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With a high-quality home security camera in place, you can rest easy. Simply the presence of a security camera does much to deter burglars. What’s more, if someone were to burgle your home anyway, you’d have the thief on tape.
But security cameras do more than protect your home from intruders; they also protect the people living inside your home. If you care for an elderly parent with dementia or a child who’s prone to sleepwalking, an indoor camera can help you ensure they stay safely inside their bedroom at night.
Today’s security cameras are relatively easy to install and setup. They connect to your home WiFi, allowing you to monitor live streams on your phone or computer. Many cameras include both microphones and motion sensors, alerting you to any abnormal movement or sound, day and night.
Because they can include such a large range of features—from smart home integration to face recognition technology—security cameras vary widely in price, from $20 to nearly $500. It’s important to remember that cost is per camera, so depending on the size of the area you want to cover, your total budget for security cameras may be higher.
Read our buyer’s guide and browse our top picks to find the best security camera for you.
Best Security Cameras
Editor’s Choice – Arlo Pro 2 by NETGEAR
Best Indoor Camera – Nest Cam Indoor
Best Outdoor Camera – Nest Cam Outdoor
Best Budget – Wyze Cam
Best Camera with Lights – Ring Spotlight Cam
Best Camera for Alexa Users – Amazon Cloud Cam
Best Camera for Apple HomeKit Users – Logitech Circle 2
The Arlo Pro 2 by NETGEAR offers the ultimate in flexibility and functionality, making it our Editor’s Choice.
Since it’s weather-resistant, you can place it anywhere—inside or outside. You can power it however you want, too: via the included solar panel, rechargeable battery, or plugin if you prefer to have a wired camera. This wire-free HD security camera offers two-way audio, automatic night vision for dim lighting conditions, and connects with both Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.
The Arlo Pro 2 is a smart security camera. It integrates with Amazon, Google, and Samsung smart home systems. You can set up IFTTT to view your camera’s livestream on your smart TV or synch it to work with your other smart home devices.
In the Arlo app you can define activity zones for indoor areas of your home, so you’re alerted whenever there is an unusual sound or motion (such as in the bedroom for a sleepwalking child). Homeowners can upgrade to Arlo Smart to customize the alerts and contact 911 from their phone’s lock screen.
You can use the two-way audio to talk back to any sounds you hear, such as soothing a restless child or barking dog. If you spot intruders, you can remotely activate the 100-decibel siren to make them think twice.
Live and recorded video is stored free in the cloud for 7 days, and you can store some footage locally by plugging a USB drive into the camera’s base. Increased storage options are available with an Arlo Smart subscription.
The Nest Cam Indoor is a 1080p HD camera with 8x digital zoom and night vision. The camera has a sleek design that fits in anywhere, with a variety of installation options. There’s a removable wall plate, a magnet, or you can unscrew the base and set it up on your own tripod. However, it is a wired camera so you’ll need to place it somewhere near an outlet.
The Nest Cam Indoor is compatible with Amazon Alexa for voice commands, as well as the rest of the Nest smart home system, enabling you to create trigger actions. For example, if suspicious movement is detected, the Nest Cam can tell your connected Nest Smart Lights to flash, alerting you to the danger. The Nest Cam motion sensors were built to be sensitive, yet intelligent, so you don’t get bombarded with false alerts.
In the Nest app, you can set up Activity Alerts for specific areas, a helpful feature if you’re caring for a person with Alzheimer’s who may be at risk of leaving their bedroom at night. Thanks to two-way audio, you can speak into your phone to relay your voice to the camera’s attached speaker.
The Nest Cam Indoor includes the most recent 3 hours of video history for free. You’ll need to upgrade to Nest Aware to set up Person alerts, and to view up to 10 or 30 days of continuous video backups in the cloud.
This outdoor camera is weatherproof and includes night vision, so you can watch the 24/7 livestream clearly no matter what time of day and what the weather’s like outside. As a wired camera, you never have to worry about the batteries dying and you losing the feed.
Like the Nest Cam Indoor, the Outdoor camera includes multiple mounting options, with a built-in magnet and removable mount, wall plates, cable clips, and screws. It will also alert you to any suspicious activity or movement through the Nest app on your phone.
Since the Nest Cam Outdoor is compatible with both Alexa and Nest, you can set up trigger actions for various devices, such as turning on your home smart lights if the outdoor camera senses activity outside. The Nest Cam Outdoor includes a microphone and speaker so you can hear sound and respond to it through the app.
The Nest Cam Outdoor allows you to set up activity alerts, and view up to the last 3 hours of footage for free. To view up to 10 or 30 days of footage, and set up person alerts, you’ll need to upgrade to Nest Aware.
Many of the cameras on our list are close to $100 each. The Wyze Cam stands out for being an affordable $25, while still offering several of the same features as the other cams on this list.
In the Wyze app, available for iOS and Android devices, you can manage multiple Wyze cameras, set up users, talk back through the speaker, share video recordings, and view up to 14 days of footage in the cloud. You can purchase a separate microSD card for longer storage options.
The Wyze Cam works with Alexa voice commands, so you can ask Alexa to show you a view from a particular cam in one room of the house. You can talk back using two-way audio. The night vision illuminates up to 30 feet away, allowing you to monitor even a large room. However, the lens has a smaller field of view, at only 110 degrees.
The Wyze Cam is also easy to install, with a magnetic base and adhesive metal plate, so you don’t have to worry about screws. The 6-foot power cable gives you plenty of wiggle room, too.
The Ring Spotlight Cam is the ultimate defensive security camera. Not only will it alert you to any suspicious movement or sound, but it can also set off a siren and light up with bright 375 lumen LED spotlights, deterring intruders. Plus, the 140-degree field of view provides more coverage than most security cameras.
As the Ring Spotlight Cam works with Alexa, you can ask it via your voice to pull up the live feed on your phone or compatible Amazon Echo device. You can sign up for notifications on your phone, tablet, or computer, and view on-demand video and audio at any time. You can even activate the siren remotely from the app on your phone. Finally, you can set up activity zones within the field of view so the camera focuses on action in those areas specifically.
Cloud recordings are free for 7 days, or you can upgrade to one of two Ring Protect subscription tiers, Plus or Basic. These include extended warranties, discounts on other Ring products, and unlimited video recording and sharing.
The Ring Spotlight Cam is available in two colors, black and white, so you can choose whichever one fits better with your home. It also includes all mounting elements so it’s easy for you to install. Ring offers lifetime theft protection, so if your camera ever gets stolen, they’ll replace it for free.
The Amazon Cloud Cam allows you to watch recordings live for up to the past 24 hours for free in the mobile app or on the web. Night vision is included, although you can turn it on or off to save battery through the app or by telling Alexa.
Beyond just integrating with Amazon Alexa for voice alerts, the Amazon Cloud Cam comes with a host of built-in Amazon skills, such as having Alexa pinpoint a specific activity in one area of the room during a specific time frame.
With the Amazon Cloud Cam, you can download and share unlimited recordings. 24 hours of cloud storage is included for up to 3 cameras for free. To create activity zones and enable person alerts, along with up to 30 days of storage for 10 cameras, you’ll need to upgrade to a Cloud Cam Plan—which you can try for free with the included 30-day trial.
Most security cameras work with Amazon Alexa. Some also work with Google Assistant. The Logitech Circle 2 stands out because it works with all the top voice assistants, including Siri and Apple HomeKit.
This indoor/outdoor camera is also waterproof. It offers one of the widest fields of view, at 180 degrees, and can be mounted either wirelessly or wired, with a generous 10-foot long cable, for flexible placement. However, the night vision only shows up to 15 feet, so the Logitech 2 camera may be better suited for smaller areas, such as a child’s bedroom.
The mobile app notifications include a thumbnail image, so you can instantly see what’s going on without having to open the app. You’ll also get a 30-second Day Brief, which captures any notable activity in a quick brief for you. This lets you see at-a-glance whether a child or elderly loved one is becoming more or less restless at night.
Up to 24 hours of footage is stored securely in the cloud for free, with the ability to upgrade to set up activity zones, person alerts, and view multiple days of storage.
Modern security cameras come with an impressive range of features. However, not all of these features may be necessary for your home—and the fewer the features, the less expensive your camera will be. Familiarize yourself with the common features below and consider which are most important to you.
Home security cameras break down into two main categories: indoor and outdoor. Indoor cameras are designed for placement inside your home, while outdoor cameras should be mounted outside.
Cameras that use your home WiFi to stream footage are easier to install, and are more likely to be secure, too, since thieves can’t disrupt the feed by cutting the wire. The WiFi connection allows you to see footage on your phone, even when you’re not at home.
The field of view describes the area and angle a camera lens can record. Cameras with wider fields of view are preferable, since they remove the need to buy more cameras for full coverage, but they’re also more expensive. The field of view is usually between 100 and 180 degrees.
A security camera’s resolution refers to the clarity of the image. The more definition you have in the image, the easier it will be to identify evil doers or other suspicious activity. However, higher resolution will also drive up the cost of the camera. Look for a security camera with at least 1080p resolution.
A security camera with digital zoom lets you zoom in by cropping and enlarging live footage. The quality of your camera’s digital zoom depends on the resolution: the more pixels, the more you’ll be able to zoom in and still get a clear shot.
Security cameras are either static or come with panning/tilting capabilities. Cameras that can move, pan, or tilt are able to film a larger area than a static camera, which can make them more expensive (although you’ll likely need to purchase fewer cameras overall as a result, which can translate to total savings). Some cameras require you to pan and tilt manually, while others can be adjusted remotely using the app.
The difference between a surveillance camera and a security camera is the alert function. Surveillance cameras merely capture the footage of an area, while a security camera will alert you as the homeowner to abnormal sounds or movement. These alerts may send you a push notification whenever unusual movement, noise, or an unrecognized face is near your home (depending on if your camera also detects audio and faces). In addition to push notifications, you may be able to opt in to email and text notifications, too.
Cameras that emit and receive sound can function as an intercom through a built-in microphone. Cameras with two-way audio are more defensive, since you can verbally warn an intruder or turn on a siren (if also included).
Security cameras with motion detection use sensors to detect nearby movement. If it senses motion, the camera will alert you through the connected smartphone app. If it has pan/tilt functionality, the camera may automatically zoom in on the noise or movement.
Security cameras will include an app where you can view live streams, review and share past footage, set up notification preferences and digitally zoom in remotely. This app will be available for your smartphone, and potentially a web browser, too.
Security cameras with night vision capabilities will be able to record clearer movement and activity at night, or in low lighting conditions.
Most cameras today store past footage in the cloud, as opposed to on a memory card or hard drive. Many cameras come with at least some level of free storage, and you can pay for a subscription to unlock additional storage. Depending on the tier you choose, you can usually store past footage for a week, a month, or more.
If you’re purchasing an outdoor camera, take a look at the weatherproof rating. You want your camera to operate no matter the weather conditions, so make sure the weatherproof rating indicates your camera is equipped to handle common weather conditions for your area.
Many security cameras are designed to integrate with multiple cameras of the same brand, so you can place cameras throughout your home. You’ll be able to view all the feeds within the mobile app.
Security cameras may be compatible with various smart home systems, allowing you to connect your smart cameras with your smart lights, for instance, and turn them on if the camera senses any activity. If you’re purchasing a security camera you want to integrate with the rest of your smart home devices, ensure it’s compatible with any you already own, as well as any you expect to purchase in the future.
Security cameras with face recognition technology allow you to scan and identify common faces, such as all the members of your home, a baby-sitter, or dog walker. The camera will scan these people’s faces and not notify you when they arrive, reducing unnecessary alerts.
Depending on your use for the camera, you may not need it to be working at all hours. This could describe the situation if you’re using it as an indoor camera to monitor an infant or loved one while they sleep, or if you’re using an outdoor camera to prevent burglary, and only want it to be operating when you’re not at home. By setting up a schedule for your camera, you can save the battery power, reduce the bandwidth it consumes on your home Wifi, and reduce the potential for false alerts.
Admittedly, design is less important than functionality when it comes to security cameras. However, you don’t necessarily want your camera to be an eyesore. Indoor cameras may come in different colors and feature a minimal design, enabling them to fit in with the rest of your decor. Outdoor cameras may not look as great, with their design focused on ruggedness and ability to withstand adverse weather.
Still unsure which security camera would be best for your home? Below are the top FAQ people have when shopping for a security camera.
Indoor vs. outdoor security cameras serve different needs. Outdoor security cameras are best for protecting your home from theft, and alerting you to potential break-ins.
If you want a security camera to monitor the safety of your loved ones, such as an older parent with Alzheimer’s who’s prone to wandering, you may want multiple cameras—an indoor camera for their bedroom, as well as outdoor cameras for each exit door in case they attempt to leave at night. Indoor cameras can also help you confirm when your kids have made it safely home from school, your infant is sleeping soundly, or your dog walker has indeed come in and taken your dog for a walk.
Both indoor and outdoor security cameras work well; the question is which is best for your needs. The main thing to remember is that if you want a camera to monitor the exterior of your home, you need an outdoor security camera, as indoor cameras are not waterproof.
The biggest way a security camera can help you sleep better is the peace of mind they provide. Anxiety is one of the top contributing causes to insomnia. When our mind is restless with worry and concern, it’s difficult for us to fall asleep. With a constant feed of live footage and knowledge that the camera will alert you if anything is amiss, you can go to sleep feeling secure.
If you are taking care of children or elderly who have special needs, such as Alzheimer’s or a sleep movement disorder like sleepwalking, security cameras can help you keep an eye on them, while still getting as much sleep as possible. Instead of staying up all night, on edge that your loved one might get out of bed and hurt themselves, you can install an indoor security camera that monitors their movements, alerting you and waking you up if anything unusual occurs.
Even for less-anxiety-producing situations, a camera can help you sleep more. If you have an overly protective dog that’s prone to bark at night, you can pull up the camera feed on your phone. If you don’t see anything concerning, you can tell your dog to be quiet through the camera’s two-way audio. Yes, you’ll still be woken up by their barking, but with a security camera you can at least save yourself the hassle of getting out of bed to quiet them and confirm there’s nothing to be worried about—letting you fall back to sleep faster.
Depending on the number of included features, security cameras can range from $20 to $500. It’s important to understand which features are important to you, so you buy cameras with just those features, instead of the other bells and whistles that drive up the cost of your camera.
Depending on the size of the area you want to cover, you may need to purchase multiple cameras, which will cost more.
If you purchase online, you can often find camera bundles, where you can get 2 or 3-packs of a camera for a total amount that makes each individual camera cost less than if you purchased them separately. You can also save by waiting for holiday sales, or by using any of the links we’ve included above with our reviews. We’ve negotiated discount pricing for Tuck readers on all the sleep safety products we recommend.