How to Buy a Smart Home Security Camera

Smart CCTV cameras seem to be everywhere, and we don’t just mean watching your every move. With the prevalence of cheap components and cloud storage, installing a video surveillance system for home or business is easier than ever. But there are so many brands and types out there that it can be difficult to know which platform is worth your time and money.

The impressive price range you’ll find between competing CCTV cameras doesn’t help the decision-making process. You can buy a security camera for as little as $ 20 for bare bones surveillance, or spend up to $ 400 per unit on all mounts. And there is a huge difference between the affordable CCTV camera you find on Amazon and the more expensive one found at Lowe’s.

We’ve researched what interests us and we have some tips on how to find the best protection for your needs and budget.

Things to Consider

If you’re buying a security camera, you’re probably looking for something that allows you to scan an area (or person) with the click of a button. The good news is that it can be done with even the simplest camera under $ 40. The price starts to rise when you add features like monthly cloud storage, higher resolution video, battery backup, and a wider field of view.

Indoor or Outdoor : If you need something for your backyard, expect to start at $ 70 for a decent street camera, or up to $ 200 for a camera with a spotlight attached to see which neighborhood dwellers sneak into the side yard. There are even cameras with built-in sirens to scare off intruders, or cameras with software that can learn to recognize certain faces.

Whether you opt for an indoor or outdoor security camera, check out the reviews for its night vision capabilities. Some cameras switch smoothly between day and night, while others find it difficult to get a clear picture of what is happening after the lights go out. And check the resolution of the cameras in question. The standard 720p resolution may seem like enough for checking pets, but it won’t necessarily be the most useful if you’re trying to gather evidence of a crime.

Notifications: Most CCTV cameras can send push notifications to your smartphone when they detect motion, sound, and in some cases, faces. This is the best way to stay on top of what’s happening at home when you’re not around. Some notifications require you to install the app first, while others work via SMS or email.

Battery and Cellular Backup: Battery backup is a top-notch feature on many CCTV cameras. If power outages are a concern, consider increasing your budget for one of these models. Also consider looking for cameras with additional local storage built-in or via a memory card slot. These are great options for rural areas where broadband is limited.

Brand reputation: When buying a CCTV camera, pay attention to the brand you are buying. While Wyze is known for its relative affordability, a recent data breach revealing 2.4 million of its customers might make you think twice about its attractive price tag. Amazon’s Ring is known for its vast ecosystem of interconnected security devices, including doorbell cameras. However, it suffers from security vulnerabilities , not to mention the surveillance issues associated with the company as it freely shares footage with law enforcement .

Google’s Nest and Netgear’s Arlo have also faced major security flaws recently, confirming the idea that there is no perfect system. But reading ahead can help you determine which manufacturer is quicker to respond to threats.

As tempting as it can be, to avoid any of the “too good to be true” security cameras from companies like Geeni or a brand of less affordable devices en masse on Amazon. Especially avoid cameras that have not been updated for a long time or that seem to be preempted to get rid of excess stock. Before bringing anything home, take a close look at the make and model, even if it’s from a reputable brand.

How much should you spend

The most popular home security cameras range from $ 150 to $ 400. To help; you navigate that range, look at some of the features of the CCTV cameras on your list, and ask yourself what you can live without. For example, if you have a camera to make sure your cat is eating its food, the $ 20 Wyze camera, which allows you to check in at will, is perfectly reasonable, and the $ 150 Nest camera, which requires a cloud storage subscription for archival footage. this is overkill.

Less than $ 60

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a functional CCTV camera. The Wyze Cam V2 and Wyze Cam Pan cost around $ 26 and $ 38 respectively. You can program them to turn on at specific times of the day and provide audible surveillance for things like smoke alarms and fussy children, although they can be a little sensitive.

Cam Pan can rotate 360 ​​degrees and can follow any moving objects it detects if you turn on the motion tracking function. Wyze cameras are especially popular with people looking for simple security when entering. However, they require microSD cards to record videos and may be a bit slow to login and register after receiving a push notification.

The $ 60 Annular Indoor Camera is a indoor camera with a little smarts and connectivity to a wider ecosystem. It offers crisp 1080p video, supports voice control via Alexa, and works in tandem with other smart devices to trigger actions such as turning on certain lights when it senses movement. However, you have to pay a monthly subscription to record video and check for motion triggers, and it doesn’t offer audio detection.

If you’re looking for a surveillance camera so you can get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening, the lesser-knownYi dome camera is eye-catching but useful at $ 35. It’s not as smart as other cameras in its price range, how it doesn’t integrate with Alexa or Google Assistant, and IFTTT action isn’t available. But it does offer remote mechanical pan, tilt and zoom, and you can even take a panoramic shot if you’ve inserted an SD card for recording.

Less than $ 100

If you can carve out a little more space in your budget, your choice will be more functional. The D-Link DCS-8300LH Full HD Wi-Fi camera may not have a big name, but its 1080p video, free cloud storage, and support for Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands make it an impressive $ 90 option.

Ring offers both tethered and rechargeable Stickup Cam for $ 100, with all the benefits of other camera models including motion detection and IFTTT integration. However, you will need a subscription to record video, and there is no audio detection like there is on doorbell cameras going outside.

At this price, outdoor CCTV cameras are also becoming viable options. The $ 90 TP-Link KC200 Kasa Cam outdoor camera connects via a ten-foot cable, magnetically attaches to a ring bracket, and is weather resistant with an IP65 rating. This means it will withstand the dustiest and foggy days, so you can still stop by to watch it live. This particular model also has a built-in siren to keep out intruders, as well as up to 1GB of video storage for two days at a time. If needed, you can pay for additional storage with a monthly subscription.

Less than $ 500

The jump from $ 100 to $ 500 may seem like a significant jump, and that’s because CCTV cameras are getting more advanced. Nest and Ring cameras in this price range offer the benefits of a closed housing for harsh climates, in addition to AI-driven software features.

In particular, the $ 300-400 Nest Cam IQ offers facial recognition, two-way audio, and high-resolution zoom tracking, not to mention ease of interaction between other ecosystems of smart devices. The $ 200 Ring Spotlight Outdoor Camera comes with battery power so you don’t have to worry about plugging it through your garage wall (or anywhere else). It also features a bright motion-activated floodlight that can help scare away unwanted critters or shadowy ones lurking out of your yard. But the caveat for both systems, again, is that they require a monthly subscription fee to access recordings older than a few hours.

Netgear’s $ 300 Arlo Ultra nearly surpasses the ceiling in this category, but it’s a solid top tier choice. Not only does it work with Apple HomeKit, it also offers 4K video resolution, 180-degree field of view, and is fully wireless. It also features color night vision so you can clearly see what happens after dark, as well as a built-in spotlight, AI-based motion detection, and automatic zoom and tracking. The only caveat to grapple with with Netgear’s Arlo is that it requires a base, but it’s included in the kit presented here.

If you don’t need 4K resolution for your surveillance needs, Netgear also offers a set of two Arlo Pro 3 for about the same price. It delivers the same fantastic video quality and works both indoors and outdoors.

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