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Best Home Security Cameras Without a Subscription for 2024


The Lorex floodlight cam mounted on house siding above a glass door. The Lorex floodlight cam mounted on house siding above a glass door.

Lorex is a popular choice for buyers who want to stay off the cloud and away from subscriptions.

Lorex/Amazon

What’s the best subscription-free home security camera?

Our experts have spent over 150 hours testing multiple kinds of indoor and outdoor security cams, including dozens of cameras that don’t require those annoyingly common subscription fees: Our top pick for a no-fee camera that still does everything is the Eufy Indoor Cam S350. From close-in zooming to human and pet detection, this home security cam has an excellent assortment of features with a focus on local storage and zero subscriptions.

Eufy’s cam is an indoor-only model, but don’t worry if you’ve got grounds to keep watch over. We’ve also picked top options for outdoor and floodlight cams, as well as budget models to save even more money — all offering key features like video storage without the need for a cam subscription, which usually starts at $5 to $10 per month. If you’ve got saving money on your mind, take a minute to stop by our guide to the best cheap home security systems and budget video doorbells too. 

The best home security cameras without subscriptions

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

Like

  • Dual-cam design with sharp image
  • Pan/tilt/zoom
  • People/pet detection and tracking
  • Local storage options

Don’t like

  • Local storage costs extra
  • Wired only
  • Eufy’s app is a little janky

Eufy’s pan/tilt/zoom dual-cam model can see anywhere, and with the right vantage point it can cover multiple doors or areas in a home, all at an excellent 4K resolution for the wide-angle lens and 2K resolution for the telephoto lens. It also has 32-foot night vision and the ability to recognize people or pets and quietly follow them — and it’s surprisingly small for these features, so you can easily find room on a shelf. And it’s one of the few security cameras currently offering compatibility with Apple HomeKit as well, making it an ideal pick for Apple users (and less ideal if you prefer Alexa or Google Assistant).

Eufy also nabs the top spot on our list for its subscription policies: You don’t need one. Nothing significant is locked behind ongoing fees unless you really want cloud storage, and the cam comes with a slot for a microSD card (purchase the size of your choice) to add local storage.

You also have the option of adding a HomeBase S380 hub if you prefer more storage, better AI capabilities and other useful features, still without any necessary subscription. The one downside to Eufy’s cam is that the Eufy app is a little janky and may time patience to learn, but that’s a minor tradeoff.

Lorex

Like

  • No use of cloud data
  • 2K resolution
  • Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
  • Option to go offline entirely

Don’t like

  • included microSD card is small

Lorex brings to the table not only a high-resolution camera, but a whole camera system built around keeping your data out of the cloud. It comes with a 16GB microSD card and no subscription options at all. You can also use Lorex Fusion with a recorder device for more video storage capacity, but it’s not necessary. Or, if you add the cam to the full Lorex home security system with its touchscreen controls, you can switch to a mode that keeps you offline entirely.

In addition to these plentiful privacy options, Lorex offers person detection and compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant. While there are no pan/tilt features here, the cam can be adjusted to a variety of angles and includes two-way audio for communication.

Reolink

Like

  • Wireless design with included solar panel
  • 4K resolution
  • Zoom and tracking
  • Good object recognition
  • Color night vision

Don’t like

  • Setup requires some extra work

Reolink’s Argus Track is designed for highly efficient outdoor use, combining a 4K cam that can easily spot details across the yard with a solar panel you can set up to keep the battery charged on this wireless model. It’s also got pan/tilt features with the ability to track movement, color night vision and, of course, onboard storage with a microSD card slot.

Those powerful features don’t require any subscriptions to use, making this one of the best options for a no-fee outdoor camera that can detect people, vehicles and animals. While the wireless design does make it easy to place, you may have to do more work finding the right installation spot for both the cam and its solar panel, which benefits from a sunny destination.

TP-Link

While Tapo cams have won spots on our other lists for their affordable, feature-rich cams, for this list we’re choosing the versatile C120 indoor/outdoor cam — a little more expensive, but still affordable. The Tapo blend of subscription-free features (there is a Tapo plan, but it’s far from necessary) offers person recognition and onboard video storage with the purchase of a microSD card, as well as color night vision.

Another advantage of the C120 is its 2K resolution, higher than many of TP-Link’s budget models, along with a magnetic base that makes placement easy regardless of indoor or outdoor use, although you will need to find a safe outlet to use.

Lorex/Amazon

Like

  • Customizable floodlights
  • 2K resolution with HDR
  • Color night vision

Don’t like

If you’re looking to invest in a higher-end outdoor cam and don’t mind spending extra for a full suite of features when you know no subscriptions will be coming your way, Lorex has an excellent floodlight camera for looking over a large outdoor space. It offers a 2K resolution, color night vision, two-way audio and an included 32GB microSD card. That’s a fairly complete package, even without the free person, vehicle and animal protection that’s also included or the support for Alexa and Google Assistant.

But the biggest feature of this cam is the two LED floodlight. We like Lorex’s floodlight approach more than most: You can adjust the angles and set specific brightness and color temperature levels, as well as how easily they are activated. That’s a level of customization that is comparatively rare in home security lighting.

Amazon/Blink

Like

  • Compact and wireless
  • Great app controls
  • Long battery life
  • Subscription is optional with a purchased hub

Don’t like

  • Requires a hub and flash drive for no-fee video storage
  • No person detection without a subscription

Blink does offer a subscription pan with video recording and storage, but we’re adding it as an effective option because of the Sync Module 2 — this compact, square hub connects to the Blink Outdoor 4 and allows you to plug in a USB flash drive and use it for local storage. That largely removes the need for any subscription. You still get Blink’s motion-activated alerts and incredibly easy-to-use app, so subscription fees become very optional.

Otherwise, the Blink Outdoor 4 is a common recommendation of ours because of its long two-year battery life and easy wireless setup. You will miss out on outdoor person detection, which is locked behind the subscription, but otherwise this cam deserves consideration if you don’t mind purchasing a hub to work with.

Best home security cameras without subscriptions compared

Best Home Security Cameras Without Subscriptions Compared

Best security cams without subscriptions Eufy Indoor Cam S350 Lorex 2K Indoor Camera Reolink Argus Track Cam TP-Link Tapo C120 Indoor/Outdoor Cam Lorex 2K Wi-Fi Floodlight Security Camera Blink Outdoor 4 with Sync Module 2
Price $100 $50 $210 $40 $250 $65
Resolution 4K/2K 2K 4K 2K 2K 1080p/HD
Field of view 360 degrees with pan/tilt 125 degrees Nearly 360 degrees with pan/tilt 120 degrees 122 degrees 143 degrees
Power source Wired Wired Battery with solar Wired Wired Battery
Motion detection Motion, people, pets Motion, people Motion, people, vehicles, animals Motion, people, pet vehicle Motion, people, vehicle, animal Motion only with no subscription
Night Vision 32-foot night vision Yes Color night vision Color night vision Color night vision Yes
Audio Two-way audio Two-way audio Two-way audio Two-way audio Two-way audio Two-way audio
Storage options Local with microSD card or Eufy HomeBase Local with included microSD card Local with microSD card Local via microSD card or cloud storage with subscription Local via microSD card (included) Local via Sync Module 2 Hub
Voice assistant Apple HomeKit/Home/Siri Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant Amazon Alexa
Review score N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Other home security cams without subscriptions that we’ve tested

A Lorex pan/tilt indoor camera sits on a gray desk next to a closed laptop, coffee mug, and lamp. A Lorex pan/tilt indoor camera sits on a gray desk next to a closed laptop, coffee mug, and lamp.

Lorex’s pan/tilt camera makes for an excellent nanny cam in the right position.

Lorex/Amazon

TP-Link Tapo C210: This is one of our favorite affordable cameras at the moment, but we prefer Eufy’s better specs that also come with local storage.

Blink Mini 2: The Blink Mini 2 has a surprising amount of features for its small size and affordable price (plus outdoor compatibility), but it’s a little too short range and the required Sync Module 2 for local storage greatly increases the price.

Google Nest Indoor/Outdoor cam: Nest doesn’t have any local storage options, and the 3 hours of video storage means you need to act quickly, so it’s a complicated compromise for those who want to avoid subscriptions altogether. We went with simpler, local storage approaches for this list.

TP-Link Tapo C310: The C310 makes a fine outdoor camera ready for a microSD card, but we found Tapo’s indoor/outdoor camera a little more useful for the average person.

Google Nest Doorbell: The Nest Doorbell is an excellent device that benefits greatly from Google AI and Nest’s high-quality construction, but it also doesn’t have any local storage, so you’ll have to that three-hour limit.

Lorex 2K Indoor Pan/Tilt Camera: This Lorex cam is an excellent local storage alternative, but ultimately we chose the floodlight model for its great outdoor usability. 

Factors to consider when buying a home security camera

The Blink app showing a viewing option for a cam and notification about a person detected. The Blink app showing a viewing option for a cam and notification about a person detected.

Blink’s person detection works well enough, but it’s a subscription-only feature.

CNET/Tyler Lacoma

Resolution and view

We always pay attention to resolution and field of view for home security cameras. Checking detail, up close and at a distance, is very important for live views and the quality of recorded video. It’s important to pay attention not only to resolution numbers and how wide the field of view is but if a brand locks higher resolutions behind a subscription (some do).

Video storage

Video storage refers to how easily video can be recorded and shared, typically either in the cloud or locally through an attached hub/hard drive. Cloud storage is almost always locked behind a subscription except in rare exceptions like Google Nest and some others. Local storage is generally a better way to avoid subscriptions and still get this important quality of life.

Smart home integration

Smart home support for voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant) or platforms like Google Home or Apple Home aren’t often locked behind subscriptions: What you see in the specs is what you get. That can be limited to a single platform (Amazon likes to keep its devices focused on Alexa for now) or spread out between several platforms. If you already use a voice assistant or a full smart home security system, look for a cam that’s compatible with it.

Object detection

Object detection, like recognizing packages or human-shaped beings approaching, is another feature often locked behind a subscription. Some cameras offer free object detection. Eufy uses human detection for many of its cams, TP-Link Tapo cams offer some free detection and several Lorex cams provide package and people detection.

App usability

High-quality secure cams come with apps that are intuitive with settings that are easy to manage. It’s also a big bonus if they don’t have constant pop-ups telling you to sign up for a subscription.

Night vision

We always take a close look at night vision and its distance to make sure that it’s working properly and offers plenty of utility for capturing images on the other side of your yard or room.

Two-way audio

Two-way audio features help scare away intruders, talk to strangers or tell the kids to get inside for dinner. They’re always free, but we take a close look at their quality and range, too. 

How we test security cameras

Our experts follow a complete testing process that examines how all the features on a home security camera function. Today’s cams have motion detection, audio communication, resolution, night vision, object recognition and much more to test.

We walk through these features with a number of visual and audio experiments to see how cams match their claims — and the capability of comparative models. There’s a lot that goes into this process, and you can catch plenty more details over at our guide on how we test.

The best home security cam placement and installation

A Eufy cam mounted outside on a wood board wall with the Eufy solar panel installed above it facing the sun. A Eufy cam mounted outside on a wood board wall with the Eufy solar panel installed above it facing the sun.

Eufy’s solar panel makes a great pairing with this open-range security cam.

Eufy

Placing a home security camera is one of the hardest decisions today’s DIY cameras require. Every home is different, so you’ll need to customize the location to get the best angle to capture a room or yard. Sometimes central locations are best for pan/tilt cameras or a high shelf for an overview. For installation, we like the stability of a screw-in mount or the versatility of a horizontal surface. For more, take a look at our guide on the best spots to install home security cameras.

That can vary from subscription to subscription, but there are expectations in common. Companies like Ring, Arlo and others lock their cloud video storage features in subscriptions, and while there are sometimes local workarounds, they’re rarely convenient or cheap. Advanced object detection is frequently accessed only through subscriptions, as are “rich” notifications and alerts that provide more detail about what’s happening. Certain video features, like extended live views, snapshot timelapses or home/away modes can also be trapped in subscriptions.

More advanced subscriptions typically expand the plan for multiple devices and may add in professional home monitoring and similar services.

They’re getting more affordable all the time. You can find a 256GB (a massive amount of storage for a home security camera) microSD card for under $20 these days. Smaller cards will cost significantly less.

If you like keeping and accessing your video in the cloud, you’ll probably have to pay a subscription. Free cloud storage does exist, but it’s hard to find. Google’s Nest cams offer free video storage for 3 hours, but you’ll need to act within that timeframe to save the video, so you’ll need to check alerts fast.

That depends how often and long it records. A 32GB card like the one Lorex provides in some cams can record for a few hours at 1080p, much less at higher resolutions. Upgrading to a larger card means you don’t have to worry about deleting videos as often.

NAS stands for network-attached storage and is often used in conjunction with NVR or Network Video Recorder. An NVR is similar to a DVR, except it records footage from your cams. NAS storage like this is typically used for large security systems with an array of cams that records a lot of footage and needs a central database to store and view it. An NVR isn’t necessary for the average home security system with local storage.



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