There are a lot of security cameras to choose from—many work well in a compatible home security system or as stand-alone units. Understanding the differences will help you find one that fits your needs. Here are five kinds of security cameras you're likely to encounter.
Indoor security cameras
Select an indoor camera to watch what’s happening inside your home, particularly one with two-way audio. You can check in with kids after school, tell Rover to get off your favorite chair, or scare the daylights out of an intruder who doesn’t belong in your home (plus you’ll have their picture, to boot!).
Outdoor security cameras
An outdoor camera relies on a high weatherproof rating that stands up to the elements and drastic changes in temperature. Another big feature is night vision. You might also consider a camera with a built-in motion-activated light—all the better to scare you with, my dear!
A doorbell camera is essentially an outdoor camera for watching over your front porch. A video doorbell uses two-way audio so you can talk to guests and are a good way to make sure packages don’t walk off unnoticed.
Wireless security cameras
As a concept, wireless cameras are confusing. “Wireless” can either mean cameras with a Wi-Fi connection or that they run off a battery. We lean toward cameras that are 100% wire-free, with both Wi-Fi and a wireless power source. But we include some of both types in our wireless camera roundup.
Monitored security cameras
Security cameras in a monitored security system usually have the same features and options as stand-alone units. But you can tap into the expertise of the home security company to pick the right one. They work with your security system, so there's always an extra set of eyes looking out for trouble 24/7.
Here are some important features to consider when buying home security cameras:
Resolution directly affects the quality of the home security footage your camera produces. A clear image provides crucial details to help identify faces, vehicles, and items in a recording. At a minimum, choose a camera with 720p resolution, but we suggest 1080p or higher.
Field of view
Field of view refers to how much area a camera sees through its lens. It affects how many cameras you need and where you should place them. In general, choose a camera with a field of view that's at least 110º, though wider angles than this are usually better.
Most security cameras offer motion alerts to help prevent break-ins and keep deliveries safe. You receive notifications when a camera observes movement, so you can react appropriately. Choose a motion sensor camera with many settings to get the most from its motion detection.
Security camera footage that is too dark to make out any details is practically useless. The distance your camera can see in low- to no-light situations impacts its effectiveness after the sun sets. To cover your bases, choose a camera with an adequate night vision range.
Cameras with two-way communication have a microphone and speaker for interacting with people or pets on the other end. Two-way talk effectively turns your home security camera into an intercom for addressing a delivery driver or checking in on the kids after school.
Pan and tilt
A pan-and-tilt camera has motors that allow you to reposition the camera's lens remotely. This feature records a larger area than a static camera and reduces the number of cameras you need to observe a particular area.