Once you’ve got your smart home up and running with the basics, like smart lights and video doorbells, a logical next step is smart cameras. The best options offer exceptional video quality and motion detection, solid night vision, and intelligent alerts when the camera detects motion (what or who) in the top-tier models. While most use cloud storage to save video, some offer local video storage, which allows them to record even when a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available.
If you’re serious about securing your property, home security cameras are a no-brainer. There are cameras for the inside of your home as well as more ruggedized outdoor versions. You can place them anywhere, but we recommend placing smart cameras close to the interior or exterior of entry points into your home.
We own several of the models we’re about to recommend, and each of our recommendations has its unique features that make it stand out from the crowd. All of our recommendations feature a minimum of 1080p resolution, a wide field of view, and connectivity with other smart home devices. Some include free cloud storage with your purchase. However, be prepared to pay a subscription fee for more advanced functionality.
A home security camera is a type of surveillance camera, but not all surveillance cameras are home security cameras. A surveillance camera is a device that records video or audio footage. In contrast, a home security camera has built-in “smart features” that let it communicate with its owner through the internet or another remote means. The communication usually includes sending alerts about what the camera detects.
Not all can. If your security camera has a local storage option (usually an SD card), it will record video directly to that card. However, to use these cameras effectively, you’ll need an Internet connection. SD cards will only hold a small amount of video before the older video starts and are overwritten by newer video.
With tons of affordable security cameras on the market, home security cameras are only getting more commonplace. This raises all kinds of questions about privacy. Remember that the law permits people to record anything outside as long as it’s a “public space.” But you do have a right to privacy and to expect that your nosy neighbor won’t point a home security camera at your home to watch you. Most cameras have a light on the front that is on when the camera records. However, this can be turned off. Just keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Most security cameras have some free cloud storage options to allow you to use the basic functions at no cost. However, you will pay more if you want advanced features like advanced motion detection or additional cloud storage. Some offer no free cloud storage at all, so be sure to make sure you won’t need to subscribe to anything.
No, your home security camera does not let hackers watch you, at least easily. While there have been attempts, most home security camera systems have not been hacked in a way that gave the hackers access to your video feeds. However, if you use a password, you use elsewhere for your account with whatever home security camera you choose, an attacker could use those credentials to see your feeds. Our recommendation? Choose a unique random password.
Best Home Security Cameras
Before we look at the best security cameras in detail, below we’ve highlighted our top picks for both indoor and outdoor cameras. Some models even have built-in spotlight functionality, and package detection and can be integrated into a more extensive smart home security system.
eufy Security 2K Indoor Cam Pan & Tilt
While the Ring Stick-Up Cam’s versatility is pretty great and Wyze Cam Outdoor is just an incredible deal for an outdoor home security camera system, we think the best overall value among smart cameras right now is the eufy Security 2K Indoor Cam Pan & Tilt. Why do we say this? Among adjustable smart cameras, this is an outstanding deal. The picture quality is one thing, a step above 1080p like most cameras.
But we like the automatic pan and tilt functionality, allowing eufy’s camera to follow the action. That’s a nifty feature and not one you usually find on smart home security cameras at this price point. The camera also has built-in AI to determine whether a pet or a human causes the motion and filter out false alerts.
Ring Stick-Up Cam
If you’ve already invested in the Ring ecosystem, opting for the Ring Stick-Up Cam makes more sense. This way, all your smart cameras will be in the same app, making it much easier to monitor activity in and around your home at a glance. While Ring’s products are generally much more expensive than the competition, the build quality and performance are near the top of the class.
Ring sells both a wired and battery-operated version of the Stick-Up Cam, as well as an optional solar panel that can be used with the battery-powered cameras. Having owned the Stick Up Cam Battery ourselves, we can speak from experience when we say either purchase an additional battery or the solar panel — the camera drains the battery quite quickly, requiring a charge at least once a month.
Wyze Cam V3 and Wyze Cam Outdoor
However, the best smart camera for those on a budget is the Wyze Cam series. Its Wyze Cam Outdoor offers high-quality video at just a fraction of the price of most smart outdoor home security cameras available, and the Wyze Cam V3 is stunning — featuring full-color night vision, something not available on many higher-end cameras, and a water-resistant design, two-way audio, and a wide 130-degree field-of-view. Local video storage is possible using an optional SD card.
We have the second-generate Wyze Cam, and the video and image quality is amazing for a camera of its price range. While we haven’t had a chance to play with the Wyze Cam V3 just yet, we’re told the video quality has gotten even better — which is hard to believe given how good the original Wyze Cams were.
Google Nest Cam Outdoor
The Google Nest Cam Outdoor is an outdoor camera equipped with a speaker and microphone, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can detect suspicious activity. The camera can tell the difference between a person, animal, or vehicle, so you aren’t bothered by false alerts. Notifications will also have a snapshot of what triggered the alert.
The Nest Cam works with other smart home devices, such as locks or thermostats, so your entire house is safe when this camera is set up. If you already own another Google or Nest device or use Google Assistant, we strongly recommend purchasing the Nest as the experience is seamless.
24/7 continuous video recording and 3 hours of free recording are included, which helps you feel safe. You can access recorded footage or watch a live stream of your space via the free Nest app.
Google Nest Cam Indoor
This is another wired indoor security camera from Nest, and it’s designed to work with Google Assistant so you can use voice commands to operate the camera. The camera also comes with a speaker and microphone so you can talk to your kids, see what’s happening at home, and scare off intruders.
The Google Nest Cam Indoor is perfect for those looking for an indoor security camera, and the device has motion sensor alerts so you know when something’s changed in your living room or front hall. You can also use this camera as an intercom, and the Nest Cam Indoor has advanced facial recognition so you can identify who’s inside your home.
The Blink Outdoor is a weatherproof HD security camera operated by just two triple-A lithium batteries that last up to 2 years! All of the footage recorded by the cameras is stored in the cloud through the Blink Subscription Plan, so users never have to worry about losing anything if their internet goes out or they change phones.
With customizable motion zones, you can customize the alerts you receive. Using an Echo Show, you can also monitor live feeds on the screen and both hear and talk to whom or whatever’s outside.
What a home security camera is good for
There are many potential uses for a home security camera. Most home security cameras will allow you to do the following:
- See who’s in your home when you’re away (with advanced facial recognition and person detection)
- Receive motion sensor alerts when something happens in your living room or front hall
- Keep track of pets while you’re at work with pet recognition technology
- Get alerts when someone enters your front door
- Keep an eye on the kids while they’re playing in their bedroom
- Never miss a moment with full HD video recordings of all the action that happens in your home
- Trigger other smart devices based on what the camera detects
Choosing the best smart security camera
Choosing the best smart camera for your needs depends on a variety of factors. We recommend sticking with one brand when purchasing smart devices. The reasoning here is simple: as your smart home build grows, you’ll find that you’re switching between apps quite a bit, and having everything in a single app is way more convenient.
That’s not to say you can’t “mix and match.” Smart assistants like Alexa allow you to view your cameras on video-enabled devices like the Echo Show. Also, companies like Wyze are producing smart devices that are a fraction of the cost of their competitors, which could make more sense from a budget standpoint — especially if you plan to install quite a few cameras.
We recommend avoiding most off-brand models on Amazon. While they may be cheap, the customer support for some of these brands is sorely lacking. We’d love to tell you that owning a smart home is painless, but it’s not. While you shouldn’t have problems, you want solid customer support behind you if you need it.
Finally, opt for wireless smart cameras if possible. While you will get better quality video from a corded model, the battery technology in the best home security cameras has gotten MUCH better. Changing batteries and charging is straightforward, and you should get several months of battery life from a single charge. Plus, the freedom of placement is a huge plus, in our opinion.
The best home security camera will be different for everyone. Some might find package detection useful, while others might need to store footage locally or night vision to monitor especially dark areas. Before purchasing, compare the functionality of various home security cameras. You also don’t need to stay with one brand: you can mix and match as long as you have a method, like a virtual assistant, to view their video without going to each app.