Security cameras used to be the sole property of banks, convenience stores, and the mansions of the rich and famous. This eventually changed as the technology for digital full-motion cameras became much cheaper than ever before. Technology marches on and whatnot. With that said, what do you need to know about security cameras before buying them?
Keeping watch of a given establishment has always been a regular concern of many a medium to large business for many decades, ever since camera technology has advanced enough to be useful in surveillance. What’s more, many of these store owners, corporate offices, and banks no longer have to depend on grainy VCR footage to do decent surveillance.
In fact, homeowners are also getting into a piece of surveillance action by investing in their own advanced home security camera to track down what’s going on outside their home or at least if there are thieves who are attempting to take their packages away.
Types of Home Security Cameras
If you’re searching for a way to outfit your home with a modern digital surveillance system, there are many home security cameras you can avail of.
- Wireless Security Camera: The most amazing thing about wireless security cameras is that they’re plug-&-play wireless Wi-Fi cameras that can be placed almost anywhere exactly because of their wireless nature. Additionally, they can record hours of footage at high-definition or HD quality, which is exactly what law enforcement needs in order to capture the bad guys with amazing attention to detail and facial features. It pretty much works like a wireless camera in that it has batteries you can recharge and footage that you can download off of it that’s transmitted elsewhere so that even when intruders mess with the camera, you’ll still get the 1080p footage safe and sound.
- Doorbell Camera: A smart doorbell camera, as its name suggests, allows you to see what’s on the other side of your door when a visitor rings your doorbell, even when you’re not at home. This allows you to tell if you’re getting invited or uninvited guests. You can pick which guests you could answer the door for or which ones to ignore. The camera also informs you if the package you’re waiting for has arrived at your doorstep or not. You can even avoid little girls bearing Girl Scout cookies or religious types out to inform you about accepting Jesus Christ. It even has a siren that scares away intruders as well as an extra internal battery.
- Floodlight Camera: A floodlight camera is a hardwired security camera with ultra-bright LED floodlights and siren. It’s an alarm and camera in one device. Unlike the wireless security camera that’s more of a wireless version of a camera to record potential intruders or a doorbell camera that records visitors as they ring your doorbell as well as anyone in the vicinity of the door who don’t, the floodlight camera is more of an alarm than anything else. It features 1080p HD video, security siren, and two LED floodlights in order to catch home invaders in the act and show evidence of their misdeeds. Some cameras are equipped with two-way speaker talk, like an intercom.
What to Look for in Home Security Cameras
There are many different home security camera attributes you need to keep in mind, such as the following.
- Image Quality (Resolution and Lens): The lens of your camera should be capable of zooms and close-ups like in the case of a still camera because you want to be able to have HD pictures of the person who’s intruding inside your property, attempting to rob it like a burglar or something. Additionally, its resolution should be at full 1080p HD, which is known for its image crispness and clarity. There are those that use 720p, which is still HD but has a smaller resolution than 1080p. It still gets the job done though.
- HDR: HDR, also known as high dynamic range, is a method of making pictures clearer in HD. Picture clarity isn’t just about the amount of pixels you have on a 1080p resolution. It’s also about how the camera captures the images and whole video so that what you’re seeing is practically a recreation of real-life in digital video form. Long story short, it’s capable of getting you a clear image even when faced with bright backgrounds that would otherwise make things indecipherable. It adjusts to light almost as well as healthy eyes with 20/20 vision could. It’s best paired up with something like an 8-megapixel sensor to ensure image sharpness.
- Night Vision: There’s some level of night vision present in most cameras. Night vision naturally uses infrared technology or something similar in order for the camera to see clearly at night when there’s no sunlight or daylight around to illuminate around him. The night vision spec is usually listed or measured in feet or how far it’s able to reach, sometimes with a distinction between some ambient light (low-light conditions) or total pitch darkness. Many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) cameras have specs of about 15 feet for night vision. There are also cameras that can reach all the way to 25 feet for farther IR illumination.
- Field of View – Monitoring Zones: The field of view of your camera allows you to have good monitoring zones while limiting blind spots where the introducers could hide undetected. A wider field of view allows you to have more placement options for your camera versus a limited one that might require you to get more cameras to fill up the blind spots. You can get a wide-angle camera to get a nice view of the front of your yard. Cameras with narrower field of view should instead be placed in tighter spots or monitoring zones so that you can get to see videos with great close-up HD detail. The field of view of a camera depends on the focal length of the camera lens. For example, to get a 90-degree horizontal field of view, you should avail of a camera with a 2.8-millimeter focal length.
- Motion Detection: Many solar lights feature the same technology that is used on modern security cameras when it comes to motion detection. With solar lights, they activate as soon as there’s movement around them to save on the limited amount of solar power they can wield. With security cameras, the sensors are there to do things like activating the alarm or enable idle mode to save on battery life, activating only when it senses motion in the bushes or around it. It’s a great energy-saving technology that also doubles as a method of sensing intruders as they come allowing you ample time to lockdown and call the police.
- Storage – Local or Cloud: You can locally store the video from your camera that you can then download to your laptop or smartphone for later viewing. Local storage can come in the form of SD memory cards and hard drives as well as other storage methods, including USB flash drives. Of course, since Wi-Fi cameras are connected to the Internet, it’s also possible for certain security cameras to also be able to store their data in the cloud or the Internet. This way, even if you damage your camera by a freak accident, it should have the data it recorded backed up in the cloud that you can download later.
- Sound (Audio) – Two-Way Talk: This feature is a favorite among many a pet owner. It allows you to use the camera as an intercom, showing the person you’re watching that you’re present. With it, you can talk to your dogs in the yard without going to them. You can also talk to the couriers and mailmen when they send you packages even before they ring your doorbell. It’s particularly handy in deterring package thieves, with you telling them to lay off your important packages before you get to your door.
- Source of Power: The source of power for the camera could come directly from your power grid or through a battery. It depends mostly on its placement. There are also solar-powered cameras that use a solar panel to power them up for good measure. A security camera that needs plugging in should be placed near your home to have it wired into the nearest electrical socket or even hardwired to a power cord. Cameras far from your home and placed on the yard can be powered by a long-standing 180-day standby battery or regularly recharged with solar power from a solar panel.
- Weather Resistance: You need weather resistance from your outdoor cameras because they have to take on the rain, sleet, snow, and hail as well as the extreme heat during the summer season. Climate change has also made the weather a lot more extreme nowadays than when compared to many decades ago, so you need a durable and weather-hardy camera type that doesn’t easily malfunction from getting wet or dealing with high temperatures. The non-hardy cameras are usually the ones you have to place in your home, whether they’re ceiling mounted or hidden inside a toy or a USB plug where you charge your phone.
- Smart Home Integration: Smart homes are homes with a lot of Internet-based devices and apps ready to serve you, as a button from Amazon that allows you to buy detergent or toiletries when you push it as well as doors that automatically lock when you tell them to. Smart homes work well with smart HDTVs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones in that they’re all computerized for your convenience. A camera could integrate with the rest of your smart devices like your phone and TV in order to, for example, activate it and do live streaming by your mobile phone or HDTV to see who’s been snooping around your yard.
- App Control: Everything has an app nowadays, including home security cameras. In the case of these cameras, app control allows you to remotely access and control your camera through either your smartphone or laptop as well as any other smart mobile device. This way, you’ll be able to see the state of your home while you’re at work or otherwise out of the house. Keep an eye out for thieves, burglars, and home invaders even when you’re at the office using the app feature that controls the camera remotely and feeds to you the livestream or cloud-uploaded recent recording of what’s been going on your home so far.
- Live Streaming: Live streaming, livestreaming, or live view allows you to view your camera in real-time or relatively at the same time as it records what’s in front of it. You can turn this setting off through the app since it drains even your 180-day battery pretty fast. It’s better to record idly or set up the motion sensor to have the camera activate when it senses motion near your yard or your gate and fences. If you’re expecting an important package or if there have been loads of burglaries in your area, you can activate the livestreaming feature “on-demand” so that you can scope out the state of your home as easily as streaming Netflix or Twitch.
- Alerts: Many camera apps will notify you via an alert on your phone when motion or even a loud noise is detected. It works like a car alarm almost, except more high-tech and can reach you practically anywhere since it connects to your phone via Wi-Fi. You can adjust how the alerts appear through the app. If there are movements in your front yard or backyard as well as sounds, you will be alerted with the efficiency of a modern car alarm. Of course, watch out if you have pets because your dogs or cats can get pretty active when you’re not around. Keep the notification on in case of certain areas you want safeguarding.
- Shared Access: There are apps for your home security camera that makes it easy to add users, which is handy for doorbell cameras. Adding users enable you to whitelist certain visitors from activating the alarm of a doorbell camera or the floodlights of the LED lamp of a floodlight camera. You can give shared access to other guests or family members so that they can deactivate the cameras and keep the alarms from going off. Shared access also enables them to control the cameras via an app the same way you do.
- Geofencing: Geofencing allows your cameras to turn on when you leave the home then turn off when you get home based on the location of your cellular phone or smartphone as well as any other mobile device you have on hand. The geofence is a feature wherein the camera or cameras can sense when you go out of the fence or territory covered by them, thus leading to their automatic activation without your assistance based on your smartphone’s location. This way, you won’t have to manually turn them on via app or leave them on 24/7.
- Remote Viewing: This feature involves allowing you to livestream what’s going on with your camera from a remote location. This used to be the tech that was only available in news stations, like when a reporter reports via satellite on a remote location with the expected signal delay and whatnot. Remote viewing allows you to see what your camera or cameras see in real-time in case you want to check on the state of your home, if there are invaders about, or if you chance upon persons of interest or suspicious individuals scoping out your house as well live via your camera.
Is a Bullet, Dome, or PTZ Security Camera Best for You?
Compare the pros and cons of a Bullet, Dome, or PTZ security camera then make your decision on which one to buy.
- Bullet Camera: A Bullet Camera is a cylindrical camera that you’ve probably seen as the security camera standard in many a wired system at banks, prisons, and malls. They’re excellent if you want to know where you want camera coverage or monitoring zones. This is because you can mount them and then leave them alone to do the monitoring for you.
- Dome Camera: A Dome Camera is a ceiling-mounted camera that’s also known as your eye in the sky. As its name suggests, it’s designed with a dome or fishbowl. They’re typically fixed into place instead of being on a cylinder to give you a wider field of view. There are also some dome camera models that you can zoom, tilt, and pan using your home security camera app.
- Pan Tilt Zoom Camera (PTZ): Speaking of which, a Pan Tilt Zoom Camera is obviously a camera you can manipulate or control. You can use it to pan or move from one point to another like you swiveling your head slowly to look across an area. You can also tilt it to allow you to see above and below you. There’s also a zoom feature that enables you to focus at distant objects and magnifying them from afar using either a zoom lens or digital zoom.
Other Types of Indoor Home Security Cameras
Indoor cameras are typically used to monitor your loved ones like infants, pets, or young kids.
- Nanny Cams: Nanny cams or cameras, as its name suggests, is a camera to monitor what your kids’ nanny or babysitter is doing. It informs you if they’re doing a good job in taking care of your tykes when you’re away at work. They’re indoor cameras used to see if your children are being fed right or put to sleep at the right bedtime before you come home late at night from your office. It can also deter nannies from abusing your kids while you’re not around.
- Pet Cams: Meanwhile, pet cams are cameras you use to monitor your cats or dogs. They’re placed much lower than other cameras so that they’re within eye level of most of your four-legged companions except perhaps the really big breeds like St. Bernards. You can plug them into electrical sockets or place them on lower shelves at around shin height unless you’re attempting to record the shenanigans of your pets with overhead pet cameras.
- Baby Monitors: A baby monitor is a camera you place on the crib of your infant in order to see how he is doing. This allows you to keep tabs on the baby’s wellbeing without waiting for him to cry because he wants to be fed, he needs his diaper changed, or he’s somehow sick and in dire straits. Baby monitors give parents peace of mind because they can see how their child is doing in their baby’s room without sleeping physically next to them.
The Benefits of Security Cameras
There are many benefits to having your own home security cameras. They’re many of the same benefits that commercial and financial institutions enjoy from their own camera setups.
- Deter Theft & Crime: If a camera is located in your front door or yard, it’s less likely for burglars to try and rob your home or package thieves to pilfer your Amazon.com mail-order packages even when there’s no one around because they’ll have their faces recorded as evidence of their theft or crime.
- Monitor Activity: Indoor cameras of the nanny cam, pet cam, or baby cam variety can also be used to monitor the activities of your baby, your non-infant children, and their babysitter or nanny to ensure that everything is on the up-and-up. Child abuse or neglect is also deterred due to the presence of such cameras.
- Create a Safe Environment: You will definitely feel much safer in an environment full of cameras because you’re able to monitor the activities of your nanny and your children as well as to detect any suspicious individuals at your door who might try and enter your home for the sake of robbery. Aside from ensuring your peace of mind, it can also be used for mundane things like capturing neighbors who have their pets relieve themselves in your front yard when walking them.
Best Places to Install Home Security Cameras
Camera placement is also important. As a rule of thumb, wired cameras should be placed near your electrical sockets, like at the front door or foyer. As for wireless cameras running on batteries or solar panels, place them in areas far from your sockets.
- Common Areas: The kitchen and living room are great places to install home security cameras. It helps you monitor the movements of your family members or house occupants at areas in your home that are mostly populated by people. If you want to monitor who’s doing what in your home, it makes sense to place cameras in the common areas they move to the most.
- Main Stairway or Hallway: You can also install your indoor cameras for monitoring your kids or toddlers at the main stairway or hallway. It can record any accidents that can occur or monitor who is moving where all over your home since most foot traffic goes to the hallway as people mill towards their respective rooms. It detects and monitors where your kids are going and when they went there.
- Yard: A wireless Wi-Fi yard camera with a 180-day standby battery makes perfect sense, especially if you don’t live in a gated community and you have one of those open yards. This way, you can monitor any suspicious people scoping out your home or get another angle at any neighborhood pranksters, potential child abductors, or package thieves in your neighborhood.
- Garage & Driveway: It’s also a good idea to place cameras in your driveway and garage to ensure that your car is safe and sound there. These areas are common spots for home invaders and burglars to sneak into as well, since it allows them easy access for a quick exit to the sidewalk once they’re spotted by the neighbors. You can use cameras in this area to monitor rodents or raccoons pilfering your trash.
- Back & Side Doors: Your home’s emergency exits in case the front door is blocked and there’s fire should naturally have their own cameras since burglars also use these areas to try and enter your house without you knowing. You should place alarm-type or floodlight-type cameras with motion sensors there to deter any criminals from going through their plans of robbing you of everything that’s not nailed to the floor.
- Front Door: The most obvious area you should place a home security cam at is over the front door, particularly cameras of the doorbell variety. Such cameras enable you to see who’s in the front door via live streaming or remote viewing before you can get to the door or if you can’t get to it since you’re at work. It’s yet another good camera to deter or identify any package thieves.
Should your security cameras be professionally installed?
- Protect America
- Guardian protection
Here Are the Best Home Security Cameras
- Arlo Pro 3: Best wireless security camera
- Wyze Cam Pan: Best motion-activated home security camera
- Ring Spotlight Cam: Best outdoor security camera
- Vivint’s Ping Indoor Camera™: Best monitored home security camera
- Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor: Best image and video quality
- Vimtag P1 HD Ultra Camera: Best security camera for easy setup
- Canary Flex: Most versatile security camera
- YI Indoor Security Camera: Best baby monitoring camera
- SereneLife Indoor IP Camera: Best night vision
- Wansview Q5: Best pan-and-tilt camera
Home Security Cameras FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding owning your own home security cameras. Read the answers carefully to enlighten yourself and forward any questions not covered by this FAQ section to the makers of these devices.
What are the most important features to look for in a home security camera?
As covered by this article, the most important features in a home security camera include high-definition or HD recording at 1080p, motion sensors, two-way audio or talk so that you can use the camera as an intercom, an alarm or doorbell, app control via your smart devices such as your mobile phone, and a solid battery or plug-in power source.
The specs that your security camera is supposed to have also depended on what you intend to use it for and what type of camera it is. You have different unique specs required from an outdoor wireless camera that should have weatherproofing and durability on top of a 180-day standby battery when compared to an indoor baby monitor that might have featured only it has like monitoring the pulse or heart rate of the baby it’s monitoring.
What purposes do security cameras serve in home security?
Any security system worth it’s salt should provide you with the in-depth information you can act upon. That’s one of the main purposes of getting a security camera. It gives you a safety net because you’re more informed of what’s happening inside and outside your home whether you’re in it or you’re at work away from it. You’re less likely to leave your children vulnerable to an abusive or neglectful nanny with a nanny cam around.
The presence of fully functional security cameras also serves as a crime deterrent because most burglars and thieves are emboldened to do their misdeeds when no one is watching and they can potentially get away with their malicious intentions. Cameras also serve as a way for you to prevent disaster since you can identify suspicious persons scoping out your home through your front yard, backyard, or front door cameras. If you are being invaded, you’ll have ample time to contact the police before anything happens with camera assistance.
How do I choose the right security camera for my home?
Like with any major furniture or appliance purchase, you need to define your goals or intentions for getting these home security cameras in the first place in order to figure out which security camera is the right fit for you. It’s only after you’ve done this that you can go about worrying about if the doorbell camera, floodlight camera, and/or wireless security camera you’re scoping out is the best of its class and at the right price for your budget.
Figuring out your goals than getting the right type of camera to fit your needs will relieve you of the hassle most first-time purchasers of home security cameras go through. Even the most affordable of these cameras can make quite a dent in your bank account, so make sure if you only need one front door cam or if you can afford both indoor and outdoor cams all over your home or apartment.
Are cameras completely wireless?
Some cameras are completely wireless in that they rely on a 180-day standby battery and directly upload their footage to the cloud via your Wi-Fi Internet connection. Other cameras are hardwired into your home power grid or should be plugged into the nearest electrical socket. There are also cameras you can detach so that you can retrieve its SD memory card or hard disk drive as well as recharge its battery. Long story short, how wireless a camera depends on which camera you bought.
Some wireless Wi-Fi home security cameras aren’t necessarily completely wireless. Their wireless nature might refer to their Wi-Fi or smartphone connectivity but they might still need to get plugged into your electrical socket. Other wireless cameras might work like mini-computers or smartphones themselves, with the app serving as your method of remotely controlling them. Even then, they might still require a wire to download footage or recharge their battery. A wired camera at the very least ensures 24/7 operation as long as there’s no power outage or as long as its standby battery lasts.
Can video footage help me when prosecuting?
Yes, they can. You can hand off a copy of your security footage to the police to help track down any men who’ve been stealing your packages or your property in the front yard as well as those who’ve burglarized your home. Cameras assist law enforcement in identifying the suspects that did you wrong or did a crime on your home since they can record footage for later viewing and nabbing of these ne’er-do-wells.
On the other hand, even though recorded footage can be used to ensure that rule-breakers get their just deserts, most cameras aren’t equipped to stop a crime when it’s in progress. There are cameras that deter crime from happening in the first place in terms of having motion sensors and alarms. The mere presence of the camera can be a deterrent. However, an alarm system or alarm-based doorbell camera is more effective in keeping the criminal from going through the crime since it alerts neighbors of their presence.
What are the ways my security footage can be stored?
There are multiple ways that security footage can be stored, including sending the recorded footage to the cloud. The cloud or cloud computing involves using an online service and your camera’s Wi-Fi connection in order to send your videos or data to a virtual storage space for your convenience. This way, you won’t have to use traditional storage devices and media like an SD memory card or a hard disk drive in order to store your HD footage properly and safely.
As long as you have an Internet connection and virtual storage or cloud account, you should be able to automatically save and retrieve your video files or footage marked by the date and how long each of them is by the hours. It’s the same way most smartphones are able to save your photos and videos on your phone’s hard drive by sending it to the cloud if you enable the feature. Otherwise, you’ll have to hook up your camera to a laptop or desktop PC with a USB cable or download via Bluetooth all of your video files after the recording is done.
Can I use an indoor camera on the window to see outside?
You technically can, but it’s better to have the camera outside or hidden in the tree or somewhere in the yard than on your window. It’s because it requires the camera to have a powerful zoom feature that isn’t just a digital zoom in order to view faraway persons or objects. On top of that, the window itself and how it’s designed can obscure the vision of the camera.
Additionally, no matter how wide the field of view of the camera is, its monitoring zone will still be limited due to its placement near or in front of your windows. It’s better to physically mount your camera in the right spots to widen or maximize its field of view, no matter how tight or huge it is. Placement is also an important factor in maximizing the effectiveness of your home security camera. So no, you’re not really saving money by using your indoor cam as an outdoor cam by placing it on the window to see outside.
Hardwired vs. wireless security cameras:
Just like in the case of Wi-Fi Internet, a hardwired or plugged-in security camera is more dependable when it comes to energy consumption. You won’t have to keep tabs on its standby 180-day battery to ensure that it’s still running. As long as it’s plugged into the socket or hardwired to your home power grid, it should run smoothly barring a power outage in your local area. Even then, it should have a backup standby battery installed to ensure it keeps on running as well.
With that said, more and more security cameras for home or business use are turning wireless in more ways than one. To be more specific, they can be wireless in terms of having their own standby battery without needing to plug them into a home electrical socket, just like your rechargeable smartphone. They can also be wireless in the sense that they work with Wi-Fi and you can set them up with an app on your phone, making them more convenient but more expensive compared to hardwired alternatives.
Surveillance isn’t reserved for the police having stakeouts like on television or banks safeguarding their ATMs with a camera directly tracking any vandals or burglars on the loose. Cameras help you safeguard your businesses, but like with the projector they’re more and more being availed of for use in homes. They’ve become affordable enough for middle-class families to use.
In order to know which type of camera is best for you, you should first be aware of your needs and your specific circumstances. Whatever your needs are, this article has been designed to assist you in figuring out what specific camera will get the job done in keeping your packages and your home’s occupants safe from harm. You can use these cameras for mundane things like checking the safety of your kids or your pets as well as tracking your packages to ensure they arrive on time and aren’t stolen by package thieves.
- Security Camera Buying Guide, by Ray Lodi from www.cctvcameraworld.com
- Find the right monitoring gear for your home or business from www.crutchfield.com
- Home Security Cameras Everything You Need to Know to Make a Smart Decision, from www.safehome.org
- Home Security Camera Buying Guide from www.consumerreports.org
- Selecting A Security Camera For Your Home from homealarmreport.com
- Best Places to Install Home Security Cameras from www.safety.com
- Our Most Frequently Asked Home Security Camera Questions from www.asecurelife.com