Security cameras so good, even burglars might stop to admire them.
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We all want homes that are safe and secure. Yet, according to the real estate listings we definitely skimmed, fortress inventory is at an all-time low. Additionally, the landscape architect we totally interviewed informed us that moats haven’t been en vogue since the Middle Ages. Fortunately, we remembered that we live in the 21st century and have access to some remarkable technology including home security cameras.
If you’re looking to protect your home, security cameras are the way to go. They are a great deterrent for break-ins and an excellent way to monitor what’s happening in and around your house. They’ve also become increasingly popular, as evidenced by the numerous options available on the market today. So how do you know which home security camera is the best for you and your family? Well, unless you love rolling the dice when you shop, you’ll want to think about these factors prior to making your purchase:
Indoor vs Outdoor: Are you looking to install a camera on the exterior of your house? Or do you want one to monitor indoor activity? Outdoor cameras must be robust enough to withstand changes in temperature and a variety of weather conditions. And when it comes to indoor cameras, most people prefer ones that easily blend into their home/decor. You don’t want anyone to be aware that they’re being recorded. After all, intruders are notoriously camera shy.
Power: It’s important to consider what kind of “juice” a camera needs to operate. Does it rely on batteries or does it require a power source? You might face constraints as to where you can place a camera that needs a power source. Conversely, batteries obviously have a limited life. You’ll have to check periodically to ensure that the camera hasn’t died. We can say with a moderate degree of confidence that a dead camera isn’t incredibly useful.
Audio: Sure, all security cameras provide visual footage (if yours doesn’t you’ve likely been duped). But a handful kick it up a proverbial notch and offer audio surveillance as well. Some cameras simply have a microphone which allows them to capture sound. Others can both capture and emit sound, turning them into an intercom of sorts.
Degree of Coverage/Movement: Before buying a security camera, think about how much coverage you want. Do you need to monitor a variety of rooms or outdoor spaces? If so, a system that allows you to hook up multiple cameras might be best. Moreover, some cameras have the ability to pan or tilt. Hence they can cover a larger area than a camera that’s static.
Wi-Fi/Home Automation: We live in the 21st century. Therefore, like the vast majority of technology today, many security cameras available have Wi-Fi capability. This is great for a handful of reasons including the fact that this makes it harder to disable them. Moreover, most cameras with Wi-Fi allow you to turn your house into a smart home. They can integrate with Amazon and Google and even potentially let you remotely lock your door, control your lights, etc. Some cameras also have companion apps that allow you to view live streams and send email/text alerts. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you have the bandwidth to support all of these facets.
Resolution and Lighting: There’s no point in investing in a camera with terrible resolution. You need to be able to receive clear images. Lighting is also key to picture quality. How well lit is the area in which you want to install your camera? Does it receive adequate sunlight? Will there be a glare? Be aware that it can be difficult for indoor cameras to adequately capture images from outdoors, especially after the sun goes down. You should also know that a variety of cameras are designed with night vision and/or motion-activated floodlights. If you’re worried about criminal activity, you should get a camera with these capabilities.
Advanced Features: These days, you can find security cameras that have some pretty cool advanced features. If you’re willing spend a little more, you can get cameras with facial recognition, built-in sirens and even ones that respond to voice commands. Additionally, some products/brands let you establish “activity zones” wherein you can program the camera to either focus on or completely ignore a specific area.
Cloud Storage: Though some cameras come with microSD cards, many models don’t store their footage themselves. Instead, they rely on cloud service for storage and offer you remote access. Keep in mind that not all storage is alike. Some might save footage for a month, others only a week. Additionally, you may have to pay a subscription fee for the cloud service. It’s important to consider that when pricing your options.
Now that you have a sense of what to look for in a security camera, it’s time to peep our top picks:
Completely wireless • Records continuously
With a picture this awesome, you might just give up your Netflix account and stream your house instead.
1. Netgear Arlo ProWith a picture this awesome, you might just give up your Netflix account and stream your house instead.
9.9 x 9.7 x 5 inches
Netgear offers both local and free cloud storage. Your footage is always safe and accessible. What a relief!
Amazon reviewer writes:
“For anyone looking for home security cameras/system… consider Arlo/Netgear. Really impressed with the flexibility of the app and the ease of configurability as well as multiple options for scheduling. Zoom and record options are appropriate for our needs as well as video quality. There is also a community where they collect ideas and continue to improve the product. You have outside developers in the community giving feedback which is amazing and tells you that there’s true interest in bettering Arlo. Price point…you will pay a little more but it’s worth it in my opinion.”
Amazing HD resolution • Great night-vision range
Fixed camera with no sound
Keeps a very sharp eye on your home’s exterior.
Amazon reviewer writes:
“Fast setup, the wi-fi has a good range and a great picture. I was able to add it to my network of different cams all recording to my server. I opted to host my camera on dyndns because that’s where I have my other cameras, no problem with setting it up. The view from the camera is great, it’s wide enough to cover almost the entire yard, and with the digital zoom you really don’t need a pan and tilt. It’s construction is solid, made for outdoors and it is designed so that no matter how you mount it it will remain weather proof. I will be changing my older cameras out for Amcrest soon.”
A breeze to set-up and use with 24/7 live video
No local storage • You must pay $10/month for cloud
Captures so much you’ll feel omnipresent.
3. Nest Cam IndoorThis camera captures so much you’ll feel practically omnipresent.
6.5 x 3.8 x 6.6 inches
But the Nest doesn’t just stop at its awesome imagery. It also comes with a built-in speaker and microphone. In other words, you can hear everything and even yell at your dog/kids/roommates to get off the couch. Additionally, the companion app lets you monitor your home from anywhere and sends updates and alerts (i.e. kids got home from school, etc.) as well.
Note: Nest Cam requires a broadband internet connection with an upload speed of at least 2 Mbps.
Amazon reviewer writes:
“What a great indoor cam. It goes great with my Nest Secure. Very easy to setup and link with our Nest Secure. The cam can pick up the slightest sound.You can hear and speak through it. Yes you can talk to your pets through the mic and or if someone is in your home, you can say something to them right through the cam. It will pick up my cat eating her food and it can hear us talking on the second floor!! It will send you a notification that your camera hears a noise. My cat got busted doing things I never thought she would be doing when we aren’t home. You can also view your camera at the Nest website or the app when you log in and you can turn it on and off and schedule a time to turn it on and off if you like. While our Nest camera is connected to our Nest Secure, you can use the camera separately. Make sure there is nothing obstructing the view of the camera such as plants, books etc. My only gripe is the monthly fee if you want to save your videos to the cloud. It cost 10.00 a month.The app works great with it and although many complain about the pricing of this cam. You can find coupon codes online. I got mine on Cyber Monday and got it for a excellent price! The infrared night view is very clear and can see everything. You can pan around the area, picture quality is pretty good but not great but clear enough you can see details of the room you are viewing.”
Unbeatable price • Crisp 1080p picture • Free cloud storage
Can’t integrate directly with your other smart devices
Its small size and affordability belie a product packed with fantastic features.
4. Wyze Cam V2Its small size and affordability belie a product packed with fantastic features.
2.2 inch x 1.97 inch x 1.97 inch
Worried that the quality will diminish once the sun goes down? Don’t be. The V2 is equipped with an enhanced night vision setting as well. It also has motion tagging technology that can detect (and outline) motion in both live stream and replay modes. Additionally, the camera has two-way audio and smart sound recognition. Yup, if your smoke alarm happens to go off, the Wyze Cam will recognize and alert you. And we should probably alert you to the fact that customers have access to free, rolling 14-day cloud storage. Perhaps best of all, the V2 is incredibly simple to mount thanks to its magnetic base.
Wyze reviewer says:
“I just ordered my 3rd Wyze Cam v2 & 4th overall (I have one Wyze Cam Pan). These are fantastic cameras! This is one of those rare cases where you more than get what you pay for. I love the idea of a smart home, but this allows you to do it on more of a reasonable budget. I have one at my front door, in my basement (we’ve had water get in before), and in my garage (the magnetic base was an awesome benefit, as I just attached it to the front of the garage door opener). As a renter, this has been especially helpful to point out issues to my landlord. Kind of hard to ignore video confirmations that are time stamped too.
I recommend these to all my friends! Why waste the money on other, much more expensive ones?”
Great motion-activated alerts
Hardwire installation only • No local storage
Easily keep tabs on who’s showing up at your front door.
5. Ring Pro
4.50 in x 1.85 in x 80 in
The Ring Pro is also equipped with two-way communication capabilities; you can quickly speak with visitors via your mobile device. As if that wasn’t enough, the camera is compatible with Alexa as well. And since it connects to your doorbell wiring, you don’t have to worry about batteries. There are also four faceplate options so it should be relatively easy to find one that matches your home.
Amazon reviewer writes:
“I heard so many people in my neighborhood talking about the Ring Doorbell; after I saw the video images and sound, I was sold. Everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING (well, except the drill) you need to install and set up your Ring is included in the box. I was worried about needing someone with electrical skills to help me get it done, but the directions are so clear and easy to follow, you will amaze yourself at how easy it is to set it up. It works perfectly. The only time it did not work was when I had to reboot my modem, but my regular doorbell rang without missing a beat. I no longer want to be without my Ring and have purchased the Ring Floodlights to secure the rest of my home. The best part? Me being 20 miles across town, my phone alerting me to motion at my door and being able to SEE who was there and TALK to that person – they had no idea I was not at home. My daughters have the app and access to their phones also so we are all connected and watchful. What an awesome invention!!”
Fantastic motion detection • Easy installation
Makes it a breeze to track who is coming and going from your home.
Amazon reviewer writes:
“I love the design! It blends in nicely with where I have it setup and people don’t even know it is a security camera. The picture quality is good and I like that I can save videos from the app to my phone. Sometimes watching videos may take a few seconds to load before they start to play but it may just be my wifi. I actually like to use watch on my desktop from the netatmo website while I’m at work & it will allow me to download videos right to my computer.The face recognition is very cool & getting alerts of when each of my family members are home I find very useful.”
Clear HD video • Solid motion detection
Limited to AC power source • Inconsistent alerts
If you’re worried about things that go “bump” in the night, you’ll want a YI Home Camera.
There’s also a strong motion detection system that sends you notifications when movement is detected. And, as an added bonus, the YI Home has technology that will alert you when your baby (or any baby currently in your home) is crying. So feel free to put your baby down and just slowly walk away!
Amazon reviewer writes:
“Bought this to monitor our front door while away on a trip… We bought a 32GB micro SD card for it and positioned the camera to view outside the office window towards our front porch and the picture is very clear at all times of the day! I am able to receive the alerts and view them from my phone and/or laptop. I am also able to view more than the 6 second clip if I want to watch the full footage of the movement. It is easy to save the 6 second clip to the SD card; however it doesn’t save the full footage. But I found out that if I leave that clip in that day’s activities then I can still view the footage. I have set both the sensitivity and alert frequency settings to low and it still picks up passing vehicles but I am okay with that since I am able to delete the unneeded clips easily. I am amazed and pleased that I can be hundreds of miles away and still be able to monitor my front porch. And it’s considerably cheaper than the Ring or Nest products. I am very pleased with this product!!!”