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The Ultimate Security Camera Buying Guide

Feb 01, 2024|

Welcome to the new era of home security. Gone are the days when security cameras were a luxury for the rich and famous. Today, they are a crucial, accessible addition to safeguarding any modern home, as things can go awry in the blink of an eye. In this age of smart technology, home security cameras have evolved to offer high-tech features at a price point that won't break the bank.

With many choices flooding the market, making the right decision can be overwhelming. Fear not! Our comprehensive guide is here to walk you through the maze of options. From understanding key features to identifying the perfect fit for your home, we've got you covered. Let's discover how to find the ideal security camera to safeguard your home in our tech-driven world.

Different types of security cameras

Today, security cameras are not just devices; they are smart solutions tailored to different environments. Let's explore the varieties available and find the perfect fit for your needs.

Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro and Spotlight Pro.

Indoor security cameras

Indoor security cameras are made to focus on the interior of your home. Indoor cameras have a wide range of features, from basic, no-frills surveillance cameras to more detailed, higher-end cameras with advanced capabilities. Some of these features include:

  • Wide-angle lenses for expansive coverage
  • Microphones for audio monitoring
  • Motion-activated recording for efficient surveillance
  • High-definition resolution for crystal-clear images
  • Infrared night vision for low-light conditions
  • Remote viewing via apps with notifications, keeping you connected anytime

Specialized options include:

  • Nanny cam. Discreetly monitor childcare providers with cams hidden in everyday items like clocks or toys.
  • Pet cameras. Check in on your furry friends, with some models even dispensing treats!
  • Baby monitors. Keep an eye and ear on your little one, with options for temperature monitoring, white noise, and movement tracking.

Many indoor home security cameras have enough features to be used interchangeably, so your camera can double as a nanny cam or pet monitor.

vivint indoor camera
Indoor cameras can help you keep an eye on your home from anywhere.

Outdoor security cameras

Outdoor security cameras tend to be pricier than indoor security cameras, mostly because of the weather-resistant materials needed to withstand the elements and fluctuating temperatures.

Just like indoor security cameras, exterior security cameras have a wide range of features, depending on your needs and budget. These include:

  • Motion-activated and continuous recording options
  • Wide-angle lenses for extensive outdoor coverage
  • Infrared LED night vision for clear nighttime images
  • HD resolution for detailed visuals
  • Two-way audio for communication with visitors
  • Smart deterrents like warning tones for uninvited guests
  • Remote access through smartphone apps

Types of weatherproof outdoor cameras:

  • Doorbell cameras. Monitor your front door with motion sensors, video doorbells, and two-way talk functions.
  • Floodlight camera. Illuminate and record any activity with a floodlight cam, deterring potential intruders and capturing clear footage.

Both indoor and outdoor cameras offer a fusion of security and convenience, ensuring peace of mind in our fast-paced, connected world.


vivint outdoor camera pro
Don't miss anything that happens on your property with the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

Security camera designs

In the world of security camera design, form meets function in exciting ways. Today's cameras are more than just tools; they are sleek, smart, and adaptable to a variety of settings. Let's check out the various designs that cater to different needs, from discreet monitoring to expansive coverage.

  • Bullet. Think of the iconic security camera—that's the bullet camera for you. Shaped like a cylinder and resembling a bullet, these cameras are versatile for indoor and outdoor use. They mount easily on walls or ceilings and are instantly recognizable, serving as a deterrent to potential intruders.
  • Dome. As their name suggests, these cameras boast a dome shape and are typically ceiling-mounted. Encased in a dome cover, these cameras offer a stealthy design, making them a favorite in businesses like hotels and restaurants. Their rotating lenses provide a broad viewing angle, and their tamper-proof design adds an extra layer of security.
  • Turret. Resembling dome cameras but without the protective casing, turret cameras offer more freedom of movement. They can rotate freely from their base and blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Ideal for areas where long-range vision is not a priority, they strike a balance between discreteness and functionality.
  • Pan/tilt/zoom. PTZ cameras are the way to go for those needing dynamic and real-time control. They allow for panning (moving side-to-side), tilting (moving up and down), and zooming in on specific areas. These cameras are perfect for live monitoring over large areas and are often managed by dedicated security teams.

Ultimately, the design of your camera will depend on the area you’re monitoring, whether or not you want a visible or discrete camera, and whether you are monitoring a home or commercial property.

Security camera power sources and connectivity

Your security camera's power source will be an important consideration when choosing a camera. Your power source will influence where you place your cameras and whether you will need professional installation or additional wiring.

Wired vs. wireless—which is best?

Power sources are key players in the world of security cameras. Let's review wired and wireless options, examining how wiring, battery life, and connectivity shape your security camera experience.

  • Wired. Wired cameras connect directly to your home's electrical system through hard wiring or a plug-in. Hard-wired cameras, firmly anchored in place, offer a sense of permanence and reliability. Hard wiring is a robust choice if you're setting up a camera where it will stay indefinitely, like in certain outdoor spots. However, it often requires professional installation due to the intricate wiring involved. On the other hand, plug-in cameras offer a bit more flexibility. You can easily move them around, provided there's an accessible outlet. This makes plug-in options ideal for indoor areas or spots near power sources.
  • Wireless. The latest in technology, wireless security cameras eliminate the hassle of wires. These wire-free cameras can be solar panel-powered, harnessing the sun's energy for continuous operation with a battery backup for those not-so-sunny days. Alternatively, battery-powered cameras offer ultimate flexibility in placement. Their portability means you can adjust their locations as needed. While battery life is a consideration, with advancements in technology, the frequency of recharging or replacing batteries has significantly reduced, making them a convenient choice for both indoor and outdoor settings.

The decision between wired and wireless often boils down to your specific needs. If you prioritize stability and have a fixed spot in mind, wired options, either hard-wired or plug-in, are dependable choices. For those valuing flexibility and ease of installation, a wireless solar-powered or battery-operated camera (possibly with WiFi-enabled features) could be the perfect fit. Each type brings its unique blend of convenience, reliability, and tech-savviness to the table.

vivint outdoor camera pro installation
As you're looking at security cameras, consider the differences between wired and wireless options.


In the digital age, how your home security camera connects and manages footage is crucial. Let's explore the two primary connectivity options available for today's security cameras: WiFi (IP) and Analog.

WiFi Security Cameras (IP)

Today's home security cameras are predominantly WiFi-enabled, offering seamless integration with your home's WiFi network. This IP camera setup allows for an incredibly user-friendly experience. You can access your camera, view live footage, and receive timely notifications, all through a handy app on your smartphone. This connectivity provides unparalleled convenience and flexibility, ensuring you're always in the loop, no matter where you are.

The key here is to ensure your home WiFi network has sufficient bandwidth to support these IP cameras. When it comes to video storage, you have options. Cloud storage is increasingly popular, allowing you to access video recording footage from anywhere. Alternatively, you can store the footage locally on your device.

Analog Security Cameras

Analog cameras, the traditional choice, operate independently from the internet. They record footage onto a micro-SD card or a hard drive, which you can then view on a computer. While they lack WiFi cameras' real-time streaming and notifications features, they have their advantages. In areas with unreliable or no WiFi coverage, analog cameras offer a robust solution. They're also common in specific applications like vehicle dashboard security.

Traditional analog CCTV cameras use coaxial cables to transmit video, with HD over coax options available for high-definition footage without relying on a WiFi network.

In summary, most modern homes opt for WiFi network-based cameras with cloud storage for their surveillance needs. These IP cameras are widely accessible and budget-friendly and leverage your existing home internet setup for optimal convenience and security.

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How to choose a security camera

Selecting the best security camera for your home and family is a big decision. Here's a guide to help you navigate the options and find the perfect fit for your needs.

1. Decide how you'll be using the camera.

Understanding the primary function of your camera is essential. For indoor use, consider if you need to monitor children or specific areas. Outdoors, decide if you need a visual deterrent or a specialized camera for areas like your front porch.

2. Choose your camera type.

Based on your needs, select the camera type. This could range from an indoor security camera with two-way speakers to a doorbell camera for package protection to an outdoor camera with wide-angle viewing for broader coverage.

3. Pick your power source.

Like a baby monitor, a wireless camera offers flexibility for indoor use. For high-placed outdoor cameras, a hard-wired option could be more practical to avoid frequent battery changes.

vivint indoor camera
Another important consideration is the power source for your cameras.

4. Compare cloud storage plans.

Cloud storage capacity is key for accessing saved footage. Your storage plan should match the number and type of cameras you have. For instance, a single doorbell camera requires less space than multiple outdoor and indoor cameras.

5. Consider your privacy.

Ensure your camera has robust security features like strong data encryption to prevent hacks. Opt for reputable brands that specialize in smart home security systems.

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6. Know your must-have features.

Determine essential features like two-way talk microphones for indoor cameras or proactive protection for doorbell cameras. This helps in filtering your choices.

7. Set a budget.

Security camera prices vary widely. You can find high-quality options at an affordable price with features like color night vision, motion detection, HD video, and spotlight cams. If considering a complete security camera system, consider buying incrementally or explore no-interest financing options.

In your search for the best security camera, consider smart features like spotlight cameras for enhanced outdoor security or cameras with color night vision for clearer nighttime footage. Remember, the ideal camera balances high-quality features with your specific security needs and budget.

In the era of smart homes, integrating a security system with cameras is about safety, peace of mind, and embracing modern technology. Here's what to consider when exploring smart home security systems.


How do you plan to monitor your recorded video footage? Here are two options to consider:

  • Self-monitoring. This DIY approach puts you in charge. You'll receive alerts, and responding to emergencies is up to you. It's cost-effective but requires your constant attention.
  • Professional monitoring. For uninterrupted vigilance, professional monitoring is key. They alert emergency services on your behalf, providing peace of mind, especially during critical moments.
vivint 24/7 professional monitoring
With a Vivint smart security system, your home will be monitored around the clock.

Recording and storage

These are the two main ways that security cameras record videos:

  • DVR (Digital Video Recorders). DVR systems store footage on a hard drive and are compatible with various camera types. They connect to cameras via coaxial cables.
  • NVR (Network Video Recorders). Ideal for IP cameras, NVR systems store footage directly on a network. They offer more flexibility in terms of camera placement and higher-quality recordings.

For video storage, you can choose between cloud and local storage. Local storage, like a microSD card, offers security and no ongoing costs, while cloud storage provides ease of access and more space for your HD video recordings.

Smart home integration

A smart home security system isn't just about surveillance; it's also about seamless integration. With a smart home app, you can control everything from live footage viewing to arming your system, all from your smartphone. These systems often feature HDR for clearer images and support new products as your smart home ecosystem grows.


vivint app
Control your home from anywhere with the Vivint app, no matter where you are.


  • DIY. Ideal for standalone, plug-in units like indoor cameras or doorbell cameras. It's user-friendly and cost-effective.
  • Professional installation. Recommended for complex systems, especially those involving outdoor cameras or hard-wired connections. Professional installation ensures optimal placement and integration with your smart home security system.

Whether you choose a DIY approach or professional installation, finding a security camera system that aligns with your lifestyle is essential. From DVRs and NVRs for robust recording to smart home apps for on-the-go control, there's a solution to fit every home. Embrace the blend of technology and security for a safer, smarter living space.


Key takeaway—it pays to research

Ultimately, choosing the right security cameras for your home will require some research. Your needs, wants, and budget will all play a role in the camera you choose. Taking the time to evaluate what you really need will help you choose a camera that will bring you and your family complete peace of mind.

Discover the benefits of Vivint

Questions? Leave it to the pros. Contact our Smart Home Pros today at 800.646.1469 for a free quote and let them help you choose the perfect security cameras for your unique home.

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*Offer Details

Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.

Third-Party Financing Options Available

Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.

Vivint Systems & Services

System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.