Best Security Cameras (You Can And Should Buy)

If you’ve ever had a package stolen from your porch or had a car broken into while parked in your driveway, there’s a good chance that the perpetrator was long gone before you even found out you had been victimized. There’s an even better chance that you’ll never know who committed the deed. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to invest in an outdoor security camera. So whether you’re worried about break-ins and theft or you just want to keep an eye on a mischievous pet, home security cameras it might be worthwhile setting up a few security cameras in your home. Today’s cameras have a wealth of security features, including night vision, smart notifications, professional monitoring, two way audio and more.

There are plenty of excellent video surveillance systems to choose from, with cameras that offer features such as two-way communication, motion tracking, night vision, cloud storage and HD video for top-notch video quality. The options are so abundant, it can feel daunting to find a perfect match for the camera system you have in mind. Particularly if that solution includes multiple cameras, as well as features like professional monitoring, rechargeable battery, two way audio, video recording and an elaborate base station system. Even better, a lot of these options pair with an app on your mobile device . So you can keep an eye on your security camera system at all times.

How Do Outdoor Security Cameras Work?

Most smart outdoor security cameras use a Wi-Fi radio to connect to your home network, allowing you to access them from anywhere using a mobile app. But there are also models that can use wired Ethernet, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or a proprietary wireless technology to connect to a mobile app or a dedicated hub.

What Type of Weather Can Outdoor Security Cameras Handle?

Any outdoor camera worth its salt must be able to withstand exposure to the elements and should carry an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. IP ratings contain two digits that tell you just how well the camera will hold up under most weather conditions. The first digit following the IP prefix tells you how resistant the camera is to the ingress of solid objects such as wind-blown dust and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (total protection against dust and dirt). The second number tells you how resistant the camera is to moisture and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 9 (protected against close range, high pressure spray downs from all angles).

Most outdoor security cameras have an IP66 rating, which means they offer complete protection from dust ingress and can handle water jets from any direction, but shouldn’t be immersed in water. They’re typically safe from rain, snow, heat, and cold.

What Resolution Do You Want?

There’s no use in having an outdoor security camera if you can’t recognize who or what the camera is looking at. A camera that captures video at 720p will usually offer a fairly sharp picture, but 1080p video offers more detail and is the most popular resolution for these devices; it doesn’t require lots of storage capacity and can be viewed on nearly all phones, tablets, and PCs.

Cameras that capture 4K (Ultra HD) video are also available, but you’ll need a very strong network connection to stream it without experiencing choppiness or lag, and you’ll need lots of room to store recorded video, which may result in expensive cloud storage fees.

How Much Should You Spend on an Outdoor Security Camera?

Outdoor security cameras are generally more expensive than their indoor counterparts. They can range in price from around $50 up to a few hundred dollars or more depending on features. There are plenty of affordable cameras available that offer good video performance, but as with just about any smart device, you’ll typically pay more for features such as motion tracking, facial recognition, cellular connectivity, time-lapse recording, both onboard and cloud storage options, and rechargeable battery power.

Can my security camera be hacked?

Unfortunately, yes, security cameras can be vulnerable to hacking—but we have a handful of protective tips for you. Nearly every security camera we looked at supports encryption. This protects the camera’s data stream (like videos of your kids after school) from prying eyes. No matter what security features come with your camera, these tips can help you maximize the privacy of your security cameras:

  • Buy a camera with a recognizable name and purchase it from a trustworthy seller.
  • Make sure your home Wi-Fi network is secure.
  • Create unique, strong passwords for your camera and any apps you use to access it.
  • Keep firmware up to date on your camera and your Wi-Fi router.
  • Turn off remote viewing when you don’t need it.
  • Block the lens of your camera when you’re not using it—a post-it or a piece of painters tape will work.

Best security cameras

Wyze Cam

Wyze disappointed some of its customers when its ridiculously cheap cameras got slightly less ridiculously cheap. But at $33, the Wyze Cam remains a great budget surveillance camera – and a great camera. It features HD video quality live streaming, motion detection, night vision, a decent app and, best of all, 14 days of free motion-based cloud storage. This Wyze camera also features a built-in microSD card slot if you want local video storage rather than relying solely on its cloud service (you have to buy the microSD card separately).

This home security camera works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands . And in addition it also features a motion detection zone and the ability to listen for and alert you to special frequencies, like smoke alarms.

Best video doorbell

Arlo Video Doorbell

Now this is a smart security camera. The $150 Arlo Video Doorbell has a lot going for it. While 150 bucks isn’t cheap (it’s currently down to $120), it’s more affordable than most of the other smart buzzers we’ve tested. As a doorbell camera, it’s built to be an outdoor camera. So you don’t have to ever worry about the elements. Similar to the Arlo Pro 3 outdoor security camera, the Arlo Video Doorbell has arm/disarm modes, two-way audio, motion zones and an integrated siren.

It also has a competitive cloud storage subscription plan, starting at $3 per month. If you pay for cloud storage, you get access to advanced features like custom person, animal, vehicle and package detection for your video surveillance.

We can also suggest the Arlo Pro 4. It is the best wireless security camera because it doesn’t need a power cord and still manages to outperform the competition. Arlo has some of the best smart home compatibility too. As it works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings.

Best outdoor camera

Ring Stick Up Cam

The Ring Stick Up Cam Battery is completely wire-free, so you have a ton of flexibility in where you put it. And it costs around $100, making it one of the most affordable security cameras you can use both indoors and outdoors.

We think the Stick Up Cam Battery is best for people that need a wireless outdoor camera on a budget. Ring also has one of the most competitive cloud storage plans on the market. It costs just $3 a month for 60 days of storage. It is an ideal wireless camera for an Alexa smart home. Though we would like it better if it supported Google Assistant and HomeKit like Arlo does.

Best Google Assistant camera

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

The $299 Nest Cam IQ Indoor camera has a lot of the same smarts and features as the Nest Hello speaker. This indoor cam features HD live streaming, motion detection, person alerts and access to the Nest Aware service option. Starting at $5 per month, a Nest Aware subscription offers advanced features like facial recognition. Create a database of friends and family and get alerts telling you “Molly” or “Andrew” is at the door.

But this model also features a Google Assistant built-in speaker. So just like the Google Home and other Google-Assistant-enabled smart speakers and displays, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor responds to the wake phrase “OK, Google.”

Best Siri-enabled camera

Indoor-outdoor Logitech Circle 2

The indoor-outdoor Logitech Circle 2 is one of the few home security cameras that works with Apple’s smart home platform, HomeKit, including responding to Siri commands from a HomePod smart speaker. This home security camera works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant too, giving you access to all of the main voice assistant features.

Best solar camera

Reolink Argus 3 Pro

We like the Reolink Argus 3 Pro because it works just as well indoors as it does outdoors. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also an affordable solar security camera.

You can pick up a Reolink solar panel for around $25. Which is half the price of solar panels for Arlo and Ring cameras. Combined with the low price of the Argus 3, which performs on nearly the same level as Arlo Pro 4, it’s an easy solar camera choice for most folks. We highly recommend the Reolink Argus 3 Pro over the normal Reolink Argus 3. Its 2K video resolution, larger battery. In addition it support for 5GHz Wi-Fi can even give Arlo Pro 4 a run for its money.

This camera uses a rechargeable battery or solar power. So you have a lot of flexibility about where to place it. Still, the camera doesn’t have a removable battery like Arlo Pro 4 and Ring Stick Up Cam. That meansyou can’t swap a spare in when needed. In our experience, the battery drains fairly quickly if you record or stream video often without the solar panel accessory.

Free storage pick

Amcrest 4MP UltraHD Indoor

At SafeWise, we’re Amcrest fans, and this wireless indoor security camera doesn’t disappoint. Its remote pan-and-tilt function, easy setup, and variety of video storage options make this one of the best cameras available for under $100. While this camera records video without issues, there’s a noticeable lag when you stream live video. Unfortunately, the user manual is hard to follow, and mounting the Amcrest 4MP UltraHD on the wall limits the camera’s rotation options. But we still like the free cloud storage and the addition of two-way talk.

Indoor wire-free pick

Blink Indoor

Blink is an Amazon-owned security camera company that focuses on budget cameras. Its latest product is the Blink Indoor, an attractive little camera. You can buy this camera for about $80, making it cheaper than other wire-free cameras thanks to an indoor-only design. Like all Amazon smart devices, this camera is less susceptible to incompatibility issues than third-party brands. Connecting to Alexa and Fire TV devices is a smooth experience. And you can even see a live view on Alexa smart displays like the Echo Show. The Blink Indoor requires a paid subscription (about $3 a month) to save videos. But it stores only about two hours of footage, which is tiny compared to most brands. Still, the Blink Indoor is a good option . So if you want an affordable wire-free indoor security camera to use with Alexa.

Final thoughts

When installing wireless security cameras, keep in mind that the smart home camera you buy (and your security system as a whole) will only be as good as the quality of your Wi-Fi connection at the location where you plan to install it. So check your Wi-Fi speed before you drill holes in the walls or otherwise mess up your doorframe, brick or siding. If the connection is spotty on your wireless security camera, you’ll notice significant lag times, pixelation in the live feed and other delays that make security cameras a pain to use.

With a good Wi-Fi connection, you should be in good shape to use your indoor camera or outdoor security camera without any major issues.

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