The Amazon-owned Ring cameras are wireless, easy to install, high definition video cameras with inexpensive cloud storage. We love Ring’s app. you can share videos with family, neighbors and even local law enforcement.
Lorex offers plenty of powerful cameras with reliable technology and image resolution up to 4K in some models. And with lots of equipment and bundling options, Lorex cameras won’t break the bank.
Canary’s trio of all-in-one security devices bring something unique to the industry: indoor air quality monitoring. They’re also well-made and well-designed cameras that record smoothly in 1080p for hassle-free self-monitoring.
Bottom Line: Ring tops our list for being the best home security camera overall. They offer a lineup of versatile home security cameras that can be used indoor or outdoor.
Bottom Line: The Lorex design and construction quality is second-to-none. And built-in DVR storage combined with impressive daytime video makes it a top choice for those willing to pay the price.
Bottom Line: The Nest Cam has a reputation for quality and reliability. The security cameras are 100% wireless, offer mobile access and control, and a lineup of high-tech features.
Bottom Line: As a top contender, Arlo’s DIY security cameras are easy to install, come chock-full of impressive features, and offer reliable indoor and outdoor surveillance.
Bottom Line: Blink is your no-contract, wireless, DIY home security camera. Ideal for renters and smaller homes, Blink is relatively basic but comes with a palatable price tag.
Bottom Line: Self-monitor and save! Kuna’s low-price DIY security cams offer reliable home protection. The products are fairly basic, but sometimes basic is all you need.
Bottom Line: Zmodo is out to prove something with their wireless security cameras. They might lack super-advanced features, but they’re easy to install, easy on the pocketbook, and easy on the eyes.
|System||Ring||Lorex||Canary||Google Nest||Arlo||SimpliCam||Blink||Kuna||Zmodo||Wyze||Night Owl||Reolink|
|Ranking||1st View on Amazon||2nd View Plans||3rd View Plans||4th View on Amazon||5th View on Amazon||6th View Plans||7th View on Amazon||8th View on Amazon||9th View on Amazon||10th View on Amazon||11th View on Amazon||12th View Plans|
|Best Accolade||Best Camera Overall||Most Versatile||Best All-in-One||Best Google Camera||Best DIY Install Camera||Best User-Friendly Camera||Best for Renters||Best Cheap Option||Most Affordable||Best Value||Best Customizations||Most Options|
|Equipment Cost||Starting at $59||Starting at $29||Starting at $99||Starting at $199||Starting at $179||$99.99||Starting at $69||Starting at $149||Starting at $29||Starting at $19||Starting at $79||Starting at $69|
|Monthly Cost||Starting at $3.00||N/A||Starting at $9.99||Starting at $5.00||Starting at $2.99||Starting at $14.99||Starting at $4.99||Starting at $4.99||N/A||N/A||N/A||Starting at $3|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, Ethernet||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, Ethernet|
|Power||Battery, Wired, PoE||Battery, Wired, PoE||Battery, Wired||Wired||Battery, Wired, PoE||Wired||Battery||Battery, Wired||Battery, Wired, PoE||Wired||Battery, Wired||Battery, Wired|
|Field of View||Up to 140°||Up to 160°||Up to 147°||Up to 130°||Up to 180°||Up to 120°||Up to 110°||Up to 155°||Up to 360°||Up to 110°||Up to 180°||Up to 140°|
|Resolution||Up to 1080p||Up to 2160p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 2160p||Up to 720p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p|
|Storage||Cloud||Cloud, Local||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud, Local||Cloud, Local||Cloud, Local|
|Google Home Compatibility||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||1 Year||1-2 Years||1-2 Years||2 Years||1 Year||3 Years||1 Year||1 Year||2-3 Years||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
|Read Review||Ring Camera Review||Lorex Review||Canary Camera Review||Nest Cam Review||Arlo Review||SimpliCam Review||Blink Review||Kuna Review||Zmodo Review||Wyze Review||Night Owl Review||Reolink Review|
We spend thousands of hours testing home security cameras hands-on. So we’ve been able to find the best security cameras for specific lifestyles and scenarios. From wireless DIY cameras to robust HDR camera systems, we’ve done the research and testing to compile the best options for your needs.
Ring cameras are the best addition to any home. These easy to use, DIY home security cameras are affordable and integrate with Alexa products to give you a complete home automation experience.
The Ring Camera system is an exceptional, easy-to-use home security camera system that works effortlessly with an existing Ring Video Doorbell. It’s packed with features and less expensive than many competitor products.
The Ring Camera is an all-around good investment for many property owners. It’s designed to provide all of the features most property owners want – two-way talk, motion-triggered notifications, and an easy-to-install design. Both indoor and outdoor cameras are available, which makes them an easy investment for all-over protection with your home.
When you consider the technology and features of the Ring Cam, it’s clear it is a good option. The video quality excellent HD, with night vision and live view, ensuring you can always capture what is happening outside of your door or home. It’s also very reliable and can handle less-than-ideal outdoor conditions. The indoor cam is also very flexible and durable. The cameras offer home security done your way with sirens and zooming that’s really easy to use. It’s all managed through the app, which means you can receive a notification of someone outside the home, zoom in, sound a siren, and tell them to get away from your property in a matter of seconds.
There are several Ring Camera options on the market, including the Stick Up Cam, Spotlight Cam, and Floodlight Cam – any of these are beneficial, and all are designed with durable construction. The Ring Protect Plans allow you to record what’s happening outside of the home, so you can go back to verify what’s occurred. There’s a charge of $3 per month for this, though there’s a 30-day free trial that makes for a good opportunity to try it out. You can upgrade this to the Ring Protect Plus Plan, which is $10 per month, and gives you the ability to connect your Ring Doorbell and unlimited Ring Cameras to the plan.
As a security camera system, the Ring Camera is reliable and affordable, which makes it a good choice for many homeowners. The most expensive version, the Floodlight Cam, is $249 at the regular price. With good customer service and reliable product design, this Ring is an excellent choice for most people. It’s also one of the best options for those who want a seamless, inexpensive way of monitoring their home in real-time from an app.View on Amazon
The crème de la crème of security cameras. Lorex combines the latest features and tech with quality construction. Of course, a premium product comes with a price-tag to match. So brace yourself.
The Lorex security camera system is a quality product, but it is a bit more high tech than others on the market. For some, this is perfect. For others, it can be a bit more intimidating to install and to manage. Nevertheless, the quality is outstanding.
The Lorex home security system is a wide range product. That is, users can select from numerous camera options to fit their needs. Its product line up includes outdoor cameras, HD security cameras (more commonly used for commercial needs) as well as HD IP cameras. The wireless security cameras available from the company are some of the best they offer for home security. They are reliable and they are well made, which means they can function well even in tough conditions. The daytime video capture quality is excellent, though the nighttime video is not as good as others.
These are top-of-the-line systems with long-lasting batteries (allowing for wireless installation). They also are very weather resistant and very reliable. They come with a DVR system to store data. This does add to the cost of the system, making it more expensive. It also makes it a bit more difficult to install for some users.
However, the design of the system means there are no necessary long term contracts or monthly subscription or costly monthly bills to pay for storage. At the same time, this system offers real-time video access and FHSS technology. It includes listen-in audio due to the built-in microphone on it. And, SignalGuard is another nice feature that helps improve the reliability of the connection.See Lorex Packages & Offers
Canary cameras are great for casual self-monitoring, and with smooth HD resolution, you’ll get reliable protection for your property in all three Canary devices.
Canary cameras are discreet and designed with simplicity and style in mind. You only have three cameras to choose from: the Flex, the View, and the Pro. This is clearly a stark contrast from the Lorexes and Reolinks out there – but if you look closer into Canary’s feature set, you’ll find these devices operate more like an all-in-one security experience than mere cameras.
Canary’s all-in-one security approach includes air quality monitoring, which is something you don’t see every day in traditional cameras. With the brand’s robust premium service plan, Canary also offers a useful panic button option that can be activated if you ever feel unsafe.
With Canary, it’s best to choose a camera based on how much you want to pay per month, rather than focusing solely on the cost of the equipment. That’s a big selling point with this brand: Canary has several camera bundle options that include a free camera with the purchase of a premium service plan. This approach applies to all three cameras in Canary’s lineup.
Installation is easy with all three cameras, too. The Canary Flex has a rechargeable battery and weatherproof housing, so you can install it outside if you choose.
Finally, the brand’s panic button feature is a refreshing addition, proving Canary is a forward-thinking player in home security.See Canary Packages & Offers
The Nest Cam is the best DIY, user-friendly camera. It’s built to last and boasts the latest tech that you’d expect from a Google-owned product. It’s the smart way to secure your nest.
The Nest Cam is perhaps one of the most recognizable names in home security cameras today. It offers a wide range of benefits including exceptional durability and overall ease of installation. Nest lets users access their cameras from any location with their phone. It works well even when it is dark, raining, or bright sun. It offers a variety of features that make securing your home a bit easier to do.
The Nest Cam is the type of home security camera you need when it comes to protecting your home. The company’s security camera is highly reliable and quickly recognizes actions occurring in a space. It provides an immediate alert to the user’s smartphone. And, from there, the user has options. He or she can simply contact the police, or they can use the voice component to interact with the person at the house. This can scare away an intruder, or it can help to clarify why someone is present.
The overall system is reliable and built to last. It has a waterproof housing to ensure it keeps working through any type of weather. The unique lens and structure help to minimize the amount of damage to the camera as well as keeps it clear. In addition to this, the system records everything. Once it is activated, it will continue to work and record. The Nest Cam can record for up to 30 days straight. It stores all of this video content in the cloud. This ensures it remains accessible to those who need it.
Perhaps one of the best features that help make the Nest Camera stand out is that it can distinguish between a person and a thing. It knows how to pick up activity and record it. This means there are fewer false alarms present. In addition to this, the system offers a special alert when someone is walking up the steps or approaching the home. Users can set activity zones, too, which means areas like the driveway or the backdoor get constant monitoring.
In addition to purchasing just the Nest cameras, many will want to upgrade to more automation. You can select from several packages and services available. Automate everything from your home’s security to the thermostat inside. It’s highly diverse and provides good overall access to your home from a distance.View on Amazon
Setup is a cinch with Arlo. If you can spare 30 minutes, you’ll be outfitted with quality indoor/outdoor wireless home protection. That’s not all — Arlo offers plenty of feature-rich camera options.
The Arlo home security camera can be a very good option for many reasons – it is very easy to use, simple to access, and it takes less than 30 minutes to set up. Homeowners also get a wide range of camera options to choose from (with budget-friendly options). The company’s system is completely wireless and offers night vision. Here’s our breakdown of the home security cameras from Arlo.
The Arlo home security camera is a good option for nearly anyone. It is a system you can install on your own. You can use it for both indoor and outdoor surveillance. As a completely wireless system, you do not have to worry about the overall installation process. The system is durable and has a sound reputation of having solid, well-built equipment. The company also offers several camera options to choose from, which can make it a good option for those who want flexibility in selecting what is right for their needs. Options include the Arlo, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Go, Arlo Q, Arlo Q Plus, Arlo Baby, and the Arlo Security Light.
Once the cameras are in place, they will turn on when they sense any type of motion. The company provides three subscription options for users to choose from. For many who are just starting out, the Basic plan is a good place to be. The Basic plan does not have a monthly fee, but you will pay upfront equipment costs. Other versions include a Premier and Elite plan, both of which have equipment costs. However, the equipment is customized, so you really get your money’s worth here.
The Arlo system’s best features include unlimited support for the higher-level plans and the ability to record on numerous cameras. The Basic plan offers five, the Premier plan offers 10, and the Elite plan gives you 15 cameras. You can tap into continuous video recording if you would like to. The Basic plan stores your video for up to seven days in the cloud at no cost. The Elite option gives you 60 days. Overall, this home security camera option works well for those who want flexibility at a low price.View on Amazon
SimpliCam is the most user-friendly camera in our lineup. Like other equipment in SimpliSafe’s security system packages, this camera is lightweight, intuitive, and remarkably easy to install.
The SimpliCam, in a word, is simple. You won’t find fancy accessories or future-tech here. What we did find in our tests, however, was a well-performing and well-made camera with smooth performance from its accompanying mobile app.
And, we couldn’t talk about anything in SimpliSafe’s lineup without mentioning its refreshing simplicity. For installation, all we had to do was plug in, power on, create an account in our app, and follow the steps to set up the camera. Within minutes, we were up and running with our SimpliCam.
From there, it was easy to jump into the setup process. The app guided us through syncing the camera, and then it was all up to us. We explored our SimpliCam’s settings, which let us adjust video resolution, schedule and manage our notifications, check the strength of our Wi-Fi, and even enable the camera’s privacy shutter.
We noted, then, that two options for video resolution are available on this camera: 480p or 720p. Switching back between those two options didn’t appear to affect the quality of the images. If your home Wi-Fi drops out or slows down at random times, you’ll appreciate the lower-resolution output. It pulls less bandwidth from your Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to deal with a slow-performing app. This is something SimpliCam’s users really love, and so did we!
Keep in mind that many other security cameras we’ve tested are built with higher resolution (1080p is the most common). With the SimpliCam, that meant it was slightly harder to make out specific objects in the camera’s view.
All told, we enjoyed getting to know SimpliCam and appreciate that “deceptively easy” theme that runs through all of its features. We do, however, want to note that this camera was not actually meant to be a standalone camera, but rather was intended for use as part of SimpliSafe’s overall system bundles. As long as you know that going in, we think you’ll be quite pleased with SimpliCam.See SimpliCam Packages & Offers
If you can do without the fancy features, Blink home security cameras hold their own in a crowded market. These cams are affordable, easy-to-install, and they’re great for renters.
What makes the Blink home security camera system ideal is the low cost. The cameras do not have a contract requirement, which makes them easy for most people to invest in. They are also wireless and easy to maintain. Overall, this system offers nice benefits including integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Here’s our take on the 2021 Blink home security camera.
Blink is a solid product. The company is smaller having been started on Kickstarter with just a basic product. However, it has now become one of the more sought after options available. It is a true plug and play style system that is fully wireless. You do not have to worry about complex installation here. The process takes about 30 minutes to complete.
When it comes to the company’s product, a nice feature is the affordability. The equipment itself is affordable, but there is also no required monthly fee. You can upgrade to a larger plan for a moderate price, though. The value of the Blink home security system is clear. It is a lower costing product.
Another nice feature is that the company’s equipment is long-lasting. It has batteries that last for up to two years. Which means you do not have to worry about electrical outlets where you place it. You can set them up both indoors and outdoors as well. The product options are somewhat limited in terms of flexible equipment. However, they are more affordable than other products. Because they offer limited options, this type of security system tends to be better for smaller homes and renters rather than large properties. You can add components to it, with limited options. This includes additional cameras and a doorbell.
Some people may wish to upgrade to the professional monitoring component. At the time of this writing, this plan was an additional $19.99 a month and professional ongoing monitoring of your home. That’s a nice feature for anyone who wants ample security.View on Amazon
It doesn’t get much cheaper than free. Once you buy a low-priced Kuna camera, there’s no monthly charge for basic features. Kuna cams are reliable and backed by a generous 60-day guarantee.
The Kuna home security camera is a top performer for a variety of reasons. First, it is very easy to install. It also has basic features that are free to use so you do not have to pay a monthly fee. There are also several ways to upgrade it. A good overall buy, the Kuna system is a reliable product with basic level features. Here’s our look at how well it fits your needs:
The Kuna home security camera is a key part of the security service this company offers. The camera quality is good, though the company only offers a handful of equipment options for you to choose from. Nevertheless, there are some nice benefits to this hardware. This includes HD and smart detection technology. It also allows three video downloads each month (without cost for it). There are also nice features like a two-hour even look back so you can see what happened, as well as a two-way talk tool so you can communicate with someone at your door.
Perhaps the best thing about the Kuna system is that you do not have to pay a subscription fee if you do not want to do so. The price of the equipment is a bit higher than other products, but the system itself is more affordable. Most of the features mentioned here come with the basic free package. If you decide to increase the service you obtain, such as with a seven-day look back with unlimited downloads, you will pay more for the subscription. However, this cost is not high.
There are equipment add-on options. This includes a floodlight, security light, and a surveillance kit. However, most users will not need these to really get the most out of the Kuna system. It is quite versatile and easy to use, too. You only need about 30 minutes to install the system if you are handy. Once in place, you can begin using the app with ease.View on Amazon
Get up-and-running in no time at all with Zmodo. These wireless security cams are surprisingly easy to install, downright affordable, and flexible enough to protect almost any home.
The Zmodo security camera system is known for its reliability. For those who want a simple system to set up and that they can begin using right away, Zmodo is a great choice. The equipment is of good quality and the system remains overall easy to use. Here’s our look at what you can expect:
The Zmodo camera is a good option for those who want a simple product. The system will allow you to capture images reliably. One of the nice features about it is the range of camera options on the market. There are numerous options – the Greet Pro Smart Doorbell, Greet Universal Smart Doorbell, and the Greet Smart Doorbell are basic options. Additionally, users can select the Outdoor Camera Pro with various pixel qualities. In traditional security cameras, users can select from the Pivot Cloud, Pivo, Pan & Tilt Camera, EZCam Pro, Sight, and EZCam. The range of options means every area has something for it. But, at the same time, this can confuse some buyers.
A few nice features about the brand stand out, though. The company offers a long 60-day money-back guarantee. This is longer than many other providers. What’s more, users get free lifetime support (which can come in handy for troubleshooting some of the connectivity errors this company’s products seem to have). The equipment also has a three-year warranty.
This name brand is known for its quality and overall functionality. As noted, you can upgrade it to other smart features and automation options. It is wireless, which makes installation easy for most needs. Overall, this product is good for those who want flexibility and overall simplistic use, but they want flexible options for any area.
You can store videos on disk storage or in cloud storage. Cloud storage costs are minor as well. The company does have a live stream option for many of its cameras. This type of flexibility makes it a good choice for those who want a customizable system.View on Amazon
Starting at just $20 per camera, Wyze is a great pick for low-cost video monitoring. These cams are created by former Amazon engineers, and include features like 1080p HD video quality, time-lapse video, and more.
There’s a lot to like about Wyze cameras. These cameras come stacked with 1080p HD resolution, custom motion zones, two-way talk, and other features that we typically only find in more expensive devices.
The indoor cameras aren’t necessarily the best quality, but they’re certainly worth the price at $20-$30. Users will enjoy smartphone controls (using the Wyze app) with instant alerts, and free basic cloud storage for video clips. Of course, it’s all DIY setup, with simple plug-and-play functionality. The cameras are also compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT for voice control and smart home capabilities. Not bad at all.
However, keep in mind these cameras are plug-in devices and don’t have batteries. So if the power goes out, you’re out of luck for video monitoring. They also don’t sell an outdoor camera, which is a bit disappointing. Finally, the customer service experience could use some minor improvements. But all things considered, it’s a great camera option — especially considering the rock-bottom prices.View on Amazon
These DIY home security cameras start at $79.99 and range up to $750+ for a full-on, 8-channel, wireless home security package. The level of protection you choose is totally up to you. And there’s no professional monitoring, which means no monthly fees.
Night Owl offers features like night vision, two-way audio, and easy pairing with Google Assistant. If you can look past the buggy mobile app, these indoor/outdoor cams might be a great fit to secure your home.
If you like options, you’ll like Night Owl. In fact, this company offers so many options that it can be difficult to decide on a package. They have analog and HD cameras, wired and wireless cameras, single cams, and multi-packs, and the list goes on. But don’t worry, if you get overwhelmed easily, Night Owl will be there with their “pre-sales support” team to help you along.
The standout features are easy DIY installation (setup only takes 2 minutes per camera), night vision, two-way talk, dual-sensor technology (heat detection!), and a well-designed mobile app for smartphone controls. But remember, Night Owl doesn’t offer a professional monitoring option, so this truly is a DIY system through and through.View on Amazon
These no-contract, affordable HD camera systems offer plenty of add-ons and upgrades without ongoing monitoring fees.
The Reolink camera system has been in the home security game for a while now, and they’re still running strong with their flagship Argus 2 camera. Although it’s limited in features, these cameras offer 1080p HD video, 30+ feet night vision range, and loads of useful upgrades. Also, with a field of view of 130-degrees, you’ll get the whole picture instead of just a glimpse.
Users who don’t go for the Argus 2 typically spring for the new Argus PT camera. Reolink’s Argus PT (pan & tilt) rotates 355° horizontally and 140° vertically to really supercharge your field-of-view. They also sell the Reolink Go, which is a wireless, solar-powered security camera that’s powered by 4G LTE mobile networks. Finally, all of Reolink’s products offer easy DIY setup.
However, if you’re the type to get overwhelmed when presented with too many options, you’ll want to pass on Reolink. They sell enough products, accessories, and upgrades to make your head spin. Also, keep in mind that most models are somewhat lacking in the features department. But overall, their lineup of cameras might be worth a closer look.See Reolink Packages & Offers
The purpose of a security camera is to surveil or monitor your home. The devices are quite useful in fending off thieves and burglars. In fact, the very presence of a security camera is often enough to stop a criminal and make them think twice about their life choices.
However, if and when a crime does occur on your property, the security camera will record the activity so that you can use it for evidence. Video footage is hard evidence, and it can be helpful in a number of scenarios when seeking insurance compensation, restoration, and even justice.
Security cameras are ubiquitous today, as they are sold by most home security companies. They will be advertised for either indoor or outdoor use; though anytime you see “indoor/outdoor,” that simply means the camera is built for pretty much any conditions.
Also, they come in hardwired or wireless options. A more permanent solution for property surveillance is the hardwired camera. On the other hand, wireless cameras are typically DIY and can be set up and functioning in a matter of minutes.
With many home security cameras, you can choose to sign-up for 24/7 professional monitoring, or choose to monitor the security camera yourself. More homeowners are opting for this “self-monitoring” option, as today’s cameras make it easy to remotely view your property via the camera’s companion app.
Did You Know: Home security cameras are more affordable than you might think. Some brands sell indoor cameras in the $20-$30 range, and outdoor cameras start around $60-$70 and go up from there. Check out our full security camera cost guide to learn more.
Many camera systems will actually send a text alert when activity is detected in or around your home. You then simply hop on the app and see exactly what the camera sees, and of course, either call the police on the perpetrator, or open the door because it’s just the pizza guy (after all, cold pizza is a crime).
Most home security cameras are built to withstand the elements, so you can rest assured your home is protected when it’s raining, hailing, snowing, etc. Also, the image quality on today’s cameras is impressive to say the least. Many offer full-HD imaging with 1080p resolution, night vision, the works.
Whether you choose to outfit your home with a single security camera at your entryway, or set up multiple cameras to cover every nook and cranny of your home, you have options galore. Today’s home security cameras can come stacked with anything up to and including:
FYI: Many security camera brands offer cloud video storage plans. It only costs a small monthly fee of about $3-$6 per camera, and you’ll have access to all of your footage that’s securely stored in “the cloud.” Many cloud plans also include video downloads, video sharing, and other neat features. To learn more, see our Best Cloud Security Cameras page.
You can see why security cameras are becoming more popular. But… they aren’t a perfect solution. One disadvantage is that static cameras don’t pan or tilt to get the whole picture of a person. Another disadvantage, specific to wireless cameras, is that the batteries can run out of juice fairly quickly. So that’s something you should always keep in mind if you go wireless.
Finally, one last disadvantage of (Wi-Fi) home security cameras and monitors is that they can be hacked into by criminals. While the hardwired cameras can be bypassed by a cord-snipping burglar. Cases like these are rare, and rest assured there are measures you can take to safeguard against these criminal acts.
All in all, it’s a smart call to purchase one or several high-quality home security cameras. Because you can never be too safe.
We hope that at least one of the security camera options above meets your needs. Of course, you may still be undecided or would like to gather more information. Here’s a look at several key issues and questions.
I want something quick and flexible. I should opt for a wireless camera, right?
Yep, probably! A wired camera is a lot more complicated to install, especially if you don’t already have a wired home.
I’m looking for something long-term that I can add to over time for a large area. Wired or wireless?
Seriously consider a wired camera. For example, if you want to monitor a large property using more than four cameras, then wired cameras are where it’s at. Similarly, if you envision growing a permanent security system little by little over the years, you may prefer for it to be wired. However, there’s no harm in opting for a wireless camera now if you’re unsure about installing a wired system in your home.
What specific camera features may be relevant to my security needs?
You may want a camera that can move and that affords night vision, the highest resolution possible, various sound features, a wide field of view and/or motion detection. For example, a static camera doesn’t move, while one that pans and tilts can cover a larger area. It may mean buying just one camera instead of needing to purchase two. As for field of view, say that one camera has a field of view that is 60 degrees, while another has a 90-degree field of view. A wider field of view may or may not be better for your needs because you sacrifice detail. Identifying faces and items with a wider field of view can be harder.
With motion detection, you receive alerts when potentially suspicious activity occurs. Night vision can come in useful especially when your potential threats occur at night. It enables the camera to record images in low-light and no-light situations. Good resolution means that you get clear images in which you can better identify faces and items. As for sound, your camera might be able to receive sound from a microphone or to emit sound through a speaker—or both, functioning as an intercom in addition to a camera. You can talk to your pets when you’re away from home and even speak with intruders to scare them off.
Another thing to keep in mind is app design. You want to easily use the security camera app on your smartphone and not be constantly frustrated trying to figure something out. For this reason alone, it’s often better to go with brand-name cameras. In that vein, the amount of free cloud storage may be another factor that’s important to you.
Can Wi-Fi security cameras be hacked?
The bad news first: Yes, hackers can access your wireless devices such as security cameras and baby monitors. Now for the good news: There are plenty of steps you can take to greatly minimize the risk and to contain any consequences if you are hacked. For instance, you can purchase an anti-jammer to let you know of a signal failure. Other examples:
Now, if your camera has been hacked, update the firmware and change your password. If you’ve been following recommended practices such as using a camera with encryption, updating the firmware and using good passwords, let the camera manufacturer know about the hacking. There may be vulnerabilities on the manufacturer’s end that need securing.
The following signs can indicate a hacking: The camera is rotating uncharacteristically, strange noises come from it, the LED light blinks randomly, the LED light is on even though the camera isn’t supposed to be on, the settings have been changed without your knowledge and there are sudden spikes in network traffic.
Is one camera sufficient for my needs?
Depending on your situation, you may need multiple cameras and professional monitoring. Plus, sensors and other features of a home security system provide more support than one camera alone can. Determine why exactly you’re in the market for a security camera, who will be using it and how high the level of potential threats is. Also, how frequently might the potential threats occur?
For many people, one camera isn’t enough, particularly if the aim is to deter home break-ins. At least three cameras are necessary to cover your front door, back door and side window(s).
What common mistakes do people make with their cameras?
One is putting them within reach of intruders or trespassers. Try to place your outdoor camera at least 9 feet above the ground. Another mistake is putting the camera up too high, perhaps at the highest point on your property. With this type of placement, you risk losing image detail and may not be able to identify faces.
A third common mistake is thinking that one camera can do a bunch of stuff at once. For instance, it’s unlikely that a single camera will record a trespasser’s face, his or her car’s license plate and the store across the street all at once. A single camera can do all these things at different times, but for them to happen at the same time, you need multiple cameras and to diagram their placement in advance for the best coverage.
What are important laws to be aware of?
In general, any areas viewable by the public are OK for cameras to surveil. For example, if anyone walking on the sidewalk would be able to see your neighbor’s front yard, then it’s probably OK for your camera to pick up the yard as it records. On the other hand, you’re violating the law with a camera that records what’s going on inside your neighbor’s home.
More specifically, surveillance laws depend on the state. In some states, it’s legal for you to record video and images of activities on a neighbor’s property as long as the camera is mounted on your property—but recording audio may not be OK.
As for cameras inside your own home, some placements can be problematic. For instance, a camera inside a room given to an overnight guest or a guest changing clothes isn’t OK. Nanny cams are legal even without the caregiver’s knowledge as long as you aren’t recording the caregiver in private areas. Again, there can be an audio exception: Some states don’t permit audio recordings without the caregiver’s knowledge.
Keep in mind that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s a best practice. It’s usually a good idea to let nannies and caregivers know they’re being recorded.
If you’re in a state that requires you to tell someone when you’re doing audio recordings, remember that for folks who are in your house throughout the day—cable installers and furniture movers, for example. Wiretapping laws in your state may mandate that they be aware that their words and noises are being taped.
I’ve heard about something called wirefree. What’s that?
A wirefree camera is a type of wireless camera. It’s battery-powered or solar-powered, meaning that the camera is zero wire. These cameras are really easy to install and are super-portable. In comparison, other types of wireless cameras have cords because they need to be plugged into an electrical system.
I need to monitor a remote location such as a garage, barn or work site that has no electricity and no internet. Am I out of luck?
Nope! You can use a wirefree camera (see above question). Just remember to check the battery charge once in a while, especially if the camera is not solar powered. Depending on the camera, you can still get alerts and motion snapshots. These cameras tend to run on a cellular network and/or have built-in Wi-Fi.
I want a security camera for a remote location. What should I look for?
It’s essential that the camera have low-light/night recording and remote viewing so you can keep tabs on what’s happening from your computer or smartphone. The images should be clear and sharp, and you need to be able to receive instant alerts so you can take action such as speaking to an intruder at a moment’s notice. There’s also weather-resistant design to consider, especially for outdoor barn cameras. You can opt for a wirefree camera that runs on a cellular network or purchase a system with multiple cameras that connect with one another on their own network.
How small can security cameras get?
They can be extremely small and be hidden in items such as electrical outlets, coffee thermoses, photo frames, pens and even eyeglasses. When considering these types of hidden cameras, check factors such as how long they last on a charge and their picture quality, portability and night vision. Also consider how well they blend into their environment, if they have Wi-Fi mode, how they record and if they offer remote viewing.
Where is the best place to mount a home security camera?
Common locations are the front door, back door, side door, second floor, off-street window, garage, basement or driveway. For example, many intruders break into homes via off-street windows, so these windows are a natural location for security cameras. Look for entrances to your home that are obscured from the street and where intruders entered during any previous break-ins.
Wherever you mount a camera, keep it out of reach of intruders if possible, and position it so that intruders can’t throw something at it and render it inoperable.
Can I use a security camera to keep an eye on my elderly parents?
Yes, you can, but make sure they agree to it being there. In addition, keep the camera in common areas such as the kitchen or living room. Tools such as grab bars and walk-in bathtubs can keep them safe elsewhere while maintaining their privacy. In fact, a complete system often works better than a lone security camera—think about home automation equipment and medical alert options, for example.
How can a security camera help a single parent?
Your children may be home alone sometimes, and a security camera can ensure they always know who is at the door before they answer the doorbell. In addition, you can monitor your children from afar to check that they are safe or even just doing their chores or homework. Two-way talk features also enable you to chat with your children, and additional security features such as environmental sensors for smoke or water may provide more peace of mind.
I have a baby monitor. Will it make an acceptable security camera?
Probably not, unless you are OK with an extremely basic security camera. Baby monitors don’t tend to offer features such as storing video and capturing wide-angle images, and they usually aren’t set up to work with other security cameras you may have in your home.
What about using a security camera I already have as a baby monitor?
Probably not the best idea either. Many baby monitors offer features that some security cameras don’t. For instance, baby monitors often have two-way audio, sensors for heat and humidity, a narrow range of vision and snapshot capability for when the baby turns. Security cameras don’t have many of these.
What are other major differences in baby monitors versus security cameras?
In general, baby monitors are easier to operate. They come out of the box with everything they need to work, whereas you need a smartphone or your own equipment for a security camera. Many baby monitors don’t require Wi-Fi, and in those cases, there is absolutely no risk of being hacked and having to remember passwords.
What is a doorbell camera?
It’s a type of security camera designed for people who prefer to screen their visitors the way they can screen phone calls (no more having to peek through your blinds or peephole!). You can talk to your visitors remotely whether you’re home or away and even pretend you’re home when you’re on vacation.
This type of camera can be particularly useful for people who receive a high number of packages and for folks who are elderly or who have mobility issues. It can help identify the culprits in package thefts and in situations where burglars break through the front door.
Many doorbell cameras offer night vision, cloud storage, two-way voice chat and real-time alerts. Someone rings your doorbell, the camera notifies your smartphone, you view a video feed on your smartphone and can choose how to interact with your visitor. In addition, the interaction is stored to the cloud for later access if needed. In some cases, you must sign up for a paid subscription to enjoy all features.
What security camera features should I keep in mind if crime or break-ins are happening in my neighborhood?
Property crimes such as home invasions, burglaries and car break-ins can make you feel unsafe. Look for an outdoor video camera that records high-definition video and that has cloud storage and night vision. Also consider a doorbell camera that has a loud siren and two-way talk. You also want to be able to remotely view the cameras from your smartphone.
Are there security cameras for pets?
Absolutely. There are even cameras that’ll dispense treats for your pets or have them chasing dots. As always, though, knowing your goals helps you choose the camera that best matches your needs. For instance, you may want your pet to be able to see you on a screen and hear your voice. Also, keep the potential for night vision and motion sensors in mind. Avoid getting cameras that treat any movement by your pet as potentially suspicious activity, or you’ll receive constant, unnecessary alerts.
Cameras specially designed for pets can differentiate among pets, people and objects. Some can also take portraits of your pets when they face the camera.
Will constant motion alerts be an issue if I have pets but want a security camera for protection reasons?
In most cases, you’ll be fine. Security cameras can generally tell the difference between a person and an animal, and many “learn” to identify what’s important to you and what’s not.
How long do security camera batteries last?
Some can last as long as two years! The batteries on others, especially older cameras, have much shorter lifespans.
Can I use my security camera with Amazon Echo and Alexa?
Many cameras are compatible with Amazon Echo or Alexa—just be sure to check before you purchase.
How long will it take me to install?
In many cases, you can install a wireless camera and get it up and running in less than 30 minutes.
Can multiple family members on different phones see the same security camera feed?
Many times, yes. You, your spouse and your children should be able to download apps on your own phones and use remote viewing to see what’s going on at home.
Can you get a discount on home insurance with a security camera?
One security camera by itself is unlikely to get you a break on your home insurance rates. On the other hand, a well-planned-out security system might. The system should be professionally monitored and linked to a central alarm station as well.
So, if your main goal in purchasing a security camera is to save on home insurance, it probably won’t work. Never hurts to check with your insurer, though.
Common ways you can save on home insurance are to install fire and smoke alarms, burglar alarms and other types of monitoring systems.
Will a security camera help me prove an insurance claim?
Much of the time, it will. After all, if someone breaks into your home or business and steals stuff, the security camera should provide video evidence to back up your insurance claim.
What accessories come with a security camera?
If you buy name-brand cameras, expect accessories such as batteries, cables and surveillance signs to be included. These accessories may not be available with lesser-known brands and don’t always come cheap—look for these “hidden” costs!
What do security camera warranties cover?
They tend to cover factory defects and hardware failures. They usually won’t cover damage from a bad installation or from improper use. Nor do warranties cover lost data.
If something goes wrong but your camera has been used normally, a warranty may cover whatever happened. However, get in touch with support first before going to the trouble of shipping your camera to the retailer.
Should I consider warranty length when making my purchase?
Yes. A two-year warranty can give you more peace of mind than a six-month or one-year term. Do know that in many cases, you benefit from a warranty only if you register your product. Do that as soon as possible!
Should I purchase an extended warranty?
You probably don’t need an extended warranty unless you’re buying a camera from a third party and much of the original warranty period has already been used up. In that case, an extended warranty can grant you some peace of mind, but check that the warranty is legit.
What are disadvantages of buying a used security camera?
The lack of a warranty (or full warranty term) is one. In addition, the camera may not offer encryption or the latest security features, and the owner you bought the camera from may be capable of watching you. Also, some features of the camera such as night vision may not work anymore, and the camera could stop working altogether after just a few days.
You can find new security cameras at affordable prices, so it’s usually better to save for a few months and buy a new camera that will last you more than two years.
What are advantages of buying a used camera?
A used or refurbished security camera can make sense when you want CCTV for just a few days or a few weeks, and you plan to do your due diligence in the purchase process.
I am going to buy a used security camera. Any tips?
Definitely check the video quality before purchasing as well as the wires and the housing. Get the original sale documents, and re-check the year of manufacture online. Change the camera’s password immediately.
Which is better, a wireless or wired camera?
All things equal, a wired camera may make the most sense if your home is already wired. Otherwise, a wireless camera tends to be much easier to set up and start using. This is especially true if you’re looking to get just a camera(s) and not a whole security system. If you’re a renter, a wireless camera may actually be your only option.
What are downsides to a wireless camera?
Wireless cameras do have some downsides in addition to the fact that they can be hacked. For instance, there can be signal interference, especially in apartment complexes when many people are using the same bandwidth. The camera depends on a Wi-Fi signal and doesn’t work as well when the signal is weak.
How does motion detection work?
Ethernet cameras and Wi-Fi cameras compare two frames, and if they are different, the change triggers a motion detection alert. Changes in light also set off a trigger.
If your camera is battery-powered, a PIR sensor detects motion by looking for changes in infrared radiation. For instance, if a human passes in front of a wall, there is a rise in temperature.
Can I post video from my security camera feed on social media?
Yes, but know a few things. First, it annoys the police when you post a feed to Facebook or social media before talking to them. For instance, say that your doorbell camera captures video of someone lifting packages. Show it to the police first so they can start investigating before your friends and the public get involved. Get the police’s OK before sharing a video to social media; otherwise it could cause issues with the suspect’s behavior or down the road if prosecution occurs.
Another thing to be aware of is that it’s easy to leap to the wrong conclusion about a situation. If your neighborhood has had break-ins, you may think that the person skulking around your house is the doer, but he or she could have a reason for being there. Be careful about labeling someone a criminal on social media and about taking matters into your own hands.
Are security cameras worth it?
In the majority of cases, yes! They’re affordable and bring peace of mind. They deter break-ins, and if break-ins do occur, often lead to the identification of suspects. The technology is better than ever, allowing for remote viewing and the capture of crisp video and sound. The key to maximizing the cameras’ efficiency is to purchase ones that best meet your needs.
Jaime Fraze is an experienced digital editor in the tech, business and food spaces, having produced content for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to fledgling nonprofits for more than 15 years. As a wife, mother and homeowner, she understands that buying home security products can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s why Jaime has constantly strived to ensure that every piece of content she produces has met SafeHome.org’s rigorous standards, and that her readers come away with the power to make better, smarter decisions. Learn more about Jaime here