It’s a new age for home security. Instead of only finding them at large company warehouses, it’s now relatively easy and common to get a compact home security camera into your home — so you can keep an eye on who’s coming and going, and get notifications when there’s a person, sound or event you wouldn’t expect.
Single-camera models are no match for in-depth security systems, but they’re a useful starting point to help inform you and protect your home in the process.
In this guide, you’ll find our top picks for the best home security cameras to buy in 2023, alongside insights from home security experts on what kinds of cameras really work, and how you can best use them.
SKIP AHEAD The best home security cameras in 2023 | How to shop for home security cameras | How safe are home security cameras? | Key features to look for | Are there home security cameras without monthly fees? | Where should I put an outdoor home security camera? | Is it better to have a wired or wireless home security camera?
Our top picks
- Best overall pick: Arlo Ultra 2
- Best budget pick: Wyze Cam v3
- Best splurge: Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro
How we picked the best home security cameras
To compile this list, I combined my own experience trying smart home cameras with the advice of security system specialists. Here’s what I kept in mind while pulling highly rated options for this list:
- Visibility. A camera lives or dies by its ability to accurately record and stream visual information. We looked for models with night vision features and a minimum 1080p/Full HD resolution (this is around the resolution of a basic smart TV, but perfectly functional for a compact camera).
- Versatility. To get full coverage on your space, you’ll need cameras in different areas, so we looked for a variety of wired, wire-free, indoor, and outdoor models. A number of more advanced models even let you choose between wired and wireless connections.
The best home security cameras in 2023
The following home security cameras all require Wi-Fi and offer motion alerts. I used my own experience trying home technology gadgets and included highly rated options based on customer ratings from popular retailers like Amazon.
This Ring model is a great option to put in areas that don’t get a lot of light. It comes with a pair of floodlights — which are built-in light sources that can brighten up your camera’s surroundings to ensure visibility at any time of day. Two-way communication makes it easy to hear any visitors talking into the camera’s speaker, and to talk back to visitors or would-be intruders, too.
As a hard-wired model, you’ll need professional installation and connection to your house’s wiring, but its various smart features such as motion detection, Alexa compatibility for voice control, and real-time alerts in the Ring app — make this a popular choice. (It has a 4.7-star average rating on Amazon from more than 7,000 reviews.)
Camera type: Wired | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: n/a | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: Yes | Cloud subscription: $4-$10/month | Dimensions: 12.82 x 7.77 x 8.5 in
A video doorbell, like this Arlo model that has a 4.3-star average rating from almost 5,000 reviews on Amazon, can be a hugely useful alternative to a protruding camera on your home’s exterior. It gives you a front-on view from your door, acting as an alert system when couriers arrive and depart, allowing visitors to interface with you easily with a two-way microphone and speaker. Another great perk is this model’s flexibility, since you can purchase it in both wired and wire-free versions. It also has night vision functionality and package/motion detection notifications.
Camera type: Wired or wireless | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: 1-4 weeks | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: Yes | Cloud subscription: $5-$13/month | Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 3 in.
For a sleek, unobtrusive design, consider the Google Nest camera. This indoor model has a Full HD resolution and AI smart features that can differentiate between people, animals, and cars driving past — ensuring that any notifications contain detailed information. You’ll also be able to review up to three hours of video history without an add-on subscription, plus the camera will also store up to an hour of footage even if the Wi-Fi suddenly goes out. Having tried this model extensively, I can say it offers all the functionality you’ll need for an everyday indoor security camera, while generally blending in quite easily with its surroundings.
Camera type: Wired | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: n/a | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: No | Cloud subscription: $6-$12/month | Dimensions: 2.24 x 2.52 x 3.88 in.
The highly rated Wyze Cam v3, which we included in our guide to the best pet cameras, has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 70,000 reviews on Amazon. With two-way audio, night vision, Full HD video, motion and sound alerts, compatibility with Alexa/Google Assistant devices, and an IP65 water-resistance rating (this means it’s protected against jets of water, like rain) this is a suitable outdoor security camera option — as long as you have a way to connect it to your home’s power.
Camera type: Wired | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: n/a | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: IP65 | Cloud subscription: $3-$10/m | Dimensions: 2.51 x 2.24 x 3.93 in.
The Arlo Essential XL Spotlight is a well-rounded spotlight camera, with colored night vision features, a 130-degree viewing angle, two-way audio that lets you hear sounds around the camera and talk through its speaker to anyone nearby, and a wire-free connection for easy installation anywhere around your home. Its spotlight will come on when it detects motion, and it’ll send short video clip notifications directly to your smartphone. In my experience using this camera regularly, I’ve found that the battery needs charging fairly regularly — often weekly if there’s a lot of movement triggering it to record.
Camera type: Wireless | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: 1-4 weeks | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: Yes | Cloud subscription: $5-$13/month | Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 5 in.
If you’re looking for high-quality video, then the Arlo Ultra may be the home security camera for you. It comes with 4K Ultra HD resolution, which has four times the detail of Full HD models so you can accurately see what’s happening around your home. As a weatherproof model, it’s also safe to use outside. (It gives you the option to run it on a battery or with a plug-in outlet connection.) Unlike other Arlo models, though, you’ll need an Arlo SmartHub to power it up so it’s not the most convenient model on our list. In my experience, though, it’s still a good choice for those who want clear, crisp 4K visual fidelity alongside other smart features.
Camera type: Wired or wireless | Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Battery life: 1-4 weeks | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: Yes | Cloud subscription: $5-$13/m | Dimensions: 3.5 x 2 x 3 in.
The Blink Mini is one of the most budget-friendly options on our list, and in my experience, is highly convenient thanks to its compact shape that makes it easy to fit in wherever you need it. Despite its small stature, it still has Full HD video, black-and-white night vision, and two-way audio alongside motion alerts. Since Blink is an Amazon-owned brand, it’s designed to work with Alexa devices too.
Camera type: Wired | Resolution: 1080p | Battery life: n/a | Wi-Fi required: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes | Weather resistance: No | Cloud subscription: $3-$10/mo | Dimensions: 2 x 1.9 x 1.4 in.
How to shop for home security cameras
Unsure what’s most important when buying a home security camera? Here are the key things to keep in mind.
- Battery: Consider how you’ll be powering your camera. Wired models will require an outlet nearby, while battery-powered cameras are much easier to set up in areas without plug-ins, though you’ll generally need to take them down and recharge them pretty regularly.
- Motion alerts: Motion sensors are a key part of today’s home security camera landscape, ensuring you’re alerted to unexpected movement in particular areas around your home, according to our experts. It’s even possible to set specific trigger areas so you can log a certain part of the room or yard — for example, at the door of a safe — without other areas in view necessarily triggering the alarm.
- Compatibility. In general, smart home gadgets from the same manufacturer work well together (like a Ring doorbell and Blink indoor camera with an Amazon Fire tablet). However, devices from separate companies can still be compatible if they share the same connectivity protocol (a shared language that lets different devices communicate).
How safe are home security cameras?
Home security cameras, as useful as they are, have limited function as a security measure, according to some experts. We spoke to Barak Ron, the CEO of Mr. Locks, a security system installation and service specialist based in New York, to get more information.
“It’s not a matter of can you get in; the question is how long is it going to take you to get in, and how much noise you’re going to make,” says Ron. “There is no lock that cannot be opened…if someone really wants to get in, they’ll be able to get in.”
He adds that “most burglaries and security breaches are happening when the user or the homeowner does not follow basic security features, such as closing the door.”
The main benefit of a home security camera may be more about personal convenience rather than protection of your property and assets, according to Ron. People are using security systems more for convenience to track dog walkers, cleaning staff and babysitters — they want to have control of knowing when and where someone is walking in or around their home, he says. Though, the presence of a camera alone may be enough to deter a would-be intruder, and can help flag a break-in event happening in real time.
Key home security camera features to look for
The ability to respond to its surroundings and alert you accordingly are the most important features in a home security system, say our experts. Motion sensors, specifically, are a primary feature to look out for, according to Ron. They’re able to respond to movement in the camera’s eyeline, immediately sending a notification to your phone; they can record when movement triggers the camera, ensuring the battery doesn’t drain too fast, he says.
Other popular features like night vision, which lets you see movements more clearly in the dark, are nice to have, but are not quite as crucial as motion sensor alerts, according to Ron.
Are there home security cameras without monthly fees?
When buying a home security camera, consider whether additional subscription costs are also within your budget.
Add-on subscriptions tend to add cloud storage, to ensure that any video footage is stored securely in the cloud — instead of using local storage you’d have to manage yourself, like an SD card.
It is possible to get by without a cloud subscription, since many models will send short video clips to your phone in response to motion or sound alerts, though secure storage is probably good for peace of mind, according to Ron.
Also look out for models with some kind of weather resistance rating, so you can be sure it’s protected against the outdoors.
Where should I put an outdoor home security camera?
To get a sense of how best to use your camera, we spoke to Hooman Shahidi, senior vice president of product at SimpliSafe, a security system specialist. (We only spoke with Shahidi about shopping guidance — he did not influence or provide recommendations for specific products on our list.)
He recommends putting your camera in entry and exit points about six to eight feet off the ground, angled about 30 degrees down. If your camera looks over a busy area, though, the motion sensor in your camera may by working in overdrive, quickly draining the battery while sending you endless recordings of people and cars. “You want to avoid pointing into places that have lots of irrelevant traffic and motion, because all that’ll do is drain the battery,” says Shahidi.
Is it better to have a wired or wireless home security camera?
Wireless cameras are much more flexible than wired models that you’ll need to tether to a specific power source. However, battery-powered cameras allow for more freedom in placing a camera where you need it, whether or not you have a power plug nearby, according to Shahidi.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Barak Ron is CEO of Mr. Locks, a security system company based in New York. We only sought shopping guidance from Ron and did not ask for specific product recommendations.
- Hooman Shahidi is a home security system specialist and senior vice president of product at SimpliSafe. (Though SimpliSafe makes home security systems, we only spoke with Shahidi about shopping tips and guidance. He did not influence or provide recommendations for specific products on our list.)
Why trust Select?
Henry St Leger has spent years reviewing consumer gadgets including smartTVs, projectors, pet cameras and VR. They were previously a commissioning editor at TechRadar and have bylines at T3, Tech Advisor, and Trusted Reviews.