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July 28, 2022  |  Home

How to choose the best home security camera

Security cameras can provide peace of mind in a variety of situations. They can help you keep an eye on kids or pets in another room, monitor hard-to-see areas outside or watch for package deliveries. 

Today’s security cameras offer features such as live smartphone alerts, doorbell integration, video storage, sirens and more. Whether you’re looking for a complete security system or just a way to see who’s at the door, here’s how to choose the best security camera for you.

Types of home security cameras

Home security cameras can be grouped into three main types:

  • Video doorbells are a popular pick for their ability to let you know who’s at your door when they either ring the doorbell or activate the motion sensor. Video doorbells also offer two-way audio to allow you to talk to whoever’s at the door.
  • Wireless security cameras can be placed almost anywhere in your home, thanks to their ability to plug into an outlet or run on rechargeable batteries. They connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network to send you alerts on your smartphone.
  • Floodlight cameras are typically hardwired into an exterior wall to replace an existing floodlight with a bright LED model equipped with a security camera. Floodlight cameras often feature a siren and two-way audio.

Home security camera features

The first step in choosing the right home security camera depends on where you want to use it. From there, you can narrow down your options based on your preferred power source, how and where you want to store video and other special features.

Security camera video quality and storage

Today’s security cameras offer resolutions as high as 4K, allowing you to maintain excellent image quality, even if you need to zoom in. Security cameras with lower resolution are usually more affordable and require less storage space, but they may not provide enough detail.

Another important consideration for your home security camera is what happens to recorded images. Some cameras store data locally on a memory card, while others let you upload video to cloud storage. There are advantages and disadvantages to each: For example, cloud-based storage services may require a subscription, while on-site memory cards can be subject to theft or breakage.

Security cameras for households with pets

If you have pets in your home, you may opt for a security camera that can distinguish between people, animals and vehicles so you don’t get false alarms. Two-way audio may also be handy if your camera catches your pet in the act of misbehaving.

Smart home compatibility

While many home security cameras can be used on their own, it’s not uncommon to use them in conjunction with comprehensive security systems that can be accessed via smartphone. These cameras can also be used with virtual assistants, such as Alexa, to turn on and off, view remotely or record video.

Read product descriptions carefully while you’re shopping for a security camera because many models, particularly lower-priced options, only offer certain valuable features as part of a subscription plan.

Indoor vs. outdoor 

Even though they perform similar functions, indoor and outdoor security cameras aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Outdoor security cameras are more durable and better equipped to handle the elements. Outdoor security cameras may include built-in spotlights that can be motion-activated or programmed to operate on a timer. Indoor security cameras are not as tough and not necessarily designed to perform these functions.

Power and connectivity

Your home security camera needs a power source to function. Options include batteries, plugging the camera into an outlet or hardwiring it into your home’s electrical system. Some can even utilize solar power. Battery-powered security cameras need to have batteries replaced or recharged, while wired security systems tend to have a higher installation cost.

FAQ

Q. Will my pet trigger motion detectors?

A. If you don’t want your pets to repeatedly trigger your security camera, you may have to go through some trial and error. Some security cameras are able to take into account the mass and speed of a moving object and identify it as your pet and, therefore, determine it’s not a security risk. Others may have to be positioned so they aim above where pets are walking.

Q. Do security cameras work during a power outage?

A. Wired security cameras will not be able to operate if the power goes out, so if you're worried about maintaining surveillance in the event of a power outage, look for a battery-operated security camera or one with a backup battery. Onboard video storage also helps ensure no coverage is lost during any lapses to cloud uploading.

What you need to buy for the best home security camera

Ring Video Doorbell 3

Ring Video Doorbell 3

This customizable, easy-to-install doorbell can be wired into your house or run on a rechargeable battery. It offers 1080p HD video, two-way audio, Alexa compatibility and crisp night vision.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Google Nest Doorbell

Google Nest Doorbell

This feature-packed video doorbell can detect package deliveries, animals, vehicles and familiar faces. It comes with three hours of free rolling video storage.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Blink Indoor Wireless Security Camera

Blink Indoor Wireless Security Camera

Network up to five security cameras with this easy-to-use, affordable kit. The camera has 1080p resolution and infrared night vision, and it can run for up to two years on two AA batteries.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Home Depot

Ring Indoor Compact Security Camera

Ring Indoor Compact Security Camera

For installation on a wall or shelf, this compact camera offers a nice assortment of user-friendly features. It plugs into an outlet and offers two-way audio, Alexa compatibility and more.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot and Amazon 

Wyze Cam V3 Wired Indoor/Outdoor Video Camera

Wyze Cam V3 Wired Indoor/Outdoor Video Camera

This budget-friendly security camera is weatherproof and offers local storage and color night vision. Additional features, including the ability to capture recordings without a cool-down period, requires a subscription plan.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus

Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus

This hardwired floodlight camera features 1080p HD video, 2000-lumen LED floodlights and a high-decibel security siren. You can use the Ring app to customize motion zones according to where you want the camera to focus.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot, Amazon and Macy’s

Google Nest Indoor Outdoor Security Camera

Google Nest Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera

This outdoor camera offers a 130-degree view with 1080p HD video and crisp night vision. It’s battery-powered, so it’s easy to install anywhere (no outlet needed) on its magnetic mount.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

 

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.