Best CCTV Systems: Surveillance Camera Systems under $400

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems may seem more old-fashioned than cloud-based security cameras, but CCTV systems have several upsides. For starters, they allow you to connect all your cameras to one device. CCTV systems also use cables to connect directly to the hard drive, often leading to shorter loading times than you would get with a DIY system that connects to Wi-Fi. Perhaps best of all, CCTV systems are often less expensive than purchasing multiple DIY security cameras. Check out our five picks for best CCTV systems under $400.

General pros and cons to a CCTV system

CCTV systems are commonly used for businesses, but some homes use them for their security purposes as well. Below we’ve listed some reasons you may like a CCTV system versus a DIY system as well as some disadvantages to these systems.

Man watching security footage
Pros
  • Pro BulletAn all-in-one CCTV system (including the cameras, cords, and hard drive) can be much less expensive than a DIY system.
  • Pro BulletHaving a CCTV system installed at your home can be a selling point for potential buyers.
  • Pro BulletCCTV cameras aren’t inconspicuous, so potential burglars may see them and become intimidated and less likely to rob your home or business.
  • Pro BulletMultiple cameras give you multiple viewing angles of your property.
Cons
  • Con BulletCCTV cameras can be bulkier and less aesthetically appealing than DIY camera systems.
  • Con BulletRecording 24/7 can make it difficult to skim back through footage for an event, which is why you may want to set your system to record by motion.
  • Con BulletCCTV systems tend to be less customizable than DIY systems.

Top 5 Best CCTV Home Camera Systems

*TVL stands for television lines and is the maximum number of light and dark vertical lines per picture. For example, if the TVL resolution is 800, there are 400 dark vertical lines and 400 white vertical lines over a horizontal picture. The higher the TVL, the better, clearer the picture. 1,000 TVL is roughly equivalent to 720p for digital picture.

1. Amcrest 960H

Amcrest is our #1 pick for best CCTV system for many reasons. For starters, the cameras can operate in temperatures as low as -22°F. This is crucial for those who live in areas with winter temperatures that reach single digits or even below zero. My husband and I discovered this winter that our security camera could handle only 14°F and it was below zero, so our home was left unprotected when the camera stopped working. The Amcrest cameras are made out of sturdy metal so they can truly withstand the elements.

Perhaps the coolest feature of this system is its motion detection feature that allows you to create active zones, which alert you when the cameras detect motion within the zones. The Amcrest includes a 1 TB hard drive, which means you could have up to 30 days of recordings if you use motion detection or lower resolution settings. The highest resolution for this system is 960H and it records at 30fps (frames per second).

Amcrest 960H

    Pricing & tech specs

    • 60-foot cables (8 included)
    • 8 channels (4 cameras included)
    • 800+ TVL
    • Night vision up to 65 feet
    • Indoor and outdoor
    • 75° view angle
    • Operating temperature: -22 to 122°F
    • Warranty: 1 year
    • Price: $249.99
    Pros
    • Pro BulletIP rating of 66 (full protection from dust and powerful water jets)
    • Pro BulletMotion-activated zones
    • Pro BulletOperating temperature as low as -22°F
    • Pro Bullet1 TB hard drive
    • Pro BulletGreat mobile app
    • Pro BulletEasy setup
    • Pro BulletGreat night vision
    • Pro BulletSturdy metal casing
    • Pro BulletHelpful and fast live chat
    Cons
    • Con BulletPotentially tricky interface navigation

    2. Q-See 8-channel

    Q-SEE has a night vision range of 80 feet, the longest of any cameras on this list. The Q-SEE system also has the ability to withstand temperatures up to 130°F, which is the highest of the cameras we’ve reviewed. Customers have mostly positive things to report in their reviews, stating that the system is easy to install, has clear footage, and has a convenient and easy-to-use mobile app.

    One thing we’re a bit bummed about is that the bottom of the Q-SEE’s temperature range is only 14°F, which isn’t as low as other CCTV systems in this article. This makes it unusable to a large portion of people who live in climates that experience extremely cold winters. The Q-SEE warranty is two years, as opposed to the one-year standard the rest of the systems we reviewed have. The 1 TB hard drive included can hold about 10 days of 24/7 recording for four cameras. These cameras record in 720p HD resolution at 30fps.

    Q-See 8-channel

      Pricing & tech specs

      • 60-foot cable (4 included)
      • 8 channels (4 cameras included)
      • 700 TVL
      • Night vision up to 80 feet
      • Indoor and outdoor
      • 65 to 70° view angle
      • Operating temperature: 14° to 130°F
      • Warranty: 2 years
      • Price: $269.95
      Pros
      • Pro BulletLonger warranty
      • Pro BulletWider night vision range than many competitors
      • Pro BulletEasy setup
      • Pro BulletGreat mobile app
      • Pro BulletGreat customer service
      • Pro BulletPlug-and-play installation
      Cons
      • Con BulletInability to withstand temperatures under 14°F
      • Con BulletSlightly unclear instructions

      3. JOOAN 1080N AHD

      We were surprised to find that this JOOAN CCTV system was so highly recommended. The company website is not the easiest to navigate, and we had difficulty finding some of the technical specifications. Still, customers are overwhelmingly pleased with the performance of this system for the price they pay, which is why it’s in our top five. Although it’s the most expensive CCTV system in this article, it has excellent night vision and receives rave reviews for customer support.

      You’ll have to purchase a hard drive separately since the system doesn’t include one. The maximum resolution is 1080p at 12fps. If you opt for a 1 TB hard drive, four cameras recording at maximum quality would give you about 10 days of recording. If you record at a lower quality of 720p at 25fps, you’ll get about 15 to 20 days of recordings, which would fall in the middle of competitors’ maximum recording.

      JOOAN 1080N AHD

        Pricing & tech specs

        • 60-foot cables (4 included)
        • 8 channels (4 cameras included)
        • 1,000 TVL
        • Night vision up to 60 feet
        • Indoor and outdoor
        • 75° view angle
        • Operating temperature: -4 °to 122°F
        • Warranty: 1 year
        • Price: $339.99
        Pros
        • Pro BulletCamera’s operating temperature as low as -4°F
        • Pro BulletExcellent night vision
        • Pro BulletExcellent picture quality
        • Pro BulletGood customer support
        Cons
        • Con BulletNo included hard drive
        • Con BulletMost expensive in this article

        4. ANNKE 8CH

        This ANNKE CCTV system is one of the most popular on the market. A low price point and overwhelming positive reviews helped the ANNKE make our top five. The ANNKE’s video timeline shows where moments of motion occurred so you can easily skim back and see the video activity for the day, which is a big plus for this system. The ANNKE also has the same motion-detection zone feature as the Amcrest. However, you get what you pay for, and with a lower price point, this system won’t give you all the extra features some other CCTV systems have.

        Many similarly priced systems include a hard drive, which this system does not. One of the biggest complaints about the ANNKE is that the cameras are made out of plastic, which makes it easy to strip the screws, so make sure you’re careful installing all the components. Customers also report less-than-stellar night vision quality beyond 15 feet. Similar to the JOANN system above, you get about 10 days of recording with four cameras in 1080p at 12fps.

        ANNKE 8CH

          Pricing & tech specs

          • 60-foot cables (4 included)
          • 8 channels (4 cameras included)
          • 800 TVL
          • Night vision up to 66 feet
          • Indoor and outdoor
          • 70° view angle
          • Operating temperature: -4° to 122°F
          • Warranty: 1 year
          • Price: $299.99
          Pros
          • Pro BulletMotion-activated zones
          • Pro BulletIP rating of 66 (full protection from dust and safe from powerful water jets)
          • Pro BulletEasy installation
          • Pro BulletEasy-to-use phone app
          • Pro BulletExcellent 1080p HD video quality
          • Pro BulletResponsive customer support team
          Cons
          • Con BulletHard drive not included
          • Con BulletPlastic camera casing, which may strip screws
          • Con BulletComplaints of the mobile app not always working
          • Con BulletReports of night vision quality diminishing after about 15 feet

          5. Swann SWDVK

          Swann rounds out our top five for best CCTV systems. Swann is a popular DIY security company with a good reputation, but this system has a few too many mixed reviews to earn it a higher spot in our rankings. It’s the least expensive CCTV system we reviewed, but some customers say installation is easy, while others have difficulties. Others have good customer support and some have poor experiences. However, Swann is a highly regarded company, so if you’re looking for a low-cost CCTV system, this isn’t a bad choice.

          Similar to the ANNKE system, the Swann lets you skim back through footage to find incidents that happened throughout the day. The camera allows up to 1080p resolution at 30fps. At default settings, you can get three days of recording, but if you lower the settings you can get more than 15 days of recording on a 500 GB hard drive with eight cameras.

          Swann SWDVK

            Pricing & tech specs

            • 50-foot cables (2 included)
            • 8 channels (4 cameras included)
            • 650 TVL
            • Night vision up to 65 feet
            • Indoor and outdoor
            • 55° view angle
            • Operating temperature: -4° to 122°F
            • Warranty: 1 year
            • Price: $229.99
            Pros
            • Pro BulletLowest cost of all CCTV systems we reviewed
            • Pro BulletGood company reputation
            • Pro BulletIP rating of 66 (full protection from dust and powerful water jets)
            Cons
            • Con BulletShorter cables and fewer TVL than the rest of the CCTV systems in this article
            • Con BulletSmaller view angle than other cameras
            • Con BulletInconsistent customer experience

            What to consider before buying

            outdoor security camera

            Perhaps one of the most obvious items to think about is where you will install the cameras. If you want them outside, make sure they can be used outdoors. All of the CCTV systems in this article are both indoor and outdoor capable, so you can place them wherever works best for you.

             

            After you have an idea of where you want to install the cameras, you’ll need to know how many cameras the system will be able to handle. If you want one by the front door, garage, back door, and shed, you’ll want to make sure the system can handle at least four cameras. If you’re considering expanding in the future, make sure you purchase one with additional channels. All the systems in this article include four cameras but have eight channels, so you can add cameras on as you see fit.

            One thing that many people overlook is the operating temperature. I installed a security camera outside my front door, and when winter came, the camera started to malfunction—I didn’t even think about how cold Iowa winters can be. We had to bring the camera inside and rethink our outdoor security entirely. Before buying a system, think about how cold the winters are and how hot the summers are, and make sure the system can handle those temperatures.

            Another important thing to look into is whether the system requires additional equipment to work. Some of these CCTV systems on this list include a hard drive, while others will need them purchased separately. These will also need to be hooked up to a TV or computer for you to monitor the footage.


             Here are the best CCTV camera systems

            The Amcrest CCTV system is the best

            Home security is necessary for helping you and your family feel safe, but it’s up to you to decide what level of home security you need. A CCTV system gives you the convenience of an all-in-one system without you having to do a lot of hands-on work. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive all-in-one system that performs well and adds convenient local storage, we recommend any of the systems above. Each system on this list come with its own benefits, so you should be able to find the perfect one for your needs.

            Ask us your CCTV system questions, and we’ll help you find the best one for your needs.