Keeping tabs on your home, kids or pets has never been easier thanks to the prevalence of the modern, connected home security camera. They’re everywhere these days, allowing you to play Big Brother from wherever you happen to be. It’s usually effortless, too – just launch an app, select your camera and you will be able to see whether burglars have just broken in or it’s just the cat climbing the curtains.
It’s not only about live streaming, however. These cameras are packed with smart tech which means they can capture video recordings when they detect movement or sounds, recognise the faces of familiar people, and even alert you when they detect strangers or tell you if a courier has left a package on the doorstep. Tft Ips
With so many products available and the popularity of security cameras mushrooming, it can be tough to know which camera to buy. That’s where we come in. In the guide below, we will explain some of the features to look out for – what separates the merely good from the great security cameras. If you would rather skip to our selection of the best home security cameras you can buy, click one of the links below.
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There are two main types of home security camera: indoor and outdoor. Indoor cameras tend to be cheaper and typically rely on mains power (often via a USB adapter), while outdoor cameras will have some form of weather-proofing and are usually battery powered to allow for easier DIY setup.
While you can also go wire-free indoors, bear in mind that battery-powered cameras need to be recharged from time to time, which is a faff, especially if you have the camera mounted in a hard-to-reach place.
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Yes. If your camera isn’t capable of recording crisp, detailed video in all types of light conditions you may not be able to make out important details such as number plates or faces. Fortunately, the days of smeary, murky low-resolution video have largely been banished to history and most cameras will capture at 1080p or higher today.
What marks out the best cameras, though, is the way that video is processed. The most important feature on this front is HDR. Cameras with HDR take the video signal from the camera and brighten up the dark areas while ensuring the bright areas of the image aren’t blown out and difficult to see. Cameras without HDR tend to struggle to balance areas of bright and dark with the result that it’s often difficult to make out crucial details.
Night vision is also a key consideration. Most cameras have a night vision mode these days using infrared LEDs to illuminate the area immediately in front of them so they can effectively see in the dark. One or two LEDs are usually enough to light up a small or medium-sized room but, for larger rooms and outdoor spaces, you may need a camera with multiple LEDs. You should also consider a floodlight camera for large outdoor areas, which pairs bright white floodlights and cameras for the ultimate intruder deterrent.
Once motion or audio has been detected, most modern home security cameras will store that clip online so you can view it from or download it to your phone or laptop. And while many home security cameras offer a basic free storage service so you can use your camera without ongoing costs, the free service is often limited in some way.
Indeed, some manufacturers don’t allow any access to online storage at all after an initial trial period, after which you need to pay for anything more than live feed access. It’s also worth bearing in mind that what starts out being free may not continue to be in future.
With this in mind, it’s worth looking for cameras that can also record video clips locally to a microSD card. While this isn’t as flexible as cloud storage, it gives you the option to keep using a camera if the company hikes prices beyond what you’re willing to pay.
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Pan and zoom: Some cameras have a motor and optics that allow you to move the camera around remotely. It’s a useful feature but not essential. Most home security cameras have a very wide field of view and, if positioned carefully, will be able to provide a view of your entire room.
Smart assistant/speaker integration: Many manufacturers boast of integration with either Alexa or Google Assistant in their specifications but while some aspects of these features are useful, they’re worth taking with a pinch of salt. In most instances, they refer to the ability to ask the digital assistant to display the feed from your camera on your smart screen speaker, which isn’t all that useful in our experience.
Object, person and pet detection: This sounds like a gimmick but being able to filter a long list of motion-triggered video clips by the type of motion detected can be a big time-saver. Some cameras even allow you to link names to faces so that you can be alerted when the camera spots certain people – if you want to know when your kids get home from school, this is an incredibly useful feature.
Home security cameras are becoming increasingly smart and have all sorts of fancy features built in, so it’s more important than ever to test them thoroughly. Every home security camera we test is given a workout in a real-world domestic environment, whether that be indoors or outdoors.
During testing we look at image quality in low light and day light, paying particularly close attention to how well the camera copes with high-contrast scenes. We try out the audio connection to see how loud the speakers are and how clearly the microphones pick up audio.
We evaluate how easy the camera is to set up using the various mobile and desktop apps and we also look closely at how effective motion detection is. With so many companies now adding advanced object and audio detection – for instance person, parcel and package detection – this is another aspect we test for while reviewing these cameras to ensure that they actually do what they are supposed to.
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at AmazonMost of Amazon-owned Blink’s security cameras are rugged outdoor cameras, but the Blink Mini takes a different tack. It’s a small, lightweight and basic security camera that costs barely anything, yet it performs at a high level and doesn’t cost too much to run.
All the core features you would expect are covered: it records in 1080p at 30fps, which is better than most cheap security cameras can manage, it offers night vision, motion detection with adjustable motion zones and two-way audio so you can speak and hear through the camera remotely. The video-clip cloud storage service isn’t too expensive at £2.50/mth per camera or £8/mth for unlimited cameras.
Image quality is good both in good light and at night, audio is surprisingly clear, and it’s an absolute doddle to set up. Oh, and it also works seamlessly with screen-based Echo devices, allowing you to bring up the video feed from the camera with a simple voice command.
Read our full Blink Mini review
Key specs – Size: 50 x 49 x 36mm; Field of view: 110 degrees; Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 at 30fps; Night vision: Yes; Motion detection: Yes
Price when : £25 | Check price at AmazonOur favourite budget indoor security camera has just been updated with artificial intelligence smarts that add the ability to detect humans. That means you can set the camera to only receive alerts when the camera detects someone in your home, filtering out other motion events such as the cat strolling casually by. It works pretty well too, detecting people even when they’re sat down and side on to the camera.
The rest of the package is pretty much as before. The camera itself is basic, but the image quality is decent, you get night vision and baby crying-detection for those wanting to employ it as a baby monitor, plus there’s two-way audio so you can speak to whoever is at the other end.
And although the cloud video clip storage isn’t free on an ongoing basis – the first month comes gratis then you have to pay after that – the camera does have a microSD card slot so you can store clips locally and access them that way instead.
It’s basic but the Yi Home Camera 1080p is a great little security camera for those who don’t want to shell out loads.
Key specs – Size: 80 x 32 x 114mm; Weight: 200g; Field of view: 112 degrees; Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Night vision: Yes; Motion detection: Yes; Extra features: Person detection, baby crying detection
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at AmazonThe Eudy SoloCam E40 is our favourite outdoor security camera for a number of different reasons. It records video at up to 2K resolution, its battery lasts up to three months per charge, it’s weatherproof to the IP65 standard and it’s very easy to mount and use. It’s relatively inexpensive and even comes with AI person detection, adjustable sensitivity and motion zones so you don’t have to put up with constant nagging alerts all the time.
The best thing about the SoloCam E40, however, is that it’s completely standalone, and not tied to proprietary hardware or expensive subscription-based cloud storage. Indeed, with 8GB of onboard storage, you will be able to access months of recorded video clips before the Eufy SoloCam E40 runs out of space and starts to overwrite old clips.
Although it isn’t quite as clever as some other cameras, which can detect animals and other objects, it’s the no-strings-attached approach that makes this the best security camera for most people and it’s our pick for those seeking a well-priced outdoor security camera.
Read our full Eufy SoloCam E40 review
Key specs – Size: 57 x 96 x 57mm; Weight: 399g; Field of view: 130 degrees; Video resolution: 2,304 x 1,296; Night vision: Up to 8m; Motion detection: Yes (with adjustable sensitivity and AI person detection)
Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at Easy GatesThe Kami Wire-Free is a cheap outdoor camera that records only short, six-second video clips by default. It records 1080p video and it offers free, lifetime seven-day storage for your motion-triggered video clips.
Plus, there’s the option to record longer clips if you want – just pop in a microSD card and you can extend clip recordings up to 60 seconds in length. Be aware, though, there is a cooldown period of around three minutes in between clip captures on the free storage plan, so you may want to upgrade to a paid-for plan if you want to be certain of capturing absolutely everything. Still, storage plans start at a reasonable £3/mth or £40 per year for seven-day rolling clip storage with no cooldown period.
With a battery life of three to six months via rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (a charger is supplied), night vision, two-way audio and decent image quality, the Kami Wire-free Outdoor Security Camera is a very tempting option for homeowners on a budget. Its only major shortcoming is the inability to set up motion zones; for this price, though, we can forgive such a minor indiscretion.
Key specs – Size: 68 x 138 x 68mm; Weight: 200g; Field of view: 140 degrees; Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Night vision: Up to 8m; Motion detection: Yes (PIR based); Free clip storage option: Yes, 6 seconds with cooldown period
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Price when reviewed: £90 (single), £155 (twin) | Check price at AmazonThe Blink Outdoor is the replacement for our previous favourite outdoor security camera, the Blink XT2 and it doesn’t change an awful lot. It still captures high-resolution 1080p clips, is weatherproof and boasts an impressive two years of battery life from a couple of AA batteries.
What’s changed is that Amazon has removed the free cloud-based clip storage that made the original so attractive. Instead, you have a couple of options: pay for a monthly cloud video subscription (£2.50 per camera per month) or you can record clips to local storage via the Sync Module 2. The catch is that the latter is a £35 optional extra.
Other upgrades include more advanced and customisable activity detection zones and it gives you the option to generate motion-triggered notifications without recording video, so you can use the camera without either a subscription or the Sync Module 2. There’s also a new battery expansion pack that doubles the already-long battery life of the Blink Outdoor camera by adding space for an extra pair of AA batteries. Plus, the Blink Outdoor also has all the features of the previous model, including night vision and support for two-way audio plus seamless Alexa support.
In short, the Blink Outdoor remains one of our favourite outdoor security cameras. The loss of free cloud clip storage is frustrating but with the addition of the Sync Module 2, you can replicate that feature for not much extra.
Key specs – Size: 71 x 71 x 31mm; Weight: 48g; Field of view: 110 degrees; Video resolution: 1080p; Night vision: Yes; Motion detection: Yes
Price when reviewed: £180 | Check price at John Lewis If you’re thinking about investing in two or more cameras to secure your property, or you’re buying a camera to complement your Nest Doorbell, the new Nest Cam (battery) is a great choice.
You need to pay a subscription for cloud video clip storage to make the most of its features but this is quite reasonable for a multi-camera setup at £5/mth for 30 days of video clip history, and as many cameras as you can afford to install.
With that done, the Nest Cam delivers class-leading AI-based object detection (people, familiar faces, animals, vehicles and packages), good image quality and a very flexible motion zone setup.
Combined with integration via the Google Home app, IP54 weather-proofing and very easy installation, it’s a mighty fine security camera.
Read our full Google Cam review
Key specs – Size: 83 x 90 x 83mm (WDH); Field of view: 130 degrees (horizontal); Video resolution: 1080p at 30fps; Night vision: Yes; Motion detection: Yes; People detection: Yes; Package detection: Yes; Facial recognition: Yes
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Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at AmazonWe’re not fans of Ring’s expensive subscription model but if you’re looking to add some security to an outside building or a normally dark entrance, the Ring Spotlight Cam does hold some appeal.
Featuring a 1080p camera flanked by a pair of LED bar lights, the camera not only records anyone and notifies whoever approaches it, but it floods them with bright, white light as well. There’s also a siren for the ultimate deterrent.
It’s also powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that you can plug directly into a charger via micro-USB, making installation easy (although a mains-powered model is also available). And it has a second battery bay so that, while one battery is charging, the other can keep it running.
Key specs – Size: 69 x 76 x 126mm; Field of view: 140 degrees; Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Night vision: Yes; Motion detection: Yes
Price when reviewed: £270 | Check price at John LewisThe Nest Cam with Floodlight takes the standard Nest Cam and adds a mains-powered base and a pair of LED spotlights to provide the ultimate burglar deterrent. As with most mains electricity jobs, you will need a professional electrician to install it for you, unless you’re replacing a pre-existing security light, in which case it’s a doddle to install.
The lights are much brighter than the Ring Spotlight Cam’s at 2,400 lumens and they can be directed wherever you like. Plus, image quality is decent although it’s only 1080p. However, it’s the AI person, familiar face, animal and vehicle detection – and the highly flexible motion zone setup – that really sets the Nest Cam products apart from the competition. That, and the fact that at £5/mth the multi-camera cloud video clip subscription is cheaper than Ring’s offering.
We only awarded the camera three stars, but that’s mainly because the initial purchase price is quite high at £210 where competitors offer similar products for less. If you can afford that, however, it’s a top-quality stylish security camera that’s packed with smart features.
Key specs – Size: Floodlight – 315 x 165 x 93mm (WDH), Camera – 83 x 83 x 83mm (WDH); Field of view: 130 degrees; Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Night vision: yes; Motion detection: Yes
Check price at John Lewis
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