. Some night vision cameras have a shorter range than others.
  • Wide-Angle Lens – The wider the camera lens is, the more you will be able to monitor and view all areas from the front, left, and right of the camera lens. Most cameras have an average of about a 130-degree angle, but some have more and some have less. There are also 360-degree wide-angle lenses as well; however, sometimes on the super-wide-angled cameras, distortion can be a problem.
  • Live Streaming – This option will remotely let you see what’s going on via a video camera in your home in real-time from anywhere and at any time.
  • Two-Way Talk – A two-way talk feature uses a microphone and speaker located on your camera or control panel to communicate with guests, intruders, and even your kids and pets remotely.
  • Alerts – Most indoor cameras have motion and/or sound sensors that will send you an alert if motion and/or sound is detected. And many models can even distinguish or recognize family members and pets in which case an alert will not be sent.
  • Video Storage – There are a wide variety of security cameras that offer some type of video storage, whether that be a cloud storage option or local storage on a microSD card. Some companies charge for this service and others do not. So keep that in mind.
  • Adjustability – Some indoor security cameras offer a fixed camera view and others offer a camera that will pan, tilt, and zoom so you can scan and view a larger area. So while the fixed camera will cost less, you might have to buy more of them to cover the area you want to monitor. However, while a pan and tilt camera seems like it costs more, you might only need one camera to cover that same area, which will ultimately end up costing you less.
  • App – Most of today’s security cameras come with an app you can use to remotely access, monitor, and control your security and home automation equipment from your mobile device and/or laptop/computer.
  • Price – The cost of your new indoor security camera system will vary greatly depending on which equipment options, features, or packages you choose. And that will all depend on your particular security needs, as well as the size of your home and how many areas of coverage you need. Therefore, there’s no real way to give you an average or even a price range for what you might need. You can start by deciding on the features, options, equipment package, and monitoring (if you want that), then do a price comparison for the companies that offer the equipment or product packages you want.

Other Types of Indoor Home Security Cameras to Consider

In addition to traditional indoor security cameras, there are also other available types of indoor cameras to consider.

Nanny Cams

Nanny cams are a great way to keep an eye on your kids, pets, and babysitters, etc. when you’re not around. Nanny cams come in two types which are hidden cams and exposed cams. You can legally use either type of nanny cam (except in the bathroom or other private space like in a nanny’s bedroom) without the other person’s consent as long as it is video only and doesn’t have an audio feature. Many states do not allow you to record audio without the other person’s consent.

Pet Cams

A pet cam is the same type of camera as the nanny cam. However, some pet cams have additional features as well. Some of the newer pet cams will allow you to interact with your pet through built-in functions such as a laser light you can use to play with your pet remotely. Or a treat dispensing pet cam that enables you to dispense treats to your pet remotely.

Baby Monitors

Baby monitors are slightly different than nanny cams or other security systems. Many newer baby monitors include extra features that a nanny cam doesn’t. For example, many of today’s baby monitors come with popular features such as heat and humidity sensors, two-way audio capabilities, remote light displays that help occupy and soothe your baby, a high-resolution feed with a narrow range of vision, a snapshot function that captures when your baby turns, and some even have limited networking capabilities.

Outdoor Home Security Cameras

Outdoor security cameras are your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your family, home, and property. Outdoor surveillance cameras are not only a deterrent, they can also serve as a pre-warning that someone or something has breached your designated perimeter. They also allow you to monitor and control what goes on the inside of and outside of your home. Many outdoor and video doorbell security cameras also come with interactive features that enable you to not only monitor what’s happening, but to also communicate in real-time with anyone at your door and/or other parts of your property.

However, there are a wide variety of outdoor security cameras, as well as a variety of different types of those security cameras available. For example, there are CCTV cameras, infrared, DVR CMOS, and CCD chip type cameras so it can be hard to decide which one is best suited to your particular situation. So let’s take a look at what’s important in an outdoor surveillance camera then you can decide.

  • Analog Security Cameras – Analog security cameras use closed-circuit television (CCTV) software programs and connect to a computer. They come with a lens, DSP chip, and weatherproof housing. CCTV cameras are wired systems that receive video from the camera then they store that video on a hard drive. The images can then be converted into digital format through a DVR so they can be live streamed via the internet using a built-in server.
  • Network Security Cameras – Network security cameras are IP cameras which are more expensive and more advanced than analog cameras. These don’t require a DVR because the ability to change it to a digital format is built-in to them. Many of these cameras also come with an SD card where video can be stored. Most network security cameras also have the ability to stream video directly to a network video recorder or to any computer or mobile device. Although that will require much larger bandwidth and storage capabilities, so you need to be aware of that.
  • Wide-Angle Lens Security Cameras – If you have a large property, or large area you want to be monitored such as a backyard, etc. you should consider a camera with a wide-angle lens so you don’t have to purchase multiple cameras to cover the same area.
  • Bullet Security Cameras – These cameras have a sleek look like a bullet and are great for mounting on a wall or ceiling. Most of them are stationary and don’t have a pan, tilt, zoom feature which means they can be easily avoided by intruders, but they are better than having nothing.
  • Dome Security Cameras – Dome cameras are shaped like a dome and are very visible to visitors. These are great cameras and because of their dome shape, they’re virtually impossible for an intruder to tell which direction the camera is pointing which means they can’t be avoided and that is a great deterrent in itself.
  • Pan, Tilt, and Zoom Security Cameras – Pan/tilt/zoom cameras are great for large outdoor areas. They have the ability to scan and record video from different angles. And because they have the pan, tilt, zoom feature, that in itself can replace the need to buy several cameras for the same space. In addition, most of these cameras can be remotely viewed and controlled.
  • Night Vision – Many of today’s security cameras come with night vision included with them. Night vision gives a camera the ability to capture video in shadows, shady areas, and at night which is a great safety feature.
  • Quality Lens and Camera Pixels – When buying an outdoor camera, look for one that has a quality lens. A cheaper camera’s lens will usually work fine in a close proximity like a front porch. However, the further out it goes, the quality drops dramatically. For example, a more expensive camera will provide you with clear video up to about 100-130 feet away. Also, security cameras generally have either 720 pixels or 1080 pixels. The more pixels a camera has, the clearer the picture will be.
  • Video Storage – Video storage is an important feature, especially for an outdoor camera. If you want to catch and record an intruder in the act, you’ll need a camera that has a way to record a limited or unlimited number of video clips. Some cameras will store your videos in the cloud and others have different video storage options, it just depends on the equipment and whether you want to pay for what might be an additional service like cloud storage, etc.
  • Motion Detection and Live Streaming – Other important outdoor camera features are motion detection and live streaming. Some cameras only record when they detect motion, which saves you on storage space, and others have a continuous live streaming and recording feature. In addition, some cameras also have a fast forward feature so you can easily scan your recordings which is helpful if you’re looking for evidence of a specific event or activity.

Other Types of Outdoor Home Security Cameras to Consider

There are a couple of other options available when talking about outdoor security cameras, which includes doorbell cameras and floodlight cameras, both of which are extremely popular.

Doorbell Camera

Doorbell cameras are a relative newcomer to the security industry, but they’ve become very popular, very quickly, and for good reason. Doorbell cameras have a built-in surveillance camera that you can monitor and view from any computer or mobile device. A doorbell camera will show you a live video feed of your front porch area. They are discreet and allow you to screen your visitors even if you’re not there.

Most doorbell cameras come with a two-way talk feature, motion detection, full-color night vision, remote access via an app, and most can be integrated with your other home security equipment.

Floodlight Camera

Floodlight cameras are another discreet security option with plenty of included features. Most floodlight cameras come with a video option, night vision, live streaming, motion detection, and can be hardwired or Wi-Fi connected. And some even come with a remote-activated siren, object and people detections, and more.

Home Automation Options

If you want home automation features as part of your security package, You will need to decide which home automation features you want, then find a home security company and/or home security packages that have what you need and want.

So the fourth thing to consider when purchasing a home security camera is whether or not you want to include home automation features.

Many home automation features, including indoor and outdoor security cameras, can be integrated with home automation products such as Alexa, Amazon’s Echo and Cloud Cam, Nest, Wi-Fi smart lightbulbs, thermostat, door locks, garage door controls, doorbells, smart plugs, water, smoke, carbon monoxide and freeze sensors, robot vacuum cleaners, window blinds, and more.


With some home security camera systems and/or companies you will pay an upfront cost for the equipment, then pay a monthly monitoring fee, usually on a long-term contract. Other home security companies will offer you “free” equipment then sign you up for a long-term monitoring contract. However, with those, the price of the equipment is already built-in to the monthly monitoring fees, so technically they are not free.

So the fifth thing to consider is your budget and the cost of the type of system and other options you might need.

The overall costs, which will vary depending on which route you decide to go, include equipment, equipment installation, activation fees, monitoring fees, and sometimes security companies will also have other one-time up-front charges as well. In addition, if you opt for home automation options, there could be some additional expenses associated with those also.

There is really no way to give you the exact cost of what your home security camera system will cost because there are too many variables, including the different types of equipment available, quality, functionality, features, options, etc. Therefore, we recommend you use this guide to make notes about what equipment and features you want and need for your particular situation. Then take some time to research and compare the equipment, features, and options you chose. That will provide you with enough information to make an educated decision about which home security camera system is right for you and your budget.


Knowing and understanding the most common home security features available will help you decide on the equipment that’s best for you.

So the sixth thing you should go over before deciding on a home security camera system are the features included with most equipment packages and/or security systems and what they do.

Once you understand what each of those features does, you will be able to decide what you actually do or don’t really need. Here are some popular home security camera features included with most security camera systems.

  • Night Vision Cameras – Most of today’s indoor and outdoor security cameras come with night vision; however, not all night vision cameras are created equally. Night vision is a very important feature of any security camera. When reviewing the night vision feature on a security camera, you should look for a high resolution such as 1080p, how wide of an angle it covers, and what range in number of feet does that camera have. Most cameras will give you a clear picture at a close range, but only quality cameras will be able to provide you with a clear picture from a distance.
  • Motion Activated Cameras – A motion-activated camera is one that can detect and record any movement within its viewing field. Some security cameras only record when movement is detected and other security cameras have a continuous viewing and recording option. And some motion activated security cameras can even distinguish between people, pets, and objects. Another thing to consider is the range in which the motion detection and activation can reach then compare it to what you need.
  • Weather Resistance – Make sure any outdoor camera you buy is weatherproof and waterproof. An outdoor camera needs to be able to handle a wide variety of extreme weather conditions such as intense sunlight, high winds, driving rains, ice storms and a wide range of freezing and below freezing temperatures. You will also need to make sure the hardware you choose, or that is included with the purchase, is tough enough to withstand those same conditions as well.
  • Live View – A live view, also known as live streaming is a great feature to have and most of today’s security cameras come with this feature, although the picture quality is better on some than others. The live views can be remotely accessed, monitored, and controlled via a computer or mobile device. However, there are a few that only offer mobile device access. Live streaming video is shown to you in real-time so you can see what’s going on in and around your home at all times. This will allow you to proactively handle any activity or event before it becomes a potential problem.
  • 2-Way Audio – Many security cameras and most doorbell cameras have a two-way talk feature. The two-way talk feature will allow you to communicate via audio and video with any visitor or unwanted guest. And many of them also include a panic alarm or siren you can activate at the touch of a button.
  • Recording – We touched on continuous video recording a moment ago, but this is an important feature and if it is one you need, you should make sure the security camera you choose includes a continuous video recording (CVR) feature. Otherwise, you might unknowingly purchase one that only records when motion is detected, or worse, one that records over previously recorded video. Neither of which will do you any good when you need to see the entire timeline of what happened or didn’t happen. Then you need to make sure that video is stored and stored for a long enough period of time that it will be beneficial to you. Which leads us to our next feature— video storage options.
  • Storage – The two most common video storage options are storing your security videos locally or via cloud storage.
    • Local – Local video storage is when your security videos will be stored on a local device in your home, which is usually on an SD card. Local storage is generally the cheaper of the two options. You simply buy the equipment and there are no cloud storage fees.
    • Cloud – Cloud video storage is when your security videos are not stored locally on your device but are stored remotely in the cloud. The benefit of cloud storage is that your videos are immediately uploaded to a safe place where they can’t be deleted or tampered with. And you can access your stored videos at any time from anywhere. The only drawback of cloud storage is that most security companies charge for the amount of space you are given to store your videos. So the more video time you store, the more it is going to cost you. The industry average is about 1GB, which isn’t much, so keep that cost factor in mind when opting for cloud storage.


There are two types of home security camera installation options available and which one you choose will greatly depend on the equipment you buy and who you buy that equipment from.

So the seventh and final thing you need to consider when buying a home security camera system is the installation.

A good way to determine whether to buy a DIY equipment package or a security system that offers professional installation is by assessing your existing skill set and the tools you have readily available to you.

If you are not accustomed to performing DIY projects and don’t have the right tools for the job, you might want to consider looking for a home security camera package that offers or comes with professional installation. Otherwise, you might end up in a world of mess if you bought an expensive DIY home security package then weren’t able to install it properly.

So let’s look at both options, then you can decide which one is right for you.

DIY Installation

A DIY home security camera system is one that you install yourself without the assistance of a professional. Most DIY home security cameras offer access to how-to videos and other helpful information that will guide you through the installation process. However, it’s important to take note of what tools will be required for every piece of equipment included in the package.

Also, many DIY home security camera systems are small and wireless and, therefore, are powered by batteries. That means you will need to make sure you have the right batteries for each piece of equipment if they are not included with your purchase.

It is also a good idea to stock up on those batteries as well because you never know when one might go out. Sometimes the required batteries are standard batteries that you can buy anywhere and some are specialty batteries so you’ll want to pay attention to that also.

Professional Installation

Some security companies offer professional installation with their equipment and some do not. And some offer professional installation as an option, but you have to pay for it. Most wireless systems are fairly easy to install yourself, but that’s not always the case.

Most hardwired systems lean more towards the difficult scale when it comes to installation because you have to determine the best way to lay out the wires in and around your home. And usually, it will require you to drill holes in your walls, floors, and/or ceilings. Then, if there are any obstructions or something that is blocking the signal causing your system to not work properly, you will have to troubleshoot and correct that too.

So if you have chosen a hardwired security system and professional installation is an option, it’s best to allow the experts to install it for you. Or, to pay a professional to install it for you if it’s not included with your purchase.

List of Home Security Camera Companies

After you have determined what features you need, the amount of money you are willing to spend and the method of installation you want; the next step is to research your options. The following is a list of the most popular home security camera systems on the market.

Home Security Camera FAQs

What is the resolution feature in a home security camera?

The resolution is the way the size of the video is measured which is in pixels. The more pixels there are, the higher the resolution is and the clearer the video will be. A higher resolution also allows you to digitally zoom in to the video without it becoming blurry. So, for example, if you are trying to read a license plate that was recorded on your security video, you will have a better chance of doing so with a high-resolution security camera. A good resolution is 1080p or higher.

What does live streaming on a home security camera mean?

Most security cameras come with a live streaming feature that is connected using your internet. This feature enables you to check in on your home to view what’s happening at any given moment using the companion mobile app and your mobile device. This gives you the ability to immediately handle any situation as it arises.

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage is where security videos or video clips are stored. A cloud storage feature will send your recorded videos to a remote server that can be accessed via the internet. Some brands offer a limited amount of cloud storage for free then charge for additional stored minutes. Other brands charge a fee that will depend on how many minutes of security videos you want to be stored, which is usually available for up to 30-days or so.

What is meant by field of view in a home security camera?

With a home security camera, the field of view is referring to the viewing angle and how wide of an angle the camera can capture and see. The field of view is measured in degrees and is affected by the lens size. For example, a wide-angle lens will produce a greater field of view than a security camera with a larger lens and they can capture a large area, but the objects they capture will appear smaller in the image. If you want to capture a large area, you will need an ultra-wide angle security camera which also reduces the need to purchase multiple cameras because it can cover a larger area.

What is the difference between a weather-resistant home security camera and a waterproof home security camera?

If you will be using a home security camera indoors or in a covered/protected area outside your home, a weather-resistant home security camera will be fine. However, a weather-resistant security camera isn’t designed to withstand direct contact with the elements, sprinkler systems, or other direct water sources. If you need a home security camera that will be installed outside where it will have direct contact with rain, snow, ice, dust, etc. make sure you purchase a waterproof home security camera. You can do this by checking the camera systems IP rating. A good indoor IP rating is less than 44. A good weather-resistant IP rating is between 44 and 65. A good waterproof rating is between 66 and 67. And a good submersible IP rating is 68 or higher.

How does the motion detection feature work in a home security camera?

The motion detection feature in a home security camera works using either a passive infrared sensor or by comparing the variation of pixels between the different camera frames. Then, when the motion detection feature senses motion, it will trigger an alarm and send you and/or a monitoring center an alert so you can check the live stream on the mobile app and respond accordingly.

What is night vision on a home security camera?

The night vision feature uses infrared light, which is invisible to the naked eye, to see at night. So a home security camera with night vision will enable you to view your security cameras’ feeds at night and still be able to see, either in black and white or color depending on your camera, at night as if it were in daylight.

Is it legal to use a video surveillance camera in public areas like my front yard?

Yes, but every jurisdiction has its own set of surveillance laws you need to know before installing your new security cameras. For example, some places allow you to record video but not audio. Others require you to post a notice that you are using surveillance cameras, whereas it’s never OK to point your cameras to record what’s going on inside your neighbor’s home.

How much do security cameras cost?

The different types of available home security cameras are pretty much endless. However, the average home security camera can run anywhere from $100-$350 or more depending on the quality, size, and features it has. Alternatively, some home security systems are provided free, including the cameras; however, they will usually require you to sign a long-term monitoring agreement in exchange for using their equipment.

What are the most important features to look for in a home security camera?

The most important features in any home security camera, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor system, or if it’s wired or wireless are the following. You should purchase the highest quality video cameras you can afford. Then look for high definition video, a wide-angle lens, long-range (if needed), night vision (preferably color night vision), and pan/tilt/zoom features. Other features to consider are a continuous recording option rather than an intermittent recording. And, as much cloud storage for those recordings as you can afford.

What’s Next?

If you have any questions about the information or equipment found in this home security camera buyers guide, please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to answer all your questions and help you down the right path to a happier, carefree, more convenient, secure home for you and your family.


It’s easy to fall into analysis paralysis when considering all the options available, but what it really comes down to is your lifestyle and budget. If you’re a bachelor wanting a basic single camera to keep tabs on your pets in your apartment, then you probably don’t need a system with a loud siren or a cloud storage plan.

If you’re family in a home with a large yard then you may want to choose between the systems that work both indoor and outdoor, with 2-way audio to serve as an intercom system as well. In any case, you’ll be able to make a confident choice with all the variables and unique features conveniently laid out above.

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Safety and Security Advisor
Travis is a retired Burglary Detective, having tallied 5,000+ burglary and theft cases throughout his career. He also served as an Arson Investigator, where he cracked the case of a serial arsonist, and made the arrest and prosecuted the would-be bomber of ABC-7 Studio in LA. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a Safety and Security Advisor. Learn more about Travis here
Written By
Andrew Garcia
Lead Security Editor
As Lead Security Editor, Andrew strategically guides SafeHome.org and the resources we publish. He holds a BA in business, and has 10+ years of experience in content development. Today, Andrew edits and publishes articles, guides, and other resources to meet our rigorous standards. Learn more about Andrew here

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