While home security cameras were once for the elite, today security cameras are an affordable option for most homes. Home security cameras consist of wired and wireless cameras that allow homeowners to monitor the interior or exterior of their homes. Their function is twofold: to surveil the property to prevent thefts, vandalism, or break-ins while also allowing homeowners to monitor pets and children while they’re away. Most homeowners can install a home security camera themselves.
The newest models connect directly to a home’s Wi-Fi networks, allowing homeowners to access live and recorded video via their smartphone. In addition, security cameras provide more than just a video feed. Many security cameras can discern the difference between animals, people, and vehicles, sound alarms to scare away unwanted guests, and allow the user to communicate to visitors via built-in speakers. This guide will examine the features you should consider when shopping for a home security camera while reviewing some of the top models on the market.
— Best Home Security Camera Overall: Arlo Pro 4
— Best Home Security Camera on a Budget: Wyze Cam
— Best Doorbell Cam: Arlo Video Doorbell
— Best Home Security Camera for Indoors: Google Nest Cam
— Best Home Security Camera for Nighttime: Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus
How We Picked the Best Home Security Cameras
I used a broad range of criteria in reviewing dozens of cameras to make my picks for best home security cameras. I reviewed multiple models from numerous industry leading brands, looking for the top features and most consistent quality. I gave special credence to brands that did certain features well:
Image Quality: While today’s security cameras offer a variety of great additional features, first and foremost they need to be able to capture clear images and cover the area that they’re intended to monitor. With that in mind, I stuck with cameras with an adequate field of vision that produced high-definition pictures that would allow the user to recognize faces easily. That said, there can be risks to owning a home security camera,
Connectivity: Connectivity is also key. A security camera shouldn’t require the user to purchase an expensive hub, so I stuck with security cameras with integrated Wi-Fi that allowed the user to access live and recorded footage with a compatible app from a smart device.
Smart Features: When possible, I also chose cameras that are on the cutting edge of home surveillance technology with smart features that allow them to discern between animals, vehicles, packages, and people and send the user alerts accordingly.
The Best Home Security Cameras: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Home Security Camera Overall: Arlo Pro 4
Why It Made The Cut: The Arlo 4 offers exceptional resolution, loads of useful additional features, and connectivity that doesn’t require an expensive hub.
— Connectivity: Wi-Fi
— Resolution: 2K
— Field of View: 160 degrees
— Built-in Wi-Fi capability means there is no hub required for this camera
— Excellent 2K resolution makes recognizing faces easy
— Night vision
— Spotlight and 80-decibel siren scare away unwanted visitors
— More affordable than the Arlo 3
— Must subscribe to Arlo Smart Plan to access video and some features
Excellent picture quality, long battery life, and easy installation make the Arlo Pro 4 the best home security camera overall that you can mount to your home. The Arlo Pro 4 is the latest incarnation of Arlo’s Pro line of cameras. While it looks very similar to the Pro 3, it differs in price and connectivity The Pro 4, unlike the Pro 3, has built-in Wi-Fi, so it doesn’t require a hub (although you can connect it to the Arlo Smart Hub if you happen to have one).
Being able to see who’s wandering onto your property, be it friend or foe, is critical for any surveillance camera. With its 4-megapixel sensor and HDR technology, the Arlo Pro 4 produces 2K resolution video with a broad 160-degree field of vision and 12x digital zoom, giving it an exceptionally powerful capacity to pick out facial features. Since most nefarious activities happen at night, the Arlo Pro is equipped with two infrared LEDs that produce high-resolution black and white video in the dark.
The Arlo also comes with features that will help ward off unwanted visitors, including a motion-activated spotlight, a microphone, a loudspeaker for interacting with visitors, and an 80-decibel siren for scaring trespassers away.
Similar to other home security cameras, Arlo makes its recorded video available via a paid subscription plan. The company charges $2.99 a month for 30 days of video along with advanced features, such as package and object detection and smart alerts. You can expand that subscription to cover up to five cameras for $9.99 per month. All video footage is accessible via the Arlo app, which displays live and recorded video footage, allowing you to interact with visitors via the microphone and speaker, and activate the built-in siren.
Best Cheap Security Camera: Wyze Cam
Why It Made The Cut: We couldn’t find a similarly outfitted security camera that could even approach the low price of the Wyze Cam, which is why this product is our pick for the best cheap security camera.
— Connectivity: Wi-Fi
— Resolution: 1080p
— Field of View: 130 degrees
— One of the most affordably priced cameras on the market
— Integrated Wi-Fi means no hub is required to access video
— Full-color night vision
— Rolling 14 days of free cloud storage for recorded video
— Lower resolution than other cameras offer
— Narrower 130-degree field of vision
Though Wyze may have increased the price of its security camera with its newest version of the Wyze Cam, it’s actually a better deal. That’s because version 3 of the Wyze security camera includes integrated Wi-Fi, so it no longer requires a hub to view video. Simply download the Wyze app and view live or recorded video via a smartphone. Wyze also works with voice commands via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Unlike most security cameras that require you to pay a monthly subscription to access recorded video, the Wyze camera gives you 14 days of free recorded video footage from its motion-activated sensor. It also includes a backup microSD card slot in case you don’t want to use cloud storage.
With a 1080p resolution and 130-degree field of vision, Wyze’s video may not quite match some of the higher-priced cameras on the market, but it does come with many of the same bells and whistles, including motion detection and a one-way talk feature. The camera will also alert you if it happens to pick up loud noises, such as a smoke alarm going off. If that isn’t enough, you can add more features, such as a spotlight, at a small additional cost. Also new to this latest version of the Wyze camera is a Starlight Sensor that records nighttime video in full color.
There are limits to Wyze’s free monitoring services, but you can upgrade to its $1.99 per month subscription service ($1.25 when billed annually) per camera. You’ll get an even more robust monitoring service that includes unlimited video length, smart detection for persons, pets, and package deliveries, and facial recognition.
Best Doorbell Camera: Arlo Video Doorbell
Why It Made The Cut: The Arlo doorbell camera is the best doorbell camera and one of the most affordable models we found that offers a 180-degree field of vision for package detection.
— Connectivity: Wi-Fi
— Resolution: 2K or 4K
— Field of View: 180 degrees
— Wide field of view allows you to monitor packages sitting on the doorstep
— Advanced motion detection with subscription
— Cloud storage is affordably priced at $3 a month
— Programmable motion detection
— Larger profile than other doorbell cameras
Arlo makes some of the best security cameras on the market, and this doorbell camera easily lives up to the brand’s reputation. In addition to delivering high-resolution video footage of the area around your front door, the Arlo Video Doorbell features adjustable motion detection zones, two-way audio, and even an integrated siren that you can activate from your phone. Subscribe to Arlo’s $3 per month video cloud storage subscription service, and you also get cool features like animal, package, and vehicle smart detection.
While these features are solid, one of the coolest things about this camera is its square-aspect ratio, which gives you a full view of the doorstep, making it ideal for monitoring package deliveries while also getting a head-to-toe view of visitors.
Like other Arlo security cameras, its doorbell camera connects to Wi-Fi, allowing the user to access the doorbell’s live and recorded video footage as well as its features via an app, without the need for an additional purchase of a hub. The app also walks you through installation and configuration with step-by-step instructions and pictures, which makes setting up this doorbell camera very easy. Other useful features include a motion-activation function, and Arlo Foresight, which records video just before someone rings the doorbell, giving you a more complete picture of what’s going on outside your door.
With a solid set of useful features, programmable motion detection, and a wide field of vision, the Arlo is a great doorbell camera option at a very reasonable price.
Best Indoor Camera: Google Nest Cam
Why It Made The Cut: This indoor camera produces a field of vision that’s wide enough for indoor use with a clear picture and impressive night vision.
— Connectivity: Wi-Fi
— Resolution: 1080p
— Field of View: 130 degrees
— With its low profile design, this camera won’t draw attention to itself
— Intelligent alerts that detect animals, humans, and vehicles
— Two-way audio allows you to communicate through the camera
— Three-hour event history is a bit short
While Google Nest’s indoor camera may not be the most affordable model on the market, the bevy of cool and useful features that it offers makes it worth the higher price. As the best indoor camera, the Nest can tell the difference between humans and animals, making it ideal for those with pets who restlessly roam the house while they’re away. It allows you to set an activity zone, limiting the number of motion detection alerts you receive to those in the specific zones you’re worried about.
The camera itself offers good 1080p video resolution and excellent night vision delivered via 8 infrared LEDs. Two-way audio allows you to communicate through the camera, a nice feature for those who want to connect with Fluffy or Fido while they’re at work. Add the Nest Aware subscription for $6 a month and the functionality becomes even more robust, with facial recognition and noise detection for smoke alarms or breaking glass. The Nest does have its drawbacks: Chiefly, it only saves video for three hours, so if you discover an alert that’s four hours old, you won’t be able to see it.
The Nest has a slender black shape, which makes it inconspicuous enough that it won’t detract from the room’s decor, or constantly remind people in the room that they’re on camera. The camera can rest on a shelf or mounted to the wall. It does require a wall outlet for power, however, which limits where you can place it.
Best Night Vision Security Camera: Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus
Why It Made The Cut: With excellent night vision and powerful built-in flood lights, the Ring Floodlight Cam is a home security watchdog.
— Connectivity: Wi-Fi
— Resolution: 1080p HD
— Field of View: 140 degrees
— Full-color night vision even in low light conditions
— Large 2000-lumen flood lights that work with a motion detector
— Programmable motion detector zones
— Must be hard wired to a lightbox
With its high-definition color night vision, this best night vision security camera from Ring is well suited for nighttime security. It features a 140-degree field of vision that can cover a yard or driveway along with two large 2,000-lumen flood lights that activate with a motion detector (the app conveniently allows you to set specific motion detection zones). If the powerful floodlight isn’t enough to scare off intruders, you can blast them with the camera’s built-in 105-decibel security siren.
While the flood lights add an important extra layer of security to this camera, they do mean that you’ll have to attach it to a lightbox hook-up on the exterior of your home. This requirement limits the camera’s placement, unless you’re a savvy installer, or you hire an electrician for a custom installation.
Similar to other outdoor security cameras, the Ring Floodlight Cam includes integrated Wi-Fi, allowing you to view footage via the Ring app. With a subscription to the Ring Protect Plan, you can view up to 60 days of recorded video footage.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Security Camera
Field of View
A camera’s field of vision is typically measured in degrees. While you may be tempted to go with a camera that offers the broadest field of vision, not every setting needs an extra-wide field of vision, and you may end up including areas you don’t need to monitor. For broad areas, such as a front or back yard, look for a security camera with at least a 140-degree field of view. For smaller areas, like a room or smaller enclosed outdoor areas, 115 degrees is often adequate.
While we typically value a field of view designed for a horizontal perspective, in certain situations a vertical view may also be useful. For a doorbell camera, for example, a camera with a broad vertical field of vision allows you to see visitors from head to toe and monitor packages sitting on your doorstep.
Where you plan to place the camera has a lot to do with the type of camera you need. Outdoor cameras are ideal for monitoring your property to deter potential burglars or trespassers, while also protecting your car and outdoor property. Indoor cameras allow you to check up on the kids while you’re out running errands, or monitor a pet remotely. Doorbell cameras act as doormen, letting you know who is at the door without having to open it, while also allowing you to check on deliveries while you’re away from home.
Most modern security cameras do more than simply record video. Other features include two-way microphones that allow you to communicate through the camera, as well as sirens and floodlights designed to scare off intruders. Cameras with smart technology can detect movement, determine if the source of a disturbance is a person, animal, or vehicle, and determine whether to alert you or not. These useful features impact the price of a camera, so it’s important to decide what features you’re willing to pay for, and which ones you don’t need, before you go shopping for a security camera. You can also increase the safety of your home with home security that goes beyond the camera.
Q: Do home security cameras need to be plugged in?
That depends on the security camera. Some require a constant power source and therefore either need to be plugged into an outlet or hardwired to an electrical box. Many security cameras operate off of a lithium-ion battery, which will power the camera for months before requiring a recharge.
Q: Are security cameras worth it?
A security camera’s ability to deter burglars makes it worth the cost. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, 60 percent of burglars will opt for another home if they see security cameras or an alarm. Security cameras used to be expensive, requiring hardwiring to a monitoring system or a hub to connect it to the Web. Today’s cameras are affordable and can connect to a home’s Wi-Fi, making live and recorded video easily accessible via a smartphone. Since most cameras charge low cloud storage subscription fees, it’s hard to argue against buying a security camera.
Q: How much does a home security camera cost?
Security cameras range in price from as little as $35 to $300 or more. The price typically depends on the camera’s resolution and the features that it offers. Cameras with 2K resolution, night vision, smart recognition technology, and other features cost more than more basic models.
Q: Where is the best place to mount a home security camera?
The best place to mount a home security camera indoors is in the corner of a room opposite the entry point if you’re using it for security. If you’re using it to monitor pets or children, position it to view places animals and people typically gather, such as a table or sofa. Outdoors, position the camera on a corner of the house to view a broad area, making sure to include the home’s entryway as well as any cars that could be the subject of a break-in.
Q: What are the best outdoor security cameras?
The best outdoor security cameras have a broad field of vision, high resolution, and are durably built to endure the elements. The Arlo Pro 4, with its 180-degree field of vision, 2K resolution, and weather-proof construction is one of the best outdoor cameras on the market.
The Arlo Pro 4’s excellent video quality coupled with a broad 180-degree field of vision and extra features that include an 80-decibel siren, 12x zoom, and object detection make it one of the best security cameras on the market. Those looking for a more affordable option should consider the Wyze Cam, which costs a fraction of the price of other security cameras and offers 14 days of free cloud storage.
Care about supporting clean energy adoption? Find out how much money (and planet!) you could save by switching to solar power at UnderstandSolar.com. By signing up through this link, Futurism.com may receive a small commission.