The Best Wireless Home Security Cameras That Are Both Safe and Affordable
We’ve all seen those over-the-top burglary-reenactment commercials squeezed in between episodes of House Hunters International. While there may be something cringey about the ads, home security systems and wireless security cameras are no laughing matter. These ever-innovative devices can provide a sense of safety and security for their users, but that feeling of reassurance is only as solid as the tech itself. Whether you’re looking to replace an outdated system, integrate your security cameras with a smart home setup or just now take the plunge into the expansive world of surveillance and safety, we’ve got some great options for your home in our sights.
Are Security Cameras Safe — and Can They Be Hacked?
As you start your at-home security system search, there are quite a few key technical features to consider. First off, what sort of field of view are you looking for — something to cover just one small room, or is your space more expansive? Additionally, wireless security cameras all have different resolution qualities: Some work better in low-light settings, while others feature night-vision modes, are equipped with floodlights or are capable of detecting motion. As with any major purchase, knowing what you’re in the market for beforehand can do wonders in simplifying the selection process.
Now, the burning question on everyone’s mind: Are wireless security cameras actually safe? And, perhaps even more pressing, in this day and age of smart home setups, are wireless security cameras susceptible to hacking? The short answer is, it depends on how your Wi-Fi-enabled camera is configured. Is it a traditional IP camera that connects to your network via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable, or is it a smart device?
If it’s the former, you may run some security risks. "In practice, many people don’t set up [IP] cameras securely," Chris Hoffman writes on How-To Geek. "They leave them configured with the default username and password, and then connect them to the internet. This means anyone can watch the feed just by visiting the camera’s IP address online." On the other hand, smart devices, like Google’s Nest, require two-factor authentication and can’t be hacked as easily.
In addition to double-checking how your camera’s security setup functions, here are a few other factors to consider:
- Does your camera receive alerts? Some setups can send push notifications to your smartphone in relative real time so you aren’t stuck watching the feed all day. Some detect motion, sound or unfamiliar faces.
- Buy a camera with a battery backup. If a burglar cuts your power, you’ll want a security system or camera that stays on after things go dark.
- How does your camera store footage? Some cameras feature cloud storage plans, meaning your recordings are sent to a server and stored for a bit, before being deleted to make room for newer footage. Buyer beware: Some cloud storage plans are subscription-based. In lieu of cloud storage, your camera might have a good old-fashioned memory card for footage-storage purposes.
- Do you want to communicate through your security system? If so, finding one with two-way audio is desirable.
- Other important factors: Some security systems monitor different environmental factors, including air quality, humidity and temperature spikes. We’ve all heard of motion detection, but if you’re setting up a camera at your door, you may want features like facial recognition or night vision. Additionally, make sure to purchase a camera with a high resolution — there’s nothing worse than grainy footage — and be sure to double-check the viewing angle, a.k.a. the amount of space your camera will be able to survey. Finally, in addition to the tech specs, research the logistics: Do you need a camera that integrates with a smart home system — do you want a camera that allows you to schedule the hours it’s "on duty?"
Needless to say, there’s a lot to consider. With all of this in mind, here are our top picks.
There’s No Place Like Google Home: Best Wireless Security Cameras for Smart Home Integration
If smart home integration is of utmost importance to you, then strongly consider a Google device. Competitors, like Blink, make smart device-compatible cameras too — ones that work with Amazon’s Alexa, for example — but Google’s various Nest models consistently receive top marks from expert reviewers and consumers alike for a reason.
But, even within the Google Nest family of devices, there’s a lot to sift through. Here’s our quick breakdown:
- Best Outdoor Wireless Security Camera: The Google Nest Cam Outdoor 1080p Wi-Fi Network Security Camera System is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Hue and Nest. Perfect for being mounted above a door, this high-definition IP camera features two-way audio, night vision, cloud storage, a 130-degree field of vision and motion and sound detection.
- Best Compact Wireless Security Camera: The Google Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera boasts all the same incredible features as the above camera — great resolution, virtual assistant compatibility and so on. The one difference? It’s built for indoor use, meaning it’s not water-resistant and is less able to withstand fluctuating temperatures and other environmental factors.
- Google’s "Best of the Best": Finally, Google’s Nest Cam IQ Indoor Full HD Wi-Fi Home Security Camera has all the bells and whistles, if that’s your style. This best-in-class indoor HD camera features a built-in Google Assistant, meaning it can help manage your home security — and answer all of your pressing questions. Its 4k sensor, night vision and 12x digital zoom offer extra-clear video resolution; it allows you to seamlessly talk and listen to your family and pets; and it keeps you in the loop by providing activity alerts and three-hour snapshots sent directly to your phone.
Go Easy on Your Wallet With the Most Affordable Wireless Security Cameras
Maybe smart home integration isn’t the most pressing need on your checklist. Instead, you might be interested in getting the most bang for your buck. Luckily, when it comes to wireless security cameras, models run the gamut in terms of price, and quite a few high-resolution, top-of-the-line cameras go hard on security features but easy on the wallet.
Here are our top picks:
- First, there’s Blink’s XT2 1-Camera Indoor/Outdoor Wire-Free 1080p Surveillance System, which is perhaps best known for touting its compatibility with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. This battery-powered, high-resolution camera features a 110-degree field of vision; two-way audio; cloud connectivity; night vision; mobile alerts; and motion, sound and temperature sensors. The only drawbacks? It doesn’t have a memory card slot, so you’ll be reliant on the cloud, and it’s only compatible with Alexa, not any of the other virtual assistants out there.
- Our second choice? YI’s Smart Dome Security Camera X Home Security System. This best-in-class high-res camera features a unique eyelid design: This means the lens can fully disappear when the device is switched off, making it perfect for first-time security camera owners who are a bit wary of prying tech-eyes. Featuring both cloud and local storage, this camera compresses up to six hours of footage into 5- to 30-second clips — checking in on your home couldn’t be easier. As an added bonus, YI claims that most customers have this device up and running in just five minutes. The cons? This one isn’t virtual assistant-compatible, and some reviewers claim the night vision isn’t great, making for grainy footage.
Skip the Professional Electrician With These Easy-to-Install Wireless Security Cameras
There’s nothing worse than struggling to install a new piece of technology — especially if it’s meant to keep you safe. To avoid professional installation fees and any "user errors," you might want to try out one of these top-grade, easy-to-install cameras.
Here are our favorites:
- Our top pick is the SimpliSafe SimpliCam Indoor HD Wi-Fi Security Camera. This camera features 720p HD resolution for clear, sharp images; a 120-degree field of view; optional cloud compatibility; and smart motion sensors that are calibrated to detect the unique heat signature of humans. As far as installation goes, this one is pretty plug-and-play friendly — literally, you can plug it in, connect to Wi-Fi and just sit back. Checking in on things is made easy too thanks to SimpliSafe’s app.
- The runner-up, the Canary All-in-One Home Security System, claims to be "just what you've been looking for." With an HD 1080p camera and 147-degree lens view, the Canary truly has the bird’s-eye view down pat. This sleek, discreet camera also features a built-in alarm system so that you can scare off unwanted visitors remotely. Not only is this plug-and-play model easy to set up, but Canary’s app — and feature-adding subscription service — makes monitoring a breeze too.
From Doorbells to Floodlights, These Wireless Security Cameras Have All the Bells and Whistles (Literally)
Looking for a camera with some flair or unusual add-ons? Chances are, there’s something out there to suit your needs. Let us shine some light on these devices too.
Here are our picks:
- First up, we have the Ring Spotlight Indoor/Outdoor 1080p Wi-Fi Wireless Security Camera (right). This HD security camera connects to your Wi-Fi and streams live video and audio straight to your personal device, but it’s also easy to install: Mount it to any home surface and connect it to any outdoor electrical box for instant use. The Ring device allows you to create custom motion zones and, in addition to a crisp night vision mode, it also features LED spotlights, meaning you’ll never be in the dark.
- If you’re looking for even more illumination, try Eufy’s Outdoor Wireless 1080p Security Floodlight Camera (left). This camera allows you to keep your home safe (and well lit) thanks to its super-bright 2500-lumen motion-activated lights, which allow the camera to capture HD video no matter the time of day. Best of all, it connects with Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to check in on your camera at all times and adjust the device’s settings from afar.
- Our final recommendation in this category is the Arlo Video Doorbell (center). Technically, this one is a wired option, but it’s still worth the investment, especially if you’re getting regular deliveries to your home. Not only does this capture video footage, but, when someone rings your doorbell, the device notifies you. Perfect for contactless delivery or for folks who don’t like being home alone, this model brings some extra security right to your doorstep. Best of all, it’s both Amazon Alexa and Arlo compatible.
Top-Notch Protection: The Best Overall Security Camera System
Our final recommendation is for folks who want to go all-out — and especially for folks who want to stay away from Google’s products or the Amazon-aligned Blink products. That is, if you don’t have preexisting brand loyalty, then try Arlo’s Pro 2 4-Camera Indoor/Outdoor Wireless 1080p Security Camera System. This 100% wire-free, weather-resistant 1080p HD-quality camera provides 24/7 continuous video recording and features two-way audio; a remote-activated siren; advanced motion detection and night vision; motion- and sound-triggered alerts; and seven days’ worth of free cloud storage.
In addition to working with Arlo, this system is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s HomePod and SmartThings, allowing users to further streamline their smart home security system. This easy-to-install system comes with four cameras, meaning no corner of your home will go unwatched or unprotected.