This definitive guide to the best home security cameras of 2018 explores everything you need to know before buying a home security camera, including what to watch out for and the different models available, along with which home security camera we feel are best for every type of person.

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Table of Contents
Introduction
The Most Important Features To Look For
Best Home Security Cameras for Indoors

Best Home Security Cameras for the Outdoors

Introduction

It’s 2018. Smart cameras are running home security companies like ADT out of business. Brinks’ home security division went bust a couple years ago, and it all stands to reason — home security cameras are to subscription-based security systems what HBO GO is to cable. Plus, there’s no need to shell out a lot for something that you only use one percent of the time. The new generation of smart surveillance cameras are perfect for a modern family smart-home, and these smart cameras make home security both more inviting and more powerful. The only question left is: which one is right for your home?

The Most Important Features To Look For

Before buying your first home security camera, there’s a lot to consider. How are you going to use the camera? Is it more for home security or is it more for monitoring a baby or pet? Where are you going to place it? Do you want it to work with your other smart devices? Are you willing to pay a monthly/annual subscription fee for premium features, like facial recognition or extensive storage features? Factoring all these things can pretty daunting.

The truth is, however, most of today’s home security cameras are more similar than they are different. Pretty much all of them have motion sensors, night vision, two-way talk and a companion app that allows you to, at any time, get a live feed of what’s happening in front of the camera. Yes, there are physical differences between cameras, such as its video resolution, the field of view, and how it stores videos and photos, but there are other things to consider that might be just as (or even more) important.

Compatability: If you already own smart home devices, such as a smart speaker or a smart TV, there’s a good chance that you’ll want a home security camera that plays well with them. For example, if you have an Amazon Fire TV or Echo Spot, you’ll probably want a security camera that’s compatible with Alexa so you can summon a live feed from the camera on your TV or smart speaker (with a screen). The same is true with Google Assistant and a TV with Chromecast built in or with an Apple TV and a security camera that supports HomeKit.

Price: All the below cameras come at different price points, ranging from $20 to over $400, and this is obviously an important thing to consider. The surprising thing is that even the more affordable cameras, such as the Wyze Cam v2, is still going to do many of the same things — 24/7 live feed, two-way talk, night vision, motion alerts — as the way more expensive camera systems. The reason why you’d pay more for other cameras by Nest, Amazon, Honeywell and Lighthouse is for better app experiences, smart home compatibility, image quality and some other advanced features (I’ll get into this next). Ultimately it’s going to come down to how often you’re checking in on the camera — once every few days or once every few hours — and if multiple people, such as other family members, are also going to be checking in.

Subscription: Many smart home security cameras, especially the more expensive models, require you to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to get its more advanced features. A lot of these features include facial recognition, person alerts, and the ability to share clips and videos with friends. Another big factor with subscriptions is how long you want the camera to save videos in the cloud. Most free accounts will allow you access to the last 24 hours of footage, but paying subscriptions (which usually cost between $3 to $10 per month) can grant you access to a week’s or month’s worth of saved clips.

Wired or Battery: Like most of today’s smart speakers, pretty much all of today’s smart home security cameras need a constant wi-fi connection to work. That said, not all smart speakers need to be tethered to a wall outlet. There are a few models that come with rechargeable batteries, allowing you to move them around the house as you see fit. The disadvantage with portable security cameras is they need to remember to change their battery every so often, plus they tend to be more expensive than wired cameras.

These are a few of the important things to look out for. Below, you’ll find the rundown of our favorite smart home security cameras arranged by indoor cameras and outdoor cameras. Remember, just because a camera is expensive doesn’t necessarily make it immediately better. A lot of the more expensive options are only worth buying if you know you’ll use it a lot and you’re willing to pay a reoccurring subscription fee.

Indoor Home Security Cameras

Best Budget: Wyze Cam v2

The good: The camera is only $20 and offers most of the exact same features as way more expensive smart home security cameras. There’s no subscription service or any add-on costs after you buy the WyzeCam — what you buy is what you get. It can record SD and HD videos and capture photos. It has two-way audio so, using the smartphone app, you can speak with whomeever is in the same room as the camera. It also works with Amazon’s Alexa. The flexible hinge system allows the camera to point in any direction, and its magnetic/sticker base makes installing the speaker easy — no screws required.

Watch out for: The camera offers free cloud storage, but only for a couple days. If you want more storage, or you want to save clips or photos, you really want to buy a micro-SD card, which can add an extra $10+ to your total spend. The camera doesn’t have many advanced features, such as tracking and facial recognition. There’s no geofencing, so the camera can’t detect when “members” are about to arrive home. The companion app isn’t as polished as other cameras’ apps. Sound quality is harsh. The camera kind of looks like a cheap toy.

Key specs

Field of view: 110-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: local (SD card) and cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa

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Best Panoramic: Wyze Cam Pan

The good: Everything good about the Wyze Cam v2 also applies to the Wyze Cam Pan. It offers the same video quality and has the same subsequent abilities, such as night vision, push notifications, two-way audio, cloud and on-board storage, and all at a low price. There’s no subscription service. The Wyze Cam Pan has a wider 120-degree field of view and can track specific objects when they enter the frame. More importantly, you can get the camera to pan, tilt and zoom, all within the app. This means you get a complete 360-degree view of the room, all in a nifty little camera.

Watch out for: Like the Wyze Cam v2, this camera looks fairly cheap and doesn’t have the best audio quality. No facial recognition. Instead of the magnetic/sticker base that’s on the Wyze Cam v2, you’ll have to install with screws if you want to hang the camera on the wall.

Key specs

Field of view: 120-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: local (SD card) and cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa

Best with Google Assistant: Nest Cam Indoor

The good: The Nest Cam Indoor is the most afforable smart home security camera that Google makes. It easily works with Google’s vast ecosystem of smart home devices, and it can pretty much do everything that the more sophisticated Nest Cam IQ can do: access a 24/7 live feed, two-way talk, night vision and motion and sound alerts. The main difference is that the Nest Cam Indoor doesn’t have a 4K sensor, so it can’t recognize faces and can’t zoom in and track people or pets in frame.

Watch out for: For what it can do, the Nest Cam Indoor is still a pretty expensive camera. Thanks to a less sophisticated sensor, the picture and audio quality on the cheaper Nest Cam Indoor aren’t quite as good. Also, unlike the Nest Cam IQ, the Nest Cam Indoor will send you push notifications for person alerts if you’re a Nest Aware subscriber.

Key specs

Field of view: 130-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Chromecast (doesn’t have Google Assistant built-in)

Best for People Tracking: Nest Cam IQ Indoor

The good: This is Nest’s top-of-the-line indoor smart security camera. It has facial recognition, so it can tell the difference between members of your family, friends and strangers. It recognizes pets, too. A unique feature is facial tracking; once the camera sees a person or animal, it’ll digitally zoom in and track whatever it is as long as they are in the frame. The camera comes with Google Assistant built-in, meaning you can ask it questions just like you would with a Google Home smart speaker (no music playback, however). If you have a TV with Chromecast built in or a Chromcast streaming stick, you stream live footage from your Nest camera directly to your TV.

Watch out for: The camera’s premium features — such as facial recognition and tracking, and sound alerts — are only available for Nest Aware subscribers. If you’re not playing on paying for a subscription, and you don’t have any other Nest/Google smart home devices, paying $299 for this speaker is a tough ask.

Key specs

Field of view: 130-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Google Assistant

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Best with Amazon Alexa: Amazon Cloud Cam

The good: The Amazon Cloud Cam is one of the best and most affordable home security cameras you can buy. It can do all the tricks you’d expect — 24/7 live feed, night vision, two-way talk, motion detection and intelligent alerts — plus you can control the camera through the app and get it to rotate 180-degrees, allowing you to monitor the entire room. (This feature is great if you mount the camera on the ceiling.) It also comes integrated with the Alexa voice assistant, so you can interact with the camera similar to how you would with an Amazon Echo. (Although, it won’t play music.) If you have an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV streaming stick, you can get Alexa to summon a live feed to your TV. Similarly, if you have an Echo Show or an Echo Dot, you get Alexa to summon a live feed on your device.

Watch out for: There’s no digital zoom or facial recognition like you get in pricier alternatives. Also, you need to have a subscription to unlock many of the camera’s better features, like person detection alerts and more cloud storage. You need a subscription to set up camera zones — areas in the camera’s field of view to ignore — which are important if the camera is pointed outside a window and you don’t want to be alerted everytime the wind moves a branch or a car goes by. Without a subscription, the camera only stores video footage for 24 hours.

Key specs

Field of view: 120-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa

Honorable Mention: Honeywell Lyric C2

The good: The Lyric C2 is another Alexa-compatible home security camera, so you can summon live feeds if you an Alexa-supported device with a screen, such as Fire TV, Echo Dot or Echo Show. It’s a little more expensive than an Amazon Cloud Cam (depending on where you order it from), but it’s also a better gadget. Its camera has a wider field of view so you can see more of the room, and it’s capable of 6x digital zoom, so in the app you can pinch the screen to zoom in to get a closer look at what’s going on. It has both cloud and local storage options, making it more secure that strictly cloud-based cameras, and it also uses geofencing so the camera can be programmed to automatically turn off when you’re home.

Watch out for: You can’t set certain schedules to turn on/off notifications (such as sound or motion). Night vision isn’t as great as other cameras.

Key specs

Field of view: 145-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: local (SD card) and cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa

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Most Intelligent AI: Lighthouse

The good: Lighthouse is the smartest and most unique home security camera you can buy. In its app, you can ask Lighthouse specific questions, such as what time did a specific person left the house or arrived home, and the app will show you. You can also program the app to send notifications to your smartphone if something doesn’t happen between certain hours, so, for example, it can message you if your kids aren’t home from school when they are supposed to be. Lighthouse can differentiate people from pets, so you can ask it to show you a summary of what “the dog” did today, and it will. It uses geofencing so it can tell when people are home — or “arriving” home — based on their smartphone location. Like other cameras, it has night-vision, two-way talk, facial recognition and a 24/7 live feed.

Watch out for: The camera is expensive and in order to get most of its coolest features you need to be a monthly subscriber. Without a subscription, Lighthouse can’t recognize faces, recognize kids from adults from pets and won’t let you let you set customizable activity notifications — there’s really little point in getting this camera if you’re not going to pay for a subscription. Lighthouse can’t zoom in like the Nest Cam IQ and it can’t be configured in an Amazon, Apple or Google smart home ecosystem. Also, Lighthouse AI is a new and small company (compared to Google and Amazon), so we can’t guarantee that the company has a long-term future.

Key specs

Field of view: 112-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: None

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Outdoor Home Security Cameras

Best with Google Assistant: Nest Cam Outdoor

The good: The Nest Cam Outdoor is essentially the same camera as the Nest Cam Indoor — same features and abilities — but it’s rugged enough to withstand life outdoors. Its IP65-rated, so it can handle rain and doesn’t need to be placed under an awning. And it functions in temperatures between -4-degrees and 104-degrees Fahrenheit. As with other cameras, it has two-way talk, night vision, motion and sound alerts, and you can access a 24/7 live feed.

Watch out for: It still requires a wi-fi connection to work, so even though it’s an outdoor camera, it still likely needs to be placed near your house. It can’t recognize faces. And it can’t zoom in and track people or pets in frame. No integrated virtual assistant.

Key specs

Field of view: 130-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Chromecast (doesn’t have Google Assistant built-in)

Most Intelligent: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

The good: The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a ruggedized version of its indoor sibling, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor. It has a 4K sensor that’s capable of 12x digital zoom. It can recognize faces and pets, and track anything that comes into frame with its ‘Supersight’ feature. It also has a microphone and speaker built-in, plus Google Assistant integrated, so you can talk to the camera similarly to how you would with a Google Home (no music playback, however). And it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, too. Also, its speaker is 15x louder than the speaker in the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, meaning people who are out in your yard can hear you.

Watch out for: Requires you to drill a hole in your wall during installation. Many of its standout features require a Nest Aware subscription. It’s expensive.

Key specs

Field of view: 130-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Google Assistant, Alexa

Best Portable: Arlo Pro 2

The good: The Arlo Pro 2 is technically an indoor and outdoor camera system. It relies on a base station that connects directly to your home’s router (via Ethernet) and then broadcasts its own wi-fi signal to each of its satellite cameras. These individual cameras (IP65-rated) are similar to other cameras on this list, with two-way talk, night vision and motion and sound alerts. The big thing is that each individual camera is portable, so it can be placed anywhere within wi-fi range, and each has a rechargeable battery that can last months at a time, depending on its level of activity. Another big feature is that it gives you can access to recordings from the past seven days for free. It has cloud and optional local storage. And the system is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings.

Watch out for: Because the Arlo Pro 2 is a system, it’s more complicated to set up than other smart home security cameras. It’s substantially more expensive. It doesn’t record continuous motion because that would sap each camera’s battery life.

Key specs

Field of view: 130-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud and local
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

Best with Apple HomeKit: Logitech Circle 2 (Wired)

The good: The Logitech Circle 2 is a home security camera that’s weatherproof and has really wide, 180-degree field of view. It has the very similar features to other home security cameras, but it really shines because it’s compatible with most home smart systems, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but also Apple HomeKit which is more rare. For a more portable experiance, you can buy the Circle 2 Wire-Free ($200) from the start.

Watch out for: The camera will send you motion alerts, but in order for it to send you person alerts you need to pay a subscription fee. A subscription also allows you to set up Activity Zones. No local storage. You can access the camera’s 24-hour history for free, but it’s not continuous action — the camera only records clips when there’s some kind of action.

Key specs

Field of view: 180-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit

Best Neighborhood Watchdog: Ring Floodlight Cam

The good: Ring makes several solid home security cameras that can handle the outdoors, but the Floodlight Cam is a different breed. It has night vision, just like other cameras, but it also has two large and powerful LED lights that can be set to turn on when the camera sensors motion. In this way, it can record and scare away those that enter your yard or porch at night. If you’re tight with your neighbors, Ring’s Neighborhoods app lets you share suspicious videos with others in your neighborhood (within a five-mile radius).

Watch out for: You need to be a subscriber to one of Ring’s protection plans in order to record and share videos. Installation is a bit of a process. Expensive.

Key specs

Field of view: 140-degrees
Video resolution: 1080p
Storage: cloud
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa

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