What to Look For When Buying a Home Security Camera System

May 16, 2023|

From porch pirates to burglars, property crimes are on the rise. To secure their homes, many homeowners use security cameras to provide safety and peace of mind. But deciding on a security camera system is a big decision.

To help you find the best system for your home, we’ve created this security camera system buying guide. We’ll show you how home security systems work and what to consider before buying a home security camera.

Vivint Indoor Camera.

How do home security camera systems work?

Security cameras are an integral part of an effective home security system. Video surveillance devices like security cameras allow you to check on your home and receive notifications of suspicious activity, including burglars hanging around your home.

Security cameras connect to a central security system hub, either with or without the use of wires. Cameras and other security components are all monitored through the central hub. Homeowners can view activity and control system settings using a wall panel, secure website, or mobile app.

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9 Considerations when buying a home security camera system

There are dozens of options and features to consider when buying a home security camera. We’ll discuss the nine biggest considerations, so you can have the knowledge and confidence to make the best decision.

1. How big of an area do you want security coverage for?

The biggest security concerns for your home are the entry points, including your front door, back door, and windows. The amount of area you want to cover will help narrow down your camera options from basic lens cameras to wide-angle cameras with a field of view of 130° to 160°.

2. Do you need indoor or outdoor cameras?

Depending on your security needs, you can choose from indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, or a mix of both.

Indoor cameras monitor your entry points while also watching over the inside of your home. Indoor cameras are great for keeping an eye on family members, pets, and belongings when you’re away.

Indoor cameras are easy to set up and can be placed anywhere in your home. And because indoor security cameras aren’t exposed to the elements, they don’t require as much complex casing and hardware, which makes them more affordable.

Outdoor cameras monitor the exterior of your property, including entry points, walkways, and yards. Some outdoor cameras also come with a motion sensor floodlight to help you see better at night, so you can feel safe walking from your driveway or taking the recycling to the curb. Outdoor security cameras are designed with weatherproof casing to hold up in the elements, including extreme temperatures.

Pro Tip: Outdoor cameras are an excellent choice for unheated garages, sheds, or workshops.

3. What video quality do you need?

A camera is only as good as the picture it takes. Home security cameras with higher quality video capture detailed videos to help you distinguish between your kid sneaking home late and the neighbor’s wandering dog. Should theft or home invasion occur, high-quality video may help local authorities identify offenders.

Here are a few factors that impact a camera’s video quality.

  • Video resolution. High-resolution video lets you identify distinguishing characteristics, including facial features and clothing. For better quality images, we recommend a resolution of 1080p or greater.
  • Frame rate. The higher your frame rate, the smoother your video will be. This cuts down on blurred movements and helps you see more details. For smooth videos, look for 15 frames per second or higher.
  • Color night vision. Since darkness can leave your home particularly vulnerable, a camera with night vision just makes sense. Most new security cameras come with infrared LEDs to capture video in complete darkness.
Camera footage viewed on the Vivint app.

4. Video storage options

For video storage, you can choose between local storage or cloud storage.

Local storage. Local storage downloads your video to a physical, local device, such as a computer hard drive in your home or a microSD card inserted directly into the camera. A storage capacity of 32 gigabytes holds around two weeks of video recordings and is sufficient for most households. If you have multiple cameras or cameras with high video resolution, you may want to consider investing in up to 1 terabyte of video storage.

Cloud storage. Cloud storage uploads your video to a secure online server that can be accessed from anywhere. If you notice suspicious activity, you can download the footage from the cloud and store it locally. Footage is usually stored for two weeks, then erased to protect your privacy.

5. What power source will the cameras use?

Home security cameras use one of two power sources: hardwiring or battery power.

Hardwired cameras require you to physically connect your device to a power source. Some hardwired cameras are plug-in and require placement near an electrical outlet. Other varieties are hardwired directly into the home security system’s central hub.

Battery-powered cameras are completely wire-free and can be installed anywhere, but require careful monitoring to ensure they don’t run out of power. Battery use varies widely depending on the type of camera and how often it records. Some battery-powered cameras come with rechargeable batteries.

In addition to hardwired and battery-power cameras, some outdoor cameras use solar panels to charge throughout the day. Remember to be thoughtful about where you install solar-powered security cameras, as only some areas outside your home will receive significant sunlight.

6. Wired vs. wireless cameras

Security cameras relay their footage to the home security systems in one of two ways: wired or wireless.

Wired cameras are physically wired directly to the recording device or central hub. Because they connect directly, you don’t have to worry about the cameras running out of power or losing the Wi-Fi signal.

There are several options to choose from when it comes to wired camera systems: NVR, DVR, CCTV, and IP cameras. The basic difference between these varieties is the type of wires they use: coaxial cables or ethernet cables. Modern security cameras use drastically fewer wires than older cameras. For example, PoE, a type of IP camera, uses a single ethernet cable.

Wireless security cameras, sometimes called Wi-Fi cameras, connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network. Once connected, your camera will store your video in the cloud or on a microSD card.

7. Smart home compatibility

Many surveillance cameras and systems have built-in integrations to seamlessly pair with smart home devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Homepod. Features of smart security cameras go far beyond voice control and smart home integration, offering features like facial recognition, person detection, and theft deterrence.

8. Does the system have a mobile app?

Many modern security systems offer mobile apps to give homeowners more control over their home security systems. Home security mobile app features may include:

  • Notifications sent to your phone anytime someone triggers your camera’s motion detection sensors.
  • Two-way audio so you can talk to people and pets in your home. This is also a great feature for video doorbell cameras, helping you catch porch pirates or avoid opening the door to solicitors.
  • Self-monitoring to check in on your home from anywhere you have an internet connection. Log in using a secure password and view your camera’s feed any time, whether you’re at work or on vacation.

For added protection, homeowners can sign up for professional monitoring services and feel safe knowing security professionals are watching over their home.

9. DIY or professional installation?

There are plenty of DIY options for security camera installation, but camera installation isn’t always as easy as it seems. From tangling with camera wires to positioning them at suboptimal angles, DIY installation can sometimes compromise the performance of your cameras or end up costing you more in repairs.

Professional installation gives you peace of mind from the start. Installers are experts at what they do and know how to work around the quirks of your home. They’re trained to maximize camera angles and troubleshoot connection problems, so you can have confidence that your system is functioning at its best.

With Vivint, professional installation is included with every security system.

Vivint Smart Home Pro installing a customer's security system.

Contact Vivint to design your custom home security camera system

A home security camera system can increase your home’s safety, grant you access to your home when you’re not there, and give you peace of mind. With lots of camera types and features to choose from, you can design a security camera system that perfectly fits your needs and protects your home.

As a leading security system and camera provider, Vivint is at the forefront of modern security technology. Our experts are versed in all the latest security camera features and capabilities to keep your home as safe as possible. We offer some of the best home security cameras and systems on the market and provide the professional installation to keep your home and family safe. Give us a call today at 855.822.1220 to learn more.

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