How to Choose a Security Camera System

CCTV, NVR, DVR, WIFI, PoE, with numerous acronyms and a flock of various devices, the globe of home security cameras may be tons, especially if you’re not conversant in home security generally. Well, we’re here to assist someway. Over the years, we’ve tested out and reviewed dozens of security cameras, from wired to wireless, from indoor to outdoor and everything in between. Here, we’re going over the various sorts of cameras, whether you would like one or not, the way to install them, and more. If it’s security camera-related, we’ve got you covered.

Why Do I Need A Home Security Camera?

The first question you’ll ask yourself is simple: may be a security camera necessary within the first place? and therefore the answer depends on the extent of security you would like to feature to your home or business. While sensors can detect motion, letting you recognize if doors or windows are opened or closed, without cameras, you can’t actually see what’s happening at home.
Cameras also can get you help faster; in terms of audio verification versus video verification, the local police department in Fremont, California found that audio verification alone had a 95 percent chance of being a warning ; Salt Lake City found false alarm rates of 82 percent, while the police in Burien, Washington found rates of 92 percent.1 In sum? Audio isn’t enough on its own; for the police to actually see what’s happening, a camera is important. In contrast, cities that use video-verified responses found that the amount of alarm calls they got decreased by about 90 percent overall, improving their response times so people could get help faster.
Camera footage also can be useful during a criminal investigation if you do find yourself being burgled. Michael Worgul, a criminal defense lawyer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said that “Surveillance camera footage is often used as evidence in criminal cases…It is easy to see how surveillance camera footage could be relevant if it depicts a person committing a crime”. For these reasons, we recommend installing security cameras additionally to sensors at your home or business.

Benefits of a Surveillance System 

Not only can surveillance cameras deter criminals and help law enforcement quickly catch any would-be thieves, but these systems also can improve accountability among your employees, it helps you monitor productivity, and should reduce your insurance premiums. While the upfront costs of putting in a video surveillance system can seem steep, the long-term payoff and therefore the peace of mind could be well worth the expense.

What Do Burglars See?

Though it’d sound odd, we also think it’s an honest idea to look at your home through the eyes of a burglar. What will we mean? Well, first, believe what burglars look for: Areas with little to no lighting, where they will move undetected, for instance. A camera with motion-activated lighting, sort of a Ring Spotlight Cam, lets any potential intruder know they’re messing with the incorrect house. We tested and reviewed the best PoE Security Cams here.
We’ve run into dozens of scenarios like these, and however thankfully we’ve  never been burglarized ourselves, experts have warned for several years that it are often traumatic and devastating to seek out that a stranger has been inside your home, rifling through your belongings. Security cameras are often a simple and cheap thanks to avoid this.


How Many Security Cameras Do I Need?

The amount of security cameras you would like depends on the size of your home also because the amount of security you wish generally. At a minimum, we recommend putting a camera within the main entrance of your home on the bottom floor. Ideally, you furthermore might use outdoor security cameras on all ground floor entrances; however, this won’t apply to someone living in an apartment. For more security, you’ll put more security cameras on the bottom level, and in any room that you simply use frequently or must undergo to enter or exit your home. for extra security, you’ll put security cameras in main hallways on second or third floors. However, we don’t recommend placing cameras in bedrooms or bathrooms due to privacy issues. generally, most homes would require a minimum of three cameras on two outside entrances also as an inside entrance.

Security Camera Buying Guide

Since there are many factors to think about when choosing a security camera, we created a guide to steer you through the whole process, beginning with choosing the sort of camera, or cameras, that you simply need.

Different Types of Home Security Cameras

There are a couple of alternative ways to approach the various sorts of security cameras, either by location, where you set them in your home or business, by power, how they receive power, by connectivity, whether or not they require Wi-Fi, landline, cellular or battery backup, by the way, they record footage or by their shape.

By Location

Most people will start their look for a security camera by location: where does one want to monitor? If you reside in an apartment, you almost certainly only need indoor cameras, but those with front and back yards can enjoy outdoor cameras and video doorbells, as well.


  • Indoor Cameras: Indoor cameras, which usually cost around $100, should be placed on the bottom level of your home at the very least. Avoid private areas like bathrooms or bedrooms, but cover any area that’s easily accessible, sort of a front hallway, or any area that’s central to your home, sort of a front room. Indoor cameras are more likely to be plug-in than outdoor cameras, which can not be near an outlet. However, we recommend getting cellular backup for plug-in cameras in order that they stay even ifthe facility doesn’t.
  • Outdoor Cameras: Outdoor cameras, on the opposite hand, tend to cost around $200. The reason? they are available with weather-resistant cases in order that they will withstand large temperature ranges also as various solids and liquids, be it rain, snow or hail. How does one determine how durable a camera is will depend upon the IP rating, which we detail below in our purchasing  Unlike indoor cameras, outdoor cameras are more likely to be wireless thanks to fewer outdoor outlets; inspect our list of the simplest outdoor wireless cameras to explore your options.
  • Video Doorbells: Video doorbells are another sort of outdoor cameras used specifically on front doors. Otherwise referred to as doorbell cameras, they’ll include a chime or replace an existing doorbell setup so people can see and speak to their guests remotely through a mobile application or smart home device. for instance, when someone rings our doorbells, we get alerted not only on our phones but also on our Echo Show, where we see our guest fully  Don’t own a sensible display? Read our Echo Show review, an Alexa-compatible smart display, or our Nest Hub review, a Google Assistant-compatible smart display. Here at, we give civil right to voice assistants!

By Power

How will your camera get power, through A battery or from a wall outlet? this is often an important question to ask yourself before purchasing a camera, and it’s going to come right down to your personal preference, with pros and cons for every type.

Wired Cameras: Wired cameras, typically indoor, have the advantage of never requiring us to exchange their batteries; rather, they’re either plugged in or hardwired into our home. However, the disadvantages are there as well; one, we don’t love adding more wires to our already connected smart home, and two, if our power or Wi-Fi goes out, which occurs more often than we’d like, the camera might not be ready to hook up with our app. For this reason, we recommend getting cameras compatible with cellular or landline backup in order that they stay in blackouts.

Ring Stick Up Cam Wired


  • Wireless Cameras: Wireless cameras are much easier to put in than wired cameras, but in fact, we had to require battery life into consideration; a year may be a reasonable period of time for a camera to last, in our opinion. While some batteries are rechargeable, some we’ve to exchange completely every so often. Some outdoor cameras, just like the Ring Spotlight Cam Solar, accompany solar panels, meaning that they charge continuously from the sun, never requiring A battery 

Believe it or not, not everyone uses the web. In fact, in 2020, 10 percent of USA citizens don’t use the web, consistent with the Pew research facility. But whether or not you’ve got Wi-Fi in your home, you’ll find a security camera that’ll work.


  • WiFi-Connected Cameras (Digital or IP Camera): Lately, most security cameras are WiFi-connected, meaning that they need a corresponding app that allowed us livestream footage, receive motion or person-activated notifications, and control our camera remotely. This took our home monitoring from local only to remote; we could literally see what was happening reception from anywhere within the world, goodbye because it had Wi-Fi. For the foremost comprehensive monitoring, we recommend getting a sensible security camera, meaning it’s connected to the web.
  • Cameras That Don’t Require WiFi (Analog): If you don’t have Wi-Fi, there are still cameras that’ll work for you. Most record directly onto either a micro-SD card or disk drive, so while we couldn’t livestream footage, we could see what went on reflection by downloading the local storage onto a tool like our computer. a corporation known for his or her security cameras that don’t need WiFi is Reolink; read our Reolink GO camera review for more information.

How does the camera record footage?

In a nutshell, cameras with DVR process the footage’s data within the recorder, usually a tough drive, NVR systems process the info within the camera itself then stream it to the recorder. Here’s more of the nitty-gritty.


  • Digital Video Recorders (DVR): DVR cameras are typically analog cameras, meaning they’re not WiFi-connected; they’re usually a part of wired security systems. Typically, the camera connects to a tough drive via a coax.
  • Network Video Recorders (NVR): the bulk of NVR cameras are WiFi-connected, otherwise referred to as IP or Internet Protocol cameras. These cameras can either be wired or wireless.

By Shape

Finally, you’ll want to select a camera supported its shape, with different shapes working best in several spaces.


  • Bullet: Bullet cameras, usually wireless, are good for securing on rooms’ corners for the foremost 
  • Dome: a touch harder to put in than bullet cameras, dome cameras have the advantage of being hard to steal, as they’re placed on ceilings. They also provide a wider field of view than a daily camera thanks to their spherical design.
  • Box: A box Kodak is strictly what it seems like, a camera shaped sort of a  These aren’t super common when it involves smart home security and were more popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Pan, tilt or zoom: Sometimes, we don’t want to be limited to a camera’s field of view, which is where panning, tilting and zooming comes in. this provides us more freedom to ascertain exactly what we would like to ascertain, and therefore the best cameras can pan all the way around for total coverage. Read our Wyze Cam Pan review to ascertain this in action.
  • Hidden: Also relatively self-explanatory, hidden cameras are designed to seem like other objects, be it a pen, teddy, or just a camera sufficiently small to stay  We don’t recommend getting hidden cameras, as visible cameras are often a deterrent to would-be burglars.
  • Turret or eyeball camera: Looking pretty almost like a dome camera, a turret camera has the simplest of both worlds, as we could position the camera during a ny angle we wanted in a theft-resistant setup.

Do You Need A Hard Drive for Security Cameras?

Believe it or not, not everyone uses the web/internet. In fact, in 2019, 10 percent of USA citizens don’t use the web , consistent with the Pew research facility. But whether or not you’ve got Wi-Fi in your home, you’ll find a security camera that’ll work.


  • WiFi-Connected Cameras (Digital or IP Camera): Lately, most security cameras are WiFi-connected, meaning that they need a corresponding app that allowed us livestream footage, receive motion or person-activated notifications, and control our camera remotely. This took our home monitoring from local only to remote; we could literally see what was happening reception from anywhere within the world, goodbye because it had Wi-Fi. For the foremost comprehensive monitoring, we recommend getting a sensible security camera, meaning it’s connected to the web.
  • Cameras That Don’t Require WiFi (Analog): If you don’t have Wi-Fi, there are still cameras that’ll work for you. they’re called PoE security cameras. Most record directly onto either a micro-SD card or disk drive, so while we couldn’t livestream footage, we could see what went on reflection by downloading the local storage onto a tool like our computer. A company known for his or her security cameras that don’t need WiFi is Reolink.

Features to Look For in a Home Security Camera

home security cameras
1. Resolution

this is often one among the foremost important considerations when selecting a camera. For sharp images, you would like a camera that shoots a minimum of in 720p high definition, which suggests an IP camera. If you would like to ensure that your camera will have a clear, identifiable image, you do not want to chop corners here.

2. Frame rate

This is often another key aspect of a camera: the upper the frame rate, the smoother the video. Video may be a series of still images stitched together to make a movie. The lower the frame rate, the less frequently a still is taken; this leads to choppier footage. you would like to think about the frame rate. For reference, real time is usually measured as 30 frames per second.

3. Models

There are many various sorts of security cameras out there. a number of the more common ones are bullet cameras, which are the oblong boxes you would possibly see protruding from a wall; dome cameras, which are often attached to a ceiling and housed during a tinted cover; and PTZ cameras, which supply remote-control capabilities to regulate the sector of vision. counting on your security needs and where you propose to put in the cameras, consider which sorts of cameras will provide you with the standard of footage you want together with your system.

4. Indoor/outdoor

 Some security cameras are made specifically for the indoors and won’t get up to Mother Nature quite also as their outdoor counterparts. If you propose to use cameras outside, make sure you buy weatherproof models. Otherwise, water or dirt interferes with the clarity of your video feeds or, worse, causes the camera to malfunction. check out the extent of protection from natural conditions your security camera offers.

5. Lighting

Many security cameras shoot in what’s referred to as low-light infrared, enabling them to capture clear footage in dark conditions. The more IR LEDs that a camera has, the higher able it’s to record crisp, clear footage in the dark. If capturing footage within the dark may be a priority, confirm your camera has many IR LEDs.


6. Audio

 Some cameras don’t acquire audio at all, while others do. Some even enable two-way audio, so an individual watching the camera on the opposite end can communicate with a subject within the camera’s field of vision.

7. Storage capacity

 For video recorders, storage may be a key element you would like to be told about. how much storage is best for you hinges on the amount of cameras in your system, each camera’s resolution, the amount of archived footage you plan to store and the way long you plan to stay recorded footage. If multiple cameras are shooting during a higher resolution, the footage will quickly eat up storage space. you’ll set a video recorder to overwrite the oldest footage once you reach the system’s capacity, but if you are not careful, the system might overwrite archived footage that you simply still need. There are online tools which will assist you calculate what proportion space for storing you will need supported the small print of your system. for instance, a four-camera system that runs 24 hours each day using IP cameras, each with a 2-megapixel resolution and a frame rate of 5 fps, with video compressed into MJPEG files on a NVR, would require 2.79 terabytes of space for storing for footage, consistent with the Supercircuits calculator. That’s quite little bit of data for a moderately size system, so it is vital to plan accordingly and know what quite capacity you’ll actually need. You furthermore may want to take care of a touch of a cushion beyond that calculated number so you’ll store any particularly interesting footage you would possibly got to refer back to.

8. Cloud storage

 Recorded video are often stored within the cloud additionally to on your video recorder. There are a couple of distinct advantages to doing this, including having remote access to your videos and superior storage volume. However, you would like to make sure that this is often wiped out a fashion that will not eat up all the available bandwidth and hamper your network. the simplest thanks to do that is to either schedule uploads to the cloud or upload them after peak business hours. Moreover, many cloud services charge a subscription fee to use their offerings, especially to store video files in perpetuity. Ask the company what cybersecurity measures they want ensure your data is protected. On the plus side, storing videos within the cloud means although your hardware is broken , stolen, or tampered with, you still have archived footage.

9. Camera compatibility

 Not every video recorder is compatible with every camera. DVRs require analog cameras, and NVRs use IP cameras, but the compatibility question extends well beyond that distinction. Some NVR systems, for instance, are compatible with the IP cameras only from certain manufacturers and not others. When buying a video recorder, ask whether the device is compatible with the cameras you’ve purchased. If you’re working with a surveillance system integrator to configure your system, the cameras should be ready to tell you the required information.
Compression: Compression eliminates unnecessary data from the footage transmitted to your video recorder, thereby saving space. Two of the more common compression techniques used for high-definition video are MJPEG and H.264. You’ll also use MPEG4, but the standard tends to be less than that of MPEG4’s aforementioned counterparts. Compression methods are relatively complex and vary in their applications counting on your needs and hardware. Security Info Watch has created a handy primer on compression technology.

10. PoE Switches

Power-over-Ethernet switches apply only to NVR systems, but they cut out other components that might be necessary for a DVR system, like additional power sources and therefore the BNC cables used to connect cameras to the DVR. Instead, once you connect a PoE switch to your network, you’ve an influence source and a way of transmitting data to your NVR beat one package. the most important consideration when choosing which sort of PoE switch to shop for is that the number of cameras which will get on your system. subsequent consideration is how likely you’re to scale up within the future.

Some NVRs have a couple of PoE ports built into them, while others won’t. If you would like to shop for a PoE switch, the smaller ones start at around $40 to $50 and offer about five ports. Each port represents a knowledge connection and an influence source for one camera. If you propose to proportion and implement a really large system, there are PoE switches that feature as many as 48 distinct ports. These solutions are vastly costlier, like this one from Netgear, which costs $800 on Amazon. Read our Best PoE security camera review here.

There also are wireless IP cameras available that need little quite mounting, but those could be less secure than wired connections. If you select wireless, you will need to form sure the signal cannot be easily intercepted. Again, it all comes back to your particular needs and therefore the sort of system you’re trying to construct.

When choosing a system, pay close attention to your cameras, your video recorder and your PoE switches.

Is audio important for security camera?

Integrating audio into a surveillance system makes it possible for personnel to listen to and speak with possible perpetrators. It are often easily integrated with video management systems.
From a surveillance point of view it also can be used as an independent detection method triggering recordings and alarms when audio passes a particular threshold.

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