Best home security cameras: Our picks to help keep you (and your stuff) safe
E-commerce is on the rise, which means more packages left on your porch and more worries about theft on your mind. Here’s how to pick the best home security cameras for your space.
They say home is where the heart is. But it’s also where your stuff is, where your loved ones may be, so it could be where your mind is even when you’re out. And that’s where the best home security cameras come in. If you find yourself constantly stressed when you leave home—worrying about your packages, pets, property, etc.—setting up the best home security cameras can offer peace of mind alongside a host of advanced features.
There was a time when a security system involved unsightly cameras that had to be professionally installed. Spools of wiring would lead to a VCR, where routinely you’d need to rewind or replace the tape in case you needed to review the evidence following an intrusion (assuming the cassette hadn’t run out, broken, etc.). Well, those days are long gone.
Whether outdoors or indoors, security cameras now can be completely discreet if desired, sometimes require as little as two screws or double-sided tape to install, and may offer instant smartphone alerts and even live video you can monitor remotely. No longer a massive investment of money or space, the best home security cameras integrate easily and let you check in on and around your home from the beach or the master bedroom.
- Best 4K security camera: Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight 2 Camera Kit
- Best wireless security camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
- Best floodlight camera: Ring Floodlight HD Security Cam
- Best smart security camera for indoors/outdoors: Canary Flex Home Security Camera
- Best cheap security camera for outdoors: WYZE Cam Outdoor Starter Bundle
- Best cheap security camera for indoors: Blink mini Compact Indoors Plug-in Cam
How to choose the best home security cameras for your space
When it comes to picking the best home security cameras for your space, I spy with my little camera eye a lot of options. The size and cost of gear have gone down (units are available from $30 to $300), but the feature set has only expanded.
Easy-to-install models range from black-and-white video to streaming in vivid color, capturing just “standard” HD all the way up to 4K, storing video locally or in the cloud, permanently or temporarily. Some security cameras run 24/7, some are motion-activated, while others only come to life at the press of a button. There are those that have a fixed field of view, others that pan and tilt, some that are ruggedized with floodlights and/or night vision, and ones intended to be near well-lit wall sockets only. You get the idea. In this guide, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the main decision points so you can truly pick the model that will work best for you (If you’re also on the market for a home security system and not just cameras, we’ve got you covered there, too.)
Do you want 4K resolution in your home security cameras?
Regular HD resolution (1080p, or 2 megapixels) is fine if you just need to confirm the presence of your restaurant take-out deliveries and get some protection against porch pirates and trash pandas. But what if you’re in a really high-traffic area, or have some high-value targets outside—an Airstream or a boat, for example. If, in the event of an incident, you want the ability to really zoom in on details, then Super HD (4 megapixels, or 2K) and especially the best 4K security camera (a full 8 megapixels) are the superior choice. If vandalism or an actual intrusion occurs, any footage collected could assist the police and/or insurance claims.
But remember: While wireless is convenient, all the resolution in the world won’t matter if your WiFi is subpar. Most connected security cameras support the 802.11 b/g/n standard and suggest a broadband connection with at least 2Mbps upload speed, but that’s the bare minimum for potentially spotty 1080p. If you want to stream in 4K without lag or pixelation, you need a stable connection of at least 25Mbps. If your WiFi could use some support, we can help you choose the best WiFi booster.
Best 4K security camera: Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight 2 Camera Kit
Keep Top-Tier Tabs
You might be shocked when you see the price tag, but you’ll be blown away when you see the video. Incredibly versatile, these cameras’ only challenge is deciding where to put them. Amazon
The Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight kit is where all the bells meet all the whistles, which is what you’d expect from a $600 surveillance system. Included are two wire-free, weather-resistant cameras with up to six-month battery life. A 180-degree diagonal viewing angle offers coverage of every corner, while a spotlight and two-way audio assist in identifying visitors, plus a siren can discourage intruders. The cameras, magnetically connected to a screw-secured mount, can display live 4K video with HDR and color night vision, record to internal storage (a microSD card, sold separately, accessed through the included Arlo Hub), or retain 2K/4K cloud video clips depending on your plan with the (optional) Arlo Smart subscription service. The cameras set up quickly through the Arlo app and play nice with all the major smart platforms—Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and IFTTT — making it easily one of the best home security cameras.
Want to go totally wireless for less?
The Arlo Ultra 2, above, is undoubtedly feature-rich, but its high price may be too rich for your blood. The best wireless security camera is always going to fit your needs and budget. You won’t get 4K at the $100 price point, but you can easily cover every corner without cutting corners (just cost). You can still get the convenience of a removable rechargeable battery and an understated enclosure that can withstand the elements. The most necessary features—at least 1080p HD video with infrared night vision, as well as two-way audio—are there no matter where you are.
Best wireless security camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
Big Package, Small Price
Real-time alerts to your phone, with custom detection parameters; motion-triggered cloud-stored clips, as well as livestream HD video accessible remotely; the ability to lock/unlock a connected deadbolt, etc. … it’s all there except for the expense. Amazon
When you hear the brand Ring you may immediately think about doorbell cams, which is understandable considering the name and how the company got its start. But the product range includes whole-house solutions at an approachable price (a “Ring of security” is the new branding), including a completely wire-free option in a sleek, cylindrical form factor that’s both indoor/flat surface and outdoor/mount friendly. This Ring Stick Up Cam Battery has 1080p video with a 110-degree horizontal/57-degree vertical field of view, so strategic placement is important, and some features require paying for Ring’s cloud plan, but it’s a quickly up-and-running value with a robust app, particularly great for folks who already have Alexa devices (Amazon now owns Ring). And, because it’s an Amazon product, there are copious accessories (such as solar panels), for those inclined to upgrade.
An outdoor floodlight camera can offer extra security
Maybe you have a large, but not a well-lit yard, and you noticed someone or something has been rummaging through your trash. If you want to find out if it’s a person looking for personally identifiable information or animals appreciating your taste in home cooking, you may need more than a solitary spotlight. Or maybe you have a work shed located in a darker recess of your property. The best floodlight camera will have advanced motion detection but also customized activity zones so that every bird passing by doesn’t trigger it. At worst, you’ll feel more secure and possibly end up with footage of some adorable animals feasting on leftovers.
Best floodlight camera: Ring Floodlight HD Security Cam
Shining Brightly For Bigger Sites
Bathe your property in a protective glow at the first twitch of trouble. Amazon
Featuring two 3000° Kelvin floodlights, the Ring Floodlight cam projects 1,800 Lumens across a wide viewing angle to spook intruders and capture HD video in the harsh light of a soft white glow. Compare that to the 300-375 Lumens of a traditional spotlight cam. While placement isn’t as flexible, constrained to an outdoor, weatherproof electrical box for hardwiring, the Ring Floodlight offers all the same conveniences (night vision, a speaker and a siren) of its battery-run brethren, plus the extra oomph. And, like products across the Ring line, alerts and video can be sent easily to various Echo speakers/screens, which can also accept commands for the Ring (which, don’t worry, also works with Google Assistant and IFTTT). Software handles everything, including custom scheduling for your floodlights, no physical hub required.
Do you want a flexible, smart security camera?
Imagine you recently had a child and you want a baby monitor, but you also plan to get a fancy new grill and you’ll want to keep an eye on it overnight. You realize you need to slowly build out surveillance systems, but you don’t want them to get locked into any one ecosystem or environment because your needs and/or devices are evolving. In your case, the best security camera will be one that’s low-profile, battery-powered, weatherproof and swift to install, while not being brand-exclusive like the Ring or Google Nest.
Best smart security camera for indoors/outdoors: Canary Flex Home Security Camera
A compact, adaptable package that’s streamlined, in and out. Amazon
If it’s flexibility you’re looking for, you’ll find it in both the Canary Flex name and feature set. Housed on a magnetic 360-degree swivel base, this smart security camera can operate wireless or plugged in, features up to 1080p HD automatic night vision video (though 720p is the default on a weak streaming connection), and two-way audio for spooking crooks and soothing children. There’s person and package detection (just don’t expect facial recognition akin to the much pricier Google Nest IQ cam, which is the best smart camera for AI if you’re restricting your search to indoors models). There’s no local storage, so you will need to pay for a service, but the Canary camera shares all the standard features of competitors and integrates with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The main thing it lacks is a limit on where you can use it.
What’s the best “cheap” security camera I can get for under $100?
When it comes to the best budget security cameras, half-priced doesn’t mean half-baked. Motion-activated full HD video with black-and-white night vision, as well as two-way talk, can be within your grasp in a cheap security camera, bringing the ability to interact with third-party smart devices along with it. Don’t expect deep AI to identify people, pets, and packages, but there are always features being added to apps that expand parameters without increasing price.
Best cheap security camera for outdoors: WYZE Cam Outdoor Starter Bundle
Boxy Looks, Well-Rounded Features
Get ruggedized without it being rough on your wallet. Video can be stored to internal storage (microSD not included), with or without a wireless network, or saved in short clips to the cloud. Amazon
While it won’t win awards for aesthetics (unless you have fond memories of playing with building blocks as a child), the WYZE Cam exceeds in inexpensive efficiency as long as you don’t mind dedicating some in-home space to its required base station/router bridge. The WYZE outdoor security camera is weather-resistant for deployment around your home (network) perimeter, but it’s also easily detachable with a “Travel Mode” that allows you to take the camera with you to record video directly to your phone without WiFi. There are sacrifices—like the lack of a removable battery, so you have to dismount the entire camera for charging—but it’s magnetically connected so that’s just a simple twist.
Best cheap security camera for indoors: Blink mini Compact Indoors Plug-in Cam
Discreet Looks, Discrete Price
When Amazon jumps into the budget sector it makes a splash. Amazon.com
Amazon’s most cost-efficient entry into the security camera market, the Blink mini meets the baseline features of competitors at a $35 price tag. It’s a palm-sized cube, must be plugged in (not uncommon for an indoors model), but is extremely practical. If you want the most approachable way to get 1080p livestream video with infrared night vision into your Alexa-maintained (or IFTTT-automated) monitoring routine, and don’t need native smart features like person/package detection, this is the best minimalist model to pick. It doesn’t feature the same audio triggers as Ring devices, and only saves clips to the cloud. More cameras, restricted to available wall sockets, might be required for the most comprehensive, widescreen coverage, but at this price that’s not a heavy lift.
Q: Are WiFi security cameras safe?
While there have been instances of hackers breaching security camera systems, that risk has pushed companies to roll out features like two-factor authentication, which uses unique codes to confirm the identity of anyone that attempts to access an account. In addition, password managers can help create and maintain long, randomly generated strings of characters to further reduce potential intrusions. If you follow good password protocols and cyber hygiene on both your camera and your WiFi in general, WiFi security cameras are very safe.
Q: Should I get wired or wireless security cameras?
placement, as you’re no longer tethered to power outlets and Ethernet cables. But the more you rely on wireless, the more you need to factor in the cost of WiFi reinforcement and cloud services. Also, many wireless cameras are magnetically mounted, so could be more easily stolen (taking previous footage with it, if stored locally). Ultimately, each house’s infrastructure and user’s needs will determine the best means of installation.
A final word on shopping for the best home security cameras
Before you drill any holes or put a dent in your savings, survey where and when you need surveillance. Take into consideration device support and room for expansion. The best home security cameras will fit the physical footprint and type of activity you need to monitor, giving you consistent, reassuring coverage.