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smart home security cameras

Guide to Smart Home Security Cameras

By Laura BourlandRise Writer
Aug 24, 2019

Today, 55 percent of all people live in urban areas. That means we are living closer together than ever before. And while many people find it enjoyable to be part of such dense communities, we have little control over our neighbors and passers-by.

Back in 1874, ADT, a leading home security company, was formed after a nighttime home break-in. Since then, more and more homeowners have sought home security systems to protect their property and families from theft, burglary, vandalism, and other home security threats.

But for those who do not want to sign up with independent security companies, there is a DIY solution. Homeowners can now manage their home’s security by using small cameras, smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart assistants.

What is a Smart Home Security Camera?

Smart home security cameras are similar to surveillance cameras installed by home security organizations but have the added benefit of connecting to your smart home system. Smart home security cameras can be purchased individually or as a bundle. Bundles packages can help to secure your entire home through a wide variety of features, including two-way voice communication, recording, voice control, night vision, and much more.

What Are The Benefits of Smart Home Security Camera?

The main benefit of choosing a smart home security camera over a system managed by a professional security organization is the ability to monitor your home security through an app installed on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You have the power to watch the real-time video feed, review video recordings, and even communicate with anyone inside or around your home. In addition, a smart home security app enables you to track and manage your home’s security wherever you have an internet connection—while laying in bed, at work, or even while you’re out of town.

ring doorbell app video
Photo Credit: TechAdvisor

Depending on the smart home security camera you choose, you can set up push notifications to automatically alert you to doors and windows opening. This feature can help you with your home’s energy efficiency). In addition, you can receive an alert when a camera detects motion without having to monitor your cameras actively. Paired with a smart home assistant, you can instruct Alexa, Siri, or Google Home to turn your cameras on and off or confirm that they are actively monitoring your home. Of course, not all smart home security cameras are compatible with all smart voice assistants. Be sure to check compatibility before purchasing your cameras.

What Should I Look For When Buying Home Security Cameras?

Types of Smart Home Security Cameras

As smart technology takes off, there are hundreds of options in smart home security cameras ranging in functionality, features, and reliability. If you are just getting started with your very first home security camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, we recommend jotting down the most important options to narrow down your selection.  For example, available options may include:

  • Pan
  • Tilt
  • Zoom
  • Indoor
  • Outdoor
  • Night Vision
  • Video Only
  • Video and Voice
  • Two-Way Voice
  • Color Video
  • Black and White Video
  • Video clarity
  • Video Storage
  • Camera Casing Color
  • Smart Assistant Compatibility

What Is an Indoor Smart Home Security Camera?

If you’re looking for cameras to monitor the interior of your home for places like entryways, bedrooms, and living spaces, choose a camera designed for indoor use. These cameras are equipped to take clear video with indoor lighting; some can even capture video when the lights are out. Some indoor smart home security cameras will pan and tilt automatically to track motion and provide a wider viewing area, which can help you reduce the number of indoor cameras required.

wyze indoor security camera
Photo Credit: Wyze

Again, you must look into your intended smart home security camera's specifications before purchasing to ensure your selection fits your needs. Some examples of very affordable systems include the Wyze Cam Pan 1080p, currently priced at just $29.99. You might want to consider additional built-in features like those provided by the Canary CAN100USBK. This camera offers a 1080p video with an integrated security siren, climate monitor, and automatic air quality alerts and currently costs only $49.

Smart Home Security Cameras for Outdoor Use

Suppose you are concerned about the security of your home's exterior (such as the front and back doors, garage, driveway, mailbox, etc.). In that case, you will need to choose a camera designed specifically for outdoor use. These smart home security cameras are built with weatherproof cords and cameras to protect them from the elements.

One of the most popular outdoor smart home security cameras is the Ring Video Doorbell, designed to replace your existing doorbell with a smarter version. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro includes HD video, two-way voice communication, custom motion zones, and infrared night vision and currently costs $169. Doorbird, a slightly pricier competitor to Ring, offers many similar features, along with living viewing from anywhere you have access to your phone.

Google Nest outdoor camera
Photo Credit: Google Nest

Suppose you are more interested in capturing video of your backyard or driveway. In that case, you might consider a doorbell-free smart home security camera like the Google Nest Cam Outdoor, which currently costs $164. This camera includes 1080p video, two-way audio, 24/7 recording, and “person detection”—a handy feature that can differentiate between a moving human and a flag blowing in the breeze.

Smart Home Security Cameras for Nighttime Use

As you shop around, be aware that not all smart home security cameras capture good video in dark conditions. If you are concerned about monitoring your home at night, choose a camera that can detect motion and comes with a high-quality video in the dark.

Some cameras may advertise night capabilities, but the specifications may not add up to good-quality night videos. If you are buying in-store, ask the salesperson about conducting an in-store test in a dark room. If you are shopping online, read the reviews, looking specifically for uploaded video of nighttime recordings. You can get a good idea of the camera’s nighttime abilities by looking at the product specs. Excellent night vision requires LED bulbs around the camera lens and an IR cut filter that helps the camera detect daylight.

night vision security camera

Night vision cameras vary widely in the distance they can see. Some may only capture video up to 100 feet (30 meters), while others may extend further. If you have a large yard, you may want to consider a smart home security camera with a longer viewing distance at night. And, while most cameras will record nighttime feeds in black and white, new options do include color video as well. The Reolink RLC-410, for example, provides 2560x1920 resolution up to 100 feet at night in black and white with an 80 degree viewing angle for $219.99.

What Is the Best Frame Rate for Security Camera?

Just like buying a TV or computer, smart home security cameras vary in picture quality. 720p is good enough for basic monitoring, allowing you to see faces and motion. 1080p provides a higher quality video, making it possible to read package labels, nametags, and license plates. 4K is the highest quality video available and provides crystal clear images, even when zoomed in.

security camera frames per second
Photo Credit: Dicsan Technology

The frame rate (fps) is essential to consider, as this affects the video's smoothness. Why? Video is captured through a series of consecutive images, and the more frames captured per second, the better chance you have at detecting security threats. The standard accepted fps for smart home security cameras is 30fps. However, a lower fps may result in a choppy feed, and a higher fps will require significant bandwidth, so there are tradeoffs.

Wired and Wireless Smart Home Security Camera Options

Both wired and wireless smart home security cameras are available. Wireless cameras are ideal for their ease of installation and the lack of wires to hide, but they may have lower resolution, fewer features, and require regular battery changes.

A wired camera draws power directly from your electrical system and may offer higher quality video and more features, but will require a bit more time to install and disguise those wires.

Using Your Smart Home Security Camera App

Consider the app used to control the smart home security camera. Not all apps are compatible with all smartphones or smart assistants.

Most apps will allow you to access the camera feed either live, prerecorded, or both. In addition, some apps only allow you to view the video, while others let you record and even share footage. But beware: recording typically comes with a subscription and an additional monthly fee. Sharing capability may come in handy, allowing you to share video clips via text message, email, or social media to enlist the community, or even police, in helping catch a culprit. Keep in mind that your local police department may require the video feed to be of a specific resolution or include a timestamp to be helpful in their investigation.

Different smart home security cameras vary in setting abilities as well. More advanced features may include motion detection, 24/7 monitoring, color adjustment, and watch zones that enable homeowners to specify the camera’s area of focus.

Choosing a Smart Home Security Camera for Your House

There are many options in smart home security cameras ranging in video quality, settings, and camera functionality. While they all provide basic monitoring of your home's security, one may be better than another for your intended use.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-09-03T18:27:51+0000
Laura Bourland

Article by:

Laura Bourland

Laura grew up in the California suburbs, far removed from environmentalism, but nature always has a way. She uprooted her life in 2015, moving to the countryside of Washington to live a more sustainable and simple life on 12 acres. She and her fiancee are learning on the job as they attempt everything from gardening and natural pest control to eco-friendly building and home improvement.