Affordable security cameras that perform well with essential features, with plenty of options to bundle and save.
From the innovation superpower of Shenzhen, China,1 comes Zmodo, a big name in security products with competitive pricing in both equipment and monitoring. With a healthy selection of low-cost cameras and accessories to choose from, we think Zmodo makes it easy for anyone to add security cameras to their home, regardless of budget constraints.
Zmodo’s cameras start as low as $14 (which is by far the lowest price we’ve seen for a security cam). Many models offer 1080p HD video, 65-foot night vision, motion alerts, and optional cloud recording. All come in at relatively low prices, making Zmodo one of the most affordable camera brands we’ve tested.
But we’re always left with one key question when it comes to “cheaper” technology: with prices this low, do these cameras really work? So we purchased Zmodo ourselves and got plenty of hands-on experience with the devices, which we share about in our full Zmodo camera review. Today, though, we’re going to take a closer look at Zmodo’s range of products, plans, and pricing to determine whether they’re a good value for you as you build a more secure home.
First, here’s a quick rundown of some of the key offerings you’ll find with Zmodo:
Check out more recommendations from the SafeHome team:
Like many home security brands, Zmodo tends to shake up their inventory pretty frequently. You might find some older Zmodo cameras, door and window sensors, Wi-Fi extenders, and smart doorbell cameras out there that aren’t sold directly from Zmodo. A little Googling should get you there, but if you’d rather stick with a direct-sales brand, a Ring wireless camera setup or even a more affordable Blink camera might suit you instead.
We think you’ll like that Zmodo keeps it simple in both features and equipment. And the cameras work pretty well, despite being one of the least expensive brands we’ve tested. Clearly, you’re not just getting “dummy cams2” here, although you’re certainly welcome to use them that way.
Did You Know? The mere appearance of a security camera installed outside your home can be an effective crime deterrent. With Swann’s cameras and systems, we found an $18 “imitation camera” intended for this purpose. Though some folks prefer this “decoy” method, remember that installing non-functioning devices like this can be quite risky. Our view? Get a camera that works, and avoid the risk.
With its lightweight, simple construction, Zmodo’s Sight 180C doesn’t stand out to us as exceptionally strong or well-built. But as an indoor camera, it did the job it was intended to do: It captured crucial activity around our home in real time, sent us alerts immediately, and allowed us to view, save, and store our videos any time.
We found that the Zmodo Sight 180C’s greatest asset is its wide-angle lens. This setup allowed Sight 180C to capture more activity than indoor cameras like the Ring Indoor Camera, which boasts a field of view of only 115 degrees. The bigger the viewing angle, the more coverage you’ll get, and the less money you’ll spend on additional cameras. It’s a win-win-win in our book.
Pro Tip: While Zmodo’s indoor camera is solid and well-built, it’s not quite as durable as Google Nest Cams (its latest indoor model, Nest Cam IQ, starts at $299.) To explore Nest Cams’ top-notch tech, start with our hands-on review of Nest Cam IQ cameras.
For $79, Sight 180C is reasonably priced, but keep in mind it’s not the cheapest option one out there. For a low-cost alternative, check out Wyze cameras and packages, namely the Wyze Cam Pan with 360-degree panning ability for only $29.99.
Zmodo’s bestselling outdoor camera, the 1080p Wi-Fi camera, isn’t going to deliver the kind of showstopping performance you’ll find in outdoor cameras from Arlo, for instance.
But it’s important to note that at the sub-$50 price point, Zmodo is firmly on the low end of the spectrum in equipment costs. And Zmodo’s outdoor camera is still going to get you the same industry-standard image quality3 we’ve come to expect in today’s market: clear, noise-free, and full of detail to help you make sense of any activity that presents itself – especially the suspicious kind.
With the low price tag of $39.99 per camera, we think it’s easy to justify buying one of Zmodo’s 2-, 3-, or 4-pack camera bundles, which will save you money off the cost of buying equipment individually.
Good outdoor security cameras can go a long way toward protecting your home from threats. But without proper outdoor lighting, it can be hard to know what’s going on around your property, cameras or not. Like the brightly shining Ring Floodlight camera we reviewed, we’ve long appreciated two-in-one setups like this.
But here’s something we haven’t seen before: A 360-degree motorized panning camera that attaches to your outdoor light post exactly the way a light bulb would. Torch 360’s camera produces standard-definition (720p) video, and you can even play with the color and warmth of its built-in lighting. Pretty neat, we thought. And for $89.99, we think it’s priced just right.
But one word of caution: Torch 360 is larger than a standard light bulb, so don’t forget to check the size of your light post’s housing before you buy.
When it was released in 2016, Pivot was Zmodo’s first toe-dip into all-in-one security, boasting a 350-degree rotating camera, a temperature sensor, and door/window sensors in one package.
In the years since, Pivot’s gotten a design reboot with Pivot White. You’ll still get great 1080p video, get door and window sensor alerts, and more, only now all of those features are housed in a more stylish exterior. And with the rotating camera feature, you’ll get whole-room coverage out of just one camera.
The original Pivot is priced at $59.99; Pivot White is $79.99. For an all-in-one hub, trust us: These are very low prices. Held up against the Canary Pro camera, for example, Pivot bore a strong resemblance in body design, features, and performance. But interestingly, Canary Pro is priced at $169, which is even more than the price of the Pivot and Pivot White put together.
That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our experience with Canary. But that’s a pretty massive price difference, in our view.
|Zmodo Cameras||Camera Type||Key Features||Price|
|Zmodo 1080p Mini Pro WiFi camera||Indoor camera||
|Zmodo Wireless Smart Security Camera||Indoor camera||
|Zmodo 1080p Indoor/Outdoor||Indoor/outdoor bullet camera||
|Zmodo Sight 180C||Indoor||
|Zmodo Pivot White||Indoor||
|Zmodo Torch 360||Outdoor||
Like many security companies in this ever-growing market,4 Zmodo has evolved and adjusted as technology, style, and tastes change over the years. As more customers are looking for DIY cameras with great image quality and easy installation, Zmodo has answered the call with equipment that can be installed and set up with ease, and that requires little-to-no monthly fees to use every day.
And speaking of monthly fees, if you don’t want to sign up for a Zmodo paid cloud storage plan, note that the basic plan, which gets you 12 hours of rolling video storage, is entirely free. We’re all about this type of flexibility in monitoring.
For premium features like custom motion zones, alert storage, and continuous recording, you’re going to pay. But if you choose the 7-day plan, you’re still only out less than $5 per month, which is quite reasonable from what we’ve seen.
For comparison’s sake, consider that Ring’s monitoring costs include an equivalent cloud plan for $3 per month. With that said, we do like that Zmodo offers three plans compared to Ring’s two plans. And a couple of bucks here and there probably isn’t a deal-breaker.
|Zmodo Cloud Plan||Basic||7-Day Plan||30-Day Plan|
|Video History Lookback||12 hours||7 days continuous cloud recording||30 days continuous cloud recording|
|Alert Clip Storage||No||7 days||30 days|
|Custom Motion Zones||No||Yes||Yes|
|Video Editor & Time Lapse Clips||No||Yes||Yes|
Since their inception in 2009, Zmodo5 has served as a great option for customers who want quality home security without spending a fortune. All of Zmodo’s products can be self-monitored, which means you don’t need to take on monthly subscription costs. Storing your videos to the cloud is completely optional, so you can own Zmodo cameras without paying any more than the price of the equipment.
For folks like us, who would much rather not throw down hundreds of dollars for new cameras any time we need them, we think Zmodo fulfills its niche as an affordable brand.
1080p HD Resolution
In their lineup of indoor and outdoor security cameras, Zmodo offers 1080p HD resolution. This produces clear, high-quality video with great detail into the happenings around your home. The picture we got from our Zmodo cameras, during our tests of the brand, delivered in 1080p HD most of the time, with the exception of the occasional Wi-Fi glitch.
All but Zmodo’s Torch 360 camera, which is meant for torch lights or lamp posts, are equipped with infrared night vision. Again, since we’re talking about a basic, low-cost brand, the night vision performance in our Zmodo cams left a bit to be desired. We had trouble making out some objects and contextualizing activity at night with Zmodo, so we don’t recommend Zmodo cameras for folks who need superior night vision.
Wireless DIY Installation
Since all of Zmodo’s cameras are wireless, you won’t need to do any hardwiring or complicated electrical work to get Zmodo up and running in your home. Setting them up outside might require a few pumps of a drill and some screws, but beyond that, we had no problem syncing Zmodo cameras with our Wi-Fi. Do keep in mind, though, that the video from your Zmodo cameras might buffer or slow down if your home Wi-Fi isn’t stable.
24/7 Customer Support
Customer support with Zmodo is tricky. If you’re looking for help on Zmodo’s support page, you might find the information to be lacking, especially when you’re trying to find specific information about individual cameras, like how to troubleshoot. For us, it took calling Zmodo’s phone support, and waiting a few minutes (not too long) on hold, to get answers to specific questions.
Smart Home Integration
Zmodo has incorporated smart home integration into most, if not all, of the cameras they sell. So if you have a Google Assistant or Alexa-enabled device, you can link them with your Zmodo cameras through the app. Then, you can ask your smart home device to “show me the driveway,” or whatever name you’ve given your camera.
Power Outage Protection
If you’re using one of Zmodo’s paid subscription plans, your video history will be saved to the cloud and still be accessible in the event of a power outage. But since they’re not battery-operated, Zmodo cameras still need to be plugged in to work.
Since we’re talking about a budget brand, you’ve probably figured out by now that almost every Zmodo product is made to save you money from the get-go.
Just how much money you will end up saving with Zmodo, however, depends on how many cameras you want, where you want to place them, and whether you want to monitor them through the cloud.
As Zmodo prices are pretty low already, we didn’t find any huge discounts on equipment, even around the holidays. We do think that Zmodo is in the middle of a product reshuffling, as many cameras we previously reviewed, including Sight 180C, are either out of stock on Zmodo’s website or discontinued altogether. This might change in a matter of weeks, but right now, what you see is what you get.
In the meantime, you can pick up a 4-pack of Zmodo outdoor Wi-Fi cameras as a bundle for just under $130. That amounts to $32.50 per camera, which ends up saving you a total of $30. Not exactly the sale of the century, but this is still a decent deal for folks who want to beef up the level of security in their home without a huge financial commitment.
As we observed in our hands-on experience with Zmodo, these cameras are anything but fancy. The technology that powers Zmodo is not as powerful as what the competition offers, and you won’t find state-of-the-art night vision or 2K resolution in these cameras. With Zmodo, you get the basics and nothing more.
But we also found that sometimes, the basics are all you need in home security. And Zmodo delivers on that quite well. Indeed, lacking the premium-level options of Nest Cams and other big-ticket devices like the cameras Vivint offers, Zmodo stands firmly as an affordable brand with lots of flexibility and value, and remains one of our top picks for folks on a budget.
Yes. By linking your Zmodo account with Alexa, you can incorporate your cameras into any Amazon smart home ecosystem. If you’ve got an Echo Show, this is a great way to get instant insight into any activity in or around your property, or just pull up your live feed to check out the scene.
Yes. Zmodo’s $5-per-month cloud plan is an easy, inexpensive add-on and gives you a ton of space to store your videos. But it’s not required to use Zmodo cameras every day; you can also opt for a basic (free) plan, which automatically stores your last 12 hours of video history.
Mediocre at best. We didn’t get nearly the kind of clarity and detail that we got with cameras like Arlo and Ring, so it was hard to decipher dark-colored objects. This was especially difficult in high-activity areas; when we were alerted to motion through our phone, we couldn’t tell what was actually going on by looking at the clip. So if night vision is a priority for you, Zmodo might be a disappointing experience.
Low-cost technology usually comes with an unspoken warning: “You get what you pay for.” In Zmodo’s case, we didn’t find any huge flaws using their cameras in our home to monitor activity like wildlife sightings, porch piracy, and speeding cars. Everything did what it was supposed to do in our Zmodo cams. But for more advanced technology like facial recognition and built-in emergency response, you’ll have to pay more for a higher-end brand.
Since their camera features are pretty basic, you can’t really call Zmodo an artificial intelligence-powered camera brand. But they do have intelligent alerts to distinguish between people, animals, and vehicles when motion is detected.
Rivers, M. (2018, Nov. 22). Inside China’s Silicon Valley: From copycats to innovation. CNN Business.
Deutsch, W. (2018, Dec. 23). Should I Use a Dummy Security Camera? The Balance SMB.
Nilsson, F. (2013, May 10). Video Surveillance: One Resolution Does Not Fit All. Security Info Watch.
Wadhwani, Preeti and Gankar, Saloni. (2019, July). IP Camera Market Size By Product. Global Market Insights.
Zmodo. (2015, Nov. 24) Zmodo Disrupts the Connected Camera Model with New Line of Home Cameras.