A security camera gives you peace of mind and added protection. Whether you want a camera to watch over your possessions or to check up on your pets, there’s a wide amount of choices on the market. We’ve tested and reviewed the top indoor, outdoor, wired and wireless cameras. Here are our recommendations.
Watch live footage
The Wyze wireless security camera sends live video footage directly to your smartphone. You choose what to save to the cloud and what to erase. You can add a MicroSD card to the camera and store captured video directly on the camera itself. The Wyze records both video and audio, so you can hear conversations going on close by the camera, plus it has two-way communication, so you can talk to those in your home while you’re away. It has voice control capabilities when connected to Amazon Echo or Google Home. Plus you can share a live stream with family and friends so they can be a part of important events going on in your home.
Indoor surveillance system
The YI Smart Home Camera is a great choice for keeping tabs on what's going on inside your home. You can watch kids or pets while you're away, or record activity near vulnerable points like windows, doors, and home safes. It has multiple sensitivity settings so the security camera isn't triggered by false positives. It integrates with the Amazon Echo for easy voice control.
Use inside or outdoors
The Arlo Pro records in 1080p quality which is enough to identify individuals clearly in the day and still enjoy pretty decent nighttime footage. This camera is cloud-based and comes with free storage. That means anything that happens over a seven-day period is stored for scroll back and view. The Arlo Pro security camera is wireless with a convenient magnetic mount. It can be controlled through an app, or by a smart home device like the Amazon Echo.
Watch pets, kids and sitters
The Nest Cam Indoor is the smart home camera that started it all and still offers one of the best experiences thanks to updates. The Nest works really well both in daylight and in night conditions thanks to its infrared lights. Another great Nest feature is its ability to play nicely with other smart home gadgets which makes it versatile. Location detection turns itself on and off as you come and go automatically and when linked with things like Nest home heating, that can be activated using the app too.
Large storage hard drive
The Foscam is a fully wired outdoor security camera system, with Ethernet cables to both power and get video from its cameras, which makes it easy to set up. it comes with four cameras and a 1TB hard drive. The 720p daytime video is really good with decent levels of contrast. There is a bit of blur and graininess with night recordings, but still CLEAR enough to figure out what’s being recorded. The Foscam doesn’t have any sort of audio recording capabilities.
What to look for when buying a security camera
The best security cameras, both wired and wireless, have much of the same features and options available from motion detection to two-way communications. The most important of any camera is the video quality captured, with most now recording in Full HD 1080p. Some models now record in 4K and in High Dynamic Range (HDR), delivering even better clarity, especially in high contrast lighting. While the quality can be great, remember you’ll need a decent internet speed to cope with the large data transfer, so that’s something to bear in mind.
It’s not just daylight recording you need to think about, the quality of night-time footage is just as important too. WiFi security cameras use infrared LEDs instead of visible light, so they don't match the color or detail of daytime videos. The coverage is also reduced, but this does vary from camera to camera, with some only having a range of just 15ft, and others 30ft and beyond.
Coverage is also an important consideration. You want to see what’s going on in the whole room ideally, so you’ll want an indoor home security camera with a wide field of view. At around 160-degrees, you can expect to see every part of the room in front of the camera, though some cameras go even wider at 180-degrees. They work best if you mounted high in a corner that overlooks the room.
A wide field of view means digital zoom is important. This allows you to select part of the video and enlarge it, helping you get a closer look at something. Bear in mind that the quality of a digitally enlarged video won't be as sharp or detailed as the original.
While you can easily live stream, you don’t want to be glued to your smartphone screen waiting for something to happen at home. That’s why the best security cameras feature motion sensors that detect both movement and sound, alerting you via a notification sent directly to your phone, as well as email. To avoid a load of unnecessary alerts, more advanced security cameras can recognize faces and pets as well, so it won’t pester you when your kids are home, but will when a stranger is lurking.
Many indoor security cameras not only feature built-in microphones, so you can hear as well as see what’s going on at home, but also speakers. This means you can communicate with whatever’s going in your house, whether that’s to tell the kids to stop jumping on the sofa or to ward off a burglar.
Local or cloud storage?
You’ll find that most home security cameras offer a solely cloud-based storage solution, which sees footage automatically sent, stored, and backed up at a secure remote location. For security, your files are encrypted so only you have access to them when needed. There are models out there that can either record or backup footage onto a MicroSD card as well.
Cameras with local storage let you access your video without subscription fees, though you might need extra memory cards or to write over older footage if you plan to keep your camera recording at all times.
Cloud storage is all about convenience compared to local storage, but the trade-off is that there are often subscription fees. You typically don't need a subscription to view a live feed, while some will offer a free amount of storage over a specific period before you have to start paying for the privilege.
An important advantage of cloud storage is that any footage captured is safe and secure, whereas should a burglar break-in and take out the memory card, you’ve got no evidence.
Battery or mains power?
Home security cameras will be mains powered, but for extra peace of mind, some also feature a battery power backup as power outages can and do happen. Some savvy burglars even cut the power, leaving your camera out of action if it doesn’t support a battery. That means you’ll have no video evidence of the break-in, so this can be a handy feature to look for.
Smart home integration
As well as creating a multi-camera setup by adding additional cameras, some systems even allow you to integrate them with other smart home gadgets. If you want to do this, check if any home automation or DIY home security systems work with the camera you’re thinking about buying.
These systems can use WiFi security cameras to control smart locks, thermostats, and other devices in your smart home. These devices can also tell the camera to record or not, based on your personal preferences. The biggest appeal with these systems comes from using a single app to control all of your smart home devices.