Security cameras can give you the peace of mind that everything is OK when you’re away from home. The latest cameras make monitoring your home easier than ever, but if you want to monitor your entire home or property, costs can add up quickly. A single camera costs anywhere from $50 to $600 depending on the features it includes.
Our guide will walk you through the different types of security cameras and help you narrow down the options to find the best security solution for your home or business.
Top security cameras compared
*The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products and are not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Pros and cons
Security or IP (Internet protocol) cameras can help protect your loved ones, property and belonging. The latest cameras offer modern features that allow you to interact with those on the other end of the camera, receive alerts and store footage in a variety of ways.
Security cameras are commonly used to do the following:
- Deter criminals.
- Prevent break-ins and theft.
- Keep an eye on children left home alone.
- Check on pets.
- Supervise deliveries.
- Gather legal evidence.
While security cameras can be an effective way to protect your home or business, they aren’t foolproof. Consider the following drawbacks of using security cameras:
- Safety and protection are not guaranteed.
- They can be disabled, disconnected or hacked.
- Privacy laws dictate how you can use video footage and where you can direct a camera.
- They can be costly, especially if you need more than one.
What types are available?
Security cameras come in one of two forms: standalone or as part of a monitored system.
You will typically purchase monitored security systems directly from a security company that will help you choose the right cameras for your space, install the cameras and monitor them. Pricing for monitored security systems is usually subscription based and depends on the number of cameras, storage capacity, features and the amount of surveillance the security company provides.
Most people looking for home or workplace security cameras choose standalone cameras. Despite the name, standalone cameras can connect together to form a network. Modern cameras come with a wide range of features to help you easily control the camera, connect to other smart home devices and keep an eye on your home or business.
The term surveillance camera or webcam is generally used to refer to cameras that passively observe or record. They offer little to no interaction whereas security cameras can send alerts, set off alarms, pan across a field of view, detect motion and more.
How to compare security cameras
Security cameras typically cost between $50 and $600 per camera, depending on the brand and the camera’s features. Depending on the camera, video storage may come at an additional fee.
Before you buy a security camera, consider how you will be using it.
- Will you keep it in one location or move it around? Do you want to keep an eye on your pets while you’re at work or watch for burglars while on vacation?
- Do you need to record footage and if so, how do you want to access it
- Do you need high-resolution video?
- How much do you want to spend?
- Do you want to be able to control the camera from your phone or another smart device?
Once you’ve thought about how you want to use your camera, look for the following features:
If you want to install a security camera outdoors, look for one that can withstand rain, wind and changes in temperature. If you are looking for an indoor camera, think about how it will blend in with the rest of your home decor.
Field of view refers to the area you can see through the camera at any given time. Some cameras are able to pan or tilt to give you a large field of view with a single camera. However, if you want to be able to see multiple rooms or several angles, you will likely need multiple cameras.
Most modern home security cameras are wireless and battery-powered. Wired cameras need to be connected to a power source at all times.
IP security cameras connect to your home Wi-Fi network. These cameras need to be within the reception range of your router. If the Wi-Fi isn’t working or there is a power outage, the camera will likely malfunction. Some cameras also offer Bluetooth connectivity so that you can control the camera through your smartphone. Other cameras can be connected to smart speakers and controlled via voice commands.
Some apps allow you to control your camera remotely and view footage from anywhere with an Internet connection. Others will send you notifications and alerts. Most apps can be used on both Android and iOS devices.
- Camera resolution ranges from low resolution to high definition (720p) to full HD (1080p). Higher resolution cameras capture more detail and provide clearer pictures, but they cost more and use up more bandwidth.
- Some cameras record clips at scheduled times or when a sensor is triggered. Other cameras can stream live footage so you can check what’s going on at all times.
- Cameras that stream live footage, especially high-resolution footage, use up a lot of bandwidth on your Wi-Fi network.
- Many cameras allow you to record audio in addition to video. Others offer two-way audio so you can use the camera as an intercom to talk to people (or pets).
- If you will be using the camera in a dark area, consider buying a model with night vision or motion activated lights.
- Cameras with facial recognition allow you to filter out friends and family so that you aren’t receiving constant alerts when visitors come over.
- Think about where you want to mount your security cameras. While some models come with mounting hardware, many offer hardware at an additional cost. You can install most security cameras on walls, ceilings and other flat surfaces.
Security cameras offer two main options for storing video footage: cloud storage or on a local device. Most models only offer one or the other but a few cameras, including the Swann Indoor Security Camera and Foscam C2, offer both options.
Cloud storage uses an Internet connection to store your videos on a server or a network of servers. With cloud storage, you can access your footage from anywhere with an Internet connection, but if your Internet connection is interrupted the footage may not be stored properly. Some cameras include a limited amount of free cloud storage. Cloud storage can be scaled indefinitely and cost typically depends on how much storage you need. Most cloud storage is subscription based.
Local storage devices include microSD cards, hard drives, flash drives, PCs and DVRs. These devices hold a limited amount of video and can only be accessed using the physical device. If the storage device is lost or stolen, the footage will also be lost. Many security cameras offer some form of local storage.
Which security camera is best for me?
The right camera for you depends on how you want to use it, your budget and the features you want. To make it easier to help you find your ideal security system, we’ve compared five popular camera models below:
|The good||The bad|
|Swann SWWHD-INDCAM Indoor Security Camera|
|Netgear Arlo Go|
|Reolink Argus 2|
|Uniden Guardian App Cam Solo|
If you’re interested in buying a security camera to protect your home or business, start browsing today.
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