The sense of security and peace of mind that comes with owning a home security system is absolutely priceless. Even though researching different home security camera systems can seem like a daunting process, it’s well worth it in the end. Specifications such as the camera’s resolution, the field of view, and battery life all play into deciding which model is the right fit for your needs.
Before you begin shopping around, it’s essential to know what factors to consider when making a home security system purchase. Be sure to think about where you want to place the camera, what kind of video streaming capacity your internet bandwidth has, and whether you want the camera placement hidden or in plain sight.
The first step is to make a list of the reasons that are currently motivating you towards purchasing a home security system. This will make it easier for you to assess your own needs. Once that’s done, you can jump into learning about what is most important to look for when buying a home security camera.
What Should I Look for When Buying Home Security Cameras?
There is a wide array of home security camera systems on the market today, and they each have specific features.
The two main types of security cameras are indoor and outdoor cameras. After assessing what your home security needs are, you’ll be able to pinpoint which of the following aspects are the most important for your home surveillance camera:
Where Will You Put It?
Indoor cameras and outdoor cameras are not quite the same, and it’s essential to shop for the appropriate one based on what part of your home you want to monitor. Indoor cameras are not built to withstand temperature changes and weather, so it’s crucial to reserve them for exclusively indoor use. Indoor cameras are usually easy to handle, smaller, and can come with excellent features depending on how much you’re willing to spend.
Outdoor cameras are generally designed to handle the wind and the weather, and they come in a variety of styles. If you want an outdoor camera with motion detection capabilities, night vision, or superior video quality, you should be ready to pay a bit more for those features. These cameras are great for keeping an eye on your driveway, backyard, garden, and home perimeter.
Another important detail to consider is the implication behind camera placement. Outdoor security cameras are bulkier and more conspicuous, but they’re great for deterring intruders who might otherwise try to sneak into your home. Indoor cameras, on the other hand, are easier to conceal and better for covert surveillance.
If you’re planning on installing outdoor cameras to enhance your home’s security, you’ll want to place them at any major points of entry. That way, you will be able to catch any trespasser on camera regardless of how they would try to enter. Unfortunately, you’ll have to work outside cameras into the plan when decorating the outside of your home, because their size makes it difficult to hide them effectively.
When installing an indoor camera, it’s best to place it so that you can have a bird’s-eye view of a high traffic area within your home. These areas can include the living room, hallway, kitchen, and even the garage. If you have a particular room where you store high-value possessions (e.g., expensive technology, musical instruments, or any collectibles), you may also wish to install surveillance cameras there.
What Surveillance and Alert Features Do You Want
One huge choice in the home security camera buying process is deciding which bells and whistles are deal-breakers for you.
Night vision, motion detection, live video feed, cloud connectivity, and smart home compatibility are just a few common examples of features that customers commonly search for when buying a home security camera system.
If you’re in the midst of the home security system buying process, consider these features before making a final decision:
1. Night Vision
Night vision is one of the most critical elements to have for an outdoor camera. It can offer the best chance to catch an intruder, as many robbers and trespassers choose to strike at night. Excellent video quality won’t help you at night unless your camera also has night vision, so it is an indispensable asset for an outside camera.
2. Motion Detection
Motion detection technology is a great way to keep track of your home so that trespassers don’t go undetected. Security cameras with motion-detecting capabilities are designed so that whenever someone or something comes into their field of view, they alert you to the movement. You can personally set the sensitivity level of these security systems, so no need to worry about false alarms from an overly sensitive camera.
3. Cloud Storage
If you opt to buy a home security camera or a business security camera with cloud storage capabilities, you’ll have much less to worry about in terms of digital storage capacity. Although a hard drive is a perfectly viable option, cloud storage is far less likely to run out when storing hours of digital video footage. Wireless cameras that work via WiFi connection are often used for cloud pairing, and they should also work with the security monitoring app of your choice.
Although many security systems offer cloud storage, it’s essential to check the cybersecurity settings in your home before buying one. Many companies use commercial camera systems with cloud storage. However, they also tend to invest a bit more time and energy into their cybersecurity when compared to the average home. Just make sure that your WiFi network is secure so that unwanted parties can’t gain access to footage from your private security equipment.
4. Smart Home and App Compatibility
If you already have a lot of smart home appliances, it only makes sense that your home security equipment should be smart home compatible, as well. Having a camera that can connect to your preferred mobile phone app via WiFi is also a huge plus. Even when you’re away from home, you can check in on the app to see what’s happening.
Mobile phone app compatibility is especially valuable to users who want to use the app to watch pets or children. Any leading security monitoring app will offer the possibility for you to see a live feed from your wireless camera. Smart home technology and app compatibility are the best ways to get the most out of your wireless cameras so that you can have optimal peace of mind.
5. Camera Resolution and Video Quality
Perhaps the most critical aspect of the security camera system buying process, image quality is one of the first points that the average customer looks at when comparing different security cameras. As the standard for technology has improved over the years, most security camera companies now offer home security cameras with a suitable resolution for basic home monitoring.
Regardless of what kind of camera resolution you decide on for your home security system, it’s important to consider it in the context of your needs and budget. Cameras that record and send an extremely high-res image are typically much more expensive than a standard model. These security systems make sense for certain companies and very wealthy property owners, but maybe not for somebody shopping for standard home security cameras.
As far as the different resolutions that security cameras offer, you’ll usually see 720p, 1080p, 4MP (1440p), 5MP (1920p), and 4K (8MP) on offer. 720p is perfectly adequate for basic surveillance, but you may run into the problem of a blurry image if you try to zoom in too much when looking at recorded footage.
6. Stationary or Moving Surveillance
Choosing between a fixed or moving camera is just another decision that you’ll have to make when shopping for home security cameras. Each type of camera has its pros and cons, so be sure to factor them in before buying your next security camera. From video doorbell cameras to panning IP cameras, there is a wide variety of both stationary and moving cameras.
A stationary camera is perfect for monitoring any company or residence. This kind of home security camera or a battery-powered security camera is most effective when placed in a visible spot so that it can deter intruders from entering your home. Although their field of view is limited, they are great for keeping an eye on main entrances so that you can see who goes in and out.
Moving home security cameras are best for monitoring large areas that require panning to keep an eye on everything. These are extremely useful if you own a company that needs to do surveillance over broad areas like a warehouse or construction site. Homeowners can also use moving security cameras to monitor backyards, driveways, and gardens.
The biggest disadvantage of a fixed security camera system is that they are more easily avoided if an intruder is aware of the exact placement. On the other hand, moving security cameras cannot cover their entire field of view at a given time, so there are also risks associated with temporary blind spots as they pan from side to side. It’s always smart to be aware of the exact coverage that you’ll get from placing a camera in a specific spot because this will allow you to understand how effectively it can work for you.
7. Infrared LEDs for Improved Night Vision
One of the best tips to ensure superior night vision capabilities is to be sure that your camera has infrared LED lights around the lens. The number of red lights should correlate to the quality of the night vision. Excellent-quality night vision is crucial for outside cameras, especially if your area of residence doesn’t have much street lighting.
If you’re not sure what quality of night vision to expect, look into different models and see if you can find sample footage from them. Trespassing and break-in incidents often occur at night, so this is a technical spec that you should investigate deeply before buying a home security camera.
8. Power Supply
When it comes to powering your home security camera, there are several different options. Choosing the best power supply option mainly depends on a few factors:
- Where you want to place the camera in relation to an electrical outlet
- How reliable you want your energy source to be
- Whether you want to use the camera indoors or outdoors
For example, if you want your camera’s field of view to be in a specific area that is not power-source accessible, you’ll likely need to opt for a battery-powered camera. These are usually smaller models that can easily be put up with simple DIY installation. Although you won’t have to change the batteries a lot for most cameras, it’s still vital to check them regularly to maintain constant surveillance.
A security camera that uses a wired power source is the most reliable option. This type of camera will, of course, limit your placement options and your ability to conceal it since it needs to be plugged into a nearby power source. Still, you never have to worry about the batteries dying, and it should be able to send a constant stream of security clips to your phone, hard drive, or smart device.
Another option that is great for outside use is a solar-powered camera. You have to be aware of the placement when choosing this type because they don’t work effectively without enough sunlight. There are plenty of excellent solar-powered cameras on the market today, and they can be a great fit if you can find the ideal outdoor placement for them.
Choosing Between Wired or Wireless
Wired and wireless security cameras are both commonly used today, and there are unique advantages and disadvantages to both. As a customer, it’s essential to know the main differences between a wired camera and a wireless camera before you even set foot in a store.
1. Wired Cameras
Wired security cameras are extremely reliable since they don’t depend on a WiFi network to send a constant surveillance feed. They also support larger systems of 4 –16 security cameras, and this can be a big advantage if you own a larger residential property or company. To store footage from this type of home security system, you’ll need a DVR or NVR recorder.
A downside to wired security cameras is that the installation process is much more involved, especially if you’re a DIY type that doesn’t want to hire professional help. If you do choose to go the DIY route, you should know that installing any wireless system means running multiple cables to connect the entire camera network.
You’ll also need to install the cameras near an electrical outlet, which may limit your placement options depending on where you want the camera and how your home is laid out. Professional installation recommended for the best possible results; however, DIY is an option for handier individuals.
Wired home security cameras or a 4k security camera system are a fantastic option if you plan to stay at your current property for a long time. It may take a fair amount of effort to install them, but they are reliable and well-suited for a long-term security solution.
2. Wireless Cameras
Wireless cameras are excellent in terms of the freedom and simplicity that they offer across the board. This type of camera can send footage wirelessly via your home WiFi connection, but some models may require a cable-based power source. Whether you opt for IP cameras or any other type of wireless system, you’ll see that there are distinct advantages to using them.
First off, they are generally easy to install, and that makes DIY installation a viable option even for people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy. There’s no need to fuss with cables and to connect everything, but you may need to install your camera near a power outlet if it isn’t a battery-powered model.
Thanks to the easy installation, a wireless camera is a fantastic short-term security option. If you only want to rent a property for a year or two, you can easily uninstall them when you move out and quickly reinstall them at your new place of residence.
Unfortunately, the average wireless camera model is prone to interference, which is especially common in highly populated areas like apartment complexes, because each unit has a separate router and WiFi signal. Competing wireless signals can sometimes stop your camera from working at its best potential.
Since wireless home security cameras depend on a wireless signal, it can be a problem when that signal has any issue. Whether it be a power outage, unreliable coverage, or any other WiFi problem, your ability to use the camera is dependent on a constant, strong signal. Be sure to mount a wireless camera with your property’s wireless signal in mind so that you can get the best possible results.
How Much Are You Willing to Pay?
You can spend as little as $40 and as much as $300 on a single camera, but it’s important to know what that price difference means in terms of enhanced technical specs and additional features. Not every consumer needs a top-of-the-line model with all the attractive features, but there are also plenty of people who prefer state-of-the-art models.
In general, you can expect to see increasingly better picture resolutions as you move higher up the price range for a security camera. At the top, you can expect cameras with a 4K resolution that have sharp, focused pictures even when using their zoom feature. A zoom feature is a great thing to have if you’re monitoring a large area, but a bit excessive if you only want to monitor your front door.
Beyond that, a more expensive camera usually has any number of added features. Smartphone compatibility, night vision, cloud storage, and motion detection are a few of the most common ones. Some models even take things to the next level with facial recognition, remote commands, and any other number of useful add-ons.
In the end, how much you spend mostly comes down to what specifications you deem to be necessary. Modern technology has allowed for the creation of many impressive camera models, but there are plenty of great, basic options that are affordable as well.
Which Security Camera System Is the Best?
No buying guide or store attendant is going to be able to tell you which security camera is the absolute best, because different consumers have different needs when they shop for a home security system. However, there are a few brands and models that you should look for when deciding on which camera is best for you and your home.
The Arlo Ultra 4K UHD Wire-free Security Camera System is one of the top picks for 2019. It has an impressive number of features, including weather-resistant design, 4K and HDR advanced image technology, color night vision, and a 180 Degree diagonal field of view. It can also connect to your mobile phone and a lot of other smart devices, such as Apple Watch, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.
If you prefer a wired camera because you find their powering set-up to be more reliable, then there are also a lot of fantastic options that you can find in a store or online. Some of the most popular security camera brands include Arlo, Nest, Canary, Logitech, Swann, and Netatmo. As long as you go into the buying process with a clear idea of what your needs are as a homeowner, you’re sure to find the camera system that is best for you.
Is There a Security Camera That Works Without WiFi?
There are still many security camera systems on the market that work without WiFi. Some customers prefer this kind of surveillance system because they don’t want to worry about signal interference or power outage issues. WiFi may be convenient but losing that connection for any period of time will quickly put a stop to the live feed of security clips that you receive from your wireless camera.
How Wired Security Cameras Work
Wired systems have been around much longer than WiFi cameras, and the way that they work is pretty simple. All the security cameras connect to a recording device, and it stores the recorded footage on a hard drive. In terms of privacy and cybersecurity, this system is safer than a camera system that uses WiFi.
Since they don’t rely on WiFi to transfer video footage, wired cameras require cables for power, internet, and video transmission. In addition to basic electrical cables, there are also POE (power over ethernet) cables that transmit both electricity and internet to your camera through a single cable. Wired cameras are considered more reliable than wireless ones due to their constant power source and more stable internet connection.
Do Security Cameras Record All the Time?
Many security cameras have the option of constant surveillance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to record 24/7. Other common surveillance options include motion activation and scheduled recording. These options are great for saving you electricity or battery-life and for letting your camera rest its circuits regularly.
Recording all the time is an excellent option if you’re worried about trespassing, robbery, or vandalism. Having a constant feed of security footage from a camera that has a high-res image and superior night vision is one of the best ways to catch any perpetrator in the act.
If you decide that recording all the time is a bit excessive for you, then look into the possibility of using motion detection. Many cameras come fitted with motion detection features, and you should be able to calibrate the sensitivity to your liking. That way, your camera will only record in situations when you may have a reason to do so.
Regardless of if you decide to go to an electronics store or shop online, there is a wide range of great security cameras to choose from in today’s market. Finding the right one for you is mostly a matter of deciding what you want to use it for, what features are a must for you, and how much you’re willing to spend. From there, you can start narrowing down your prospects.
Whether you want a high res outside camera, a video doorbell, or a simple wireless model, you should have no trouble finding what you need. Just be sure to consider your camera’s placement, image quality, special features, and energy source before you make a purchase. Do that, and you’ll soon be the happy owner of the perfect security camera system for your home.