Security Cameras Buyers Guide

Finding The Right Security Camera For Your Home Network

In not much time at all we went from low-resolution baby cams that were difficult to set up and temperamental to operate to the HD, WiFi-connected remote control wonders of technology that we have today. The typical home security camera can be set up in minutes and accessed from a remote location with a smartphone or a cloud storage account.

As the market for IP cameras grew so did their capabilities. The field of IP cameras has expanded to the point where it has a language all its own. You need to have a good basic knowledge of their various features and capabilities before making a decision on which one is for you.

Security Camera Features To Look For

There’s a lot to know when it comes to security cameras and all the different options can get overwhelming. The purpose of this guide is to give you an overview of the most important features to look for when shopping for a home security camera. Only you know the requirements you have for your home network. The following is a list of questions to ask yourself about each camera you look at before deciding on which one is for you. 

How Is It Powered?

Most cameras will either be powered by batteries or AC power. The placement of a camera powered by AC power is limited to the length of its power cord or any extension cables you may use. Battery life is also a limiting factor. Consider whether replaceable or rechargeable batteries work for you. The Blink Indoor Cam is designed to last up to two years on 2 AA lithium batteries. Some outdoor cameras like the Ring Stick Up Cam offer the option of solar power to keep batteries charged.

Another option is POE or Power Over Ethernet. POE uses your Ethernet cable to charge the camera and requires a POE switch to send power through the cable.

How Is The Video Quality?

In this day and age, there’s no reason to settle for 720p HD resolution. Don’t get too carried away though. If you’re not relying on your camera to do high-resolution tasks like accurate face recognition a 4K camera is not necessary. 1080p is fine. 15 fps (frames per second) is acceptable but 30fps is smoother, more realistic, and true to life.

How Is The Audio Quality?

90 %
Set Lowest Price Alert
×
Notify me, when price drops
Set Alert for Product: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery HD security camera with custom privacy controls, Simple setup, Works with Alexa - White (3rd Gen, 2019 release) - $99.99
Price history
×
Price history for Ring Stick Up Cam Battery HD security camera with custom privacy controls, Simple setup, Works with Alexa - White (3rd Gen, 2019 release)
Latest updates:
  • $99.99 - December 5, 2021
  • $74.99 - November 27, 2021
Since: November 27, 2021
  • Highest Price: $99.99 - December 5, 2021
  • Lowest Price: $74.99 - November 27, 2021
Last Amazon price update was: May 26, 2022 8:42 pm
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Most indoor security cameras have built-in speakers and microphones that allow you to hear what going on as well as speak to family members through the mobile app. Make sure the audio is “two-way” meaning there’s both a speaker and a microphone. Good quality is important too. Some cameras will screech and make annoying feedback noise. This can usually be remedied by adjusting the volume.

8.5/10 Read review
85 %
Set Lowest Price Alert
×
Notify me, when price drops
Set Alert for Product: All-new Blink Indoor – wireless, HD security camera with two-year battery life, motion detection, and two-way audio – 1 camera kit - $79.99
Price history
×
Price history for All-new Blink Indoor – wireless, HD security camera with two-year battery life, motion detection, and two-way audio – 1 camera kit
Latest updates:
  • $79.99 - May 11, 2022
  • $64.99 - April 24, 2022
  • $79.99 - February 22, 2022
  • $59.99 - February 7, 2022
  • $79.99 - December 26, 2021
Since: December 26, 2021
  • Highest Price: $79.99 - December 26, 2021
  • Lowest Price: $59.99 - February 7, 2022
Last Amazon price update was: May 25, 2022 8:46 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Is It Durable?

How Does It Connect?

Most cameras are either connected by WiFi, Ethernet, or both. WiFi cameras should be kept on the 2.5GHZ band to prevent them from interfering with more bandwidth-intensive devices like HD TVs and game consoles. Some cameras like the Blink Indoor Cam don’t rely on Ethernet or WiFi at all. They connect to a hub or module device using RF (radio frequency) waves and the module is in turn connected to your home network by WiFi. Considering the extra device Blink cameras are surprisingly easy to set up.

Does It Have Zoom Capability?

I consider Zoom a luxury item. If a camera you like doesn’t have zoom it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Affordable security cams use digital zoom which reduces picture quality the more you zoom in by pinching the screen on your mobile device. It can be kind of an annoying feature. Optical zoom is better but more expensive.

Most of the cameras on this site are indoor cameras so durability shouldn’t be much of a concern. Durability is important when it comes to outdoor cameras like the Ring Stick Up Cam because of their exposure to the elements. Outdoor cameras should be weatherized and have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. For example, the Ring Stick Up Cam has an IP rating of IPX5 which means it can withstand low-pressure jets of water from all directions. Learn more about IP ratings here.

Can It Integrate With Smart Home Devices?

Home automation is another important consideration. You can expect a security camera like the Google Nest Cam to work with Google Home devices or the Ring Stick Up Cam that was recently purchased by Amazon to work with Alexa home automation but what about other smart home devices? Usually, it will be difficult to find a security camera that works with Alexa, Google, and Apple because of the competing technologies.

 

A new standard of communication called IFTTT allows you to download “recipes” to your mobile phone app to integrate with smart home devices such as smart light switches and air conditioners in your home. Find more information on IFTTT and home automation here.

Can It Send Out Notifications?

If something happens while you’re away from home what better way to find out about it than having your security camera notify you 

9.5/10 Read review
95 %
Set Lowest Price Alert
×
Notify me, when price drops
Set Alert for Product: Google Nest Cam Indoor - Wired Indoor Camera for Home Security - Control with Your Phone and Get Mobile Alerts - Surveillance Camera with 24/7 Live Video and Night Vision - $113.99
Price history
×
Price history for Google Nest Cam Indoor - Wired Indoor Camera for Home Security - Control with Your Phone and Get Mobile Alerts - Surveillance Camera with 24/7 Live Video and Night Vision
Latest updates:
  • $113.99 - May 21, 2022
  • $119.18 - May 16, 2022
  • $118.97 - May 15, 2022
  • $129.99 - May 2, 2022
  • $127.99 - April 30, 2022
  • $129.99 - April 24, 2022
  • $129.98 - April 18, 2022
  • $129.99 - March 21, 2022
Since: December 3, 2021
  • Highest Price: $129.99 - December 29, 2021
  • Lowest Price: $89.95 - January 6, 2022
Last Amazon price update was: May 21, 2022 8:53 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

through your mobile phone? Most security cameras available today have some sort of way to text you in case it detects motion, changes in light, or even temperature in your home. Many motion sensors are very sensitive and you may find yourself getting notifications every time your cat moves or a tree stirring outside causes a shadow to move in your home. The sensitivity to motion can usually be controlled with the security cameras app or web interface. You can also create “activity zones” for the camera to focus on or ignore.

90 %
Set Lowest Price Alert
×
Notify me, when price drops
Set Alert for Product: Amcrest ProHD 1080P WiFi Camera 2MP (1920TVL) Indoor Pan/Tilt Security Wireless IP Camera IP2M-841B (Black) - $47.99
Price history
×
Price history for Amcrest ProHD 1080P WiFi Camera 2MP (1920TVL) Indoor Pan/Tilt Security Wireless IP Camera IP2M-841B (Black)
Latest updates:
  • $47.99 - May 17, 2022
  • $39.99 - March 16, 2022
  • $47.99 - November 27, 2021
Since: November 27, 2021
  • Highest Price: $47.99 - November 27, 2021
  • Lowest Price: $39.99 - March 16, 2022
Last Amazon price update was: May 23, 2022 7:30 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

How Does It Store Recordings?

As nice as it is to whip out your phone and see what’s going on in your home using your camera’s mobile app it doesn’t help much with events that take place before or after your Live View session.

 

You need a way to record and store the video so you can review it later. This is usually done using local or cloud storage. Local storage is usually done with a micro-SD card inserted into a camera, a USB flash drive, a hard drive on a computer on your network such as a NAS. The advantage of local storage is it’s easy to use and cheap.

 

Cloud storage usually involves paying for a subscription but it allows you to view recordings from anywhere. The Amcrest ProHD IP2M-841B can be configured to work with a Synology NAS that’s set up for remote access. A setup like this eliminates the need for a cloud service. I illustrate how to make the Amcrest Pro HD store recordings on a Synology NAS in my Free eBook.

Does It Have Night Vision?

There are 24 hours in a day and only half of those are during daylight so night vision is an important feature for a security camera to have. To achieve night vision a security cam will use a series of infrared LED sensors placed around the lens that actually detect heat using IR or electromagnetic radiation. This produces a black and white image that’s not so pleasing to the eye but provides an accurate representation of what’s going on.

How Wide Is The Field Of View?

Field of view is the measure of how wide-angle a camera’s lens is. The mathematical limit is 180 degrees. As you can imagine that would create a lot of distortion. A good number for a security camera with no pan function is 120. If your camera has pan functionality an extreme wide-angle lens is not needed.

How Much Cloud Storage?

If you plan on using cloud storage instead of local storage you may want to do a little research on the camera manufacturers’ website to learn all the ins and outs of their cloud subscriptions before making your purchase. Usually, a cloud subscription will run you about $3 to $6 monthly depending on how much video you want to be stored. Some have free plans that offer a limited amount of storage time.

Is It Easy To Set Up?

9.5/10 Read review
95 %
Set Lowest Price Alert
×
Notify me, when price drops
Set Alert for Product: Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Pan/Tilt/Zoom Wi-Fi Indoor Smart Home Camera with Night Vision, 2-Way Audio, Works with Alexa & the Google Assistant, White - WYZECP1 - $61.98
Price history
×
Price history for Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Pan/Tilt/Zoom Wi-Fi Indoor Smart Home Camera with Night Vision, 2-Way Audio, Works with Alexa & the Google Assistant, White - WYZECP1
Latest updates:
  • $61.98 - May 17, 2022
  • $62.99 - May 15, 2022
  • $62.90 - May 11, 2022
  • $62.99 - May 2, 2022
  • $66.90 - April 30, 2022
  • $68.35 - April 20, 2022
  • $69.00 - April 17, 2022
  • $69.90 - April 15, 2022
Since: December 2, 2021
  • Highest Price: $84.22 - January 12, 2022
  • Lowest Price: $37.81 - January 24, 2022
Last Amazon price update was: May 17, 2022 4:15 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

One reason security cameras have become so popular is they’re so easy to set up. More expensive, security systems with multiple cameras and a central recording device such as a DVR require professional installation. The standard home security cameras listed on this website usually involve little more than turning them on, scanning a QR code with your mobile phone to get it connected to your home network and placing it on a table, or attaching it to a wall with the included mounting hardware. The default settings usually work well on most security cameras. Any customizations can be done with the mobile app or web interface.

Best Security Cameras At A Glance

More details +
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare

Wyze Cam Pan

Best Seller 1 Wyze Cam Pan
9.5
Feature-Packed Affordability
If you consider a $35 security cam "cheap" you may find yourself pleasantly surprised to discover how feature-packed the Wyze Cam Pan actually is. You'll find all the basics including mechanical pan and tilt, cloud storage, Alexa support, motion tracking, and other features found in more expensive IP cameras. No wonder it's one of the best selling security cameras on Amazon.
Rating
9.5
PROS:
  • Affordability
  • Time-lapse
  • Motion tracking
CONS:
  • Minor distortion
  • CO alarm
More details +
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

2 Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
9
Wire-Free Indoor and Outdoor Security Camera
The Ring Stick Up Cam (Battery version) is now in its 3rd generation. After an initially bumpy road Ring has ironed some of the performance issues of earlier Gens and the new version is ready to face the world with confidence. In 2018 Ring was purchased by Amazon and has partnered with over 600 police departments through its Neighbors Program. The Ring Stick Up Cam Battery runs on batteries and uses WiFi to connect to your network. An optional Solar panel can be used to keep the battery charged. The included mounting hardware can be used to easily mount the camera indoors or outdoors without hassling with Ethernet or power cables.
Rating
9
PROS:
  • Wire-free
  • Works with Alexa
  • IFTTT support
  • Sharp video
CONS:
  • Doesn't work with Google or Apple
  • No motorized zoom/pan/tilt
  • Subscription service required for playback
More details +
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare

Blink Indoor

3 Blink Indoor
8.5
Wire Free And Stress Free Design
Blink prides itself on designing cameras that are wire-free and worry-free. Blink cameras are a snap to set up and don't rely on network or power cables. To make this possible Blink cameras are engineered to prolong battery life as long a possible - up to two years on two AA batteries with their indoor and outdoor models. The caveat is continuous streaming is limited to 30 seconds (Unless you repeatedly push the "Continue" button.) in order to conserve battery life.
Rating
8.5
PROS:
  • Sharp video quality
  • Local storage and affordable cloud storage
  • Alexa support
  • Long battery life
CONS:
  • Two-piece design
  • Doesn't work with Apple or Google.
More details +
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare

Amcrest ProHD IP2M-841B

Best Value 4 Amcrest ProHD IP2M-841B
9
Multitude Of Storage Options In An Affordable Camera
The Amcrest Pro HD IP2M-841 is an affordable IP camera that offers a lot of flexibility as far as storage options for a camera priced under $50. This 1080P Full HD camera's image quality is sharp and the motorized pan and tilt functionality is smooth and quiet. You may have difficulty getting it to work with other home automation devices, but it works with many NAS devices such as Synology and QNAP which is great if you have a NAS set up for remote access and don't want to pay for a cloud service.
Rating
9
PROS:
  • Affordability
  • Pan, tilt, and zoom
  • Image quality
  • Choice of storage options
CONS:
  • Set up can be a bit confusing
  • Doesn't play with home automation devices
  • Cloud service is on the pricey side
More details +
Added to wishlistRemoved from wishlist 0
Add to compare

Nest Cam Indoor

Editor Choice 5 Nest Cam Indoor
9.5
Top Quality Video And Integration
The Google Nest Indoor security camera is the successor to the once top-rated Drop Cam Pro. It delivers even sharper 1080p, excellent night vision, and improved two-way sound capabilities. Its integration with Google Home products as well as Nest Protect and Nest Thermostat has made it one of the most popular security cameras on the market. There is a caveat though.
Rating
9.5
PROS:
  • Excellent video quality
  • Great night vision
  • Fast, easy setup
  • Integration with Nest products and other smart home devices
CONS:
  • Pricey
  • Sound quality kind of weak
  • Subscription required to access all features

Buzzwords You Should Know

Cloud Storage

You probably already have some form of Cloud Storage for your music, pictures, and videos. A security camera cloud storage account is virtually the same thing except that the videos are placed in the cloud by your camera. Your camera uses the cloud as storage instead of a local hard drive or microSD card. The nice thing about it is you can log into it and review your camera’s video recordings from anywhere on the Internet. 

PTZ

PTZ is simply an acronym for Pan, Tilt, and Zoom. Pan is the camera’s ability to scan left and right on its axis. Tilt is scanning up and down and Zoom is the lens using either optical or digital technology to move the image closer or farther away. Digital zoom usually creates a blurry, distorted image. Optical zoom is better but more expensive. 

QR Code

A QR code is a sort of digital device serial number that can be read and recorded by your phone’s camera lens. Like a serial number a QR code is unique and identifies that device and that device only. When you scan your camera’s QR code with your mobile phone the phone must be on the same wireless network you are placing your security camera on.

 

Once the QR code is captured the camera’s mobile app associates that QR code with the WiFi network settings on the phone and creates a marriage between that security camera and your home network. The app encodes all this info and stores it in an online account that allows you to access your security camera from anywhere. This technology is so awesome it’s almost scary but it’s the age we live in.

Live View

Live View is a common term that describes using your camera’s mobile app or web interface to view what your camera is capturing as it happens. The distinction between Live View and recording is important because what you see with Live View is gone the instant it happens. Live View is probably not being saved to local or cloud storage unless recording has been triggered by a motion, light, or sound sensor.

POE

POE stands for Power Over Ethernet. Only 4 wires in an Ethernet cable are actually used for data communication. That allows unused wires (Usually the brown and white pair.) to be used to transmit other things such as electric current. A special POE switch must be used to transmit electric current through the cable to provide power to the device as well as data. POE is usually used by outdoor cameras. None of the cameras featured on this website use POE but it’s important to know about it in case your situation calls for it.

microSD

Some cameras may use bulky USB drives for local storage but most cameras use the same tiny storage chips you use in your phone. These tiny memory chips are capable of storing GBs of video and can easily be inserted and removed from a security camera. Viewing recordings on your microSD chip doesn’t require and special cloud service. The only disadvantage is it’s not being stored in the cloud so it can’t be accessed from anywhere.

IFTTT

IFTTT stands for IF This Then That. It’s a clever way to describe a logical chain of events. An example of a logical chain of events could be IF you flip the lightswitch THEN the light will go on. (Or off.) IFTTT is a special app that you can download to your mobile phone and use to create applets or “recipes” that allow devices of different types to interact with each other. If a security camera works with IFTTT it can be set up to work with home automation devices. 

WiFi Guy
Logo
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0
Shopping cart