Woman installing home security cameras around her home's exterior

Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Home Security Cameras

Modern home security cameras make protecting your home easier and more convenient than ever. Many cameras even connect to your phone, tablet, or other devices, which increases your options for monitoring your home while you are at work or out of town. Here is a comprehensive guide to selecting the best home security cameras.

Benefits of Home Security Cameras

Home security cameras can be a valuable tool for deterring intruders and letting you know what happens if someone does enter your home. But there are several other less obvious benefits to using them. Here are some of the most common benefits of adding home security cameras to your property.

Protect your property and valuables

Protecting your property and valuables is, of course, most homeowners’ main reason for considering home security cameras. Whether your home has experienced an incident or you are simply trying to proactively prevent anything from happening to your belongings, security cameras can play an important role in protecting your home and possessions.

Monitor your home while you are away

Many modern home security cameras come with apps that make it easy for homeowners to monitor their properties from their phones or tablets. Some of these apps even include smart home integration, which allows you to control lights, televisions, thermostats, and other items in your home from anywhere.

App-enabled home security cameras simplify checking in on your home from work or from across the country. Also, remotely controlling lights and other items creates the illusion that someone is at home. This can be especially helpful if you are away for several days.

This technology gives homeowners more control and peace of mind when it comes to keeping an eye on things instead of having to rely on neighbors to alert them about potential problems.

Home security cameras can also be used to check in on children and pets while you are not home. If you want to make sure your teens do not have unapproved guests over while you are away for the weekend or see what your dog is doing while you are at work, making sure everything is as it should be is as simple as opening your app.

Will my camera’s feeds play on my phone?

Yes, most Apple and Android smartphones are compatible with at least some home security cameras.

Reduce your homeowners insurance rates

Many insurance companies offer lower rates for homeowners that proactively take steps to avoid having to use their insurance policies in the first place. Visible home security cameras and stickers that indicate alarms or other home security systems tend to effectively deter burglars and vandals before your property or belongings are harmed. So some insurance companies reduce rates by up to 20 percent for customers who have a qualifying home security system on their properties.

This discounted rate can help ease any concerns you may have about whether the up-front cost of purchasing a home security camera or any monthly fees it may have fits into your budget.

Receive real-time emergency notifications

Knowing there is a problem as soon as it occurs is a must when it comes to being able to take steps to mitigate the issue before it is too late to make any difference in the outcome. Depending on the specific type of home security camera you choose, you can often receive notifications as soon as a possible emergency occurs so that you can view your home and determine what is happening. Your home security camera’s app can immediately alert you to an unexpected person on your property, as well as let you know if your smoke detector or carbon monoxide detectors go off.

You may also be able to opt to have your security system automatically contact your police or fire department at the same time, which can be especially helpful if you are traveling somewhere with poor cell service and may not be able to get your own notifications immediately.

Can I respond to notifications?

Yes, many home security cameras include two-way audio that can be used to talk to whoever is on your property or buttons to trigger other options.

Types of Indoor Home Security Cameras

Wired and wireless home security cameras make up the majority of indoor options, as they do not typically require as many specialized features as outdoor cameras.

Wired indoor cameras

Like many other devices that utilize cables, wired indoor cameras often need to be installed by a professional. This cable refers to the Ethernet or coaxial cable that transmits feeds online to your phone or other devices, rather than a cord that connects the camera to a power source. This type of camera is generally most appropriate for capturing a 360-degree view of a particular room from the ceiling, as their domes provide a wide view instead of pointing at a particular subject.

Wireless indoor cameras

Wireless indoor cameras tend to be more versatile and easier to set up than wired indoor cameras. Much like your phone or laptop, wireless indoor cameras connect to a Wi-Fi source instead of requiring a cable to transmit feeds to your phone. However, they do need to be plugged into a power source. Because they are much easier to install yourself, wireless indoor cameras tend to be more common than wired indoor cameras, especially for any cameras that may need to be moved or used for other specialty purposes.

Types of Outdoor Home Security Cameras

Basic outdoor home security cameras tend to look and function much like indoor home security cameras. They are equipped with a few extra features, such as weather resistance, that make them more ideal for outdoor use. These features make outdoor cameras somewhat more expensive than indoor cameras. Options include:

Wired outdoor cameras

Much like wired indoor cameras, wired outdoor cameras connect to a cable, which can be more difficult to do outdoors. For this reason, wireless or wire-free outdoor cameras tend to be more common.

Wireless outdoor cameras

Like indoor wireless cameras, outdoor wireless cameras connect to Wi-Fi and a power source. These cameras function much like indoor wireless cameras, but they are typically larger and weather-resistant to meet the demands of outdoor recording.

Wire-free outdoor cameras

Wire-free outdoor cameras use a battery instead of connecting to a power source, which makes them ideal for outdoor areas that are difficult to reach with a power cord. These cameras are motion detectors first, as continuous recording would drain their batteries quickly, and they only start recording once they detect motion. For this reason, they are not ideal for indoor use. Although having to remember to change or charge batteries regularly can be a disadvantage for this type of camera, some can also be connected to a solar panel to help keep them charged.

Floodlight cameras

Floodlight cameras are a specialized type of outdoor camera that also only turn on after motion is detected. Triggering these bright lights can often scare intruders away before they even enter your home. Floodlights also provide clearer nighttime recording than night vision features on other types of outdoor security cameras.

Video doorbells

Video doorbells are a more subtle option. They provide a similar level of protection for your entryways without the eyesore of outdoor home security cameras. These devices simply replace your regular doorbell, and they begin filming whenever someone rings your doorbell or other motion is detected.

They also alert you through your phone or other devices when someone rings your doorbell. Then you have the option to talk to the person at your door even if you are not home. This type of home security camera makes it easy to keep track of who came to your door or tried to access it, as well as your porch, walkway, and other nearby areas.

Pro tip for choosing the best home security cameras:

Read reviews to make sure the outdoor security camera you choose is as weather-proof as it claims to be.

Home Security Camera Features

Homeowner operating her home security cameras

Many modern home security cameras have a variety of cutting-edge features that make it easier than ever to keep an eye on your home when you are not around. Both basic and specialized options are also available to suit a variety of lifestyles. Here are some of the most common features to look for that can help you get the most out of using your home security camera.

Power and connectivity

Making sure the home security camera you choose functions the way you want it to is a must to ensure that you get the maximum benefits from using it. Do your research beforehand to make sure you know:

  • What type of Wi-Fi your home uses
  • Where the nearest outlets are to the location where you plan to put your home security camera
  • Any other relevant information that pertains to the specific setup of your home and the type of camera you want

Your new home security camera will do little good if it comes with a power cord that is too short to reach your outlets or runs on a 5 GHz network if you have a 2.4 GHz network and do not want to upgrade your Wi-Fi.

If you are interested in a model that uses batteries instead of electricity, be sure to read reviews to determine whether the home security camera you are interested in has an acceptable battery life for your lifestyle.

Video quality

Many modern home security cameras produce much higher quality footage than they did in the past. But it is still important to make sure your camera’s video quality will meet your needs. Video quality may be less important if you only plan to look at your footage in case of an emergency. But you will want high video quality that looks good on your phone if you intend to use it on a regular basis. Most home security cameras that are currently on the market include 1080p HD, 2K, or 4K resolution. This matches the most common video options for most brands’ flagship phones.

Accuracy of artificial intelligence

Choosing a home security camera with advanced artificial intelligence ensures that only scenarios that involve a person are recorded. If you prefer to use a home security camera that comes on only when motion is detected instead of one that is on all the time, be sure to select one that is able to differentiate between humans and pets, cars, or other types of movement that are not relevant to your reasons for using a camera.

This strategy can help you save battery life by only recording important footage. This can increase overall convenience. It also prolongs the life of your home security camera by making sure it only comes on when it is necessary instead of recording information you do not need.

Geofencing and activity zone adjustment

Similarly, it is essential that your home security cameras only record in relevant areas and at relevant times. Being able to fine-tune your home security camera’s activity zone allows you to only receive notifications about activity that occurs on your property, rather than on the street or on a neighbor’s property. Geofencing uses your phone’s GPS to detect when you enter or leave your property. Then it will automatically record when you are not home if you choose not to have your home security cameras on all the time.

Pro tip for choosing the best home security cameras:

Be sure you can adjust your activity zone to only include your property if you live in a busy city!

App functionality and notifications

Many home security cameras come with apps that homeowners can use to view their feeds on their phones or other devices. Then you can view the feed from anywhere and receive notifications about potential problems. These apps typically provide similar basic information. But it is worth researching the overall design, video quality, customization settings, and other app features before making a decision. Make sure the home security camera you choose comes with an app that is compatible with your device. Also, verify that it provides the specific types of notifications you want to receive.

Pro tip for choosing the best home security cameras:

Be sure the home security camera you are considering is compatible with your phone and any other devices you want to connect it to.

Compatibility with smart home products

Some modern home security cameras can also integrate smoothly with your smart TV, lighting, thermostat, and other devices. This feature allows you to:

  • Remotely adjust your home to an energy-efficient temperature. You can cut down on heating or cooling costs while you are away without causing frozen pipes or other damage to your home.
  • Turn on lights to scare off a possible intruder or to see something more clearly.
  • Periodically turn on lights, TVs, and other items to create the illusion that someone is at home.

What to Look For When Choosing a Home Security System

Doing extensive research before purchasing a home security system is a must. Here are some of the most important things to look for when shopping for a security camera or full home security system.

Features

Always make sure your new home security system comes with the specs and other extra features you want before making a final decision. Home security cameras are generally intended to serve roughly the same purpose across the board; however, some models are more high-tech and multipurpose than others.

It is crucial to be sure your system includes specific functionalities. It also needs to be compatible with your current home setup and other devices. Then you can avoid extra costs that may be associated with making upgrades later on.

Cost

It is generally not a good idea to choose a home security camera based on cost alone. But it is important to make sure your camera fits into your budget. The purchase cost per camera typically falls between $60 and $500 depending on its type, brand, size, and features. Most full home security systems also include a monthly maintenance fee, which often falls between $10 and $50 per month. Also, they may require professional installation.

Installation

Depending on the type and complexity of the home security cameras you choose, you can set them up yourself or have them professionally installed. Like many cable products, wired home security cameras will typically need to be installed by a professional. Home security cameras that run on Wi-Fi are often relatively easy to install yourself if you choose to. However, you may wish to hire a professional to handle cameras that will be installed on roofs and in other areas that are difficult to reach.

Reputation of the company

Choosing a reputable company is absolutely crucial when shopping for a product that will broadcast your private property to the internet. Your intention is, of course, to be the only person who views your feeds. But it is important to remember that apps and other devices can be hacked. In order to ensure that your home security cameras do not do more harm than good, always research the company you are considering thoroughly to:

  • Identify any past data breaches or cyberattacks it may have experienced
  • What steps it takes to ensure your privacy
  • Any other reason you may feel uncomfortable trusting a particular company in your home

Where Is the Best Place to Put Home Security Cameras?

There are certain areas that every homeowner who is considering getting home security cameras should plan to cover. But additional camera locations will often be a matter of personal preference or specific needs. Here are some of the most common places to put indoor and outdoor home security cameras.

Outdoor Home Security Camera Locations

Your outdoor home security cameras should, at a minimum, cover your front and back doors and first-floor windows. Your driveway, garage, and yard may also benefit from outdoor home security cameras. But this depends on the specific needs of your property and neighborhood.

Indoor Home Security Camera Locations

Indoor home security cameras typically cover the stairs, hallway, or other main entryways. Homeowners can also cover any areas where valuables are stored. You may opt to cover your living room, kitchen, or other common areas.

Best Home Security Cameras on the Market

Man surveying security footage remotely

Most modern home security cameras come with more features and higher-quality recording capabilities than in the past. But making sure the camera you choose will meet your needs before making a purchase is a must.

Here are five of the top-performing cameras that are currently on the market.

1. Arlo Pro 4

The Arlo Pro 4 is one of the overall top-performing home security cameras on the market based on its ease of use and top-of-the-line specs. This outdoor camera features 2K HDR video, phone alerts, and color night vision. You also have the ability to talk to guests or set off a siren. The Arlo Pro 4 runs on a battery with a 6-month life. It connects directly to Wi-Fi, as well as Amazon Alexa devices, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.

2. Wyze Cam Pan

At just $29.99, the Wyze Cam Pan is a top-performing home security camera that fits into any budget. This option provides a three-second 360-degree view of a particular room or other areas. It can quickly show homeowners an entire large area. It features a 120-degree wide-angle lens, 1080p HD video, 2-way audio, and up to four different viewpoints. The Wyze Cam Pan works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

3. Arlo Video Doorbell

The Arlo Video Doorbell comes in both wired and wireless options to best meet your needs. These cameras provide a 180-degree view of the space outside your door. Also, its night vision and HDR video make it an excellent option for seeing anyone at your door, your entire porch, and anything on it. The Arlo Video Doorbell makes a convenient alternative to larger and more noticeable home security cameras if covering your porch is enough to meet your needs.

4. Ezviz ezGuard

The Ezviz C3W, more commonly known as the ezGuard, is another high-performing outdoor home security camera. Its built-in siren and strobe light place it among the best options for deterring potential intruders. Also, its infrared night vision feature produces higher quality images than the basic night vision technology that many other home security cameras use. The Ezviz ezGuard also features two-way audio, 1080p HD video, and micro SD card support for additional storage options.

5. Logitech Circle View

The Logitech Circle View works well as both an indoor and outdoor home security camera. It is a brand new, updated version of the top-performing Logitech Circle 2, which is no longer available to purchase. The Logitech Circle View works with Siri and Apple HomeKit. It features:

  • A 180-degree ultrawide view of any indoor or outdoor area
  • Enhanced night vision
  • Updated notifications that are more convenient and easier to use

This sleek model is also more visually appealing than many older home security cameras; it blends nicely into any indoor or outdoor surroundings.

Pro tip for choosing the best home security cameras:

Check to see if a new version of the home security camera you are considering is scheduled to be released in the near future before making a purchase.

Home security cameras can be an excellent investment. No matter what your reasons for searching for a home security camera are, the wide variety of top-performing options on the market means that there is something available to suit every homeowner.

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