Guide to Buying a Home Security Camera
Whether you own a home or rent one, you want to ensure that you have the best security system to keep an eye on your entire home while you’re gone. Initially, that meant signing up with a professional—and costly security services like ADT.
Thanks to a boom in consumer-focused smart-home tech, you can now control both your outdoor and indoor home surveillance. Home security cameras are close cousins of webcams and offer flexible setups and various security features, while requiring minimal installation.
The best remote security camera will help keep an eye on your home when you are away, whether you want to ensure it’s secure or you just want to see how your puppy is coping without you. These cameras can also detect movement in the home and note down footage of a trespasser, with more advanced options including two-way audio and facial recognition.
Finding the best outdoor night vision camera for your home is not that easy. The offerings vary widely from brand to brand and from one camera to the next that deciding what to buy can get daunting. You don’t have to worry though; whether you just want something to help you check on your children and pets, or you are looking for a full-service guard to watch out for intruders, our guide will point you to the right small surveillance camera for your needs.
You may have read numerous security cameras reviews, but you are still unsure. Should you get wired home security cameras or should you go for a wireless outdoor night vision camera? Should you go for color night vision or black and white? We have prepared a detailed buying guide entailing everything you need to know before buying a wireless home security camera with night vision. Keep reading to know more.
How do Night Vision Outdoor Security Cameras Work?
The most common type of night vision used in security cameras is the infrared (IR) night vision, which depends on infrared lights. These outdoor night vision cameras come with small built-in LED bulbs as well as an IR cut filter that is used to sense daylight and map out the light dropping on the image sensor in order to keep the color in daylight looking accurate.
Also, infrared light is totally concealed to our eyes, but very perceptible to the security cameras with night vision.
Now, during the night, when the outside is pitch black, the LED lights light up and act as some sort of floodlight, and this automatically removes the filter. So, security cameras with night vision can see clearly even at night and capture high-quality images and videos.
Considerations to Make When Buying the Best Wireless Night Vision Security Camera
Wireless vs. Wired vs. Wire-free
One of the most important aspects to consider when buying a security camera is whether you want a wireless, wire-free, or wired home security cameras.
Wired security cameras are powered by cable connection and are the most conventional type of surveillance cameras. In most cases, you’ll require a wired connection to record and store security footage. Today, you’ll find wired home security cameras that are connected over an Ethernet Connection. You may have to drill or ask for professional help to install wired cameras.
Wired security cameras have one advantage in that they will often receive power, so you won’t have to worry about recharging a battery or receiving sunlight for solar energy.
Wireless security cameras aren’t really wire-free, as you may need cable connection for power. The term “wireless’’ means they can connect wirelessly to your current wi-fi network to be able to store footage. Most wireless home security cameras are connected to the mains, with some of these providing some back-up battery time should power fail.
One advantage of wireless security cameras is that they are easy to install. You don’t have to drill holes and run cables. These types of cameras are perfect for renters and individuals who may need to move more frequently. Wireless security cameras, however, have their own disadvantages; they have to be positioned near a power outlet, they are susceptible to power outages, and can experience internet interference.
The last type of security cameras are the battery-powered, wire-free type. These are easier to position since they don’t have to be close to a power source, and their security footage is kept in the cloud. But, remember, this means you have to keep recharging the battery or paying for new ones in case they are disposable.
Source of Power for your Outdoor or Indoor Security Camera
Your security camera can stay connected to power in different ways. We have security cameras that are battery-powered or those that simply plug-into an outlet, and we have those that rely on solar. Depending on your preference, each setup comes with its pros and cons. Be sure to consider how your camera will sustain its power during an outage. A lot of people tend to go for battery-powered cameras or those that have a rechargeable battery pack as it can start working as backup power source if power isn’t detected.
Indoor or Outdoor Security Cameras
Although most security cameras can serve both the indoors and the outdoors, there are still some few key components to consider when buying your cameras. Usually, both indoor and outdoor cameras come with similar features including remote viewing and infrared night vision.
The main difference, however, lies in durability. Your outdoor security camera ought to be weatherproof, just like a CCTV system. It is advisable to go for security cameras with a weather resistance rating of IP66 or IP67 since they are the most weatherproof and durable.
Also, consider cameras with HD video. Some modern outdoor cameras come with deterrence attributes designed to help stave off unwanted guests, such as self-regulating light and siren.
On the other hand, most indoor cameras come with night vision, HD video, and two-way communication. Two-way communication helps you to not just monitor suspicious activity, but also to check-in on your loved ones, such as kids or an elderly parent.
Where to Put your Outdoor Home Security Camera
Where you intend to install your security camera is as important as what kind of camera you buy. First, consider the areas you want monitored; common areas include driveways, outdoor buildings including sheds and garages, entrance points like doors and windows, and fence lines.
As per the report by InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors), 81% of robbers get in through the first floor; therefore, it’s important to cover easy ingress points at the ground level.
Placement is also key. When installing both indoor and outdoor night time cameras, ensure they are high enough to prevent intruders from grabbing and smashing them, or covering them in some way. Be careful not to install them too high though, as this could bring about poorer image quality.
You also need to consider the field of view when installing your cameras. A wide angle security camera will allow for monitoring of a larger space like a backyard. On the contrary, a front door or driveway outdoor hidden camera doesn’t require a very wide view to be able to cover important areas.
Another important thing to note is that installing an outdoor camera will require a power source. Using AC-powered cameras means you’ll be limited by possible outdoor outlets. You can therefore, opt to drill through walls to have access to indoor outlets, which offer more secure installation as there won’t be any visible cord for a thief to cut or unplug.
Battery-powered cameras on the other hand, give you more flexibility when it comes to placement as you can put them anywhere as long as you are able to drill screws for your camera mount. For the wifi enabled camera, ensure it can connect to the Wi-Fi you plan to put it on before you can install it permanently.
Where to Put your Indoor Home Security Cameras
Where you place your indoor cameras largely depends on what you intend to see. If your primary intention is to catch intruders on video, then you should consider putting your cameras high up on shelves or in corners as this will help you get a wide, unimpeded view of the entire hallway or room. Also consider putting your cameras by exterior doors as research shows that a good number of burglars get in through the front door.
An indoor camera can also be aimed to see outside. For instance, you can buy a window mount security camera to guard your front or backyard. If this is what you plan to do, choose a camera that can allow you to turn off the infrared lights responsible for night vision, as these are likely to reflect off the glass window and interfere with the image.
If you want to use a small surveillance camera as a nanny/child/pet cam, then you should put it in a central place like the family room or living area. The advantage with these security cameras with audio is that the two-way audio allows someone in the home to “call’’ you on the same device. This is good for kids who still don’t have cellphones.
Note that most indoor cameras come with a power cable, so you’ll have to plug them into a wall outlet.
Types of Video Footage Storage
There are two options when it comes to storing your camera footage—internal or cloud storage. It all depends with your privacy and security choices.
Most cameras come with internal storage and store your footage on an SD card as opposed to the cloud. Once the SD card is full, you’ll have to upload your video clips to a hardware to be able to continue recording. Some cameras will, however, automatically record over old video footage.
Internal storage has the advantage of helping you cut costs as you don’t require any subscription plan to be able to save your data. You can go for SD cards with a big storage capacity to allow you to record a reasonable amount of data before clearing or replacing the card.
One disadvantage of internal storage is that the data isn’t being passed on and stored online, so if someone was to steal your device, they will manage to access your recordings.
With cloud-based storage, you are able to store your data remotely online and also easily access it online from any device. Cloud storage also gives you the advantage of not having to worry about misplacing your SD card, and you can still access your files even if you lose your device.
However, there are privacy concerns that come with cloud storage, as your recordings will be transferred and stored online. There is also the issue of monthly subscriptions to secure yourself some space in the cloud. Most companies will charge you at least $5/mo depending on the provider, amount of storage needed and any other features provided for in the plan.
Compatibility with other Smart Technologies
Other than being able to connect them to different devices to view and manage footage, some tiny security cameras are also in tune with other smart home technologies such as doorbells, light bells, pet food dispensers, and even other smart security systems.
Technology has also given us surveillance cameras with audio recording capability that also integrate with popular voice assistants to give you a total smart home system. You can use the voice commands to track and control your security system, entirely hands-free.
By being able to fully integrate your wifi enabled camera with existing smart-home devices, you are able to have comprehensive coverage of your whole home, have more flexibility, and also enjoy ease of use.
How much you intend to spend on camera.
A single outdoor night vision camera will cost you between $25 and $399. Prepare to spend an average of between $200 and $2,500 for a complete system that will cover your entire home. This will depend on the size of your property and the camera model you choose.
The cost of purchase, installation, and ongoing data storage fees may add up quickly if you decide to go for multiple cameras. You can, however, do DIY installation to save on installation fees. Note that professional installation will cost you about $100 per camera.
Wired security cameras without wifi are generally less costly upfront, and you won’t have to worry about ongoing video storage fees. You should, however, be prepared to part with installation fees of around $200 per camera, usually with a four-camera minimum.
Important Features to Look for when Buying an Outdoor Night Vision Camera
The best outdoor wireless security camera should have clear night vision and be able to seamlessly shift between day and night features. It should also be able to give you the same detail quality even in low light.
Most wireless cameras with night vision use either infrared (IR) or LED lights, or a mixture of the two. For the best and most clear night view, consider getting a camera with infrared technology that can send bright light through wavelengths.
Look for models that come with at least 100 ft or more of night vision. Most models also come with built-in IR cut-switch that accordingly allows or forbids the infrared technology based on the present lighting conditions.
High-definition (HD) video quality
This is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a security camera, especially if your main goal is to be able to identify a person. All wireless security cameras come with a resolution of at least 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels), with some recording in at 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels).
Generally, the higher the resolution, the clearer the images, although 720p is sharper enough to recognize faces. Ideally, you may want to consider a camera with a 1080p resolution or higher if you want to get the best view.
Audio recording/two-way audio
If your intention is just to hear what is happening in your house—it could be your dog barking or someone knocking at the door while you’re away, a one-way audio recording wireless security camera will work just fine for you. But, if you want to be able to talk with both welcome and unwelcome visitors in your home, for instance telling your kids to go to bed, then a two-way audio will work perfect for you.
This feature is mostly found in doorbells but you’ll also find it in many indoor cameras.
It feels good to know that you can get a wireless mini camera for mobile phone which allows you to live-stream a broadcast directly to your mobile phone. This feature is valuable to those who want to be able to drop in while away or during the day.
This feature will also allow you to access two-way talk, check activity notifications, and possibly set up personalized automations in case the camera works with other smart technologies like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple Homekit among others.
Some cameras also come with deterrence features such as LED lighting and siren, that can also be turned on through the mobile app to stave off unwanted visitors.
Ensure the camera you choose is compatible with your phone, for instance there is a wireless security camera iphone remote viewing that is compatible with your iPhone.
Generally, you’ll be required to pay monthly or yearly subscriptions for mobile alerts, remote access, or cloud-based features.
Cameras with motion detection feature will prompt recording every time motion is detected. Some cameras will send a notification to the app on your mobile device or via email. Confirm if the wireless security camera you are about to buy has the capability to set up a timetable so that motion warnings are allowed only when you are sure you will be out of the home.
Tilt, Pan, and Zoom Functionalities
Security cameras with remote-controlled tilt, zoom, and pan functionalities are good for offering coverage to larger scopes and also offers the user the best viewing angle, without necessarily physically re-positioning the camera.
While most security camera apps are compatible with both Android and iOS it is good to confirm if the app will work well with your current version. A simple and easy-to-use platform will make it easier for you to livestream and view your footage. Before settling on a particular camera, check whether it comes with all app features including sharing footage and setting up a schedule as a standard or you’ll have to pay more to open the full functionality.
Custom activity zones
There are security cameras that allow you to create custom activity zones, meaning you will be able to choose those areas that are most important for capturing movement. This feature has one big benefit of helping you avoid notifications of insignificant activities such as a car driving by the camera.
The best wireless security camera is one that has a wide angle or field of view as this will allow you to see a bigger area when scanning footage or watching a live feed. You’ll find many security cameras that provide no less than 100-degree field of view.
Buying a camera that has the ability to activate custom activity zones will help you to specify areas in the camera’s field of vision that are most significant for capturing footage. This way, you’ll be able to cover vital areas and also avoid unnecessary notifications.
Activity notifications will alert you whenever significant movement is discovered near the camera. Confirm if your camera can give you notifications via text messages, push notifications, or email. This way, you will be up-to-date with everything happening near your camera, in real time.
Security cameras come with a myriad of features that may confuse a beginner buyer. For instance, there are security cameras that don’t require internet and those that require an internet connection to work. You may not know whether to go for a security camera without wifi or choose one that doesn’t require one.
Whether you are looking for an outdoor floodlight hidden camera or just an outside light with camera built in, we hope our wireless night vision camera buyers guide helped you choose the right security product for your property.