Choosing a home security camera can be a daunting task since there are a lot of things to consider. Some aren’t susceptible to power outages, thanks to their battery power and local storage, while others need careful placements inside or outside the home.
We recommend starting with something like the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera, a well-rounded camera that’s packed full of features and boasts performance that ensures you’ll be in the know about what’s happening at home. Competitors like Ring and Nest may be more recognizable brands, but the Arlo Pro 4 has them beat on features for the price. Don't worry, we have a full list of the top security cams with different focuses, depending on what your home really needs.
Arlo Pro 4
The best all-around home security camera
- Sharp-looking footage
- Additional details with color night vision
- Doesn't require a hub to set up
- Smart security with Arlo Smart service
- Specs are similar to predecessor
- Spotlight required for color night vision
Arlo has always offered the best solution when you need multiple cameras. The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera shares many of its predecessor's features and specs, but it doesn't require a hub to function. It is fully weather-sealed and ready for use indoors or out, wired or wire-free, with a 160-degree viewing angle. The batteries can easily be swapped and charged separately, so wire-free cameras won’t suffer any downtime while charging.
Now that the camera has ditched the base station that previous Arlo models needed to function, the setup process is streamlined because you connect it directly to your home's Wi-Fi router. When it comes to video quality, its 4-megapixel 1/3-inch sensor does a fantastic job of capturing sharp details with accurate colors. The performance is made better thanks to HDR and color night vision, which help to uncover details that are often lost with high-contrast scenes and at nighttime when lighting becomes challenging.
The Arlo Pro 4 is also backward compatible with the existing Arlo Pro system, so current users can continue to use their same base station and older cameras alongside the new model. When you consider the excellent camera performance, Wi-Fi direct connectivity, and smart security courtesy of Arlo Smart, its $200 starting cost makes it more attractive than previous iterations. In fact, the starting cost of the previous Arlo Pro 3 was $500, although it did come with two cameras as opposed to one.
Google Nest Cam (battery)
The best Google Assistant integration
- Works both indoors and out
- Stores three hours of video history for free
- Great contrast with HDR video
- Magnetic plate has a strong connection
- Bulky design
- Details are a bit soft
The Nest line produces reliable products with the latest A.I. features, and its products are always strong picks for those already using Google Home. This latest battery-powered cam is excellent for DIY users who want the freedom to place the cam wherever they want — indoors or outdoors — at any angle. The cam supports 1080p video at 30 frames per second, with night vision and a 130-degree field of view.
The camera offers the ability to zoom in, use two-way audio to talk, or contact emergency services. It's also smart enough to customize alerts based on whether it thinks it's seen a person, pet, vehicle, or more. It's also compatible with Google Assistant and devices like the Nest Hub Max, although you won't find any Alexa support on this Google product. If you are placing the cam outside, you can also attach a weatherproof cable so you won't have to worry about recharging the battery.
Out of the box and free of charge, the Nest Cam supports up to three hours of event-based battery history storage, after which you will need to clear out space. You could add a Nest Aware subscription if you don't mind paying a monthly fee, which offers more A.I. features and much more storage for the cam.
Blink Outdoor Cam
Best security camera for Alexa
- Built-in Alexa compatibility
- Customizable motion zones
- Multi-year battery
- Local storage requires a separate hub
- No cloud storage without a subscription
The Blink Outdoor camera offers weather-resistant surveillance at HD resolution with infrared night vision. While the model is battery-powered, allowing you to place it nearly anywhere, the battery sports a runtime of up to two years before needing to be recharged (although it's still a good idea to place it in a more manageable spot like your porch or above a garage).
Blink uses motion detection with customizable motion zones to help reduce errors and includes a two-way audio feature to communicate with the cam. The Alexa compatibility works very well with devices like an Echo Show for an immediate look through the cam and also supports voice commands to arm or disarm the unit whenever you'd like.
The small downside to Blink's affordable outdoor cam is you can't save video natively right out of the box. Instead, you'll either need to sign up for the Blink Subscription plan to get cloud storage options, or purchase a separate Blink Sync Module 2 hub to enable local storage.
Ring Spotlight Cam
The best outdoor security camera
- Robust, compact, and weather-resistant
- Integrated spotlight, siren, and motion detection
- Simple installation
- Ring controller app offers lots of features
- Video recording requires subscription
- Delays when editing motion zones
The thing that sets the Ring Spotlight Cam apart from other home security cameras is that it prioritizes crime prevention. The built-in motion detectors will immediately start recording video when they sense movement, and the camera will simultaneously shine lights to scare off any would-be intruders or criminals. You can also sound the 110-decibel siren to warn others about suspicious activity or as a warning to possible lurkers.
The camera is compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as Mac and Windows PCs. So regardless of what kind of device you have, you'll be able to download the app and tune-in anytime to see live footage of your home. No matter where you are, you can check to make sure the kids came home from school or to see if the lawn was mowed. Set-up is quick, and it includes all the tools you'll need to get the camera situated in your home.
Also note that Ring has a , which includes a battery-powered model and a solar panel you can attach to a nearby roof. Put the security camera near a sunny spot, and you may never have to manually recharge the battery, allowing many more versatile placements.
Wyze Cam v3
The best cheap security camera
- Very affordable
- Works both indoors and outdoors
- More detail with color night vision
- Tons of security controls
- Integrated power cord
From the easy-to-install Wyze Lock to the versatile Wyze Cam Outdoor, the Wyzeportfolio has been growing at a rapid rate. Its latest offering is the incredible Wyze Cam v3, which like its predecessor, astounds with its unbelievable low cost of $36!
Following the same cube-shaped design, this newer model benefits from a sturdier IP65 construction that allows it to work outdoors while resisting the harsh elements. It also features night vision, something that has been largely reserved for pricier models. The usefulness of color night vision is astounding since there are details you wouldn't otherwise be able to detect from your standard black and white night vision clips.
Furthermore, the Wyze Cam v3 offers a slew of capture modes that even includes a handy time-lapse mode, various security and privacy controls, and local storage to ensure your footage stays with you. You get all of that in a security camera for well under $50. Quite frankly, it sets the benchmark in what we expect out of entry-level security cameras.
The best security camera for privacy
- Physical security shutter
- Noise cues for shutter use
- Motion detection
- Design primarily for wired, indoor use
Worried about your security camera getting hacked? It's very rare, but some hackers do try via unsecured Wi-Fi systems. While there are measures you can take in place to prevent such hacks, here's a model that simply does a better job of maintaining your privacy. The SimpliSafe SimpliCam may seem like your ordinary indoor security camera, but it takes your privacy more seriously.
The cam takes a page from smart displays and includes a physical shutter that you can close whenever you don't want anyone to be looking through it, making it a good choice for indoor monitoring. Even if a hacker manages to get remote control of the cam, they can't move the shutter to see anything out of it. Streamed video data is otherwise encrypted end-to-end to avoid any accidental leaks.
Additionally, you'll always know when someone is watching you because of the discernible noise when the shutter opens and closes. Beyond that, the SimpliSafe SimpliCam features 720p HD video, two-way audio, 120-degree field of view, night vision, and motion detection.
Logitech Circle View Doorbell
Best security cam for HomeKit integration
- Neat integration with other smart home devices
- Good color night vision
- Light sensor with a readable interface
- Facial recognition
- Not compatible with Android at all
- Additional hardware and subscription requirement
There's no denying that there are fewer security cameras on the market that support Apple's HomeKit. One of the best options is Logitech's Circle View Doorbell, an excellent choice if you prefer to control everything via the Home app (it also works with Alexa and Google Home). The 1080p cam offers a 160-degree viewing angle, 6-foot night vision, and two-way audio for communication. If you have an iCloud+ subscription, you can also upgrade to facial recognition, custom detection zones, and more.
Since it's a video doorbell, the cam includes a chime button and is designed to be placed directly by your door for easy porch/street-side viewing. Setup and installation require an iOS device using the Home app, so there's no need to download any extra apps. The Logitech Circle View Doorbell features an assortment of privacy features to ensure it's safe to have inside the home. They include things like automatic arming based on your phone's GPS location, a dedicated button that effectively shuts off the camera, and the ability to swivel the camera completely downwards.
The Circle View Doorbell is a wired doorbell, so you'll need the proper wired connection to make it work (the doorbell comes with multiple mounting options and a chime kit to help). There are battery-powered doorbell options available, like the Nest Doorbell, but none work with Apple as well as this model.
Eufy SoloCam E40
The best security camera without a subscription
- Doesn't require subscription service
- Crisp night vision quality
- Better than average battery life
- Struggles with dynamic range
Today's security cameras have advanced features that are blocked off unless you subscribe to one of their subscription services. One common benefit to some of these services is that they'll store recorded events in the cloud, so you can access them at any time with your mobile devices. The beauty of the Eufy SoloCam E40 is that you don't need to pay into a subscription service to reap some of its rewards, like cloud storage.
You'll find an all-in-one solution with the Eufy SoloCam E40 because not only does it cover all of the basics, like crisp night vision, activity zones, and long-lasting battery life on a single charge, but you don't have to pay a monthly fee in order to access the footage it records. All of your clips are stored locally and encrypted, so you can access them at any time on your smartphone.
Best of all, it's a breeze to set up and isn't too expensive to buy on any budget. For what you pay, it's sweet knowing there's no additional cost out of your pockets after buying it.
It depends. The amount and length of storage you get depend on factors like the specific model and whether you have a paid subscription or free plan. Some models, like Google, have a certain amount of free storage that can fill up over time. Others keep captured footage for a period (for example, seven days), then discard it. Subscriptions generally increase the time that footage can be held by a significant amount. However, it’s always a good idea to download a clip from the cloud right away if you will be using it for evidence. Local storage, like an SD card, is generally free to use and permanent, but you have to manage it manually.
Technically, yes, although it’s uncommon. Customers have reported instances where hackers access their home security camera’s audio feed. To help protect your home security camera from hackers, use a strong non-default password, use two-factor authentication when available, secure your wireless network, and buy your home security camera new from a trusted source. You can learn more about how to protect your home security camera from hackers.
Most home security cameras stream video feeds using your home internet network. Video is automatically captured for a certain amount of time when motion near the camera is detected, and an alert is sent to the owner’s phone so they can watch and make decisions like whether to contact the authorities. They use an app as an interface where you can do things like view live video feeds, communicate using two-way audio, set up motion zones, and access cloud storage (or the camera’s internal storage or SD card storage). Most offer various kinds of night vision, and some include built-in spotlights.
Yes. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte asked burglars about their most effective deterrents. Just over 50% said the presence of outdoor security cameras was an effective deterrent (they’d seek another target if the home had security cameras outside).
The best place to put security cameras is at common entry points — the front door, back door, garage, and lower-level windows. However, you should also consider your area, your property, and any special circumstances that may require a different placement. For instance, if you have a lot of expensive automobiles on your property, you may want to have an outdoor camera covering your vehicles. Or, if you live in an area where there are a lot of second-floor break-ins, you might want security cameras covering the second floor.
No. A subscription is not required for all home security cameras, however, many home security cameras provide more features if you purchase the subscription plan. That could include additional A.I. features, more cloud storage options, or a bundled monitoring plan. Without the subscription plan, your features may be limited.
The cloud storage option in particular depends on a subscription fee. Cloud storage allows you to use your account to access saved video footage from anywhere and download it onto your computer or another device for future use (typically footage is held in the cloud for a certain time from a week to two months, depending on the tier of service). Few smart cams these days offer cloud storage without requiring a subscription fee. Google’sis one of the few examples with effective free storage. However, local storage is always an alternative and only requires buying a compatible SD card.
In general, yes. Home security cameras are legal to place in your own home. If you’re using home security cameras for a rental property (like an Airbnb home), they are typically legal, provided you are placing them in common areas and the rental guests are aware of their presence.
However, it is not legal to use security cams to capture footage where people have the expectation of privacy. Capturing footage on your porch is fine, because it’s your yard, and the street beyond it is a public area. But capturing footage of something like your neighbor’s backyard is illegal and has led to successful lawsuits. For another example, it is not legal to place a home security camera in a place like an Airbnb rental bathroom. Plus, that’s just creepy anyway.
Some can … but there’s always an option to turn sound recording off, and many models skip it altogether. That’s due to wiretapping laws, which often make it illegal to record sound on surveillance equipment. Even two-way audio communication may have limits depending on specific state rules, although it’s typically legal if the conversation isn’t being actively recorded.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of home security cameras, but these are a few of our favorites that stand out for various unique reasons. Smart home cameras are at their best when they stay out of your way and offer worry-free operation and streamlined apps so that when you do need to interact with them, it doesn’t cause a headache. Good image quality is nice, but it’s not the most important feature when it comes to keeping your home safe or checking in on your kids or pets.
We look for cameras that offer a great combination of features — night vision, battery power, alerts, two-way audio, integration with other services, etc. — in determining the best ones. Obviously, we also take price into account, and there is quite a range of pricing in the current smart home camera market.
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