How Many Security Cameras Do I Need?

For most folks, one well-placed camera is probably enough. Get the lowdown on how many cameras you need for your home.

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John Carlsen
Senior Staff Writer, Security & Smart Home
June 28, 2022

You’ve been thinking about getting a security camera for your home—maybe you even have the perfect model picked out—but can't decide which rooms need a camera. One thing's for certain: no need to rush out and stick a camera in every room. So how many security cameras do you need? Depending on your home, it might just be one.

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1. For apartments and small homes

If you live in an apartment or smaller house, a simple doorbell camera might be all you need. It multitasks to watch your front stoop and keep any eye out for visitors and any packages dropped off.

2. For larger properties

If you have a larger property with outdoor structures, any side entrances, or rooms inside you want to watch, more cameras won't hurt. Any structures like sheds or garages that aren’t super visible from your home might benefit from having some extra eyes on them.

You can find outdoor cameras like the Ring Floodlight Cam that house an on-board motion sensor, floodlights, and a camera. So if anything triggers the sensors, you’ll get a clip of it.

And honestly, unless you have a ton of stuff to watch out for like a safe, your kids’ nursery or playroom, or a pool entrance, you probably don’t need more than two.

3. Focus on common areas

In most cases, it's not a good idea to put security cameras in private areas of your home such as bedrooms and bathrooms—a notable exception is using a baby monitor in nurseries where babies sleep.

Stick to common areas instead:

  • Entryways and hallways
  • Family rooms, living rooms, and offices
  • Kitchens and dining rooms
  • Yards and driveways

Small homes and apartments rarely have more than one common area, so a single camera works in most cases. Depending on the layout of your home or property, you can sometimes monitor multiple common areas at once with strategic camera placement, lenses with wide fields of view, or pan-tilt cameras, like the Reolink E1 Zoom.

Home examples

Every home is unique so there's no way to create an exhaustive list of where you might need a camera, but here are some examples of suitable places for a home security camera. When in doubt, consider cameras at entrances, in the largest rooms, and in vulnerable areas.

Home
Entrances
Private areas
Common areas
Number of cams
Camera placement
Studio apartment1Bathroom (1)Combined kitchen, living, bedroom11. Facing away from sleeping area
Condo1Bathroom (2)
Bedroom (2)
Open floor plan with kitchen and family room, hallway1–21. Open area
2. Opposite end of hallway from open area
Small house2Bathroom (2)
Bedroom (3)
Main floor dining room and kitchen, basement family room with back door, porch, yards2–31. Porch
2. Family room
3. Backyard
Townhouse2Bathroom (2)
Bedroom (3)
First floor living room, second floor kitchen and family room, third floor hallway, garage, porch2–41. Porch
2. Garage
3. Kitchen/family room
4. Third floor hallway
Large house3Bathroom (3)
Bedroom (5)
Main floor dining room, kitchen, basement family room, back patio, side entrance, porch, yards3–51. Porch
2. Back patio
3. Side entrance
4. Family room
5. Kitchen
Checklist
Multi-camera security systems

If you need more than four cameras, consider getting a multi-camera security system bundle instead of buying cameras separately. These systems are also great for local video storage on a DVR or NVR.

Some security companies impose a camera limit

If you want to get more than one camera as part of a home security system, choose wisely. To prevent draining your internet bandwidth, some security companies limit the number of cameras you can use per account. Others require you to upgrade to a more expensive monthly subscription to use cameras at all. 

ADT, Vivint, and SimpliSafe have camera limits: 

  • ADT cameras: Up to 6 per account, video requires upgraded plan
  • Vivint cameras: Up to 6 per account, video requires upgraded plan
  • SimpliSafe cameras: Up to 5 with Camera Recording plan and up to 10 with Interactive Monitoring plan

You can use an unlimited number of Ring cameras, Cove cameras, and Brinks cameras, but you'll have to subscribe to each company's most expensive monitoring plan to use them. Frontpoint's in the same boat: our exclusive SafeWise reader discount doesn't include video monitoring, so you'll have to pay the usual price if you want a Frontpoint camera.

Choose Abode cameras, Blue by ADT cameras, or Wyze cameras if you want a smorgasbord of cameras without paying a premium price each month—you can use unlimited cameras with any of their plans.

Conclusion

The good news is you don’t have to spend a ton of money or set up cameras at every access point like a bank or a business. Cameras at your entrances or outside structures should be enough to catch anything that you might not on your own.

Contributing writer: John Carlsen

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John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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