The Best Home Security Cameras
Ultimate Buyers Guide
Nest Cam Indoor Nest Cam Indoor See Price

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Netgear Arlo Q Netgear Arlo Q See Price

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Samsung SmartCam Samsung SmartCam See Price

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D-Link DCS 960L D-Link DCS 960L See Price

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Zmodo Pan & Tilt Zmodo Pan & Tilt See Price

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The Best Home Security Cameras

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Video surveillance is no longer reserved just for businesses and the wealthy - the best home security cameras are affordable, easy to use, and high-tech. This is good news if you worry about what may happen to your home or belongings while you're away at work or on vacation, or even while you're sleeping. Video cameras are also a great way to peek in on kids, pets, and babysitters.

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If you're looking for an inexpensive and effective burglar deterrent, security cameras are a great solution. In a groundbreaking survey of real thieves, carried out by the University of North Carolina's Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, researchers found that the majority of burglars take the presence of a camera into consideration when choosing a target.

In this guide, I'll take a look at the top outdoor security cameras, as well as the top indoor cameras, and tell you what to look for as you evaluate devices.

Our Top Picks for Indoor Cameras

Here are my top five picks for the best indoor security cameras:

Nest Cam Review

  • Pros
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • 130° field of view
  • Whole-room night vision
  • Two-way audio
  • Event notifications with snapshots
  • Cons
  • Pricey
  • No on-board storage
  • Subscription required for video history

The Nest Cam is one of the best security cameras on the market, winning Amazon's Choice designation. It is not, however, one of the cheap home security cameras on my list. You get three hours of free event snapshot storage with the Nest Cam. For more advanced recorded video features you'll have to get a paid subscription.

Netgear Arlo Q Review

  • Pros
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • 130° field of view
  • Night vision
  • Two-way audio
  • Customizable alerts
  • Cons
  • Pricey
  • No battery backup
  • Can take time to learn all of the complex features

The Arlo Q by Netgear is a comparable value to the Nest Cam. Unlike the Nest, however, you get free cloud storage for recordings over the previous seven days. I think you'll agree, the best cloud storage is free cloud storage!

Samsung SmartCam HD Plus

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • 130° field of view
  • Night vision
  • Two-way audio
  • Cons
  • No cloud storage option
  • No battery backup
  • App not as intuitive as it could be

The SmartCam's strong point lies in its advanced clarity, even in the dark. While there's no cloud storage option, it offers a generous field of view and savvy features for the price point.

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • 720p HD resolution
  • Industry-leading 180° field of view
  • Night vision to 16 feet
  • 8x zoom
  • Cons
  • No cloud storage option
  • Not compatible with mydlink Connected Home products

With its unique wide-eye technology, the D-Link DCS 960L gives you a huge field of view without the distortion of a standard 180° fisheye lens. I like this camera because it's budget friendly without a ton of sacrifice.

Zmodo Pan & Tilt HD Camera

  • Pros
  • Great price
  • 720p HD resolution
  • Night vision to 30 feet
  • 350° (pan) x 85° (tilt) field of view
  • Two-way audio
  • Cons
  • No cloud storage option

When you factor in the included lifetime U.S.-based tech support, you'll be hard-pressed to find a comparable value with these features in a wireless home security camera.

Our Top Picks for Outdoor Security Cameras

Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera

The Nest Cam Outdoor is essentially the indoor version of the Nest Cam, except wrapped in a weatherproof casing. You get the same great features listed above, along with a magnetic mount and 25-foot weatherproof extension cord for easy installation. Price-wise the Nest Cam Outdoor is about the same as the Nest Cam Indoor.

Netgear Arlo Wire-Free HD Camera

Battery-operated security cameras are typically power suckers, making them potentially inconvenient. The Arlo's batteries, however, are touted as lasting four to six months. In addition, you can get rechargeable batteries which make it a bit more economical.

Foscam FI9803P

All of these features belie the $60 price tag. The Foscam is a particularly suitable solution for large yards due to the long night vision range. The other thing I love about Foscam is the total control you have over storage - use your own computer, NVR (network video recorder), or NAS (network-attached storage), or purchase cloud storage.

Amcrest ProHD (Dome)

The ProHD from Amcrest is a PoE home security camera. This stands for power over ethernet and means that a separate PoE injector or switch is required in order to power the camera. These are affordable and easy to use, so don't be intimidated by the terminology. Setup is simple.

There is a lot of functionality packed into this sleek little dome-style device, making it one of the best outdoor home security cameras for the price. I also chose this model due to its lack of monthly fees simply to manage your own footage.

Zmodo 720P HD Outdoor Camera

The one significant downside is that as of this writing, Zmodo does not offer a video storage option for this camera beyond a free 60-day cloud storage trial. They do, however, claim that cloud storage service will be available soon.

Key Considerations Before Purchasing a Home Security Camera

With so many different options on the market, you'll need to consider several factors when doing your security camera comparison:

  1. Purpose: Are you interested in keeping an eye on your nanny, or monitoring for intruders? Maybe there's been a problem in your neighborhood with packages being stolen off porches. Your specific reasons for doing video surveillance will guide your decision on the device type and features you choose.
  2. The size of the space: Larger spaces may require multiple cameras or one with advanced pan and tilt features. If you just want to keep an eye on your front porch, on the other hand, a more basic model will probably do.
  3. Home automation integration: If you have smart devices and wish to use IFTTT (if this then that) protocol, you'll want a camera that can be programmed to trigger certain events. For example, you can have your lights come on if your home security camera system detects motion.

Of course, there are other details you'll want to assess as you research your options. I'll cover those in the Features section of this guide.

How a Security Camera Works

Considering that roughly 90% of Americans have access to a broadband internet connection, according to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), people expect that they'll be able to monitor their security equipment via the internet. Thus it's not surprising that wireless home security cameras make up the vast majority of devices you'll encounter in your research.

What Is a Wireless Security Camera?

In the case of home security systems, the term wireless is typically used to indicate that the device sends a signal via WiFi connection rather than through a cable. You may, however, occasionally see the word wireless used in reference to a battery-operated security device. Most of the time, though, this word is simply an easy way of saying that the camera operates without a hard-wired connection to recording equipment.

How Does Security Camera Monitoring Work?

The days of poring over hours of VCR tapes to find a relevant couple of minutes in the event of a burglary are long past. Now, you can monitor your home security camera system from anywhere. The best home security cameras have mobile apps and/or websites which allow you to perform a variety of tasks, depending upon the device:

  • View a live stream
  • Change the camera's field of view by panning and tilting
  • Communicate with your family or an intruder via built-in two-way audio
  • Turn recording on and off
  • Store recordings either locally on a memory card or in the cloud
  • Watch recorded clips
  • Create rules for smart device operation (convenient if you own a smart home system)

The best home security camera system for you is that which fits your needs and budget. My picks for the best five security cameras for both indoors and outdoors include devices in all price ranges and feature options. Also, bear in mind that a home security camera is typically just one component of a security system. To learn more, consult our buyer's guide to home security systems.

Features of Home Security Cameras

Home security camera systems offer different functionality and features. The type you choose will rely on what you're trying to accomplish. Below, I've provided a breakdown of helpful features you may want to look for in a security camera and its associated app:

1. Field of View

This feature is measured in degrees - the smaller the lens, the wider the field of view. Some cameras come with a pan and tilt feature, which obviously adds to the field of view - and usually the price too. If you opt for a fixed FOV, you could add multiple devices to your home security camera system to cover a broader area. To give you perspective as you evaluate this feature, the human eye has an FOV of approximately 128°.

2. Night Vision

This is an important feature, particularly in outdoor security cameras, because break-ins often happen in the veil of darkness. You'll want to pay attention to the distance over which the night vision feature works, especially if you have a large yard or your camera will be placed at the top of a stairway.

3. Sound

The audio capability may not matter to you if you're just watching to make sure the kids make it home from school, or if you want to see who's at the front door before you open it. It can be a handy feature, however. Security cameras with two-way audio even allow you to have a conversation with people in your home or yell at an intruder to get out.

4. Motion Detection

The ability to detect unexpected movement either inside or outside your home is one of the best features of home security cameras. Some devices will even follow a subject as it moves.

5. Notifications

Some of the best home security cameras will send alerts to your mobile device if the motion sensor is triggered. After all, you're not going to be able to stare at a live stream of your home all day. You'll need to know if something unexpected happens. These alerts can typically be set as email, text, phone call, or push notification.

Researchers found that the majority of burglars take the presence of a camera into consideration when choosing a target.

Recap

The choices in home security camera systems can be a little overwhelming, so hopefully, this guide has given you a good start on making your decision. Studies also show that an alarm is an effective deterrent against potential burglaries. Look into our buyer's guide to home alarm systems for a cost-effective means of protecting your home.

Nanny cams are specially designed cameras you can use to monitor your child. For more information and useful tips, check out our guide to Nanny Cams.

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