Security devices of all kinds — sensors, lights, cameras, etc. — have been around for a long time. As technology continues to progress, you can ditch security companies and take security into your own hands. The home security cameras available are just as powerful and advanced as the equipment that you could get from some of the security companies.
Companies like Nest have revolutionized the home security market by releasing products that are easy to set up and in the grand scheme of things don’t cost much — especially when you think about what you’re protecting.
See also: is Nest Secure worth buying?
Features to Consider When Buying a Home Security Camera
If you’re ready to start building your security system — primarily cameras — there are a number of features you’ll want to consider before making a decision on what smart camera to purchase. Those features include Wi-Fi capability, storage and playback options, video quality, audio capabilities, and of course price.
There are a number of features you'll want to consider before making a decision.
Wi-Fi Connectivity: A huge advantage to home security cameras now, versus home security cameras in years past is that you can have access to them from wherever you are in many cases. When you’re looking for a security camera, you’ll want to consider the extent to which the smart camera allows you to stay connected. Is there a companion app from which you can get a live feed? Does the smart camera require any sort of hub to stay connected? Or do you even need to be connected via Wi-Fi at all?
Storage and Playback: This is a big one. You’ll want to be cognizant of this when browsing for a smart camera because there are some companies that will require additional monthly payments in order to store footage in the cloud and playback at a later date. As with many things, you will find tiered options with some companies. Storing footage of a certain capacity will be free, but to store more and for longer periods will cost you. You’ll also want to consider how you access that footage. This again goes back to the app or online portal functionality. Is the software easy to use, reliable, and readily accessible?
Video Quality: If the video quality is poor, what’s the point in having a security camera? Depending on your budget, you will find a range of video qualities with home security cameras. I think we can all picture that grainy black and white footage that you see on the news when they’re showing a gas station’s security footage. Fortunately, with many off-the-shelf security camera, you can get great quality footage. You’ll want to consider how important video resolution, color, night vision, etc. are to you before you make the investment.
Audio Capabilities: Finally, before you make your purchase, be sure to think about whether or not you might want to make use of audio with your security camera. Many of the best home security cameras will capture audio along with video for playback later, but newer models can take it a step further and allow you to pipe two-way audio. You’ll be able to hear what the person on the other end is saying, and they can hear you as well. This is an excellent way to stave off intruders in real time.
Best Home Security Cameras
Now that you’re learned up on the reasons you might consider a home security camera and the features you should consider when purchasing a camera, let’s take a look at some of the best home security cameras that you can buy now. If you’ve done research on your own and think we’ve missed a good one, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Nest Cam IQ
Nest has been a leader in the indoor security camera space for a while now, and their latest offering is the Nest Cam IQ. Like its predecessor, the Nest Cam IQ has a great design and even better specs, making this an enjoyable piece of tech to grace your living space. If you’re looking for an indoor security camera that packs in a lot of features at a competitive price, you should definitely consider this one. However, be aware that many of its best features will require a Nest Aware subscription which is either $10 or $30 each month, depending on your needs.
Top-notch video quality: The majority of security cameras on the market today will get you a minimum resolution of 720p, with more and more of them upgrading to 1080p. The Nest Cam IQ is one of those 1080p cameras, but it has an advantage. The camera utilizes an 8 MP, 4K sensor to output HDR images for increased image quality. It might seem like overkill, but the better the quality, the better at identifying intruders in your home. It’s also worth noting that the Nest Cam IQ has a 12x digital zoom.
Facial recognition: A feature that we’re seeing become more popular with newer devices is facial recognition. With an indoor cam like this, it’s a handy feature to have, especially considering that it could reduce the number of false alarms. After enabling the feature — which requires a Nest Aware subscription — you will be able to “train” the camera to recognize people. You can also name the people that it recognizes and set up alerts to inform you when that person arrives — think a dog sitter/walker, a spouse, a child, etc.
24/7 Recording: With the Nest Cam IQ, you’re always plugged into power, so the camera is constantly recording. Other cameras that are battery powered do what they can to preserve power, and many times that means they are asleep until they sense motion. With the Nest Cam IQ, you won’t miss anything. Again, this requires a Nest Aware account.
A bit on the pricey side: Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of tech in this little package. Facial recognition, 4K sensor, night vision, 12x digital zoom, tracking capabilities, and more. Still, the $300 price tag is a tough sell for some when there are other options out there. If you’re committed to getting a Nest camera, but the price tag is too steep, you can still pick up the last-gen version — Nest Cam Indoor for 100 bones less.
Nest Aware is limiting: As we mentioned in a few places above, a lot of what makes the Nest Cam IQ great requires Nest’s cloud service subscription to function. You might think for $300 you would get some of this stuff “free” of charge each month, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Just as impressive as Nest’s indoor option is their outdoor smart security camera option, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. Obviously, since this is an outdoor camera, the primary difference is that it’s built to withstand the elements. But, what really makes this the best outdoor security camera is the tech that it packs inside that weatherproof casing — very similar to its indoor sibling. This is technically a wireless outdoor security camera, meaning that it stores footage in the cloud. However, it will need to remain plugged into power, making installation a little bit harder.
Video quality: Just like the Nest IQ Indoor, this outdoor security camera utilizes a 4K sensor to output 1080p video at 30fps. The 4K sensor allows the camera to achieve HDR which makes the darker areas of the image seem lighter. This way, you can catch every detail of your lawn and look out for anything nefarious.
Design: I know, looks aren’t really what’s important when it comes to protecting your home and family, but the fact is a lot of outdoor security cameras aren’t very attractive. As much time as you likely put into keeping up your curb appeal, the last thing you’ll want is a giant dome dangling from your awning. Nest’s IQ Outdoor cam offers a sleek, minimalist design. It does still look like a camera though, which is important in warding off intruders.
Two-way audio: What you won’t find in many traditional outdoor security cameras — the ones you might see hanging outside of a convenience store — is the ability to hear people, as well as talk to them in real time. The IQ Outdoor has a three-mic array built in to pick up quality audio, and a loud enough speaker to startle and scare off intruders. Sometimes all it might take is a friendly (er, maybe not friendly) reminder that you’re watching to make intruders scurry off.
High cost: At $50 more expensive than its indoor counterpart, the IQ Outdoor is no budget camera by any means. However, if you consider what you’re getting for the price, it may very well be worth the investment.
Nest Aware — again: Sensing a pattern here? Nest Aware is required for some of the biggest draws to function on this camera. To make use of the facial recognition feature or the 24/7 recording, you’re going to have shell out an extra $10/month or $30/month depending on how much footage you want to store.
D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera
D-Link is one of the most well-known companies in the router, networking and home wireless industries. A few years ago, it entered the home security cameras industry with its D-Link Full HD Wireless Camera. The newest model of this camera, the DCS-8300LH, offers a ton of features for a price that’s very reasonable at $89.99. While it might not be as powerful as some of the others, for the price, it’s one of the best home security cameras you can get.
Excellent video: The D-Link camera records video at up to 1080p resolution, and also offers excellent night vision with its two built-in IR LEDs. They allow the camera to see up to 16 feet away at night. This should give you solid video coverage when you need it the most.
Free cloud storage: D-Link offers free cloud storage for up to 24 hours of video footage from its Wi-Fi camera, and it also has its own microSD card slot, which can store up to 128GB of video footage without the cloud on its own.
24/7 live streaming: The D-Link camera offers support for live streaming at any time to your smartphone with the included app. It also supports live streaming to other devices, such as the Amazon Live TV set-top box, the Amazon Echo Spot video speaker, or with any Chromecast-supported video products. The D-Link camera also supports two-way audio calls with whoever is in the house at the time.
Support for Alexa and Google Assistant: Owners can use voice commands on products that support both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant to control the D-Link camera. It can also be integrated with other smart home devices that use the IFTTT (If This Then That) protocols so you can turn it on or off at the same time as those other devices.
Requires subscription to save footage beyond 24 hours: If you want to save footage on cloud servers beyond 24 hours from the D-Link camera, you will have to pay for it. You can save up to seven days of video footage on the cloud for $2.49 a month or $24.99 annually. There are also options to save 14 days of footage for $4.99 a month or $49.99 annually, or for 30 days at $9.99 a month or $99.99 annually.
NetGear Arlo Pro 2
The successor to the older NetGear Arlo Pro, the Arlo Pro 2 security camera system retains the compact and wire-free design of the original with some excellent features. On the downside, this product is also extremely expensive, but it may be worth it if you want to have some of the best home video security you can buy. If quality features are important to you, you’ll find this is one of the best home security cameras you can buy.
Positionable design and excellent video: Like the original Arlo Pro cameras, the Arlo Pro 2 devices are completely wire-free and can be recharged with its onboard battery. The flat bottom of the camera’s casing means you can pretty much pick this up and put it wherever you need. You can place it on a bookshelf, on a TV stand, on your desk, etc. If you choose to use this as an outdoor camera, that’s also no problem since the cameras themselves are weatherproof with their IP65 resistance rating. The video from the camera is recorded in solid 1080p resolution.
Smart Siren: The Arlo Pro 2 has its own siren, which can be triggered by you remotely, or set up when the camera senses movement or sound. The siren’s alarm can go over ver 100 decibels, which should be more than enough to scare any possible intruders off your home.
Free cloud storage: The Arlo Pro 2 can be set up to record up to seven days of footage to NetGear’s cloud storage service for free. You can also connect a backup drive via USB to the included base station for additional free storage.
Requires a hub: The Arlo Pro 2 system still requires a hub which connects to your home’s router to power the multiple cameras that you have in your system. However, having this hub is really what enables the flexibility of the system to support up to six cameras. And hey, it’s better than having wires running to all of those cameras.
Costs a pretty penny: The Arlo Pro 2 is sold starting with a two-camera setup and a hub base station for $429, which means you will have to pay a lot up front. You can add up to six cameras for each base station to control, but each additional camera will add to the overall cost, up to $949 for the station and all six cameras.
NetGear Arlo Go
The NetGear Arlo Go is a stand-alone, wire-free security camera that does not require its own hub, unlike the Arlo Pro 2 cameras. The design of the camera itself is a bit fatter than the slimmer Arlo Pro 2. However, the Arlo Go can basically be set up to work anywhere you want, even in remote areas thanks to its 3G and 4G connectivity support. Having said that, all of this portability does come at a high price making this an expensive choice, even though it remains one of the best home security cameras on the market.
Extremely portable: The Arlo Go uses a rechargeable battery that NetGear claims should last over a month on a single charge. That should allow you to take this camera anywhere, especially on the road if you are out camping in the woods. That’s because this camera connects to 3G and 4G cellular networks exclusively. It’s also supposed to be weatherproof which means you can take it outdoors and have it work even when it rains.
Night vision: The Arlo Go supports recording video with night vision which should give you more piece of mind if you are camping outside. You can watch a live steam video from the camera on your smartphone if you want, or you can set up the camera to trigger recording at night by motion or audio.
Optional local storage: The Arlo Go does have a microSD card slot inside for storing recorded video for free.
Requires a cell data plan: The Arlo Go requires the purchase of a data plan. You can sign up for NetGear’s own Arlo plan, which costs a minimal of $4.99 for storing 15 minutes of video, up to $32.99 for 225 minutes of video storage. The camera is also available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, where you can sign up to use one of their data plans.
Very expensive: The Arlo Go by itself is very expensive; it’s priced at $395 currently on Amazon. If you want to get a mount to attach the camera, that cost extra as well.
No Wi-Fi support: For some reason, the Arlo Go has no Wi-Fi hardware, which means you can’t connect this camera to your home network.
So, there you have it for our look at the best home security cameras. Didn’t see a home security camera that you would recommend to others? Let us know in the comments below so we can check it out!