Best Smart Cameras: Home Security for the Modern Home

ring stick up cam best smart cameras

Once you’ve got your smart home up and running with the basics, like smart lights and video doorbells, it is an excellent time to consider smart cameras in your setup. The best smart cameras offer exceptional video quality and motion detection, solid night vision, and intelligent alerts when the camera detects motion (what or who) in the top-tier models. While most use cloud storage to save video, some offer local video storage, which allows them to record even when a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available.

If you’re serious about securing your property, a home security camera is a no-brainer. There are cameras for the inside of your home as well as more ruggedized outdoor versions. We recommend placing smart cameras close to the interior or exterior of entry points into your home.

We own several of the models we’re about to recommend to you, and each of our recommendations has its own unique features which make them stand out from the crowd. All of our recommendations feature a minimum of 1080p resolution, a wide field of view, and connectivity with other smart home devices. Some include free cloud storage with your purchase. However, be prepared to pay a subscription fee for more advanced functionality.

What’s the difference between a home security camera and a surveillance camera?

A home security camera is a type of surveillance camera, but not all surveillance cameras are home security cameras. A surveillance camera is a device that records video or audio footage. In contrast, a home security camera has built-in “smart features” that let it communicate with its owner through the internet or another remote means. The communication usually includes sending alerts about what the camera detects.

Can home security cameras work without Wi-Fi?

Not all can. If your security camera has a local storage option (usually an SD card), it will record video directly to that card. However, to use these cameras effectively, you’ll need an Internet connection. SD cards will only hold a small amount of video before the older video starts is overwritten by newer video.

How do I know if a home security camera is watching me?

With tons of affordable security cameras on the market, home security cameras are only getting more commonplace. This raises all kinds of questions about privacy. Remember that the law permits people to record anything outside as long as it’s a “public space.” But you do have a right to privacy and to expect that your nosy neighbor won’t point a home security camera at your home to watch you. Most cameras have a light on the front that is on when the camera records. However, this can be turned off. Just keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Do I need to purchase a subscription to use my home security camera?

Most security cameras have some free cloud storage option to allow you to use the basic functions at no cost. However, you will pay more if you want advanced features like advanced motion detection or additional cloud storage. Some offer no free cloud storage at all, so be sure to make sure you won’t need to subscribe to anything

Can hackers watch me through my home security camera?

No, your home security camera does not let hackers watch you, at least easily. While there have been attempts, most home security camera systems have not been hacked in a way that gave the hackers access to your video feeds. However, if you use a password, you use elsewhere for your account with whatever home security camera you choose, an attacker could use those credentials to see your feeds. Our recommendation? Choose a unique random password.

Best Home Security Cameras

Wyze Cam Outdoor

Before we look at the best security cameras in detail, below we’ve highlighted our top picks for both indoor and outdoor cameras. Some models even have built-in spotlight functionality, package detection and can be integrated into a more extensive smart home security system.

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

eufy Security 2K Indoor Cam Pan & Tilt

While the Ring Stick-Up Cam’s versatility is pretty great and Wyze Cam Outdoor is just an incredible deal for an outdoor home security camera system, we think the best overall value among smart cameras right now is the eufy Security 2K Indoor Cam Pan & Tilt. Why do we say this? Among adjustable smart cameras, this is an outstanding deal. The picture quality is one thing, a step above 1080p like most cameras.

But we like the automatic pan and tilt functionality, allowing eufy’s camera to follow the action. That’s a nifty feature and not one you usually find on smart home security cameras at this price point. The camera also has built-in AI to determine whether a pet or a human causes the motion and filter out false alerts.

  • Relevant Recordings: The on-device AI determines whether a human or pet is present and only records when an event of interest occurs.
  • The Key is in the Detail: View every event in up to 2K clarity (1080P while using HomeKit) so you see exactly what is happening inside your home.
  • Smart Integration: Connect your IndoorCam to Apple HomeKit (download our HomeKit User guide in the product information section below), the Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa for complete control over your surveillance.
  • Follows the Action: When motion is detected the camera automatically tracks and follows the moving object. Pan the lens 360° horizontally or tilt it 96° vertically to get a clear view of the whole room.
  • Communicate From Your Camera: Speak in real-time to anyone who passes via the camera’s built-in two-way audio.

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

Ring Stick-Up Cam

If you’ve already invested in the Ring ecosystem, opting for the Ring Stick-Up Cam makes more sense. This way, all your smart cameras will be in the same app, making it much easier to monitor activity in and around your home at a glance. While Ring’s products are generally much more expensive than the competition, the build quality and performance are near the top of the class.

Ring sells both a wired and battery-operated version of the Stick-Up Cam, as well as an optional solar panel that can be used with the battery-powered cameras. Having owned the Stick Up Cam Battery ourselves, we can speak from experience when we say either purchase an additional battery or the solar panel — the camera drains the battery quite quickly, requiring a charge at least once a month.

  • Connect your Ring camera with Alexa then enable announcements to be alerted when motion is detected. Talk to visitors through compatible Echo devices by saying “Alexa, talk to the front door”.
  • Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC
  • Powered by the quick-release rechargeable battery pack.
  • With a Ring Protect Plan (subscription sold separately), record all your videos, review what you missed for up to 60 days, and share videos and photos.
  • Monitors your home in 1080HD video with infrared night vision and Live View
  • Includes built-in LED light strips and a siren
  • Includes Lifetime Theft Protection: If your Camera gets stolen, we’ll replace it for free

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

Wyze Cam V3 and Wyze Cam Outdoor

However, the best smart camera for those on a budget is definitely the Wyze Cam series. Its Wyze Cam Outdoor offers high-quality video at just a fraction of the price of most smart outdoor home security cameras available, and the Wyze Cam V3 is stunning — featuring full-color night vision, something not available on many higher-end cameras, and a water-resistant design, two-way audio, and a wide 130-degree field-of-view. Local video storage is poosible using an optional SD card.

We have the second-generate Wyze Cam, and the video and image quality is amazing for a camera of its price range. While we haven’t had a chance to play with the Wyze Cam V3 just yet, we’re told the video quality has gotten even better — which is hard to believe given how good the original Wyze Cams were.

Google Nest Cam Outdoor

The Google Nest Cam Outdoor is an outdoor camera equipped with a speaker and microphone, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can detect suspicious activity. The camera can tell the difference between a person, animal, or vehicle, so you aren’t bothered by false alerts. Notifications will also have a snapshot of what triggered the alert.

The Nest Cam works with other smart home devices, such as locks or thermostats, so your entire house is safe when this camera is set up. If you already own another Google or Nest device or use Google Assistant, we strongly recommend purchasing the Nest as the experience is seamless.

24/7 continuous video recording and 3 hours of free recording are included, which helps you feel safe. You can access recorded footage or watch a livestream of your space via the free Nest app.

  • 24/7 live video: 130 Degree view shows your home in 1080P HD day and night
  • Weatherproof: Camera cable and adapter are all weatherproof
  • Clear as day even at night: Night vision evenly illuminates the whole scene. See who's at the door and talk back to get their attention
  • Alerts on your phone: Get activity alerts so you know if anything happens while you're away
  • Install it yourself: Install yourself and point it anywhere with the unique magnetic mount. No hub required.
  • This Google Product features the Google Seal for Online Marketplace when purchased from a seller other than Amazon.com.

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

Google Nest Cam Indoor

This is another wired indoor security camera from Nest, and it’s designed to work with Google Assistant so you can use voice commands to operate the camera. The camera also comes with a speaker and microphone so you can talk to your kids, see what’s happening at home, and scare off intruders.

The Google Nest Cam Indoor is perfect for those looking for an indoor security camera, and the device has motion sensor alerts so you know when something’s changed in your living room or front hall. You can also use this camera as an intercom, and the Nest Cam Indoor has advanced facial recognition so you can identify who’s inside your home.

  • 24/7 live stream video in full 1080p HD over Wi-Fi. Check in from anywhere at anytime. Send clips to family or friends in 1920x1080 resolution.
  • Night vision featuring 8 high-power infrared LEDs provide light for clear video in the darkest conditions.
  • Mobile alerts and notifications let you know as soon as your camera spots activity. Take action or save the event for sharing later. 3-hour snapshot history makes sure you don't miss a thing.
  • Industry-leading security means that your video feed and information is well protected. Enable two-factor authentication and take your account protection to the next level.
  • Free trial of Nest Aware for 30-days. Experience 10-day video history intelligent alerts and activity zones. Keep the service starting at $6 per month for your Nest devices after the trial ends.
  • Talk and listen with 2-way audio. Say hi tell the dog to get off the couch or remind the kids to put the milk away. All with the touch of a button on the Nest app.
  • Easy setup with flexible mounting and free Nest app. Place the camera on a shelf mount to the wall, or use the magnet base. Then plug into a wall outlet and the Nest App walks you through the rest.
  • 2-year Limited Warranty

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

Blink Outdoor

The Blink Outdoor is a weatherproof HD security camera operated by just two triple-A lithium batteries that last up to 2 years! All of the footage recorded by the cameras are stored in the cloud through the Blink Subscription Plan, so users never have to worry about losing anything if their internet goes out or they change phones.

With customizable motion zones, you can customize the alerts you receive. Using an Echo Show, you can also monitor live feeds on the screen and both hear and talk to whom or whatever’s outside.

  • Blink Outdoor is a wireless battery-powered HD security camera that helps you monitor your home day or night with infrared night vision.
  • With long-lasting battery life, Outdoor runs for up to two years on two AA lithium batteries (included).
  • Store video clips and photos in the cloud with the Blink Subscription Plan and save events locally to the Blink Sync Module 2 via a USB flash drive (sold separately).
  • Outdoor is built to withstand the elements to help you protect your home inside or out, come rain or shine.
  • Designed so you can set up yourself in minutes. No wiring, no professional installation required.
  • Get motion detection alerts on your phone with the option to customize motion zones in the Blink Home Monitor app so you’re only alerted when you need to be.
  • See, hear, and speak to visitors with live view in real time and two-way audio features on your Blink app.
  • Works with Alexa – use your voice to monitor your home through supported Alexa-enabled devices.
  • Includes two Blink Outdoor cameras and one Sync Module 2.

Prices current as of December 4, 2021. Top Smart Home Deals may receive a commission as a result of purchases using the above links.

What a home security camera is good for

There are many potential uses for a home security camera. Most home security cameras will allow you to do the following:

  • See who’s in your home when you’re away (with advanced facial recognition and person detection)
  • Receive motion sensor alerts when something happens in your living room or front hall
  • Keep track of pets while you’re at work with pet recognition technology
  • Get alerts when someone enters your front door
  • Keep an eye on the kids while they’re playing in their bedroom
  • Never miss a moment with full HD video recordings of all the action that happens in your home
  • Trigger other smart devices based on what the camera detects

Choosing the best smart security camera

Ring Stick Up cam

Choosing the best smart camera for your needs depends on a variety of factors. We recommend sticking with one brand when purchasing smart devices. The reasoning here is simple: as your smart home build grows, you’ll find that you’re switching between apps quite a bit, and having everything in a single app is way more convenient.

That’s not to say you can’t “mix and match.” Smart assistants like Alexa allow you to view your cameras on video-enabled devices like the Echo Show. Also, companies like Wyze are producing smart devices that are a fraction of the cost of their competitors, which could make more sense from a budget standpoint — especially if you plan to install quite a few cameras.

We recommend avoiding most off-brand models on Amazon. While they may be cheap, the customer support for some of these brands is sorely lacking. We’d love to tell you that owning a smart home is painless, but it’s not. While you shouldn’t have problems, you want solid customer support behind you if you need it.

Finally, opt for wireless smart cameras if possible. While you will get better quality video from a corded model, the battery technology in the best home security cameras has gotten MUCH better. Changing batteries and charging is straightforward, and you should get several months of battery life from a single charge. Plus, the freedom of placement is a huge plus, in our opinion.

Wrapping Up

The best home security camera will be different for everyone. Some might fight package detection useful, while others might need to store footage locally or night vision to monitor especially dark areas. Before purchasing, compare functionality between various home security cameras. You also don’t need to stay with one brand: you can mix and match as long as you have a method, like a virtual assistant, to view their video without going to each app.

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