All Your Home Security Camera Questions Answered
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Don't know a smart camera from a spotlight camera? Here's everything you need to know before choosing a security camera for your home.
Security cameras are a great addition to your home security system. They can be placed outside to alert you to intruders, on your door to identify visitors, or inside your home to keep track of pets or small children. While security cameras have lots of uses, there are also many kinds. Here’s a guide to how they work and the different types you may come across while picking out a security camera for your home.
How Do Security Cameras Work?
Although there are many types, all work in a similar way. The camera is basically a video camera, recording things that it can “see” through its lens. The images are then transmitted through wiring or a WiFi connection. Some cameras send the recordings to a computer, some to cloud storage, and others store the footage on a hub that comes with the camera or sold separately. A few cameras may store footage internally. Footage can be accessed through an app or an online account.
When the camera records can vary, too. Some record footage all the time, while with others you can schedule when the camera will be on. Some also start recording only when motion is detected.
Power sources also vary. Some can be hardwired into the home’s electrical system (a job for a professional electrician). Many run on rechargeable batteries, while others connect to solar panels. Some have multiple power options. For example, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera can be set up with the Arlo Solar Panel for power, but it also comes with a rechargeable battery pack.
Different Types of Security Cameras
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the different types of security cameras on the market. Here are some terms you’re likely to encounter when comparing security cameras.
A smart security camera means the camera can be used in conjunction with an app. The app typically allows you to view footage, choose when the camera records and other features. Be sure to note all the features included in the app because they vary from brand to brand.
Outdoor cameras are made to withstand rain, dust, wind, heat and cold. If you see a label that says IP Rated or IP 65, that means the camera is waterproof. Some outdoor security cameras include the HeimVision Wireless Security Camera System and the Ring Spotlight Cam.
This means the camera doesn’t need to be hardwired into the home’s electrical system. It also means that it uses WiFi or Bluetooth to connect to the home’s internet network.
Camera With Security System
If you see this note, it means that the camera comes with a full home security system. This can include door and window sensors, a control panel and other features.
Floodlight or Spotlight Cameras
These cameras are double-duty. They feature a light as well as a security camera. Some also have sirens and other useful security features.
Home Security Camera Safety Considerations
Like many devices, home security cameras can be hacked. It is important to choose a camera that has two-step authentication when accessing accounts and the app. This will help prevent unwanted people from accessing your footage by requiring a password and some other type of information to be entered before access is granted.
With indoor security cameras, look for cameras with a privacy shutter or manual lens cover that can blind the camera. This provides extra assurance that private moments won’t be filmed if the camera is hacked.