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A pioneer in home security, Swann makes dozens of cameras – and they’re all pretty affordable
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As one of the older brands in the industry, Swann Security has long focused on affordable home security cameras, with a more recent nod to DIY installation and easy smart home integration.
In our years testing and interacting with Swann and other leading security camera brands to help our readers choose the best products, we’ve come to appreciate this kind of steadiness and reliability in a brand. It’s a reminder that sometimes, sticking with the classics is the best option.
For us, the challenge with Swann wasn’t so much using the cameras day to day as it was choosing which cameras to buy. After all, Swann has a huge lineup of equipment, accessories, and packages. It can get pretty overwhelming, even for experienced camera users like us. But thankfully, we still found a lot of benefits in using Swann to keep our home protected from potential intruders. We’re happy to report that there’s great value here, especially when it comes to individual equipment pricing.
We’ll dig into that value factor a bit deeper, with our full breakdown of Swann’s cameras and packages, as well as everything you need to know to help you choose the best home security products for you and your family.
To get you started, here’s a quick breakdown of the types of cameras you’ll find in Swann’s lineup:
Every security company has its own intricacies and quirks, but we’ve noticed that in larger brands, prices are generally all over the map. Swann is one of the biggest examples of this, with hundreds of cameras to choose from, most starting at $59.99 for an individual indoor camera and going all the way up to $2,900 for a 16-camera NVR system (very popular with businesses!).
In all this variety, though, we do want to mention that when we tested Swann cameras, we couldn’t help but notice that they “felt” inexpensive. Their build quality, we found, lacked the ruggedness of some of their competitors, namely Lorex. That said, many Lorex cameras are priced higher than Swann, which is a reminder that you get what you pay for in security cameras. Lorex cameras aren’t too shabby, though; take a look at my complete Lorex camera pricing and package guide for lots more.
Does this mean Swann cameras don’t last as long or hold up as well as other cameras? Not at all. In our always-unpredictable weather out here in Central Ohio, we put those Swann outdoor cams through the ringer with a nasty windstorm that lasted for hours. And through it all, the cameras weren’t damaged in any way. But you can read more about that — along with our full experience living with Swann — in our hands-on review of Swann cameras. We tested their 2-camera/4-channel NVR system, called the Smart Wi-Fi Series.
This brings us to a minor gripe we have with Swann: It’s not easy to get a full handle on the scope of the brand when some products are sold directly from Swann, others are not, and still others are only available in certain countries. It’s enough to make your head spin, if we’re being honest. But… thankfully Swann sells its cameras pretty much everywhere – all the big-box retailers, brick-and-mortar stores, and online. With that kind of ubiquity, we’re glad to see that most of Swann’s cameras are quite affordable.
Also keep in mind that many of the cameras packaged in Swann’s multi-camera systems, like the Smart Wi-Fi series, are still available for purchase individually. And, true to the ever-evolving nature of the security industry, Swann is always releasing new cameras, including a dimmable floodlight camera that looks like a bona fide steal for a mere $180. For comparison’s sake, the Ring floodlight camera I reviewed costs almost twice as much and is not dimmable. Just something to keep in mind.
FYI: Studies have shown that outdoor lighting at night is one of the most effective ways to deter a burglar. So the combo of floodlight and camera is one of the best deterrents for package thieves, peeping toms or other threats. For more tips, check out our complete Property Crime in America report.
As we mentioned earlier, Swann is big on multi-camera packages. Most of those, we learned, contain either a DVR or NVR as the system’s hub, allowing us to cast the cameras to our TV and see it all on a big screen, like we did in our review.
Looking further into Swann’s packages, we got the impression that Swann is really embracing the advent of 4K in security cameras, especially outdoor models. Just like the latest smart TVs hitting the market,2 we’re starting to see many brands add more 4K cameras to their product lines. This is meant to supercharge the clarity of your videos, so you can see your property more clearly than ever.
But here, we have another word of warning: 4K doesn’t usually work well in Wi-Fi security cameras, simply because they rely on a very stable internet connection. Cameras with 4K video produce file sizes that can be too big for the average Wi-Fi network to handle. For that reason, we don’t recommend buying 4K cameras unless you happen to have an extremely fast Wi-Fi network, or you’re using a souped-up power and data transmission source, like Ethernet.
Instead, we would suggest looking into 1080p cameras (Swann has tons!) with an accompanying NVR. Not only will you get good-quality video 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’ll also avoid those frustrating moments when your cameras are crashing your network and causing your home network to glitch or fail altogether.
To help you get a clearer view of Swann’s options, we picked some of the brand’s more popular devices and packages and broke them down into a handy-dandy chart.
|Swann Model||Camera Type||Cost|
|Swann 1080p Wi-Fi Alert Camera||1080p HD Wi-Fi||$89.99|
|Swann Wi-Fi Floodlight Security Camera||1080p HD Wi-Fi||$179.99|
|Swann Master Series 4K Dome Camera||4K HDR hardwired||$119.99|
|Swann Wi-Fi Series 1080p Camera||1080p HD Wi-Fi||$99.99|
|Swann Wireless 1080p Pan & Tilt||1080p HD Wi-Fi||$69.99|
|Swann Thermal Sensing 4-Pack||5 MP Super HD hardwired||$119.99|
|Swann Master Series 4K Dome||4K HDR hardwired||$169.99|
|Swann Enforcer 1080p Full HD Add-on Camera||1080p HD wire-free, police-style LEDs||$119.99|
|Swann Xtreem Security Camera||1080p HD wire-free, weatherproof||$179.99|
|Swann Wi-Fi Tracker Indoor Camera||Wi-Fi, Automatic Tracking, wireless||$79.99|
In many of Swann’s cameras, you’ll find several options to easily record, download, share, and store videos. Since so many Swann camera bundles include some type of hub to process data from multiple cameras, we’re especially glad to see just how much storage these systems give us. The 2-camera system we reviewed, at a cost of $269, included an NVR (network video recorder) with a 1 TB3 hard drive.
With that setup, you might find you don’t need to spring for any extra monthly cloud storage,4 as one whole terabyte of space is pretty massive. But that setup isn’t the only way to use Swann; you can also buy cameras individually and store all of your videos in the cloud via Swann’s Secure+ plan (formerly known as Swann ExtraSafe), for a pretty low monthly fee.
However you choose to store your videos, we love having so much flexibility here, and we think you will, too.
|Plan Features||Local Camera Storage||ExtraSecurity Plan||CompleteSecurity Plan|
|Cloud Storage||1-2 days||60 days rolling||60 days rolling|
|Vehicle and Pet Detection||No||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||12 months||24 months||24 months|
|Replacement Coverage||No||Yes (with valid police report)||Yes (with valid police report)|
|Price||Free||“$4.99 per month|
|(per camera)”||$14.99 per month (10+ cameras)|
After spending several days getting to know Swann cameras in our home, we realized that breaking out each camera and describing each of their features and tech would end up overwhelming folks. So here, we focused just on the high-level features and tech you should know before buying. Have a look at our roundup of Swann’s features below.
Every Swann camera has a mobile app that lets you monitor your cameras from anywhere. You’ll also receive motion-triggered mobile alerts sent to your smartphone. While this is standard nowadays, it’s important to note that not all Swann cameras correspond to the same app, which can be confusing. Check the box before downloading, and you should be fine.
Wireless DIY Equipment
Wireless cameras eliminate the need for complicated hardwiring and installation, and Swann makes numerous wireless models. This gives you lots of flexibility in positioning and power, and you can even use it with a solar charging panel to avoid having to change out or recharge batteries.
Smart Home Options
Swann systems are able to partner with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to allow for hands-free voice control. Depending on the equipment you have, you can even pull up your video on a smart display.
Many Swann models are equipped with Two-Way Talk, allowing you to communicate with people remotely from your smartphone using the Swann app. For us, it allowed for some casual conversation with family members. But in other cases, it might come in handy for scaring off potential intruders.
Without a separate light source, it can be very difficult to see anything in your security cameras in the dark. Swann’s night vision illuminates your field of view so the cameras don’t miss important activity.
True Detect Heat Sensing Technology
Swann’s True Detect motion sensing technology allows the cameras to sense heat from both people and vehicles to trigger alerts and push notifications. This way, we had great insight into the activity the cameras were picking up, and what it meant.
Swann offers a $4.99 monthly cloud storage subscription, but many models also include SD card inputs so you can store videos locally for free. We like the flexibility of video storage that Swann offers.
Every Swann camera comes with a 12-month warranty. Note that a 12-month warranty is fairly standard in the industry, and we wouldn’t consider purchasing a home security camera without some type of warranty protection.
We came across several discounts and special offers on Swann cameras. Here are some of our favorites:
Swann’s Enforcer series is one to watch, especially because it’s so customizable. The camera has an advanced lighting system that includes controllable red-and- blue flashing lights and spotlights, and it’s available as a system with a 1 TB hard drive. This way, you can start with just a couple of cameras or go all in on a whole-home kit with up to 16 cameras. You can do this with the Enforcer series and choose the highest video quality possible (4K), for a truly show-stopping picture.
FYI: Swann’s Enforcer cameras aren’t cheap – the 4K add-on camera starts at $120 – so when you can find ways to save on a camera like this, it’s always smart to jump on it.
Keep an eye out for these and other special promotions on Swann cameras, especially around the holidays (think Black Friday and Cyber Monday), as well as Amazon Prime Day, which happens this year on June 21-22. Check out all the deals on Swann and other cams in my latest roundup of Prime Day deals on security cameras.
But again, even if you can’t find a deal, Swann cameras are priced low enough that you shouldn’t have a problem affording one.
We have consistently recommended Swann as an effective, affordable home security option for almost everyone.
We do want to point out, though, that the majority of Swann cameras are pretty basic feature-wise; with a few exceptions, you’re not going to find cameras packed with advanced artificial intelligence features like those you’d find in Google’s stellar Nest Cams, some of which can only be accessed through Nest’s cloud subscription. (Learn more about those cameras in my full Nest Cam review here.)
But as technology evolves, Swann is slowly adding more high-tech features5 to their cameras, offering even greater selection and quality equipment that rivals Arlo’s wire-free camera systems. Of course, with all those extra bells and whistles, you’ll probably pay a little more per camera.
That said, Swann’s focus on security camera packages and bundles can really work in your favor, too. That way, you can pay one price for everything you need to install, set up, and use Swann cameras in your home. And with an option for local storage via a micro SD card available in most models, you really only have to pay for the equipment, and that’s it.
So while we’re perfectly comfortable calling Swann cameras “affordable,” we do encourage you to choose carefully, as buying individual cameras for an entire home can add up pretty quickly. While it might take some time to narrow down your choices, we consider this more of an advantage than a hindrance. Why? Because with all that selection, you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like.
All told, for people who would rather not mess with hardwired, professionally installed systems and monthly contracts, we found Swann to be a highly effective, low-cost alternative.
For the most part, yes. Prices range from $59 to $179 per camera, and Swann’s product selection is huge. Most cameras in their lineup fall into the low- to mid-range when it comes to pricing.
Not all of Swann’s security cameras offer smart home automation in their feature sets, but many of them do. Swann’s 4 Camera 4 Channel 4K Ultra HD DVR Security System, for example, offers smart home integration through Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant for live streaming and voice commands.
We encountered some issues with live chat on Swann’s website, which kicked us out a couple of times. So when that didn’t work, we tried phone support, which turned out to be a pleasant experience with an agent who seemed quite knowledgeable about the products.
No. Thanks to a local storage option via a micro SD card, you can use Swann cameras and store video internally. This eliminates the need for a subscription to store video in the cloud, although Swann does offer a couple of options there.
Swann is designed for the DIY type, so their cameras don’t require complicated installations. That said, Swann’s outdoor cameras might take some basic handiwork (climbing a ladder and using a drill), but overall, we found Swann’s cameras quite simple to install.
Adams-O’Brien, F. (2017, June 21). Is There Empirical Evidence that Surveillance Cameras Reduce Crime? Institute for Public Service, University of Tennessee.
Austin, P. (2019, Dec. 2). Thinking of Buying a 4K TV? Here’s What You Should Know. Time.com.
Dube, R. (2019, Feb. 18). Memory Sizes: Gigabytes, Terabytes, and Petabytes Explained. Help Desk Geek.
Signoretti, E. (2019, Feb. 16) Cloud Storage is Expensive? Are You Doing it Right? Gigaom.com.
Swann Security. (2017, May 28). Put the Heat on Crime with Motion and Heat Sensor Cameras. Swann.com.