Home security cameras and camera systems provide an extra layer of protection to your home and can act as excellent preventative measures against break-ins. But picking the best security camera for your home can get a little tricky with all the endless features and tech specs to choose from. I’ve researched and reviewed dozens of security cameras to provide you with the top choices for each camera type available so you can make the best pick for your home. But first, let’s dive into some things you should look for when considering a home security camera.
What to look for in a security camera
Although security cameras come in many varieties, they share some important features you should look for when choosing the right camera for you:
Picture quality (resolution)
Higher resolution means you’ll get a better overall picture. Don’t settle for anything less than 720p HD, but if you can find a camera with 1080p, you’ll be able to zoom in farther and uncover more descriptive details like facial features or license plate numbers.
Field of view
Field of view refers to how wide of an angle the camera can see without moving. This generally presents itself as a numerical degree in the tech specs for each camera. Example: 130-degree wide-angle FOV. The wider FOV you can get, the better, but keep in mind it will vary drastically between types of cameras.
Motion detection does two important things: it triggers the camera to record activity when it detects motion, and it sends you a notification that something has happened within your camera’s view. These notifications and alerts can be particularly helpful with doorbell cameras and indoor cameras.
A camera with good night vision range will uncover more activity in the dark. Look for a camera with long night vision range (30+ feet indoors and 60+ feet outdoors) and multiple infrared (IR) LED sensors. The more IR sensors a camera has, the better it can reconstruct low-light images into clear video footage.
Not all security cameras need to capture sound, but the ability to communicate from your smartphone to your camera with a two-way voice feature can prove useful with nanny cams and doorbell cameras.
A camera that can connect to your home Wi-Fi network adds an extra layer of protection because an intruder can’t simply cut the wire and interrupt your video feed. Connecting to your in-home Wi-Fi also makes it possible for you to check in on your live video feed remotely.
A quality security camera exists for every budget. Decide on a range you’re willing to spend, and you should be able to find a camera that will fit your needs. Keep in mind higher-resolution cameras generally cost more.
Top-rated security camera reviews
- Best monitored security camera systems
- Best indoor camera—Nest Cam Indoor
- Best outdoor camera— Amcrest ProHD Outdoor
- Best night vision camera—Yi Home Camera 2
- Best HD camera—Nest Cam IQ
- Best PTZ camera—Amcrest ProHD PTZ Camera
- Best cheap security camera—Arlo
- Best doorbell camera—Ring Pro 1080p
- Best 4-channel security camera—Amcrest 960H
- Best 8-channel security camera—Best Visions Systems SK-DVR-DIY
- Best 16-channel security camera—Q-See QT8616-16Z7-3
- Best security camera package with LED monitor—Lorex LW Series
Top monitored security camera systems reviews
A monitored security camera system adds cameras to a professionally monitored security system. We highly recommend installing a monitored security system in your home to ensure that you have someone to assist you and alert the authorities on your behalf if there’s a break-in or other type of emergency.
|Website||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans|
|Package name||Ultimate||Elite||Copper||Smart Control|
|Approximate startup cost||$449||$341||$99||$199|
|Monthly monitoring cost with cameras||$49.99||$40.99||$54.99||$49.99|
|What it looks like|
- 24/7 live video
- 1080p HD resolution
- Magnetic base
- Versatile mount
- Two-way audio
- Easy setup
- Simple-to-use app
- $10 monthly cloud storage fee
- No local storage option
- No customizable alerts
- Limited notifications
The Nest Cam Indoor has a versatile design and integrates into the larger Nest ecosystem so you can monitor video footage alongside your thermostat and other IFTTT devices. It also boasts 130-degree wide-angle field of vision and 8 IR LEDs and full 1080p HD, so you can monitor activity and record high-resolution images, both day and night. Nest’s cloud storage program, Nest Aware, shifts Nest Cam Indoor into another gear that competitors just don’t have.
Although I personally don’t love Nest Aware’s monthly subscription cost of $10, the Nest Cam’s superior design and image quality make it worth the small subscription fee, especially if you plan on using multiple Nest Cams.
Best outdoor camera
- High-quality HD video (1296p)
- Motion detection
- Long night-vision range (98 feet)
- Mobile access to video (iOS and Android)
- Local video storage: MicroSD
- Cloud video storage: Amcrest cloud
- Fixed camera that doesn’t allow for movement
- Video only, no sound
Picture quality is kind of a big deal for an outdoor security camera. Grainy, garbled footage defeats the purpose of capturing a would-be intruder on camera. You can’t catch the bad guy if you can’t make out what they look like. That’s why I chose Amcrest ProHD Outdoor as the top pick for an outdoor security camera. It has 1296p HD resolution, whereas most competitors max out at 1080p. On top of extra-high resolution, its 98 feet of night vision range, mobile access to live and recorded video, and motion detection make Amcrest ProHD hard to beat.
Keep in mind Amcrest ProHD Outdoor acts as a stationary camera, which means you’ll have a fixed 100-degree field of view, so if you’re looking for something with any range of motion, this is not it. It also lacks sound. That said, Amcrest ProHD Outdoor offers excellent picture quality and long-range night vision, which makes it an excellent choice for outdoor surveillance for properties of any size.
Best night vision camera
The YI Home Camera 2 wins best night vision camera because it boasts 11 infrared LEDs that can stretch up to 30 feet into the dark to capture and recreate images in low-light and no-light environments. The YI’s 1080p HD resolution gives you clear, sharp images, which help to make out the identifiable features of an intruder caught on camera. I really like the YI Home Camera 2 because it’s basically a Nest Cam that gives you local storage with a microSD card.
Although the YI Home Camera 2 comes with a less-versatile design than the Nest—it can’t disconnect from its mounting bracket like the Nest can—it’s more affordable. You won’t get cloud storage capability, but you can access live video and download local recordings to the microSD card. If you want high-quality night vision, take a serious look at the YI Home Camera 2, especially if you want to store your own footage.
Check out the other night vision cameras we tested in our best night vision cameras review.
Best HD camera
- High-resolution video (1080p HD + 4K sensor)
- Easy-to-use design
- Integration with Nest ecosystem
- High price tag
- $10 monthly charge for cloud storage
- Limited functionality without Nest Aware subscription
The Nest Cam IQ delivers some of the sharpest security camera footage I’ve seen. Although it doesn’t have true 4K resolution, Nest Cam IQ has a 4K image sensor, which allows for a better zoom quality (12x digital zoom). This means zoomed-in images don’t lose as much quality as competing 1080p cameras. Better zoom quality helps make out important distinguishing features of an intruder.
Nest Cam IQ has two small drawbacks, however. It’s pricey—somewhere around $250 per camera, depending on promotional deals—and most of the cool features, like cloud storage, hide behind a subscription wall of $10 per month. That said, the Nest Cam IQ embodies the ideal security camera if you’re willing to spring for Nest Aware.
Check out more HD cameras, including 1080p and 4K options, in our Top HD Security Cameras Review.
Best PTZ camera
Amcrest ProHD camera takes the top spot for pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras because it offers a 360° view, digital zoom, and a full range of motion. The Amcrest mobile app—one of my favorite features—lets you set up motion alerts and access live video from your smartphone so you can keep an eye on things while you’re away.
You’ll get four hours of free cloud storage, but if you want more than four hours you’ll need to pay a monthly fee.
- 7 days: $6 per month per camera
- 14 days: $10 per month per camera
- 30 days: $15 per month per camera
The Amcrest ProHD PTZ also offers file transfer protocol (FTP) server storage, an Amcrest NVR (network video recorder), or local storage up to 64GB with a MicroSD card. With so many storage options, 1080p HD video, and a full PTZ range of motion, the Amcrest ProHD PTZ was an easy choice to make this list.
Find out what we thought about other popular PTZ cameras in our best PTZ cameras review.
Best cheap security camera
- Indoor/outdoor capabilities
- 100% wireless design
- Motion detection
- Free cloud storage
- Easy-to-use app
- Easy setup and installation
- Add-on cameras available
- Battery power dependent
- No email notifications
- No sound recording
- Inability to work in cold climates (below 14° F)
- Often slow motion triggering
The Arlo stands out because it’s the only 100% wireless camera on this list. It literally has no strings wires attached. You can install it almost anywhere, either inside or outside, because it’s both wireless and weatherproof. Even with 720p (lower resolution), its wide-angle 110° field of view and outdoor capability give Arlo an unrivaled versatility. Keep in mind that Arlo works only in temperatures greater than 14° F. So if you live in a really cold climate, Arlo might not work for you if you plan to use it outdoors.
The Arlo app lets you connect up to five Arlo cameras for free. To connect anything beyond five cameras—up to 15—you’ll need to pay for a subscription. This means you can add on devices and build your security system over time as your budget allows. It’s worth checking Amazon pricing on Arlo if versatility and the ability to expand are your thing.
Read more about cheap security cameras that we’d actually recommend in our full review.
Best doorbell camera
- 1080p video
- Multiple faceplate color options
- More bandwidth (supports 5 GHz Wi-Fi)
- Customizable motion zones
- Smartphone notifications
- Hardwired installation only (no battery option)
- No local storage
- Higher price
- Slow performance in cold temperatures
I use the Ring Pro 1080p at home and frequently recommend it to my friends, family, and neighbors. The Ring Pro 1080p improves on the Ring 720p with increased video quality (1080p), more consistent Wi-Fi support, and a slimmed-down design—it no longer feels like you’re drilling a plastic brick to the front of your house.
The Ring Pro has only 160 degrees FOV instead of 180 degrees like the Ring 720p. It is a small small step back in FOV, but I’ll take the improved picture quality and customizable motion detection as an acceptable trade-off, though it is something to consider if FOV is important to you.
Ring 1080p Pro does not have a battery-install option like the Ring 720p, which means it’s not going to work unless you hardwire it to your existing doorbell. For general use, this shouldn’t cause any issues, but if you live in an apartment without the ability to hardwire your doorbell, or it doesn’t fit on your door frame, you’ll want to consider other options. Even still, the Ring 1080p’s high-resolution video, slimmed-down design, and customizable motion zones—an in-app feature that focuses your motion detector on specific locations of your choosing—make it the best doorbell camera available.
Looking for more doorbell camera options? See which doorbell cameras we tested in our best doorbell cameras review.
Best 4-channel security camera system
- Motion-activated zones
- Operating temperature as low as -22°F
- 1TB hard drive
- Great mobile app
- Long transmit range
- Easy setup
- Great night vision
- Sturdy metal casing
- Potentially tricky interface navigation
The Amcrest 960H 4-channel security camera system uses a heavy-duty metal design that allows it to work in subzero temperatures as low as -22°F. It uses 24 infrared LEDs to capture images in low-light and no-light environments so you can discover would-be intruders in the dark. Amcrest 960H offers 800+TVL resolution—comparable to 720p HD—which captures high-quality video footage and allows you to capture more details.
One of my favorite features of this security camera system is the ability to create active zones, which detect motion within your specified zones and then alert you of any activity. Amcrest comes with plenty of local storage—a 1TB hard drive—that holds up to 30 days of recordings depending on your resolution settings. You can set the resolution as high as 960H and record at 30fps (frames per second), but keep in mind it will eat up your storage space if you leave it that high.
Amcrest 960H’s durability and range make it a perfect 4-channel security camera system with room to build on.
Best 8-channel security camera system
- 1TB hard drive included
- Remote access with smartphone and web browser
- Clear video footage (720p HD)
- Easy-to-use interface
- Good night vision
- Potentially unclear instructions
- Only four cameras to start
Best Vision 8-channel surveillance system gives you tons of local storage (1 TB), clear video quality (720p HD), and long-range night vision (65 feet). It’s the total package for an 8-channel security camera starter kit. The one downside for this system is that it comes with only four cameras to start, so you’ll have to pay more for the additional four cameras to complete your 8-channel CCTV system. Best Vision does include cables for the cameras, a DVR, and a remote to control your cameras. If you’re looking for an affordable multi-channel system (up to eight cameras) that you can install and monitor yourself, Best Vision’s SK-DVR-DIY is worth a look.
Best 16-channel security camera system
- 3 TB hard drive
- Support for up to 32 cameras
- Remote monitoring
- Mobile app available
- DVR included
- Great video quality
- Easy-to-use interface
- Great night vision range
- Additional cameras sold separately
The Q-See supports up to 32 cameras, so if you have a large home, small business, or other sizeable property you want to monitor, the Q-See should cover it. I recommend it over competing security camera systems for its long-range night vision—up to 100 feet. With all 32 cameras able to reach so far into the darkness, the Q-See will cover more surface area, which means you’re less likely to miss anything important. The Q-See lets you monitor video footage from your smartphone through the mobile app, so it’s a great choice for anyone looking for instant access to video.
You can buy the DVR by itself or with 16 cameras to start, but in order to reach a full 32-channel camera system, you’ll need to buy the additional 16 cameras separately.
Best security camera package with LED monitor
- All-in-one system capability (cameras, cable, LED screen, and SD card slot)
- Reportedly better image quality than other security systems
- Ability to expend to a 4-camera system if you start with a 2-camera package
- Technically tricky installation
- Loud DVR fans when running
- No remote access
The Lorex LW series is an all-in-one security camera system that comes with a 7-inch LED monitor and an SD card slot (up to 32GB), so you have everything that you need to get started. Considering the LED monitor is included, the entry price point is a reasonable deal. This product includes a night vision capability up to 65 feet and a host of other great features. The secure video signal covers up to 150 feet indoors and 450 feet outdoors.
Wired vs. wireless security cameras
Most modern-day residential security cameras—and all of the cameras we recommend in this article—use wireless technology. This means that you don’t have to run wires from the camera to a central station inside your house in order to access your video feed. You can usually access your video through a smartphone app or computer.
Wireless technology saves you money on costly installation and doesn’t require you to drill holes in your wall. Some larger CCTV or security camera systems still use wired technology, but these are generally used for commercial areas or large estates. Most homes can get away with using wireless cameras that connect through your in-home Wi-Fi network.
Keep in mind that even wireless security cameras run on power. Very few cameras use battery power, so you’ll most likely have to install your camera close to a power outlet, even if it’s wireless.
Which security camera is right for you?
Whether you’re considering one or multiple security cameras, wired or wireless, indoor and/or outdoor, our goal is to give you the information you need to help you decide what’s best for your home and your family. If you don’t already have a home security system or you’re not satisfied with the one you have, see our comprehensive reviews of the best home security systems of 2017.
Also if you’re interested in reading more specific security camera reviews and how we ranked them, check out any of these articles: Best Night Vision Cameras, Best HD Security Cameras, Best Cheap Security Cameras, Best Hidden Cameras, or Best Dash Cams.
Still didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out other options on Amazon to find the solution that’s right for you: