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Best Cheap Home Security Cameras for 2024

 Best Cheap Home Security Cameras for 2024


There are hundreds of home security cameras on the market, ranging drastically in price, functionality and quality. With all the options, it can be hard to not become overwhelmed fast, especially when you’re considering something as important as your home’s safety. After CNET’s years of testing home security cameras, we have some tips if you’re on the hunt for a new, budget camera that still meets your quality expectations. Here’s what to consider:

Privacy

This, of course, is a big one. You don’t want anyone peeping on your property or hacking into your camera. Wireless home security cameras can be more susceptible to hacking due to their connectivity to Wi-Fi networks. It’s not an enormous concern, especially if you have a strong Wi-Fi password, but it’s good to be aware of a potential risk.

A bigger privacy issue comes from the cloud storage and management of video. Trying to keep track of data breaches and security vulnerabilities is exhausting, which is why we’re taking care of that side for you. We keep track of companies that have had security troubles and improved like Ring, and companies that have changed their policies on sharing video with the police — like Ring again. And we track companies that are struggling to show any improvement in their security, like the ongoing troubles of Wyze.

Indoor vs. outdoor

One of the first things you’ll need to consider is where you want to place your home security cameras. If you want your camera to be located outside, recording your porch or yard, you’ll likely want an outdoor camera that’s also weather resistant or features night vision. 

While many cameras can be used interchangeably for indoor or outdoor purposes, some cameras are solely made for indoor usage, like the Lorex 2K indoor cam, so make sure you’re buying cameras that can handle the outdoor elements with an IP rating that shows weather resistance. 

Local vs. cloud storage

Not all video storage is equal. You have two main options and picking one is up to your personal preference. There’s cloud storage, which sends your video footage to a remote server to be saved, and local storage, which relies on a separate accessory or piece of hardware, usually a microSD card, to hold any footage you’d like to save. Usually, cloud storage requires a monthly fee. 

Field of view and resolution

Field of view refers to how wide the angle the camera lens can capture, in degrees. The very top cameras can reach 160 degrees or above, but this is rare. For a budget camera, between 110 and 130 degrees is common and will suffice for most security purposes when angled correctly. Or you could choose a pan/tilt camera, which can move to capture any angle within view.

Likewise, resolution is typically around 1080p for budget cams like these. If you can find 2K resolution on an affordable cam — and a few of our picks have it — it can be a sizable feature upgrade.

Smart home compatibility

What smart home systems do security cameras work with? If you already like using Google Home and Google Assistant or Alexa’s platform, then you’ll want a camera that’s compatible — and most will work with these voice assistants. Apple Home and Siri compatibility is much harder to find. If you have brand-based whole-home system from a company like Vivint, Abode or Frontpoint, you’ll want to check and see if a specific security camera can integrate with your system.

Once the Matter standard comes to security cameras, it will be the best way to guarantee compatibility, but that protocol hasn’t adopted cameras quite yet.

Battery vs. wired

Battery-based cameras are very DIY and apartment friendly, and you can install them anywhere you want. However, you will have to recharge them every few months on average, or use a solar panel to help out (they’ll let you know via app when batteries are low).

Wired cameras are more limited and often more difficult to install, but you never have to worry about recharging a battery. And if you choose a PoE (power over Ethernet) camera, you don’t have to rely on Wi-Fi, either.



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