Kristen Hicks on October 5, 2017 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Home Security Cameras Factors to Consider When Buying Popular Brands to Consider You want to feel secure in your own home. The possibility of break-ins shatters that sense of security. Possibly worse than the thought of having your stuff taken is the feeling of violation that comes with someone breaking into your safe space. Home security cameras are an affordable way to give you some power over potential thieves. Home security cameras make sure that if someone does invade your space, you’ll have recourse. You can provide their image to the police and increase the likelihood of finding them (and your stuff). With smart security cameras, you also have the benefit of immediate alerts when you’re away from home so you can contact the authorities faster and possibly catch the thieves in the act. And on a lighter note, indoor security cameras can be used to check in on your dog while you’re away. If you simply miss your dog when you’re away, or you worry about them getting into things they shouldn’t in your absence, a camera gives you a way to check in. If all that sounds good to you and you’re ready to take that extra step to protect your home, our buyer’s guide to security cameras can help you choose the right camera for you. Types of Home Security Cameras When trying to figure out which security camera to buy, you’ll notice a few main types. Smart Home Security Cameras Smart home security cameras are relatively new to the scene, but extremely popular. In addition to recording video, they connect the video stream to an app that allows customers to see what the video captures in real time. If the camera senses a motion, the owner gets an alert right away on the smartphone so they know something’s wrong long before they get back home. Smart home security cameras cost more than most other types and often include a monthly subscription in addition to the upfront cost, but they provide more for the user than other types of security cameras. Bullet Cameras Bullet cameras are cylindrical and point out in one specific direction. They’re often affordable, but since their range is limited, you may need to buy several of them to capture as much of your home as you feel you need. They’re often good for entrances or the front of the house. Dome Cameras Dome cameras have a greater range than bullet cameras and often include the capability to move the focus of the camera or zoom in on something. They’re more expensive than bullet cameras, but you can get more visual coverage with fewer cameras. Also, since it’s not clear to the thief what area the camera’s recording, it’s hard for them to stay out of its sight, which makes them a more effective deterrent than bullet cameras. Factors to Consider When Buying a Home Security Camera To find the home security camera that will best satisfy your needs, there are a number of important factors you should consider. Field of View A camera’s field of view will determine how much you’re able to see of what’s going on. Bullet cameras generally have a small field of view, just seeing what’s straight ahead, while dome cameras have a wider range of vision to work with. If you want to be able to see more of your front yard or the rooms of your house, then you’ll either need a camera with a large range of vision, or you’ll want to to purchase a number of cameras with a smaller range of view that you can distribute around the house. Connectivity What makes smart home security cameras so popular is the possibility of staying connected to them even when you’re out. Home security cameras with strong connectivity will connect to the home’s WiFi, your smartphone app, and the other cameras you install. The more connected your cameras are, the more you’ll be able to tap into what’s going on from afar and respond to threats faster. Video Quality One of the biggest differentiating factors in different brands and models of home security cameras is video quality. If the picture is blurry, it won’t be much help to you. Cameras that provide clear image quality often cost more, but they’ll increase your chances of being able to tell what a thief looks like so they can be caught. One other factor in video quality is color. Some cameras come in black and white, while some more costly models come in color. Color isn’t always necessary to being able to recognize a person on video, but it does increase the chances that the perpetrator will be recognized and caught. Cost Few people are able to choose a home security camera without a thought to cost. They typically range in price from around $30 for simple indoor home security cameras to over $250 for weatherproof cameras that include a range of features. If you know you’ll want several cameras to ensure you get a wide enough field of vision, you can find surveillance systems that include several different cameras and can save you on cost versus buying each one individually. One important consideration to keep in mind when it comes to cost is that many smart home security systems require a monthly subscription fee in order to get all the features. If you buy a product without realizing a subscription’s required, the cost will end up being far more than you initially realized (and reviews of smart home security cameras show that a lot of people do just that). Make sure you check any subscription fees associated with the products you consider before you make a purchase. Range Most home security cameras use motion detection to determine when to kick in and start recording (so you’re not just wasting energy all day long). How well this feature will work relates to what the range of the motion detection is. If the range is limited, it will only catch people that are relatively close. Someone stealing your car in the driveway may not trigger it, for example, limiting its usefulness to you. Indoor or Outdoor You can find home security cameras that are made primarily to be used indoors, as well as those made to withstand the weather conditions they’ll encounter outdoors. Before you make a purchase, determine where you’ll be installing your camera so you can make sure you buy the right type. An indoor camera installed outdoors won’t last long, and an outdoor one installed indoors will cost you more than you needed to spend. Wired or Wireless A big consideration for convenience is whether to go with a wireless camera that runs on batteries or a wired one that has to be plugged in. Wireless means you have more freedom in where you install it and you don’t have to deal with any pesky cords, but you do have to remember to check on and replace the battery every so often. Wireless cameras will also continue working in the case of a power outage, as long as the batteries still work. Most people will therefore find a wireless camera preferable for ease of use. A wired camera has to be installed close enough to an outlet to be plugged in and you’ll need to figure out how to keep the cord out of the way after you install it. It also presents the concerning possibility that if a thief does notice the camera and can see the cord as well, they can pretty easily disable it by simply unplugging it. On the other hand, you never have to worry about replacing or recharging batteries, if that’s the kind of thing you consider a nuisance. Visibility Some security cameras are designed to be hard for potential robbers to spot. Whether due to a small size or because they’re made to look like a common object rather than a camera, these won’t do anything to serve as a deterrent to potential thieves, but since they’re less likely to notice them at all, you don’t have to worry about them dodging the camera’s view or covering it up. Video Storage Any video your security camera captures will need to be stored somewhere. If you buy a camera that captures high-quality video, each video can take up a lot of storage space. Some security cameras come with memory cards that will store the videos taken, but you need to stay on top of remembering to delete old videos or replace full memory cards with new ones. Others will include hard drives or allow you to store the video on your own computer’s hard drive. That makes things a little more convenient and you won’t have to worry about the hard drive filling up as fast, but there will still be a limit on how much video you can hang onto at once. Many smart security cameras offer the option of cloud-based storage. This is often where monthly subscription prices come into play. In exchange for that extra fee though, you rarely have to worry about going over your storage limits and can count on the video to be there when you need it. Option for Audio Some security videos don’t capture sound at all. If you want your videos to record sound as well as audio, you therefore need to make a point of looking for a security camera that advertises recording both. Ease of Use Any type of technology is going to require a bit of figuring out after you buy it. While security camera companies do generally try to make things intuitive, some security cameras will be easier to use than others and certain features will lend a lot to convenience. Choosing a camera that’s wireless will generally make placement easier, but you will need to think to replace the batteries periodically. A camera that uses cloud storage will simplify how much work you have to do when it comes to checking on and replacing video storage. And for smart home security cameras, an intuitive app will make a big difference in how easy you find using your security camera. Other than looking for features that contribute to convenience, one of the best ways to learn whether a security camera will be easy to use or not before purchase is looking at what other customers have to say in their reviews. If an app is difficult to navigate or accessing the video’s a pain, customer reviews will generally let you know. Ease of Installation Wired cameras can require a complicated installation process that requires calling in a professional, while wireless options are often simple enough to install on your own. As with ease of use, people frequently comment on how difficult installation is in their reviews, so if you’re worried about having a hard time, check the reviews before you buy. Features and Extras: Mobile App — Smart security cameras will typically include an app you use to view your video stream from afar and get alerts if there’s a problem. Live Streaming — A livestreaming option can let you see in real-time what’s happening at your house. Night vision — Cameras that offer night vision will make it easier to see what’s going on in a video at night. Two-Way Talk — This feature enables you and anyone on the other side of the camera to hear each other. It’s a popular option for people who use cameras to check in on their dogs. Motion Detection — Motion detection ensures your camera doesn’t waste energy and storage by recording all the time, the recording kicks in when motion makes it obvious something’s there. Image Stabilization — A camera that offers image stabilization will result in a clearer picture. Home Security Camera Brands As with any electronic, one of the big indicators of how likely you are to be happy with a product long term is brand reputation. Reputable brands that use high-quality materials and commit to solid construction will produce cameras that are likely to perform better and last longer. To help you identify the top brands in the security camera space, we looked at customer reviews of cameras made by a number of them. Here’s a summary of what customers had to say. Arlo Arlo sells smart wireless home security cameras that get primarily positive reviews from customers. Almost every review comments on how easy the camera is to set up and people say they like the app and the value for the price as well. A few complain about minor issues like the battery life being inconsistent or the motion sensor taking a few seconds to start recording. In general though, customers are satisfied. Belkin Belkin’s smart security camerasCanary Canary’s security cameras and all-in-one security systems get mostly positive reviews. The security cameras earn rave reviews for having a long battery life, working well, being easy to set up and looking good. Most customers of the all-in-one security systems are happy as well, but some argue that theirs was too sensitive so they got tons of alerts from false alarms or say that the product has issues within a few months of purchase. The majority of reviews point to Canary being a great buy, but a few suggest potential issues. D-Link D-Link sells affordable smart security cameras. While some customers love them and others hate them, most suggest that they work fine for the price, but aren’t anything special. If you’re looking to find a low-cost solution that will do the basic job of a security camera, D-Link should do the trick. Lorex Lorex sells a wide assortment of security cameras of different types. How well reviewed their cameras are varies across different products. Some models get praise for being easy to set up, a good value for the price, and working well. Others earn complaints for starting to have problems soon after purchase, not providing a clear picture, or not having much of a range. With Lorex, it’s smart to look at reviews of the particular product you’re considering before purchase. Nest Nest’s smart security camera is generally well reviewed by customers. The many happy customers say it provides great audio and video quality, is well built, and compares favorably with every other security camera they’ve tried. The main complaint the Nest camera gets is that it’s not all that useful unless you also purchase a monthly subscription, which some customers feel is too costly. As long as you know about the importance of the subscription going in, you’re likely to be happy. Night Owl Night Owl sells a range of security cameras of different types that have a solid reputation amongst customers. Reviewers praise the quality of the picture, how easy the cameras are to set up and use and the great value for the price. Based on the experiences of customers, Night Owl is a good choice. Vera Vera’s security cameras earn mixed reviews from customers. Some say the cameras work well and the value for the cost is impressive. Others complain they’re overpriced for what they are or that the picture quality isn’t good. Opinions vary on Vera. Yale Yale sells door viewer cameras with mixed reviews. Many customers say their cameras are easy to install and have good battery life and motion detection, but some complain about the image quality. Plenty of reviewers are happy with Yale, but there are a few detractors. Final Thoughts Home security cameras aren’t just about buying a product; they’re an investment in your long-term comfort in your own home. In addition to providing you with a feeling of security, they could potentially save you a lot of money by helping you reclaim stolen goods. But hopefully, it never actually comes to that. The best-case scenario is to have a home security camera and never need to use it (except maybe to check in on your adorable dog).