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Ranking the Best Home Security Cameras of 2020

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Home security camera

Home security cameras offer preppers the ability to keep a vigilant eye on their home even when they’re far away. They’re one of the best deterrents available to keep thieves and other attackers away from your family and belongings and are also far more affordable than they’ve ever been before.

We checked out a ton of the most in-demand home security cameras available today. Our list below includes the very best of the bunch, those that provide real value for the modern prepper.

Rankings 

1. Arlo Pro 3 Wireless Home Security Camera System with Siren

Arlo  Pro 3

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The Arlo Pro 3 is the latest in a line of high-end home security cameras from a company that has proven its dedication to quality. It works both indoors and out, is fully waterproof, and offers advanced hardware and software features we love. Everything from programmable spotlights for outdoor use to easy to set up activity zones and a long-lasting battery or solar-powered design for maximum flexibility make this one of the best and easiest cameras to work with.

Why we like it: There’s basically nothing we don’t like about the Pro 3. It offers crystal clear 2K HD video quality and the kind of advanced features other camera makers dream of being able to offer. You can customize nearly everything about the monitoring, hot zones, alert timing, and the base quality of the feed itself. Suffice it to say the Pro 3 covers all the bases in what we look for in an indoor or outdoor camera.

Flaws: One word: Price. The Pro 3 is hands down the most capable and easy to monitor home security camera, but it comes at a steep price. The basic system with the required hub and two cameras is consistently several hundred dollars above its closest competitors in price. If you’re looking for the best, this is it, but expect to pay a premium for it.

2. Wyze Cam

Wyze Cam

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Wyze was created by a home security startup with the goal of disrupting the stodgy old security camera market. They succeeded far beyond expectations, creating a high-quality and easy to install HD camera that costs a fraction of its most popular competitors yet provides very nearly the same level of performance.

Why we like it: For the money, it’s impossible to find a better camera. The Wyze Cam is priced like cheap knock-offs yet provides the video quality and base features of cameras four and five times its price. It comes out of the box ready to connect to your WiFi, requires no base hub, and allows seamless scaling to any number of cameras you require.

Flaws: The Wyze Cam lacks some of the more advanced features you’ll find on ‘smarter’ security cams. You can’t designate monitoring zones in the app nor can you set up automatic monitoring schedules or other ease of use features.

3. Nest Cam IQ

Nest Cam IQ

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The Nest Cam IQ is a next-generation addition to Nest’s full suite of home security equipment. It’s designed to interface seamlessly with doorbell cameras, motion sensors, door and window locks, and smart home systems like the Google Home. It also has one of the most effective audio pickup systems and loudest speakers to communicate through the camera.

Why we like it: The Nest Cam IQ really showcases Google’s AI expertise. The hardware itself is excellent, but the software is truly next level in how responsive and useful it is. It offers advanced processing features like real-time facial recognition, item identification, and intelligent visible and infrared lighting that are triggered automatically by the internal processors to make sure you’ve always got the best lighting possible.

Flaws: Unless you sign up for the monthly Nest Aware you only get access to snapshots, and those only from the last three hours of recording. The subscription isn’t expensive at all, but we do find it interesting that your security camera barely functions unless you agree to pay a monthly subscription fee, especially given the high initial price of the camera itself.

4. Amazon Blink Mini

Amazon blink mini

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The Amazon Blink Mini is an internal product offered by Amazon in direct competition to the likes of the Wyze Cam. It’s a value-priced camera system that can be purchased individually and set up in all the key areas of your home. Unlike some cameras on our list, the Blink Mini requires no hub or other control center and can connect directly to your WiFi network.

Why we like it: The Blink Mini is compact, easy to install and set up, and offers the most important features consumers are looking for at a very reasonable price. The video quality is a clear 1080P and you can easily designate hot zones for the motion sensor to focus on. 

Flaws: The Blink Mini currently doesn’t offer any onsite storage of video. Cloud-based storage is the only option, and you need to pay a subscription fee to get access to it. You can get a free trial for now, but it will eventually run out and require the paid service.

5. Amazon Blink XT2 Indoor/Outdoor 

Amazon Blink XT2

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The Amazon Blink XT2 is a battery-operated security camera designed for indoor/outdoor use. It requires no wired connections of any kind and is capable of running for years off a single set of batteries. Even better, the XT2 provides you with free cloud storage of recordings and the ability to customize your smartphone and Alexa alerts.

Why we like it: The Blink XT2 is quite possibly the most energy-efficient battery operated security camera out there. A pair of high-density lithium AA batteries is rated to power it for up to two full years, accounting for 53,870 seconds of active time. That’s downright astonishing, especially given the quality of the camera itself and the laundry list of useful features it allows you to use.

Flaws: The usable range of the XT2 isn’t quite as long as we’d like. For a security camera designed with outdoor use in mind, we’d prefer to see a longer range, especially given how much a single wall between it and your router can impact signal strength. Don’t expect to be able to place this more than about 25 or so feet away from your router.

6. Canary Flex Indoor/Outdoor HD Security Camera

Canary Flex

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The Canary Flex is a waterproof indoor and outdoor security camera designed for remote use. It’s easy to set up and uses a really convenient magnetic base. Feature-wise the Flex includes all the basic’s we’ve come to expect, though with a decided lack of free to use performance.

Why we like it: The Flex’s 360-degree magnetic base is one of the most versatile and easy to install mourning systems we’ve seen. You can adjust the placement and aim of the camera whenever you like without a single tool. It also makes it really easy to take it down when you need to top up the battery, something we noticed was a lot more involved on certain other battery-operated security cameras.

Flaws: Like many tech startups, Canary leaves something to be desired where customer service is concerned. Several Flex users reported difficulty getting assistance with thornier issues and there have been some customers caught off-guard by sudden changes to the terms of service that affected how they could use their camera. If that’s something you’d be concerned about you may want to choose a different brand.

7. Reolink Argus 2 Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera

Reolink Argus 2

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The Reolink Argus 2 is a truly wireless indoor and outdoor security camera. It offers 1080P resolution and uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated to run for up to six months between charges. It’s priced to be affordable at any budget and offers some useful features, especially at its price point.

Why we like it: The Argus 2 offers excellent battery life and accessories that can extend it even further. With the addition of a small solar panel, you can leave this waterproof camera up outdoors indefinitely with zero concern about the battery running down. That’s a great feature to have for remote properties or if you’ve just got a lot of ground to cover and don’t want to mess around with recharging a dozen or more batteries every few months.

Flaws: The Argus 2 doesn’t offer nearly the level of customizability in video settings as some other cameras. You can’t set up hot zones to monitor, can’t easily adjust the recording time, and can’t easily set up 24-hour recording to the internal SD card.

8. Amcrest 4MP Indoor Pan/Tilt Security Camera

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The Amcrest 4MP HD Security Camera is an indoor-only camera that includes motorized pan and tilt features. It has some excellent hardware and software options that make it easier to more minutely control how the camera works. It’s designed to pair with multiple different control systems and can be used seamlessly with a continuous recording system such as an NVR.

Why we like it: While the setup is more involved than with some other cameras, the features and performance are definitely worth it. This is a fully functional enterprise-grade camera with pan/tilt features that allow you to look around using nothing but the camera itself. When you add in the high-end H.265 compression algorithm you end up with video that’s crisp and clear even while moving.

Flaws: Without a monthly subscription there’s no cloud storage allowed. Most home security cameras offer at least a basic level of off-site video or still image storage as a courtesy with purchase. The Amcrest doesn’t.

9. Ring Motion Activated Outdoor Security Camera and Floodlight

Ring Outdoor Security Camera and floodlight

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The Ring Motion Activated Outdoor Security Camera offers motion-activated HD recording plus integrated floodlights. It includes important features such as text alerts and customizable privacy zones along with a remotely activated siren and two-way speaker capability. 

Why we like it: This camera combines a pair of bright flood light bulbs with all the sophistication of modern motion-activated security cameras. It provides a double dose of prevention by both startling and recording potential intruders to encourage them to rethink their actions.

Flaws: Not only is the Ring Floodlight Camera pricey, but it requires professional installation. Because of the higher power needs of the floodlights, it has to be hardwired into a weatherproof electrical box. This ups the overall cost of an already expensive camera.

10. Yi Dome Camera

Yi Dome Camera

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The Yi Dome Camera is an inexpensive home security cam option for those looking for pan/tilt capabilities. The camera offers 360-degree motion tracking and still provides reasonable video and audio quality. Yi offers unlimited cloud storage for a reasonable price per camera as well.

Why we like it: The Dome Camera offers advanced features for a price that’s hard to believe. It’s a fully moveable pan/tilt camera with added features such as an auto cruise setting to automatically move through preprogrammed tracks and an auto-tracking feature to keep the focus on moving objects and people. 

Flaws: Yi has experienced several issues with hacking and security in the past. The company has reportedly vastly improved the security of their cameras and tightened up their apps as well, but you should definitely keep this in mind if you’re looking for a camera to place in a sensitive area of your home.

What’s new with home security cameras

Aberdeen Homeowners: Register Security Cameras With Police….

Wireless camera helps deter thieves in remote areas….

How to protect your router and home security cameras from hackers….

Who should buy home security cameras? 

Home security cameras offer a lot of value to a lot of people. Below are several groups who can immediately benefit from picking up some home security cameras.

Homeowners – Security cameras are one of the best ways to protect your investment if you own your own home. They allow you to track everything happening in your yard, the entrances to your home, and the public areas.

Something missing from your yard?

Check the footage from that day and find out if someone was in your yard or if a family member moved it to a weird spot. A quality set of home security cameras makes it easy to keep an eye on your home even when you aren’t there.

Renters – Renters are one of the most overlooked groups who should consider home security cameras. Homeowners at least can be pretty sure they know everyone who has a key to their home, renters don’t have that luxury.

Installing a camera at each entry allows you to find out if your landlord or maintenance are entering without permission. They’re also hugely helpful in the event of a break in or burglary. 

Preppers with a large property – If you’re one of those lucky few with a large and mostly self-sufficient property you owe it to yourself to invest in a quality home camera system. By strategically placing WiFi boosters or routers throughout your property you can ensure that your home, outbuildings, and entrance points such as gates or roadways are covered.

This gives you forewarning if someone is coming up the road and can alert you to things like poachers or thieves trying to enter your property.

Have livestock?

Strategically placed cameras allow you to keep an eye on your grazing land and hen houses from anywhere in the world. You can find out immediately if there are predators about and move quickly to protect your animals.

Small business owners – Commercial security systems are expensive and onerous to manage. If you own a small business you’d probably love to up the security a bit but are leery of signing a long contract for questionable benefits.

Modern DIY home security cameras are incredibly easy to install, require no monitoring contract, and provide you with real-time and motion-activated protection. You can receive alerts if your camera detects movement in your business and have legally admissible evidence in case something happens.

People in a dispute with their neighbors – One of the worst situations to be in is living next to someone who just won’t leave you alone. A bad neighbor can find all kinds of ways to annoy and inconvenience you without a lot of options on your end to stop it.

One of the best ways to deal with a dispute between neighbors is with as much evidence as possible. Tell them clearly they aren’t allowed on your property, then record every part of it they could access. The law is very clear that the outside of your home counts as a public space for recording purposes, so your neighbor won’t have a leg to stand on if they complain about your cameras (1).

If you have to call the police because a neighbor has done something to your home it’s much easier to deal with if you have them on camera walking onto your property to do something. 

Preppers with kids – Family is the most precious thing we have with us on this Earth. A home security system allows you to keep an eye on your home and family even when you have to be off at work or elsewhere. You can tell at a glance that everything’s alright, the doors are still locked, and even watch your kids playing in the yard while miles away. Alternatively, security cameras can make it much easier to keep an eye on your kids.

Kids are great, but let’s not pretend that they can get up to a whole lot of mischief on their own. Kids old enough to be on their own around the home can still make the kinds of poor choices that result in damage to your property or to their siblings.

If you’ve got teens you also have to contend with the usual teenage pranks and attempts to sneak out. Entryway and outdoor cameras with motion sensors make it a whole lot harder for your teen to sneak out to get in trouble with their friends.

How we ranked 

There were six key metrics we used when creating our list. These were video/audio quality and motion response time, ease of installation, video storage and advanced plan costs, power source, smart features, and data privacy and security.

Video/Audio quality and motion response time – Modern home security cameras are capable of providing video quality and features that were unheard of just a decade or so ago. Cameras the size of baseballs can give you HD quality video, night vision features, motion detection, and even a built-in speaker and audio receiver.

There’s no reason to consider a camera that doesn’t offer the video quality you need for effective use of the footage. Having a crisp view of an intruder’s face and clothing can be hugely beneficial in identification and prosecution. Motion detection is equally important as it determines when your camera activates and starts recording.

Ease of installation – The bulk of home security cameras these days are DIY install jobs. No more do you have to hardwire cameras and permanently mount them to your walls or ceiling.

Look for features like magnetic attachment points, extendable/rotatable mountings, and either battery-powered operation or the ability to plug right into a standard power outlet. 

Video storage and advanced plan costs – The bulk of home security cameras come with at least basic cloud storage included with purchase. We considered how much storage space you were allowed, how long it would record per motion activation, and how expensive/onerous it was to purchase greater storage space and capability.

Power source – The newest home security cameras are smaller, lighter, and more energy-efficient than ever. Most still require a power plug to operate, but some really great options are available that are battery-powered. 

These are great because they can truly be placed anywhere within WiFi range, but they do require you to charge them regularly. We looked for battery-operated home security cameras with efficient energy management systems and the ability to operate for a reasonable time before requiring charging.

Smart features – Like home security systems, many home security cameras can now integrate seamlessly with your smartphone and smart home systems. You can pick up ‘dumb’ cameras that record only to internal storage or a central storage hub, but there are also tons of great cameras that upload to the cloud and send alerts to your smartphone or something like an Amazon Alexa or Google Home hub.

Data security and privacy – Internet-connected home security cameras are great from a convenience and monitoring standpoint, but do open up their own can of worms. Any connected system can theoretically be hacked, and the data it generates can also be used by the operating company for their own needs. 

We looked at the posted TOS and the privacy statements for each manufacturer we considered and considered any breaches they may have had in their past while putting together our list. We also looked for features such as two-factor authentication, automatic updates to camera firmware, and other baked-in security features.

Brands we trust – Arlo, Nest, and Wyze are three companies we consistently came back to when looking for the best cameras for different options. They each offer highly advanced features on top of cameras with base specs that really wowed us. They have a full range of products or accessories that allow their cameras to meet all indoor and outdoor security needs.

Things to avoid – Make sure you plan your system out. One thing we see a lot of people do is buy a camera system that’s harder to scale up if they need to add more cameras or more capability. The last thing you want to do is to invest in a home security camera system that won’t meet your needs in just a few years.

We considered each of these factors in turn then ranked them in order of importance. Each of the cameras on our list offers excellent performance in most to all of these metrics.

Benefits 

Home security cameras allow you to monitor your home’s integrity from anywhere in the world – The newest home security cameras are designed to connect with WiFi or Bluetooth right out of the box. This has huge implications for installation, but it also allows their feeds to be connected to remotely.

So long as you set up online access with password protection it’s easy to check out your cameras anywhere from your smartphone or computer. That allows you to check that all your doors are locked up tight before bed, check in on your family while away on a business trip, and even keep an eye on your whole property while away on vacation.

Home security cameras are cheaper and easier to install than ever before – Putting in security cameras used to be a major undertaking. You had to get them professionally wired and installed, then pay a monitoring company to keep an eye on the feed.

Those days are thankfully long gone. Modern WiFi-connected security cameras can literally be stuck on the wall with magnets and plugged into any standard outlet. They even make highly capable battery-operated cameras that can truly go up anywhere there’s WiFi. 

For a fraction of the cost of a single old-school CCTV camera, you can now pick up enough HD cameras to cover your entire property.

Home security cameras offer a significant deterrent against theft or mischief – Thieves and others up to no good are generally lazy opportunists. They’re looking for a quick score without complications.

A study carried out by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte showed that 83% of burglars would look for camera and security systems before targeting a house, and 60% would avoid a home that had a security system. Indoor and outdoor cameras that are visible to outsiders makes your home a much harder target. That’s enough in most cases to keep your average burglar away (2).

Home security cameras make it much easier to identify and apprehend troublemakers, thieves, and attackers – The biggest active benefit of home security cameras is the evidence they provide after the fact. HD quality videos and images of burglars or attackers are extremely persuasive evidence in a court of law, and a great way to aid the authorities in apprehending them.

Home security cameras give you the ability to keep an eye on multiple properties at once – For preppers with both a home and a bug out location, security cameras are a must. This applies just as well to vacation homes, hunting cabins, and other secondary properties.

Home security cameras let you check in on all your properties from the comfort of your primary home. You can do a virtual walk around to make sure everything’s good to go and receive live alerts if the cameras detect motion or people on the property.

You go from being able to check on your property every few days to every few weeks to being able to get visuals at any time, from any place.

Home security cameras are one of the easiest to use DIY and self-monitored home security options out there – The DIY home security market has exploded in the past decade, with new companies and security giants all providing easy to install options for the home consumer. What many of them don’t provide is a really easy to use self-monitoring option that can effectively protect your home.

Home security cameras are bar-none the best way to set up a high-quality home security system that you can manage all on your own. They include advanced automated features that automatically notify you if they detect movement in your home and back up their data to the cloud.

Many companies offer upgraded packages for a small monthly fee that gives you even more access to data and greater customizability in how your cameras work.

FAQ 

Q: Where should I place home security cameras?

A: The best answer is to put your security cameras wherever you’re concerned about unauthorized entry into your home. At a minimum, you should set up cameras that cover the front entrance, back entrance, and the most accessible first-floor windows. An outdoor camera on your driveway is also a really good idea (3)(4).

Q: How do I install home security cameras?

A: The type of security camera in question determines installation. In the past home security cameras were permanently mounted and required hardwiring for power and video connections. Now there are even battery-operated cameras that are fully wireless and can literally stick onto your wall with magnets or an adhesive. 

Q: Are home security cameras worth it?

A: Yes. Home security cameras are one of the best ways to protect your family and belongings from theft or attack. They offer a visible deterrent and a reliable way to battery identify and apprehend criminals (5).

Q: Are home security cameras legal?

A: Generally yes. Federally there are no laws that regulate the use of home security cameras, but a patchwork of state, county, city, and even HOA regulations come into play. In most cases, you’re completely within your rights to set up security cameras that record public areas. You should always double-check your local laws to be sure (6).

Q: Are home security cameras an invasion of privacy?

A: Not when used properly. Any camera set up in an area that offers an expectation of privacy can be an invasion of said privacy. So long as you keep your cameras pointed into public areas you should be fine.

Q: Can home security camera footage be used in court?

A: Probably so. There’s no absolute answer here as every jurisdiction is a little different, but in general video footage is admissible in court as evidence. A few different things go into deciding this for sure, including the clarity of the video itself, time-stamping to show when it was shot, and things like a manufacturer’s watermark to show how it was recorded (7).

Q: Are home security cameras waterproof?

A: They can be. Indoor home security cameras aren’t usually waterproof as it isn’t a necessity for their task. Outdoor cameras and indoor/outdoor combo cameras are almost always at least IPX5 waterproof. 

Q: Are home security cameras wireless?

A: Yes. The biggest change to the home security camera market in the past decade has been the massive growth of WiFi enable wireless cameras. Just about every major manufacturer now offers highly capable wireless cameras capable of providing HD quality footage without the need for professional installation.

Q: Can home security cameras be hacked?

A: Unfortunately the answer is yes. While modern home security companies take customer privacy very seriously, there have been instances of wireless home security cameras being hacked in the past. Make sure you use a strong and unique password when setting up your cameras and consider activating two-factor authentication as well (8).

Q: Can I hide home security cameras?

A: Hidden home security cams, sometimes referred to as nanny cams, can be a touchy subject. Under the laws of most states in the U.S., it’s only illegal to record someone if they have an expectation of privacy. There’s also the fact that some states regulate the recording of audio differently than they do video footage (9).

A good rule of thumb is that so long as the camera is in an area of your home where privacy is not expected, so no bathrooms or bedrooms as an example, then you’re good. Make sure to double-check your local laws beforehand to be sure though.

Recap

Home security cameras offer one of the best ways to protect your family and belongings from criminals. They’re an active deterrent against theft and other bad actors and can also help you better keep track of your kids and home.

For Survival At Home’s #1 home security camera recommendation, click here.

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