Here’s a free fact: you can never be too careful. How many times have you left the house for a vacation just to keep wondering whether your property is safe when you’re away? Even after double checking that everything’s well locked, you’d still be worried about the garden, break-ins, burglars, etc.
Well, you’re not alone in your concerns. We at Just Home Improve would like to welcome you to the over-thinkers club. Here’s the thing: you needn’t activate your alert mode every time you step out of the house, as the solution is quite simple; just get the best security camera system.
Importance of a good security system
Having a decent security camera system in place can be the best investment for your residence if you’re the paranoid type, as it allows you to keep an eye on what’s going on no matter where you are. But I’m not even the paranoid type, and I love my Arlo Pro 2 system. It allows me to see what my dogs are doing, know when my mail has arrived, keep an eye on packages placed beside the front door, and see if anything goes awry.
The problem is; picking the best security camera system for your property is no small feat. There are countless options on the market, each of which claims to offer the best features and components. Worry not, as we’ve already done the heavy lifting and chose the top products in this category for you to pick from.
Without further ado, here are our recommendations:[TABLE]
But you are going to need more than a quick table to make a decision on a solid smart home security camera system for your next home improvement project or splurge purchase. Below we go into deep detail on each of these four camera systems. We tease out the features, advantages, disadvantages and more, ensuring that you receive an unbiased user review of the systems.
We also have five honorable mentions if none of the initial four tickle your fancy. Finally, we have a full buyer’s guide to ensure you are armed with all the necessary knowledge to make an informed and educated purchase decision. Let’s dive right in!
Arlo Pro 2 – Best Overall Wireless Security Camera System
The Arlo Pro 2 camera system is not for the faint of heart, as the price is pretty steep, but it’s justified. Arlo has been in the home security business for years, and their Pro 2 model is the epitome of functionality and flexibility. This is why we’re giving it the title of the best security camera system.
Arlo’s Pro 2 camera is wireless, meaning that you needn’t worry about wires and connections if you decide to go with this option. Furthermore, it’s IP65-certified. If you’re no good with nerdy terms, that rating means that this camera is weather-resistant and can withstand basically anything. As such, you can place it anywhere, inside or outside the house.
For power, you can use the included solar panels, rechargeable batteries, or just plug it in, and you’ll be good to go for months on end. We at Just Home Improve have had an Arlo Pro 2 four-camera system for almost two years now. In that time, we have recharged the batteries five times.
Arlo Pro 2 Metrics and Features
As far as the metrics go, this camera can record 1080p videos and has a 130-degree field of view. Being a smart camera system, the Arlo Pro 2 integrates with Amazon, Google, and Samsung smart home systems. It even connects with Alexa and Google Assistant to enable voice commands.
The Arlo app is just the cherry on top, as it allows you to set activity zones inside the house to detect any unusual movements or sounds. If you’re raising a child, that feature would be a real godsend for you.
Other features that we like in this security camera include the two-way audio, which allows you to communicate with whoever’s standing in front of the camera, and the automatic night vision, which makes it suitable for dim lighting conditions and therefore 24/7 monitoring.
The camera even features a 100-decibel siren, which can come in handy if you catch some burglars trying to break into your house or those darned squirrels that have been wreaking havoc on your decorations for ages.
Author note, July 2019: Arlo has recently released the Arlo Ultra system. This is an impressive 4K UHD security camera system that is bound to impress. Keep an eye out for our full review of this system after a few more months of it being on the market.
Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera – Best Outdoor Security Camera
Sometimes, getting a full home security system may seem overkill. This is why more simple outdoor cameras exist. The Nest Cam Outdoor security camera is specifically designed for those seeking a 24/7 monitoring solution. These cameras can keep both thieves and squirrels away, as they are weatherproof and offer night vision.
Furthermore, the Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera provides a 130-degree wide-angle view with 1080p video monitoring. though the quality is debatable. To make the system even more convenient, two-way audio is default. Talk about a full package!
It’s worth noting that this cam is wired. That may seem inconvenient for some, but it’s actually more practical. With wired cameras, you don’t need to worry about batteries running out of juice when you’re away.
Nest Cam Metrics and Features
Nest’s outdoor camera is compatible with Alexa. What’s so special about that? You can set up trigger actions for all of your smart devices, including turning on your smart lights if the camera detects some unusual movements outside.
Not only that, but you can get alerts of any suspicious activity right into your smartphone through the Nest app. Add that to the two-way audio, and you’ve got yourself a perfect burglar-proof system.
Author note, July 2019: the Nest app, as we tested, works seamlessly to marry this camera to other Nest products, including the learning thermostat and the carbon monoxide detector. We were extremely impressed with the level of easy integration and available features on one single application.
Since you cannot keep monitoring your live feed 24/7, the Nest Cam allows you to replay up to the last three hours of footage free of charge. For an additional fee, you can upgrade to Nest Aware which will allow you to view between 10 and 30 days of footage. The subscription also allows you to set up person alerts, which is quite intuitive, but can be a bit expensive.
As far as the installation goes, the Nest outdoor camera offers various mounting options. Everything you need is included, such as a built-in magnet and removable mount, cable clips, wall plates, and screws. Alternatively, more interesting mounting options such as the Wasserstein Versatile Twist Mount are available.
Ring Spotlight Camera – Most Durable Security Camera
The Ring Spotlight is more than just a simple security camera. On the contrary, it’s an entire defensive security system. These cameras can keep any intruders from reaching your fortress. How, you might ask? Simple. Should any suspicious movement or sound be detected, the camera can set off a loud siren and light up the darkness with a super bright, 375-lumen LED spotlight. Hence the name.
Just like the other products on our list, the Ring Spotlight is weatherproof. Additionally, it can withstand temperatures ranging from -5 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it perfectly usable almost anywhere on Earth. It also offers night vision and can shoot 1080p videos through a 140-degree wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, unlike the Arlo option above, it is wired. However, at the very least you won’t have to worry about batteries dying when you’re away.
Ring Spotlight Camera Metrics and Features
If you’re married to Alexa, the Ring Spotlight is a wonderful option. This camera can be voice-controlled. This voice control lets you easily pull up a live feed on your smartphone or Echo device.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to Ring’s cloud recordings, which are available through two subscriptions – Basic and Plus – both of which come with a 7-day free trial.
Currently, as of July 2019, the Ring Protect Basic plan is $3 per month, or $30 per year. The Ring Protect Plus Plan is $10 per month, or $100 per year.
Not only do the subscription tiers offer cloud recordings, but they also come with extended warranties and a handful of discounts on other products from Ring. They allow for 60 days worth of saved recordings. The only difference between the two is that Ring Basic covers one camera, while Ring Plus will cover an entire security camera system.
The lifetime theft protection warranty from Ring is just the cherry on top. The company will replace your camera for free if ever it gets stolen, which boosts the security aspect of the device.
Swann Bullet Camera – Best Budget Security Camera Option
Sometimes, the security rewards you reap for shelling out wads of cash aren’t always met with superior camera quality. The bang for your buck usually happens in the budget security camera space. Why is this? Simply put, these days, with technology being as sophisticated as it is, the consumer has the luxury of choice.
Swann is one of the companies that excel in that aspect. As such, they offer a line of security cameras that can give you some neat features without breaking the bank.
Swann’s Bullet security camera system both looks good and performs well. There’s more to the camera than meets the eye though. It sports a solid, weatherproof build that protects a handful of features.
Swann Bullet Camera Metrics and Features
The Swann Bullet Camera boasts a 1080p camera with a wide 102-degree viewing angle. The camera offers True Detect thermal sensing, as well as Infrared night vision. It can also be paired with Alexa and Google Assistant to allow voice commands, and enable the 100-decibel siren when needed.
Being a bullet model, this camera doesn’t have a tilt, pan, and zoom feature, meaning that it can be easily avoided by intruders. However, the fixed camera comes at a surprisingly affordable price, and is a wonderful entry-level or budget option.
AMICCOM Outdoor Security Camera
The AMICCOM Outdoor Security Camera, despite its low price, is impressively durable. As it sports an IP66 waterproof rating, this camera can withstand any weather condition. It can also handle temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius. Mr. Bulletproof much?
As far as the camera functionalities go, the AMICCOM device can snap 1080p videos with a 90-degree viewing angle. Just like the other recommendations, this security camera comes with night vision, motion detection, and two-way audio, making it as capable as any of the higher end products, though the quality differs, of course.
All in all, for the simple homeowner, budget seeker, and/or those with simple monitoring needs, this is all you’ll need for a good night’s sleep when you’re away (knowing that your property is well-monitored).
Honorable Mentions for the Best Security Camera System
Lorex Security Camera
Why settle with 1080p when you can enjoy the luxury of 4K monitoring? Lorex, unlike most security camera manufacturers, takes a step up in terms of video quality, and offers 4k images and vids along with a wide-angle 112° field of view and colored night vision, making it another great choice to consider.
So, having said all that, why doesn’t the Lorex Security Camera top our list? To be honest, although the features may seem appealing, they’re a bit gimmicky. After all, 4k videos aren’t yet supported by all devices, and they eat up a lot of storage space and bandwidth. So, such a feature cannot grant the Lorex camera the title of the best security camera system. It’s almost like putting the cart before the horse in a way.
Besides, the lack of other, more important features like two-way audio may seem like a turn-off for some people. Nonetheless, if video quality and resolution are your biggest sticking points, you cannot go wrong with the Lorex Security Camera.
Zmodo Security Camera System
The Zmodo Security Camera System is another affordable option to consider and a bargain that you shouldn’t miss if you’re on a tight budget. The system includes a couple of decent security cameras for the price of one.
Although the quality isn’t on par with our other recommendations, considering that these cameras can only record 720p videos, this system is still quite appealing. The cameras are incredibly weather resistant. They can withstand temperatures ranging from -10 to 50 degrees Celsius. Additionally, they can easily shoot clear videos at night, thanks to the night vision and infrared lights that shine within a whopping 65 feet.
Not only can you live stream your feed using the mobile Zmodo app, but you can also use the company’s cloud service to store your footage safely.
Netatmo Outdoor Security Camera
A fan of 24/7 monitoring? If so, take a look at the Netatmo smart surveillance camera. This camera sends instant alerts whenever something suspicious is happening around your property. Also, it sports an ultra-bright floodlight that can be used to scare intruders away at night.
What’s notable about this security camera system, besides the floodlight that can be controlled using your phone, is that it can detect different objects and send you custom alerts accordingly.
ADT Outdoor Camera
The formula isn’t revolutionary – a 720p camera with limited lighting – but the result is pure mentoring quality. The ADT outdoor camera can be controlled from the comfort of your smartphone. It is compatible with Alexa, and can take voice commands from anywhere as a result. Additionally, it sends automatic alerts whenever something suspicious happens. This way, you can rely on the ADT system to keep your property safe while you’re enjoying a vacation.
Smonet Security Camera
Despite its affordable price, the Smonet security camera system offers a set of impressive features across four devices. 720p videos and images? Check. A 4TB hard drive that stores footages from the last 30 days for free? Check. Night vision infrared lights and lens for night monitoring? Check, check, and check!
Choosing the Best Security Camera System: Buying Guide
Picking the best security camera system requires a lot of research, as this is your home’s security we’re talking about. We’ve already reviewed the top products in this category above. All you have to do is go through our buying guide, and your new system will be up and running in no time.
Types of Security Camera Systems
Security camera systems come in two varieties, each of which serves a particular purpose, which are indoor and outdoor systems. Depending on your needs, any of those types can be the best security camera system for you. Here’s our roundup of the main features of each category:
Indoor Security Camera Systems
While an indoor security camera system may not make sense for some, it can be quite the helping hand for others, especially those with kids to care for.
Years ago, setting up a home security camera required a professional installation agent. Today, most cameras are plug-and-play and can be installed, monitored, and controlled by anyone using mobile apps and personal assistants, such as Alexa and Google Assistant.
Depending on your needs, a particular product may be the best security camera system for you. To pick the ideal device for your home or property, you need to determine its purpose and which functionalities you’re going to use. Do you need the best security camera system to watch out for your kids and pets? Is controlling the system using your smartphone vital for you? Do you have smart appliances in place, which you want to trigger using your camera? Do you want a live feed only or to store footages as well?
Outdoor Security Camera Systems
Outdoor security cameras are by far the most used by both home and business owners, as they can be an ideal first line of defense against vandals, burglars, and annoying animals.
What’s convenient about modern outdoor surveillance cameras is the use of new technologies, such as motion detectors that send an alert whenever the camera detects unusual movements (and sometimes sounds) in certain areas within a defined perimeter.
Other features that you should look for in an outdoor security camera systems include two-way audio, which allows you to communicate with whoever’s in front of the cam without leaving your house, live streaming and mobile connection, which would enable you to monitor your property 24/7 no matter where you are, and weather-resistance, as you don’t want your system to go down at the first blow of wind or drop of rain.
What to Look for in the Best Security Camera System
Motion detection is arguably one of the top must-have features in security cameras, as it’s the feature that will allow the system to alert you whenever there are any unusual movements in specified areas. No matter what’s moving, be it an animal, a burglar, or simply the delivery man, the motion detection feature will send an alert your way so that you can take proper action. In such occasions, some cameras offer you the ability to set off a loud siren while others feature bright floodlights that can scare vandals and animals.
Security cameras, both indoor and outdoor ones, can either be fixed or come with panning/tilting capabilities. As you may have guessed, the latter type can cover broader areas compared to fixed models, making them the best option for those monitoring large properties.
Night vision is becoming a standard in the security camera industry, as it’s a handy feature if you need 24/7 monitoring while you’re away.
Here’s the thing; dimly lit areas won’t trigger the night vision feature, so make sure your camera has a wide aperture. That way, you’ll be able to monitor and see the details in any area, be it a bright, dark, or dimly lit one.
If you’re planning to use your video security system to monitor what’s going outside your property, having a camera that’s weather resistant is a must. You don’t want your system to go down every time the wind blows now, do you?
Most modern security cameras can take a beating and withstand various weather conditions, including heavy winds, rain, freezing, and high temperatures. Some even come with thermostatic controls, which adapt the camera’s temperature depending on the current weather, but such models are usually too expensive for domestic use.
Mobile Remote Control
Why spend hours staring at your computer when you can monitor your property from the comfort of your smartphone’s screen? Many camera systems can transmit a live feed to your phone or supported device, which can come in handy when you’re away. Some models are even compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other personal assistants, which means that they can be controlled using simple voice commands. Talk about convenience, huh?
While some home security camera systems may be easy to set up by anyone, others may require professional installation. Most newer models are plug-and-play, which means that they can be plugged in and ready for live monitoring almost immediately.
Storage and Cloud Recording
Some security camera systems offer cloud recording, a feature that uploads footages to the cloud, either for free or for a recurring subscription fee. This feature can come in handy if you can’t keep an eye on your property all the time when you’re away.
Few are the cameras that offer audio recording and detection, and fewer are those that can transmit audio in both ways. The 2-way audio feature allows you to communicate with whoever’s in front of the camera, and it’s a must-have functionality if you’re looking for a doorbell camera system.
Best Security Camera System: Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need the best security camera system?
The best security camera system can offer a plethora of benefits. Besides the obvious use as a first defense mechanism against burglars and intruders, such a system can help you keep an eye on your kids, pets, or babysitter when you’re away.
Can I install the Security Camera System myself?
As mentioned above, security camera systems can either be easy to install and setup or require professional installation depending on the model you choose.
How does a Security Camera System work?
Security camera systems consist of several cameras that cover a wide area around and inside the property. The devices are usually connected, either in a hardwired or wireless manner, to a DVR, which records the footages and displays them. Some surveillance systems can live stream the feed directly into your smartphone or upload the footages to the cloud.
Our Final Verdict – The Best Security Camera System
When you go on a vacation, you can’t sleep comfortably knowing that you left your house unprotected. Thankfully, you can enjoy some ever-wanted peace of mind knowing that you can grab your phone and pull up a live feed whenever you want to check on your property, kids, or pets. That’s the beauty of home security camera systems, and that’s why we spent hours reviewing and vetting the best products in this category.
Depending on your needs, any of the above recommendations can be the best security camera system for you. To make a sound choice, make sure to set your budget and determine your needs when it comes to 24/7 monitoring.
What do you think about security cameras? Did they help you keep intruders away before? Share your experience in the comments!