Everyone likes to know that their home is secure and that everything and everyone inside is safe while we’re gone. In years past, that meant using a CCTV system to record, but few had remote access or alerts. Now you can buy a Wi-Fi-connected camera you can view from your phone.
Also see: Best Camera Deals
Modern home security cameras are very easy to set up. Some use cloud storage, so any evidence is saved online and safe from thieves who might steal your camera.
How to choose a home security camera
Most home security cameras perform the same basic functions – they detect an event, record the event and send you an alert – but they don’t all do it in the same way.
Also, there are two main types: those that record only when motion is detected and those that record constantly (like CCTV).
Certain cameras go beyond those basics and some can be mounted outdoors. Don’t forget to read our reviews to find out how well each camera works in practice and whether its day and night video quality is any good: don’t rely on a manufacturer’s specifications or claims.
You should get notifications on your phone when the camera detects an event. Without watching the live feed constantly, this is the only way to keep tabs on your home in relative real time.
Some can send alerts to multiple people; others will send emails in addition to text messages.
Many manufacturers now offer cloud-storage plans with their camera. They record video to a server in the cloud and store it for anything from 24 hours to a couple of weeks. Sometimes offered free, these cloud plans typically require a monthly subscription, but may be worth buying for their convenience and 24/7 recording.
Netatmo’s Welcome (and now Nest with its Cam IQ) offer facial recognition so you can get alerts when certain family members arrive home – or only if an unfamiliar face is spotted. It does work, but not as well as you might hope.
Neither of these cameras makes it into our top 10 chart here, for different reasons.
Some cameras include memory card slots so you can store video on the device. We like this option as it can eliminate the cost of monthly storage fees – but if a thief steals your camera they take the evidence with them. Ezviz’s cameras let you record both locally and to the cloud simultaneously.
All the latest cameras can be accessed (some even set up) via a smartphone or tablet app. In addition to offering a way to view the camera’s live feed, apps often let you adjust settings and turn on and off recording, motion detection and more.
Often you’ll only be able to customise notifications, adjust motion and sound detection sensitivity, and set detection areas via the web portal, but it’s great if you can do this in the app.
Motion detection is one of the most desirable features in a security camera. Built-in sensors (or software algorithms) pick up movement within the camera’s field of view and trigger video recording. Because you’re not interested in any old movement, it’s important the system also offers the ability to narrow the range of detection, adjust the sensor’s sensitivity or otherwise customise this feature to cut down on false alerts.
Some cameras can identify people, cars and pets, while others aren’t as smart.
Most burglaries happen after dark, so this feature is nearly as important as motion detection. Every camera here will switch to night vision automatically in low-light conditions, and most allow you to customise when and how it should be activated. This won’t work through windows, where you’ll see a reflection of the LEDs – that’s why you need an outdoor camera to monitor your garden or driveway.
Pan, Tilt & Swivel
Most security cameras can be manually tilted and swivelled to focus on a certain viewing area. A true pan/tilt camera is equipped with a motor so that you can move its lens using its app or browser-based app.
No amount of security video will help you if it’s blurry, jittery or otherwise distorted. Look for a camera that offers the highest possible resolution. However, bear in mind that many 1080p cameras will reduce the quality to 720p in order to upload it to the cloud, so it’s not the advantage you might think. In most cases, it’s only 1080p cameras with local storage benefit from the extra resolution.
Scheduling features allow you to tell the camera to turn on and off, detect motion, and/or send alerts at specified times. This is useful when you want to be notified only when your children get home from school, or when you’re away. It can reduces the number of false alerts.
While the idea of a security camera implies eyes-on monitoring, the ability to also hear what’s going on gives you a more complete picture of what’s happening at home. This feature can also allow you to speak through the camera.
The camera’s field of view determines how much it can see. Some are wider than others: check our reviews for sample images from each camera.
Best home security camera reviews 2017
The Evo is the best all-round indoor home security camera you can buy thanks to a combination of hardware, software and the free seven-day cloud recording. That combination is hard to get right, but Y-Cam has managed it.
Read our Y-Cam Evo review.
It isn’t perfect, it isn’t cheap and it lacks a few features we’d like to see added to the app, but overall we really like the Netatmo Presence. It doesn’t look like a security camera and the LEDs do a good job of replacing an existing outdoor light. Plus, it’s not difficult to install and there’s no subscription to pay.
Read our Netatmo Presence review.
The Mini Plus is a great home security camera that works reliably and offers very good quality video. We’d like to see some improvements in the app both in terms of the interface and also to add some of the advanced options that you get only in the Windows app.
It’s a shame there’s no free cloud recording option, but the fact it can record to both cloud and microSD means you have the choice.
Ultimately, you’ll struggle to find another 1080p security camera with a similar set of features and diminutive size for less.
Read our Ezviz Mini Plus review.
It may lack a speaker for two-way communication, but if you need an outdoor camera the Y-Cam is a seriously good package. You get good-quality video clips, stored freely in the cloud for seven days.
The app is one of the better ones, too, and this is one of the reasons it’s worth the money.
Read our Y-cam Outdoor HD Pro review.
For a camera that costs £169.99, the Arlo Q offers quite a lot – free cloud recording, night vision, two-way communication and a well-designed app available for iOS, Android and FireOS, providing users with basic home security.
It doesn’t feature a built-in siren like some of its competitors, but you have to make compromises at this price point – a camera that features night vision, two-way audio and a siren can cost ~£250.
Other compatible Arlo accessories provide users with a system that can be slowly upgraded over time, allowing customers to start with one fairly cheap camera and build the system up from there.
Read our Netgear Arlo Q review.
Ring’s Stick Up Cam is a great option for those looking for an intelligent outdoor security camera. Thanks to its design, setup is a breeze even for those with little or no DIY experience and the built-in battery means that there’s no need for wires. While video is capped at 720p HD, overall quality provided is great and the night vision is more than enough for most gardens. Ring’s motion detection feature is far beyond what competitors offer with advanced ‘zone’ detection, and alerts you on your smartphone, tablet or PC.
Battery life isn’t perfect, but you have the option of hooking up a solar panel or plugging it in to a power supply if charging it every 6/8 weeks isn’t an option.
Also check out our Ring Smart Doorbell review.
Read our Ring Stick Up Cam review.
Overall I was impressed with the Canary. The camera itself looks good and it allowed me to monitor a large room in my home with a single unit which was sensitive to both movement and unusual sounds.
Setting the hardware up could not have been easier, and the app is well designed and incredibly easy to use. The Apple Watch app was also very useful for notifications, as well as allowing me to arm and disarm the Canary.
The HomeHealth feature is a bonus, and not typically found in a security camera, so that’s a handy extra which makes the Canary better value. I’d like to see the free cloud storage extended to 24 hours, as 12 hours isn’t really enough. For anyone after a security camera and like the extras of the siren and air quality measurements, the Canary is a great choice.
Best of all, the device has only alerted me to genuine situations that require my attention and appears to have the right balance between privacy and security.
The only thing I would suggest for the next device would be that footage is made available to me on my laptop or desktop.
Read our Canary review.
The Flex is a great security camera. Like its predecessor, Canary’s indoor camera, it looks great, is simple to set up and above all it does exactly what you want it to: monitors your home and offers good-quality video.
It’s a shame the Secure Mount isn’t included in the box, but it takes less than 10 minutes to mount on an exterior wall and doesn’t require any tricky and potentially expensive wiring.
Read our Canary Flex review.
If you’re looking for a versatile security camera, the Argus is for you: it’s completely wire-free, can be used indoors and outdoors, and features an easy to use magnetic hinge for angle adjustment.
It boasts high-quality 1080p HD video recording and live streaming capabilities, along with an advanced PIR motion detection system for fewer false positives. There’s no cloud storage, but there’s an optional microSD card slot for local storage of photos and videos.
The only issue for some is the requirement of standard batteries, rather than including a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Besides, it only costs £99, making it a bargain and a great option for those looking to invest in smart security for the home.
Read our Reolink Argus review.
The Nest Cam is a well-made piece of hardware that delivers great video, even in the dark. However, the apps and website need a better interface for navigating the timeline and the iOS app needs more features, such as the ability to view your marked video clips, and a way to save videos locally or share them online. In order to be a proper security camera, alerts need to be addressed too.
Given that other brands will save a seven-day video history for free, the Nest Cam is fairly poor value. And we’d like to see the option to use your own local storage – perhaps a NAS – to record footage if you don’t want to subscribe.
Read our Nest Cam review.