Securing your property doesn’t have to involve large angry animals or excessive padlock use if you make the most of smart home security.
If you’re keen on home security – and if you’re not, we’ll be round shortly with a comically large bag labelled “SWAG” on it – then it’s never been simpler to use your existing home internet and standalone cameras to monitor your property while you’re away from it, or even alert you to movements around it when you’re at home relaxing. The exact same products can of course be used to keep tabs on your office or other remote properties as needed, too.
There’s a very wide range of devices to choose from with differing feature sets, price points, subscription options and setup routines. There’s a certain quantity of personal tailoring you can undertake when choosing a home security camera solution, but broadly you should consider the following features when comparing:
- Image quality: Cheaper cameras shoot only in Full HD, and some older ones are even worse than that. Paying more for 4K might make sense, as long as your home internet connection is up to the challenge.
- Design: If it’s going inside your home, does it match the décor, or is it uglier than a sewer rat? If it’s going to surveil the outside of your home, look for weather resistance, and consider if you want your cameras hidden from burglars, or obvious in order to deter them.
- Installation: This isn’t just software, but also whether your camera choices have optional mounts or brackets to affix them in place. You wouldn’t want your security camera stolen, right?
- Subscription costs: Some cameras are standalone, recording just to embedded storage, but many serve to the cloud, with a range of subscription offerings, from free limited tiers to complex multi-camera setups and long-term archives. The cost of the camera isn’t the only price you may pay.
There’s a lot of really cheap camera options you can buy, but it’s worth being wary of the very cheapest, especially if they’re net-connected. If you can’t be sure that they’ll be updated, you’re potentially also installing a hacking point into your home. Then again, even the big brands can undergo this kind of crisis.
Pricing: $249-$449 per camera
Subscription pricing: Smart Premier $4.49/month (single camera) or $14.99/month (multi camera), Smart Elite $7.49/month (single camera) or $21.99/month (multi-camera)
Arlo was originally a Netgear sub-brand before being spun off into its own standalone company, and it’s 100 per cent just a home automation company with a particular focus on smart home cameras, although you can also get Arlo-branded devices such as baby monitors and door bells.
Arlo used to offer seven days of free recording – and it still does if you have older “legacy” Arlo devices – but for all new Arlo cameras, you’ll need to factor in subscription pricing once the bundled subscription expires. Arlo differentiates between single camera and multi-camera subscription plans, with the primary difference between the Premier and Elite tiers being recording in either 2K or 4K resolution.
Pricing: $99-$499 per camera/doorbell.
Subscription pricing: $4/month or $40/year (single device) or $15/month or $150/year (multi device).
Ring is best known for its smart doorbell technology, but the Amazon-owned firm also produces a range of standalone camera devices for indoor or outdoor usage. As you’d expect they’re built with Alexa integration in mind. You do get alerts and can use Ring Doorbells without needing a subscription, but if you want any kind of video history you’ll need to pay for a subscription plan.
Ring’s plans are amongst the cheapest in the market starting at just $4/month for a single camera, and not much more to add any number of additional cameras to your account. The Plus plan is a little unusual, because you don’t get extra length of recording or quality options, but instead an extended warranty and discounts on buying further Ring devices.
Pricing: $229-$279 per camera.
Subscription pricing: $9/month or $90/year for Nest Aware, $18/month or $180/year for Nest Aware Plus.
Nest is a fully owned Google brand, and one that the search giant’s taken very much to heart, switching the branding on all its home smart gear from straight “Google” to Nest as it’s absorbed the smart camera maker into its operation.
Nest relies strongly on its AI features, with the free tier only offering simple alerts – you’ll have to upgrade to a Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription to actually store recordings picked up by a Nest camera. Nest Aware stores recordings for up to 30 days, while Nest Aware Plus has 60 days of storage plus a 10 day rolling 24/7 recording archive. Either tier covers any number of Nest devices in your home.
Pricing: From $54.99 per camera.
Subscription pricing: Basic plan is free, Standard Plan $US 4.99/month, Premier Plan $US 9.99/month, Business Plan $US 14.99/month.
Reolink provides a quite wide range of home security setups, from its standalone Argus cameras to full power over ethernet solutions for more detailed security needs. At the home level, however, many of its products rely on local storage rather than only cloud storage, which means that they can be a very cost-efficient way to enable home monitoring without having to pay extra for mandatory subscription recording.
That being said, Reolink also offers a cloud backup option for selected products, with pricing varying depending on how many cameras and how much storage you like; for most homes the up-to-5 camera US$4.99 month 30GB storage option should be plenty.