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What is the best home security camera?
With so many home security camera options, it can be difficult to find the right one for your space. Based on our testing, we’ve named the Wyze Cam our best home security camera pick overall, with its many useful features for a reasonable price. The Wyze Cam is built for indoor and outdoor use, comes with the option of free 14-day cloud storage and is priced lower than many security cameras on the market.
While the Wyze Cam is CNET’s current favorite on the market, there may be other cameras better suited for your specific needs, which is why we’ve tested dozens of home security cameras and condensed everything we’ve learned into this best home security camera list.
Below, you’ll find the best home security camera for your home in every major subcategory, from smart doorbells to the models that work well with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri voice commands. Some are fairly simple, with a motion sensor that sends a push notification to your smartphone when they detect movement, while others come with features such as professional monitoring and cloud storage that prevent you from having to sift through hours of footage.
If you’re looking for the best home security camera system, get ready to dive in. We update this best home security camera list periodically.
Best home security cameras of 2023
Setup Moveable, outdoor/indoorResolution 1080pStorage Cloud, local storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility BothField of View 130 degrees
As mentioned above, we like the Wyze Cam for its indoor/outdoor versatility, free cloud storage options and budget-friendly price. At $30, the Wyze Cam, which we gave an 8.5 review score, is not just a great budget security camera — it’s a great camera, period.
The Wi-Fi security camera features HD video quality live streaming, motion detection, night vision, a decent app and, best of all, 14 days of free motion-based cloud storage. This Wyze security camera also features a built-in microSD card slot if you want local video storage rather than relying solely on its cloud service (you have to buy the microSD card separately).
This home security camera works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands and features a motion detection zone and the ability to listen for and alert you to special frequencies, like smoke alarms. If you want a complete home security system, there are other cameras that you can buy from Wyze and connect into the grid.
Setup Moveable, indoorResolution 1080pStorage Cloud, local storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility BothField of View 120 degrees
Wyze continues to dominate the affordable camera market, thanks not only to their Wyze Cam, but also to this panning, tilting indoor camera. For $50, this thing offers 1080p resolution, two-way talk, an alarm and the ability to monitor 360 degrees horizontally. Plus it brings free cloud storage and alerts and super-cheap smarts. I was so impressed by the device, I gave it a 9.2 review score in 2021. If you want a device that can cover a large indoor space effectively — or if you’re looking for a pet cam or nanny cam to monitor moving targets while you’re away — this is it.
Setup Hardwired, outdoor/indoorResolution 1536 x 1536 (2K)Storage Cloud storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility BothField of View 180 degrees
The $150 Arlo Video Doorbell, which we gave a review score of 8.5, has a lot going for it. While 150 bucks isn’t cheap, it’s more affordable than most of the other smart buzzers I’ve tested. As a doorbell camera, it’s built to be an outdoor camera, so you don’t have to ever worry about the elements. Similar to the Arlo Pro 3 outdoor security camera, the Arlo Video Doorbell has arm/disarm modes, two-way audio, motion zones and an integrated siren.
The security camera system also has a competitive cloud storage subscription plan, starting at $3 per month. If you pay for cloud storage, you get access to advanced features like custom person, animal, vehicle and package detection for your outdoor camera video surveillance.
Setup Moveable, outdoor/indoorResolution 2560 x 1440 (2K)Storage Cloud storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility BothField of View 160 degrees
Arlo’s latest Pro series camera, which we gave an 8.5 review score and Editor’s Choice award, is a fantastic home security camera with features to spare. It boasts 2K resolution, a 160-degree field of view, two-way talk, full-color night vision, a built-in siren and spotlight, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit — the list goes on.
This powerhouse of a camera lists for around $160 and up — pricier than super-affordable options like Wyze, but easily worth the premium. For $3 per month, you can also get smart alerts, motion zones, 30 days of event history and a few other cool features. In short, the Arlo Pro 4 is a fantastic security camera for most people.
Setup Hardwired, indoorResolution 1080pStorage Cloud storageGoogle/Alexa Compatibility Google AssistantField of View 135 degrees
Google’s newest — and smartest — Nest Cam is a specifically indoor and wired gadget that offers a slew of great features in a pretty package. The wired camera comes in four unique colors too, because who doesn’t love a light pink security camera? This “wired” designation separates it from the Nest Cam (Battery), a heftier Google Nest model designed for indoor or outdoor use, that also launched in 2021. Armed with the latest software features like object identification, activity zones, and Google Home app viewing and support, this new Google Nest device has both beauty and brains — and that’s why we gave it an 8.4 review score.
The $100 Google Nest Cam (Wired) is not only the most affordable Nest camera yet, but it’s also our favorite from the brand. Thanks to the easy setup, the attractive design and, most importantly, the free smart features, it takes the top spot of all Google Assistant cameras.
While Wyze currently offers better options for cloud storage and cheaper price tags, the Nest Cam (Wired) indoor security camera is one of the best home security cameras on the market for Google Assistant loyalists.
Home security cameras compared
|Our picks||Wyze Cam (2020)||Wyze Cam Pan v2||Arlo Video Doorbell||Arlo Pro 4||Nest Cam|
|Resolution||1080p||1080p||1,536 x 1,536||2K||1080p|
|Field of View||130 degrees||120 degrees||180 degrees||160 degrees||135 degrees|
|Setup||Movable, indoor/outdoor||Movable, indoor only||Wired, outdoor||Wireless, indoor/outdoor||Wired, indoor only|
|Extra Features||Live streaming, motion detection, night vision, weather resistance, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant||Live streaming, two-way talk, sound and motion alerts, color night vision, panning and tilting functions||Live streaming, arm/disarm modes, two-way talk, motion zones, night vision and an integrated siren.||Live streaming, two-way talk, night vision, weather resistance||Two-way talk, night vision, 4 colors, object identification, activity zones, and integration with Google Assistant|
How we test home security cameras
Hands-on testing is core to our evaluation of any home security products. When it comes to security cameras, we start by identifying new and test-worthy products from established manufacturers — cameras you’d be most likely to come across when shopping online or at your local hardware or electronics stores. When these products hit the market, or sometimes even earlier, we get our hands on them and thoroughly test them in a real-home environment over the course of a week.
We begin testing by setting the camera up according to the included and/or app instructions, making note of any difficulties encountered along the way. Once the camera is ready to roll, we evaluate all features, paying close attention to resolution, night vision, notification latency, local or cloud storage and compatibility with smart home ecosystems like Google, Alexa and Apple HomeKit.
Such evaluations can take less than a day, but we monitor the camera over the course of a week for a more complete look at the camera’s performance day and night. And if that general use doesn’t give us all the data we’d like to see, we’ll create a mock situation — like staging a porch pirate scenario — to see how quickly and accurately the camera and app send notifications and record the event.
If you want to read more about our review process, check out our in-depth article on how we test home security cameras and video doorbells.
Home security camera FAQs
What should you look for when buying a home security camera?
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a home security camera because it’s a massive, growing category that covers everything from professional firms like ADT and Vivint to standalone DIY devices like cameras, sensors and locks from brands like Wyze and Arlo. The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you’re looking for a professionally installed system or a DIY security system.
The next decision you’ll have to make involves the device specs and features. Do you want livestreaming? Is two-way talk a priority? What about night vision? Modern home security cameras are loaded with neat extra features: Motion detection, professional monitoring, push notifications, cloud video storage, weather resistance, sound and motion alerts and integration with third-party devices. Narrowing down which smarts you want your device to have will help you make a final decision.
What’s the difference between home security cameras and surveillance cameras?
A lot of the terminology when talking about security and surveillance cameras can be hard to track, not least because people use the terms informally and interchangeably all the time. Basically, surveillance cameras are usually used with CCTV, in businesses and where there is continuous recording. They are meant to record acts as they happen, so they can be investigated later. Home security cameras, by contrast, are often motion-triggered and connected to cloud storage. Often, people install them primarily to deter would-be burglars.
Can wireless home security cameras work without internet?
Many wireless cameras cannot fully function without an internet connection. Some cameras — especially those that are part of a larger home security system — use alternative radio protocols to transfer information. Those cameras will require a separate hub. Other cameras, if they have local storage, will be able to record and store footage — on a microSD card, for example — even if the internet is out. All that said, most wireless cameras will require Wi-Fi to use all their features as intended.
Can your home security camera be hacked?
Cameras can really strengthen your home’s security, but they can also degrade its privacy. Hackers have made headlines by spying on people or using two-way talk features with children in their rooms. Simply put, yes, your security cameras can be hacked, but it depends how vulnerable your devices really are. Major professionally monitored security systems — and even individually sold cameras from reputable developers like Google Nest and Wyze — include high-end encryption, which scrambles messages within a system and grants access through keys. In layman’s terms this means as long as you stay current with app and device updates, you should have little to fear of being hacked via software or firmware vulnerabilities.
Will you be able to tell if a security camera is actively recording you? It depends, too. Most security cameras will include a small light that will turn on when it’s recording, though that may not be a reliable indicator if the camera has been hacked. Others, like Arlo’s indoor camera, include design features that make it totally clear when the camera is watching and when it’s not. In general, though, devices with physical shields are always a solid option if you’re worried about maintaining your privacy.
How much should you spend on home security cameras?
Home security cameras can vary widely in price, ranging anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand. It depends on the services, model, features or video storage you want for your camera. With this in mind, you can expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $500 for a home security camera.
Home security cameras don’t have to be expensive, though. All of the best home security cameras CNET tested fall between the range of $38 and just under $200. Many DIY options, like Arlo and Wyze, offer a rich set of features, dependable design and a competitive subscription service, but with an affordable price that can be as cheap as $30. While these are on the lower end of home security camera prices, you can certainly find a camera that meets your needs for under $200.
How to choose a home security camera
There are hundreds of home security cameras on the market, ranging drastically in price, functionality and quality. With all the options, it can be hard to not become overwhelmed fast, especially when you’re considering something as important as your home’s safety. After CNET’s years of testing home security cameras, we have some tips if you’re on the hunt for a new one. Here are a few parameters to consider:
This, of course, is a big one. You don’t want anyone peeping on your property or hacking into your camera. Wireless home security cameras can be more susceptible to hacking due to their connectivity to Wi-Fi networks and remote access. Wired home security cameras are more secure. (Read more about the pros and cons of wired vs. wireless systems here.)
Indoor vs. outdoor
One of the first things you’ll need to consider is where you want to place your home security cameras. If you want your camera to be located outside, recording your porch or yard, you’ll likely want an outdoor camera that’s also weather resistant or features night vision.
While many cameras can be used interchangeably for indoor or outdoor purposes, some cameras are solely made for indoor usage, like the Wyze Cam Pan v2, so make sure you’re buying cameras that can handle the outdoor elements.
Video quality should be a major consideration when buying a home security camera. In simplest terms, your camera won’t be effective if the only footage being recorded is grainy and unreadable.
The higher the resolution, the better the video quality. Most home security cameras on the market now have 1080p resolution, but others even have 2K resolution (like the Arlo Pro 4) or 1,536×1,536 resolution (like the Arlo Video Doorbell). Just remember, the higher the video quality, the more bandwidth it takes up and the more likely your camera is to experience lag times or glitches.
Battery or wired power
Battery and wireless cameras versus wired options are a matter of taste, since both types have pros and cons.
Wireless options are usually easier to install and operate, and often use cloud storage, so you can access your footage from anywhere. Wireless security cameras have their own power supply, so even during an internet or power outage, they can still record and save footage. One of the biggest disadvantages, though, is you’ll need to manually change the batteries or charge them every so often, unless you get a solar-powered home security camera.
Wired cameras are hardwired to a steady connection, so they don’t need to be recharged and can often boost a high-quality video resolution. They tend to be more reliable, secure and consistent in video quality while not requiring monthly cloud storage fees. On the negative side, wired home security cameras often need to be professionally installed and don’t integrate with smart home systems like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Local vs. cloud storage
Not all video storage is equal. You have two main options and picking one is up to your personal preference. There’s cloud storage, which sends your video footage to a remote server to be saved, and local storage, which relies on a separate accessory or piece of hardware, usually a microSD card, to hold any footage you’d like to save. Usually, cloud storage requires a monthly fee.
When you’re installing wireless home security cameras, keep in mind that the smart home camera you buy (and your security system as a whole) will only be as good as the quality of your Wi-Fi connection at the location where you plan to install it. So check your Wi-Fi speed before you drill holes in the walls or otherwise mess up your door frame, brick or siding for your home security camera. If the connection is spotty on your wireless security camera, you’ll notice significant lag times, pixelation in the live feed and other Wi-Fi delays that make the video quality poor and home security cameras a pain to use.
With a good Wi-Fi connection, you should be in good shape to use your indoor home security camera or outdoor home security camera without any major camera system issues and get clear footage every time. Still have questions? Take a look at my home security camera buying guide.
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