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The Ultimate Home Security Camera Guide: Features and Recommendations

Discover the types, features, and benefits of security cameras for homes and businesses. Learn about installation, key considerations, and monitoring options. Upgrade your security system today.


Like never before, more homes and businesses are investing in security systems. With the rising crime reports, an average property owner has become more security conscious of activities around their loved ones and valuables.

Security cameras have become a top priority for homes and businesses seeking ways to avert potential crime.

These digital watchdogs do more than capture burglars and intruders. They can help homeowners keep an eye on their kids and assist employers in monitoring employee or customer activities.

But, before you buy and install a security camera, you need to understand:

  • Common types of security cameras you'll find on the market 
  • Features to look out for when shopping for them
  • Their benefits to your home or business
  • How to install and monitor them
  • Best places to buy them
Security cameras overview


Types of Security Cameras

Security cameras have different designs and functions. They are generally grouped into three broad categories based on their objectives:

Indoor Cameras

These compact, lightweight devices are designed for bedrooms, living rooms, and other small indoor spaces you wish to monitor.

Some modern indoor cameras boast cutting-edge technology, such as AI facial recognition and infrared vision. While the face ID innovation helps detect blocklisted or unfamiliar faces, infrared vision enables quality images at night or in poorly lit areas. Popular security providers like Nest Camera have adopted this technology.

You can hide some indoor cameras in everyday home appliances like wall clocks and smoke detectors for discreet surveillance. These hidden cameras will be handy if you need to monitor your nanny when you leave them at home with your kids or if you want to see what your employees are up to at work.

Indoor cameras are either wireless or hardwired. Small wireless camera systems dominate the market due to their easy setup and flexibility. You can install them in a few minutes and move them between rooms if needed.

Outdoor Cameras

Outdoor cameras are bulkier and made with more durable materials than indoor cameras.

Their rugged design helps them to withstand extreme weather conditions and discourages tampering. Some outdoor cameras are protected with casings to prevent easy removal.

Some cameras react to changes in light, a feature powered by night vision technology. They automatically switch to colored backgrounds in daylight and black-and-white at night.

Like their indoor counterparts, some outdoor cameras have built-in microphones and speakers for two-way communication. You can discuss with visitors and threaten to call the cops on burglars. All these conversations happen through an application on your smartphone.

Several outdoor cameras have wireless setups. So, no cables for criminals to tamper with, and the units are easy to relocate if you ever wish to monitor a different area of your property.

You'll need multiple outdoor cameras to cover large areas like large patios, parking spaces, or additional buildings in open-area properties (like horse stables, barns, and silos).

Video Doorbell Cameras

Video doorbell cameras are simply doorbells with cameras. These security gadgets are slim, compact, and lightweight. This new addition to the home security camera family is ideal for homes and businesses looking to monitor their front door and keep tabs on who walks in and out.

Most doorbell cameras are wireless and require easy DIY installation processes that you can complete in a few minutes.

Hardwired systems are relatively few on the market. These doorbell cameras can be installed with existing wired doorbells. 

Even before visitors ring your doorbell, a doorbell camera will notify you of someone at your door through your smartphone. The doorbell has mics and speakers that allow you to discuss with your visitor remotely.

Other remarkable features in modern doorbell cameras include night vision, motion detectors, and even AI facial recognition, which learns the faces of family and associates. With AI facial recognition, your video doorbell learns to differentiate between the mailman and your grandma on an unannounced visit.

Security Drones

Unlike traditional static cameras, these devices can move freely. 

With their built-in cameras, security drones can fly around designated paths, expose hard-to-reach areas, offer live stream aerial-view videos of your property, and keep you aware of your surroundings.

These drones come in handy for:

  • Environmental safety inspections
  • Surveilling confined areas
  • Spying on intrusion from a safe distance

Security drones can cover a large area quickly, picking up visuals in places you would usually not see.

You may think drones are only used outdoors. But presently, you can find compact indoor security drones on the market. One good example is the Ring Always Home Cam, an indoor security drone that flies through predetermined routes, visualizing and taking notes of every nook and cranny inside your home.

One of these drones can provide as much security coverage as multiple surveillance cameras since it monitors numerous locations simultaneously.

Security drones are even more efficient when synchronized with a home alarm security system. 

For example, the Ring Always Home Cam integrates effortlessly with the Ring alarm system. When the Ring alarm trips, the drone takes off, flies through its pre-programmed path, and delivers real-time videos on the smart Ring mobile app.

Drones use a technology that prevents them from bumping into obstacles during surveillance.

You can’t go wrong with a camera that's always ready to confirm what's with the noises from a room in the middle of the night or while you're on vacation.

Fake Security Cameras

Fake security cameras are imitation surveillance devices designed to look like real cameras to deter criminal activity. They are cost-effective and used in places where the appearance of security is deemed sufficient to discourage potential intruders. However, they do not record footage, limiting their effectiveness in serious security situations.

Features to Consider When Choosing Security Cameras

Security cameras are not created equally; they come in unique designs and have several functions. Before you buy a security camera, consider your home's security needs and look out for products with matching features.

Let's discuss some must-have features to look out for when shopping for your cameras.

Video Configuration

For quality video, a security camera's field of view is a crucial feature to consider, as it directly determines the image resolution. Security cameras with at least a 120-degree viewing angle are a minimum recommendation for decent coverage. 

For precision, check the High Definition (HD) display resolutions. With technological advancements, the one-time 720p HD minimum industry standard is currently set at 1080p HD.

If you seek more advanced high-end technology, check for cameras with 4K displays. They offer four times more pixels than the industry-standard 1080p HD series. The higher the resolution, the better the image quality and the clearer the camera footage.

While some cameras offer a 180-degree field of view, others move 360 degrees, swiveling from their fixed position. Such an eagle-eye view gives a more comprehensive situation report on areas of security interest, such as a kids' playground or your living room.

Night Vision

Since you need to secure your home 24/7, consider night vision security cameras with infrared features. These models capture images even under low light.

Although cameras with these features can help a great deal to illuminate objects, external light sources, such as porch lights and streetlights, can help light up your home and provide clearer footage. 

Without the colorful theme, you can get clear night vision on your black-and-white infrared camera. With its more subtle LED sensors, the cameras capture clear images without any attention-screaming lights that can make intruders notice them.

Some cameras have both technologies. But while some will automatically switch between daylight-colored backgrounds and IR night vision, others may need you to select your preferred mode manually.


Modern security cameras come with built-in mics and speakers, allowing two-way communication between you and the person in the camera. That means, apart from seeing who's in your camera, you can converse with them. 
With this audio feature, you can chat with your delivery man or a neighbor returning your tools when you're not home.

Smart Integration

Modern security systems simplify integration with smart home devices by introducing the Voice Assistant feature. This

AI-powered voice recognition feature:

  • Makes connecting the devices on the system easy
  • Manages connected security components
  • Performs smart functions at the user's voice prompts

Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana are frontline voice assistant providers on the market. 
Even more, the IF This, Then That (IFTTT) technology has made security system integration easier. The technology allows you to create custom commands that trigger predefined actions and reactions from your devices.

For instance, you can configure your alarms to trip off or smart lights to turn on at unusual movements inside your home.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI cameras help filter and send the most important notifications to homeowners, ignoring interferences like foliage, wind, and harmless moving vehicles. 

These smart cameras analyze visuals and audio to differentiate humans from pets and identify the uniqueness of different objects.

Some high-end security cameras have facial recognition. This latest technology recognizes family members and their regular visitors. It triggers a response when certain people (or strange faces) show up.


Security cameras use local storage (flash drives or Micro SD) or cloud-based storage, from which you can review past feeds.

While some security companies deliver their cameras with free unlimited storage, others require a subscription or a monthly fee for storage extension.

Always find out the company's policy on storage and their storage options.


You have to choose between a simple DIY installation or a professional installation.

DIY cameras are usually simple wireless units that save you the stress of drilling walls to channel cables. DIY units are easy to mount and link seamlessly to your smart home security Wi-Fi network.

Frontpoint offers easy installation without a professional installation option.

On the other hand, some companies like Protect America offer professional installation for a service fee.

For companies like Vivint Home Security, there are no DIY options. You'll need a licensed technician to run installations.

Your security needs, convenience, and budget will determine whether you choose a wireless DIY installation camera or one that requires professional installation.


With the fierce competition among security companies, finding a product within your budget is easy. Some low-end cameras sell for as low as $50, while top-range products cost as high as $400. As with all commodities, prices vary based on features and brand quality.

Companies like SimpliSafe are known for great high-quality security gear at affordable rates.

To get the best value for your money, review the camera features we outlined above and weigh them against their price tags to know if they’re worthwhile.

Where to Install Security Cameras

Let's go over some strategic places to install your security cameras:

Above entry doors: Why? Because main entrance doors are intruders' common target. Burglars usually check to see if you forgot to shut them.

Secluded windows: Windows facing low-traffic off-street areas are highly vulnerable to break-ins. An indoor camera facing such windows is a great idea.

Vulnerable areas: Living rooms, bedrooms, central offices, and storerooms are attractive for burglars since they accommodate valuables.

Driveways: A camera above the driveway will capture intruders sneaking in through the garage. In a business environment, station the camera to capture your parking space.

How to Install Security Cameras

After you’ve chosen the right camera and planned your camera placement as advised above, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. 

Depending on your camera system, you may need the following tools and equipment: 

  • Security cameras
  • Cables (if applicable)
  • Power adapters or PoE (Power over Ethernet) switches
  • Mounting brackets
  • Screws and power drill
  • Monitor or recording device
  • Network cable (for wired cameras)

Here’s a general guide to make the process easy and smooth for both wired and wireless products:

Installation Guide for Wired Cameras

  1. Mount the camera brackets: Use screws and a power drill to attach the camera brackets to the desired locations. Ensure they are secure and stable.
  2. Run cables: If using wired cameras, run the video and power cables from each camera to a central location or a network video recorder (NVR).
  3. Connect the cables: Connect the camera cables to the corresponding ports on the NVR or power adapters. Make sure the connections are secure.
  4. Power on the cameras: Plug the power adapters into electrical outlets or connect the PoE switch to power the cameras.

Since installing wired cams can be tricky, we recommend professional installation for a hitch-free procedure.

Installation Guide for Wireless Cameras

  1. Mount the cameras: Mount the camera brackets to the preferred spot using screws and a power drill.
  2. Power on the cameras: Install the batteries or connect power adapters to the cameras, depending on their power source requirements.
  3. Connect to your wireless network: Follow the manufacturer's instructions to connect the cameras to your Wi-Fi network. This usually involves using a mobile app or a web interface to configure the wireless settings.

While these steps provide a general overview of security camera installation, the process may vary across brands.

Always refer to your manufacturer’s installation guide before installing your security camera. 

Here are some other helpful security camera installation tips:

  • Install the camera in as many locations as necessary
  • Find the places with wide viewing angles
  • Keep cameras out of easy reach
  • Outdoor cameras should be screwed into walls

While discreet installations help capture people unawares, feel free to install your camera at visible spots. Their mere visibility can make criminals rethink their actions and never return.

How to Monitor Security Cameras

Depending on the security company, you can either:

  • Self-monitor your security camera
  • Register for a professional monitoring service
  • Hire a professional when necessary


Self-monitoring puts you in charge of your home’s security system. With this plan, you’ll receive notifications via SMS, emails, or a mobile app during an emergency.

When your security system reports a security emergency, it's up to you to act appropriately—call the cops, fire service, or neighbors for assistance, based on the nature of the threat.

However, while DIY cameras have no additional fees for professional installation or monitoring, some upgrades usually cost a few bucks. 

Professional Monitoring 

Choosing professional monitoring means outsourcing your security system's checks to a third-party. It also means extra cost on installation and monthly subscription.

With this little-extra commitment, you entrust your home security to trained agents to keep an eye on your security system 24/7. And they’re ever ready to act when your home alarm trips. 

On-Demand Professional Service

The on-demand monitoring service allows you to pay for short-term monitoring

For instance, you can subscribe for three days or one week. This plan benefits homeowners who self-monitor their security system but need professional monitoring while on a trip or vacation.

Although both DIY and professional systems are great, depending on your security needs, lifestyle, and budget, professional monitoring takes the burden off your shoulders and promises an expert emergency response.

Benefits of Installing Security Cameras

Still wondering if you need a security camera?

Let's examine the key benefits of installing security cameras in your home or office:

Brings Peace of Mind

Having a security camera on your property brings peace of mind, which is your major priority. Knowing you can see what happens within your property, whether you’re at home or away, brings relief. 

Scares Burglars and Intruders

Criminals avoid homes with security systems, particularly cameras, and alarms. The mere presence of surveillance cameras can ruin criminal attempts at your home and keep would-be intruders far from your residence. 

Keeps An Eye on Kids and the Elderly

Besides scaring off intruders and burglars or revealing their identity, home security cameras provide an extra pair of eyes on your loved ones. You can position your cams to monitor your kids, particularly when they play outdoors, and ensure no one encroaches into danger zones. 

Cameras can also help you watch out for an aged family member or notify you when your nanny is at your front door—all from your smartphone.

Provides Live Evidence 

Your security camera captures real-time footage; it stores and reports crime as it unfolds. The footage will reveal all that transpired and serve as evidence to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute culprits.

Offers Affordable Rates, Low Insurance

With the increasing number of modern home security products on the market, manufacturers compete to offer the best deal to the average buyer.

Besides their affordability, security camera installations can significantly reduce homeowners' insurance.

Compatible With Your Smart Home

Integrating your security camera with your smart home security system brings a new level of protection. 
You can pair the camera with your smart lights, smart locks, and other smart devices and monitor your entire home security system from your smartphone—whether you’re home or away.

Where to Buy Quality Security Cameras

You can buy security cameras in several places, but with the increasing number of low-quality products, you need to know where to look.

Here are some trusted options:

  • Specialty retailers: Renowned electronics stores such as Best Buy and B&H Photo Video offer a wide selection of security cameras from various brands.
  • Online retailers: E-commerce platforms like Amazon, Newegg, and eBay provide customer reviews and ratings to help you make well-informed decisions. Always choose reputable sellers with lots of positive feedback.
  • Manufacturer websites: ADT, Nest, Ring, Honeywell, and SimpliSafe sell their products through their official websites. 

Buying directly from manufacturers’ websites ensures you receive genuine products. You can find exclusive deals or bundles on these sites.

When purchasing security cameras, compare prices, features, warranties, and customer reviews to make an informed decision. 

Keep An Eye On Your Property With Cutting-Edge Security Cameras

Security cameras provide an extra layer of protection to homes and businesses with live feeds. They deter burglars and keep loved ones in check.

Choosing the right equipment can be daunting, especially for first-time buyers. But understanding how security cameras work and learning the best types for specific needs will help you make the best decision.

Pairing security cameras with smart devices like smart locks, smart lighting, and alarms creates a comprehensive safety solution for residential and commercial properties.

Choose a security provider with the right cam for your needs and budget today to enjoy peace of mind. 

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