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Arlo Pro is a 100% wire-free, weather-resistant camera that’s rechargeable. For people looking for a simple, basic camera this is perfect. The camera works indoors or out, but most people use it outdoors since it can handle the elements. The camera has motion sensors and can record HD video. Video recording is triggered by sensors that detect both movement and sound. Video is saved to a cloud account for seven days.
Wyze Cam Pan
Wyze Cam Pan is a sleek, affordable camera that can scan an entire room in three seconds. The camera tracks motions in 1080p full HD resolution and can be mounted anywhere. When motion is detected, the camera can record the event and sends the footage to the cloud, where it can be accessed for 14 days. Local storage on a memory card is also an option. Homeowners can use an app to view event video and adjust notifications received when something happens. The camera is $30, making it a great option for those on a budget.
Canary All-in-One Indoor Security Camera
Canary All-in-One Indoor Security Camera is simple for DIYers. Simply set the camera on a shelf, plug it in, connect to Wi-Fi and that’s it. The camera captures video via motion sensors in 1080p, offers 30-days of video storage, desktop streaming, and two-way talk. The cameras include “person detection” which alerts a homeowner when someone is moving around in the home to immediately determine if there’s an emergency.
Frontpoint Premium Indoor Camera
Frontpoint Premium Indoor Camera offers a simple basic solution for people looking for an all-in-one answer to home security. The camera has a nice design, it has pan, tilt, zoom controls, and covers a 180-degree field. The plan includes remote access, two-way audio, video storage, motion detection, and customized mobile alerts. The system can double as a Bluetooth speaker as well. Frontpoint offers additional security devices as well, giving homeowners the power to build their own system.
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is a wireless camera that lets users see, hear, and speak to anyone on the property from a phone, PC, or tablet. The camera offers HD quality video, wide-angle lens, and built-in speakers. Ring is most known for its popular doorbell camera but has added these battery-controlled cameras to its offerings. An affordable monthly fee gives users the ability to store videos.
Reolink Argus 2 Wireless Security Camera
Reolink Argus 2 Wireless Security Camera is a wireless indoor/outdoor camera that runs on rechargeable batteries or via a solar panel. The camera offers HD resolution, night vision, and alerts homeowners to motion upon detection. Video storage is available with a cloud account or via local storage with a memory card. Reolink also offers additional cameras and devices that can be paired with the wireless camera.
Amcrest ProHD Indoor
Amcrest ProHD Indoor offers HD video that’s stored on a cloud or on a memory card. The camera has two-way talk, night vision, pan/tilt, enhanced zoom, and a 90-degree field of view. As the camera’s video is archived, homeowners can use searchable tools to locate certain events. With motion sensors set up, the camera’s app will alert homeowners of activity. A one-year warranty and 30-day moneyback guarantee offer additional peace of mind.
Amazon Cloud Cam
Amazon Cloud Cam is an indoor security camera that alerts homeowners to any motion inside the home. It offers two-way communication, night vision, and 24/7 viewing of the camera. Its biggest strength lies in its integration with Amazon’s voice-activation system, Alexa. By asking Alexa, a homeowner can see the camera feed on their Amazon device like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, or Echo Spot. Most of the features are only available with a Cloud Cam subscription, so there is a monthly cost associated with this camera for full functionality.
Nest Cam Indoors
Nest Cam Indoors is a Google product that gives homeowners access to 24/7 views via an HD quality camera. The camera sends alerts when motion or suspicious noises occur with a key photo from the event. The photos are available for three hours for free inside the Nest app. The camera has several placement options. It comes with a stand, a magnetic plate, a wall plate, and a twistable tripod to attach it to a unique surface. Like Amazon’s product, most of the features require a monthly subscription fee. The company also offers additional cameras and devices.
YI Dome Camera
YI Dome Camera is an indoor camera that runs through a mobile app. Homeowners can check-in through live video viewing, take snapshots, record video, and enjoy a 112-degree field of view. The camera offers night vision, a digital zoom, and motion detection that alerts homeowners to activity. The two-way audio gives people the chance to speak directly to people in the home from the app.
Protecting a home has never been easier, thanks to technological advances in security systems. There are dozens of different home security systems on the market, many of which include cameras. The trick is to find one that fits each homeowner’s needs. Many people purchase a system to protect against property crimes, but they’re only installed in 17% of homes. In addition to crime prevention and protection, home security systems offer many additional benefits like fire protection and medical alerts. Cameras have become one of the main components in home security systems. The ability to “check-in” on a home via live camera feeds and get alerts to suspicious activity in and around the home has a growing number of homeowners researching potential systems.
Home security camera systems offer many benefits for homeowners and can be customized to fit just about every need, want, and budget. This guide is meant to make the buying process easier, with advice on what to look for, features that are available, and suggestions on specific systems to use.
What a home security camera system does
A home security system is a network of devices that work together to offer protection.
More comprehensive security systems provide cameras as the main component, but also include customizable pieces like a control panel, door and window sensors, motion detectors, a high decibel alarm, alarm signs to deter thieves, and both indoor and outdoor cameras. These systems provide more coverage, enhanced alerts, and more controls.
How does a home security camera system work?
To start, a home security system must be installed. Installation may be as simple as plugging in a camera and connecting it to Wi-Fi, or it could be more complex with the installation of control panels, sensors, and lights.
All-in-one home security camera systems monitor a room and alert homeowners to movement or activity. Homeowners can check on the home by viewing the camera feed through an app. Depending on the camera’s features, homeowners might be able to talk with residents, call for help, or archive video.
Comprehensive systems with cameras offer a few more features. Using a series of devices, including cameras, the system will alert homeowners of any problems, set off an alarm if access points are breached, provide live-streaming video of a home, contact police, and much more.
Many comprehensive alarms have different settings, allowing homeowners to activate the alarm when they are in the home, when they’re away, or when they’re sleeping. Different settings alter different sensors. For example, during the “sleep mode,” internal motion detectors are deactivated so homeowners can move around the home without setting off an alarm.
Homeowners that opt for security systems with cameras can always check the camera’s view. For example, if a homeowner hears a suspicious noise outside, he or she can use their smartphone to access the camera closest to the sound and see what’s outside without being put in harm’s way.
Some cameras can record video as well. The cameras are often connected to a motion sensor, so if the sensor detects movement the camera starts recording video. If a criminal is the cause of the motion, he or she will be recorded in the act.
Home security systems will also notify homeowners of activity while they’re away. If the alarm is engaged and a window is broken, the alarm sounds and a message is sent to the homeowner via email, text, or push notification. At that point, the homeowner can access the cameras, see what’s going on, and connect with the security company or police to investigate any problems.
The functionality and features of every security system vary, which is why it’s important to research each potential choice.
History of home security camera systems
The first home security system with cameras was designed in the late 1960s. Marie Van Brittan Brown, an African American nurse working in Queens, wanted to feel safer in her crime-ridden neighborhood, explains Timeline. As a result, she came up with the idea of a home security system that used cameras as a way to monitor the home and the front door specifically.
Brown’s plans called for several cameras around the house with the images projected on a television screen. The system also included a two-way intercom for the front door, a panic button that alerted the police, and the ability to remotely unlock the door. Though Brown never pursued commercial opportunities, her patent is cited in more than a dozen security systems that followed.
Why a home security camera system is necessary
Most homeowners want a security unit as a protective measure, but there are many benefits. Here’s a look at why more homeowners are choosing to arm their home:
Crime protection and prevention
The most common reason to install a security system is to protect against crime. While the number of property crimes has decreased over the years, according to FBI statistics, they are still cause for concern. Here’s a quick look at home burglary statistics from Alarms.org:
- There are roughly 2.5 million burglaries a year, 66% of those being home break-ins.
- There are 1,495,790 burglaries during the day. Many occur during the day while people are at work or running errands.
- There are 1,324,090 burglaries during the night. Burglars can also enter under the cover of night.
A security unit with cameras can deter burglars from entering a home, and yet less than a quarter of all American homes have one installed. Here’s a quick look at property crime statistics when a home has a security system:
- Homes with a security system are 300% less likely to be burglarized.
- 95% of all home invasions require some sort of forceful entry like breaking a window, picking a lock, or kicking in a door, all of which an alarm system will detect and alert both the homeowner and the police.
- 83% of burglars admitted that they specifically look to see if a home has an alarm; 60% would change their mind if there was one installed.
The ability to access cameras or get notifications when a camera’s motion sensor is tripped provides the kind of security many homeowners are looking for.
Peace of mind
A security system can provide peace of mind when homeowners leave. When owners are at work or the family takes a vacation, having an alarm system provides a sense of security. Cameras provide an added layer of protection as homeowners can visibly see the interior and exterior of their home when they’re not there.
Many homeowners don’t know that a home security system can also provide fire protection. The system acts as an early warning system, alerting the homeowner to smoke and, if the system has cameras, the location of the fire can be identified. In addition, heat sensors can be added to a security system to provide more detailed information about the fire and how it’s spreading.
Carbon monoxide monitoring
Home security systems can also be equipped with carbon monoxide sensors. Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that’s commonly released from heating systems or wood-burning stoves, can be deadly. Rather than having individual detectors all around a home, the sensors can piggyback on the alarm’s sensors or camera’s sensors as an added bonus.
Thermostat and lighting control
There are systems that can also control heat, air, and lights inside a home. With a few taps on a phone, homeowners can lower the heat while there at work, or flip the lights off while out to dinner. Many security systems integrate with third-party home integration systems like Amazon Alexa.
Many insurance companies are willing to give homeowners a break on their insurance premiums if a security system is installed. The security system could deter a burglar from breaking in, which ultimately helps the insurance company too since no claims are filed for theft or damage.
Medical emergency help
A security unit can provide a direct line to medical help if someone needs it. A security system can include medical pulls or wearable pendants for homeowners to use in case of an emergency. These additional precautions help homeowners, especially the elderly or those with special needs, feel more secure in their home. The systems can contact family members during a medical emergency as well and give them access to security cameras to visually check on their loved ones.
What to consider before buying a home security camera system
Researching security units can be overwhelming. With so many choices, it’s easier to narrow your search by considering these ideas first:
When buying a home security system, size matters. Homeowners need to consider interior square footage and make sure that sensors can cover the entirety of each room. Smaller, all-in-one systems are ideal for apartments or people looking to only monitor one access point, like the living room and the front door. Larger, comprehensive systems are ideal for bigger homes, or those looking for complete home coverage. Cameras will also specify their reach, so homeowners should consider how much coverage they want.
Every entry point can be covered by a sensor, which provides the most comprehensive coverage. However, single-entry cameras can monitor the main door. Homeowners have to decide what they want monitored before searching for a security system.
If a homeowner has pets, it’s important to find a security system that takes this into consideration. If the system is armed and pets are inside, Fido’s movement can trigger the alarm. To avoid this problem, homeowners need a system that takes pet movement into account.
Professional monitoring or self-monitoring
A homeowner has to decide if their new security system will be monitored by a security company or not. A professional monitoring company will contact the homeowner in the event of an emergency and reach out to the proper authorities when needed. For a security company to monitor a home, there’s usually a monthly fee. In some cases, the security company could ask you to sign a contract for long-term use of these services. In comparison, a self-monitored system doesn’t have monthly fees but doesn’t include any assistance in the event of an emergency either. The homeowner must monitor the home and call for help when needed.
Homeowners that opt for a professionally monitored system should consider how they want to be contacted. When the alarm is triggered the security company may want to speak with the homeowner via the phone, text, or email. Every monitoring system is different and may not offer a homeowner’s preferred method of communication, so be sure to check.
Homeowners that sign a contract with a security company, should ask about cancelation policies – especially if job relocation is common. In some cases, contracts are transferable to a new location, while others won’t allow it.
If expensive items, like jewelry, paintings or antiques are of special concern, consider opting for a system that offers asset protection. Security companies have specific devices that can be attached to a jewelry box, for example, that can record when it’s opened or if something is lifted out of the box. Similar devices can protect paintings, antiques, and safes.
There are home security systems to fit every budget. As one might expect, more features and specialized protection results in a higher price. The most affordable systems are do-it-yourself, self-monitored systems. Homeowners pay a one-time fee for the equipment, install it themselves, and monitor themselves. Meaning, if there’s a break-in, a homeowner must call the police for assistance. Homeowners are alerted to the break-in by text or push notification and must take action.
Many DIY systems give homeowners the power to customize the system to their needs and budget. Additional cameras can be added to a package, for example, or professional monitoring can be added for a small monthly fee. The most expensive systems are large, professionally installed systems that are monitored by a security company and include devices for specific asset protection.
Installation varies by system. More traditional home security camera systems include wires that must be run through walls, while more modern, wireless systems are easier to install without any drilling. Installation may vary based on the company selected too. If a company requires specific equipment to connect a homeowner to the police, for example, installation must be professionally done. System buyers must consider how each system is installed, along with their abilities to set up the system alone.
A home security system can stream video, send alerts, and report incidents via email, all of which takes a lot of bandwidth. Higher resolution cameras also require higher bandwidth. For homeowners with weak or inconsistent internet connections, certain systems won’t work. Be sure to inquire about the necessary internet capabilities for each system.
Types of home security cameras
There is an endless array of home security camera options. To help narrow the search, it’s important to understand what types of cameras are available. Here’s a rundown of possible camera options:
As the name suggests, indoor cameras are set up inside a home to monitor activity. Indoor cameras often have different kinds of lenses that offer different fields of view. A fixed lens, for example, focuses on one specific area, while a “dome lens” allows a camera to see 360 degrees of view in one room.
Outdoor cameras monitor the exterior of the home. These cameras are more durable and can handle various weather conditions. The cameras vary in abilities. For example, outdoor cameras can be tilted or panned via a smartphone control, use infrared vision, or be activated by a motion sensor. The abilities of the outdoor cameras are dependent on a homeowner’s needs and wants.
Motion detector cameras
Cameras can be connected to motion detectors, so if a sensor picks up any movement the camera starts transmitting or recording. These are especially helpful for systems that record video. Rather than continuously record video, which takes an extreme amount of storage space, the camera only records when motion is detected.
For the ultimate control with camera security, homeowners can opt for adjustable cameras. Using a control panel or a smartphone, a homeowner can pan, tilt, or zoom a camera to get a better view of a certain area.
For those looking to monitor people who come to the door, a doorbell camera is an option. When someone rings the doorbell, a video camera records the person at the door and shows the homeowner the video feed. In some cases, the homeowner can even speak with the person through an intercom system in real-time and unlock the door remotely, if needed. A home security camera system can include any combination of the cameras above. Typically, homeowners can upgrade cameras or select different packages that include the camera combination wanted.
What to look for in a home security camera system
As homeowners continue to research various systems, they can narrow the search by knowing what kind of features they want. Take a look at this detailed list of features below. Use it as a checklist, selecting which features are important.
A camera should be able to provide clear images. If someone is lurking around a home, it’s important to have a quality image to help police and neighbors identify the culprit. Security cameras typically have a resolution of 780p, which is good quality. Cameras with 1080p resolution offer better quality images.
Recording resolution should also be considered. Homeowners should look for a high recording quality of at least 1280 x 720 pixels. Higher quality cameras can cost more than others, but the additional cost is worth considering. Full HD cameras are available with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, but again, cost will likely be higher.
Recording and storage abilities
For maximum coverage, a camera or a set of cameras should have the ability to record video or capture images. Some systems constantly record video and stream it to cloud storage devices or onto internal memory cards, while others only record when a motion sensor is triggered. To record video, storage is required. A homeowner can manage storage by clearing cloud space or erasing memory cards. A homeowner can also let a security company handle the entire storage process, which typically involves a monthly fee and a set amount of storage space or storage time.
If a security company handles media storage, expect to pay more for constant recording as it takes up the most space. A system that only records when a motion sensor is tripped or a system that snaps a series of still images when motion is detected is a more affordable way to go. Cheaper, older models store images on a DVR with a hard disc.
It’s important to know how a security system will alert the homeowner. Every system offers different options, but many will text, call, or send a push notification to the system’s owner. In addition, homeowners should consider what events trigger an alert. Many systems are customizable, giving owners the ability to turn notifications on and off. Still, it’s crucial to find a system that will provide the kinds of alerts needed.
Smartphones are a staple in everyday life, which is why most homeowners want a home security system that has an app to provide mobile access. From a smartphone app, homeowners can view cameras, arm and disarm the system, view alerts and modify settings. Many systems offer mobile access, but it’s a good idea to read reviews on the app’s ease of use and navigation.
Stationary cameras won’t provide a wide field of view. For full coverage, a home security camera system should include several cameras that have the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom. When researching cameras this feature is often noted as PTZ, for pan-tilt-zoom. If cameras are connected to motion sensors, the cameras can automatically move toward the action and will start recording or snap a picture. Many systems offer a camera control center via an app, allowing homeowners to manipulate the camera from a remote location.
Outdoor cameras are subject to rain, hail, snow, and extreme temperatures, so it’s important to find cameras that can hold up in these conditions. Cameras have an IP rating that’s used to describe the strength of a camera’s housing. Ideally, homeowners should purchase a camera with an IP rating higher than 44 to ensure protection from the elements. Weather-resistant cameras are more expensive, but spending more money upfront will avoid camera replacement in the immediate future.
A home security system can include a scheduling feature. Rather than setting the system multiple times a day depending on a homeowner’s activities, a scheduling feature eases the whole process. The system can be armed at a certain time during the week once everyone has left for school or work or set to a specific night-time mode when everyone is asleep. The ability to set up a schedule eliminates the hassle of constantly activating and deactivating the system.
Many of the features discussed above mentioned motion sensor capabilities. These kinds of sensors provide more comprehensive coverage, as it triggers camera movement and video recording. Motion detectors can also trigger lights, which could deter intruders or provide more clarity to captured images.
Some security cameras don’t capture audio, just still images or soundless video. Audio is available in certain systems, so if a homeowner wants a system to record audio it’s something to investigate as it’s not a features offered by every device.
Many criminals choose to break in during the cover of night. With low-light, cameras have trouble capturing a clear image. To solve the problem, look for cameras that have night-vision. This feature improves the quality of the image or video recorded at night. Some companies will specify the distance night vision cameras can capture. Be sure to compare distances if night-time activity is the main concern.
Power outage protection
Many systems rely on a combination of electricity and the internet to transmit signals and alert homeowners of problems. Without power, many homeowners fear they won’t be able to use their system for protection. Most systems offer a battery backup and will function during a power outage. However, it is something every buyer should look into, especially if homeowners are installing the system themselves.
Crash and smash protection
Certain home security systems offer “crash and smash” protection, which is a feature to consider. This protection safeguards a home against a criminal “crashing” through the door and “smashing” the security system’s control panel in an effort to stop it from alerting the police. Certain security systems are equipped to detect sudden attacks on a control panel. If a control panel goes offline quickly without a code entered to disarm it, a professionally monitored system can alert the homeowner or the police.
A security unit involves many pieces of equipment, and no matter how much research is done, equipment can fail. Anyone interested in buying a system should compare the warranties of different systems. A two-year warranty on equipment is ideal. Companies that professionally install and monitor security systems may offer free support and replacement of failed equipment at no cost, as long as the company remains the homeowner’s security provider.
Best all-in-one home security cameras
The concept of buying a home security camera system can be daunting. For many, the thought of buying a system is both overwhelming and costly. However, Alarms.org has taken the hassle out of finding the best home security camera by compiling a list of top-notch choices for homeowners. All of these choices work as an all-in-one camera security system. In other words, by setting up one device, a homeowner can monitor their home through a camera and an app. They are great for monitoring one room like the living room and front door.
In some cases, the camera can be part of a larger overall system, but each can function alone. Here’s the list of the best all-in-one home security cameras in 2020.
Best comprehensive home security systems with cameras
For homeowners looking for a system that goes beyond one or two cameras, there are additional options. Alarms.org has compiled a list of comprehensive home security systems that includes cameras as a component, but these systems also include things like sensors, control panels, and lights. These systems are meant for whole-home coverage, where sensors, cameras, and lights all work in concert to protect a home. Alarms.org has selected the three best comprehensive systems with cameras, which include:
1. SimpliSafe: With no lock-in contracts and optional monitoring, SimpliSafe is one of the top home security solutions for customers without a ton of money to spend. The company has been in business for 12 years and boasts an A+ rating with BBB. SimpliSafe’s good reputation with customers stems from its sleek, user-friendly, self-manufactured equipment, flexible pricing and optional monitoring.
2. Vivint: Vivint offers a home security camera system with self-monitoring. The system does have to be professionally installed, but once complete, the homeowners can manage monitoring. The Vivint app is among the best-rated app in home security, making it easy for homeowners to use.
Best self-monitored security systems with cameras
Security systems can be self-monitored or professional monitored. A self-monitored system is monitored by the homeowner, which means the homeowner is responsible for watching the home and contacting police. A professionally monitored system comes with additional support. If the alarm is triggered or a sensor is tripped, the company can contact the homeowner and emergency personal. There is an added cost for professional monitoring that’s usually billed on a monthly basis.
Many homeowners are turned off the added expense and believe self-monitoring is a better option. Self-monitored systems are monitored by the homeowner, meaning it’s their responsibility to watch the home and call for help. Alarms.org has compiled a list of the best self-monitored security systems with cameras. The three best choices include:
1. Ring Alarm:A self-monitored security system that uses cameras as its main security feature. Homeowners can livestream video of their home, get notifications when activity happens, and pair the cameras with additional tools like a keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, range detector, and doorbell camera.
2. Vivint: Vivint offers a home security camera system with self-monitoring. The system does have to be professionally installed, but once complete, the homeowners can manage monitoring. The Vivint app is among the best-rated app in home security, making it easy for homeowners to use.
3. Nest Secure: Nest Secure gives homeowners a package of security tools including the Nest Cam Indoor, a base station, sensors, and tags. Homeowners can monitor and control all devices through an app, but an option for on-demand monitoring is available when needed. For example, if a homeowner is going out of town, the home can be professionally monitored for the week.
Best wireless security cameras
There are security cameras that operate 100% wire-free. In other words, these cameras use a wireless connection and a wireless power source like rechargeable batteries or solar panels. If a homeowner is looking for a wireless option, these are the three best wireless security cameras available:
1. Arlo Pro: The system uses Wi-Fi and rechargeable batteries in its indoor/outdoor cameras that offer HD quality vision.
2. Ring Spotlight Cam Battery: The system offers battery-charged indoor cameras that give homeowners access to HD quality vision.
3. Reolink Argus 2 Wireless Security Camera: The system offers wireless indoor/outdoor cameras that run on rechargeable batteries or a solar panel.
Best DIY security systems with camera
Setting up a security system sounds complicated, but there are many choices that are a breeze to install. For homeowners that aren’t tech or tool savvy, these three simple security systems don’t require any drilling or networking, making them the easiest to install:
1. Canary All-in-One Indoor Security Camera installation requires plugging it in and connecting it to Wi-Fi.
2. Wyze Cam Pan can sit on a shelf or be mounted on a wall, and it tracks motion in 1080p full HD resolution.
3. Amazon Cloud Cam is an indoor security camera that requires a plug and an internet connection to function, that’s it.
Best medical alert systems
Some homeowners want additional in-home protection. Homes with the elderly may want to add a medical alert system to the overall security plan. For those interested in adding this system, here’s a look at the three best medical alert systems:
1. Medical Guardian offers a home-base and travel medical alert system that contacts help and family members.
2. LifeFone at Home offers a-la-cart services, giving people the ability to customize the medical alert features they want.
3. Bay Alarm Medical has 70 years of experience and uses GPS and a “geofencing” system to protect the elderly.