Although security cameras have existed for decades, there’s recently been a renaissance in the world of smart home security cameras. Unlike regular cameras that aren’t connected to the internet, these cameras let users control them remotely, see live footage through apps, and even speak to the people they’re recording.
But with new technology comes a lot of questions on how to implement it. After years of testing the most popular options, our experts have a lot to say when it comes to installing, using, and choosing security cameras. See all of our security camera how-to pages below.
Security Camera How Tos
We cover a variety of security camera-related topics, from cameras that don’t need Wi-Fi to best practices for installation.
Installing Security Cameras
Indoors, you should place your cameras in a central location like a main hallway or living room. We don’t recommend putting cameras in private areas like bathrooms or bedrooms, where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.1 Outdoors, put cameras near your ground-floor entrances, particularly your front and side doors.
- How to Install Security Cameras Outside
- How to Install Security Cameras in Your Home
- How to Hide Security Cameras Outside
- Where to Place Your Home Security Camera
NOTE: If you want cameras indoors only, look for indoor cameras specifically. Outdoor cameras tend to cost more due to their weather-resistant casing, so there’s no point in overpaying if you don’t need the durability.
Security Camera Costs
There’s a huge range when it comes to how much security cameras cost, and that includes monitoring, installation, storage, and maintenance fees. We’ve seen cameras cost as little as $20 with the Wyze Cam’s pricing and as much as $400 with Arlo camera pricing. And while some cameras have DIY installation and self-monitoring, others, like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, may require you to pay monthly or yearly fees for 24/7 professional monitoring.
Security Cameras and Crime
In our security camera guide, we discuss in detail whether or not security cameras deter crime. (Hint: The answer is yes, according to multiple studies, including one from the University of North Carolina.2) We explain both sides, as well as the legality of security cameras, in the articles below.
TIP: Security camera laws differ based on locality. Before you buy or install a security camera, check your local laws to make sure you aren’t breaking any.
How Do Security Cameras Work?
Finally, we get into the nitty-gritty, the technical side of how security cameras work.
- Is There a Security Camera That Works Without Wi-Fi?
- Do Wireless Security Cameras Need the Internet?
- How Do Wireless Security Cameras Work?
Believe it or not, there are security cameras that don’t require Wi-Fi. The Reolink Go, for example, records footage locally onto a 64 GB micro-SD card and uses a T-Mobile SIM card to connect to the internet. If you need a security system for a rural area, Reolink is one of the best options.
There’s also the question of the power source, also known as wireless cameras vs. wired types of cameras and hardwired security systems in general. Wireless cameras, particularly outdoor wireless cameras, are much easier to install than hardwired cameras, as they don’t require drilling. However, with wireless cameras, you have to take battery life into account. These days, most security cameras’ batteries are rechargeable with low battery mobile app alerts, but it’s still a consideration.
With wired cameras, make sure you have some form of cellular backup, as they will not work if your home’s power goes out. After all, there’s no better time for a home invasion than when the power is out in an entire neighborhood.
From learning about security camera systems in our home security camera guide to choosing one of the best security cameras and installing it in your home, we hope we’ve provided you with the help you need to secure your home. But the truth is, cameras aren’t sufficient for protecting your home from invasion. Rather, you should also look into full-fledged home security systems and video doorbells as well. Home security is a journey, and you’ve just gotten on the right track.
If we haven’t already answered your questions in any of the above guides, keep reading below.
How do I set up a security camera?
To set up a security camera:
- Decide where you want to place your camera.
- If the surveillance camera has a hub, place it within the camera’s range and plug it in.
- Mount or place the camera where you want.
- For smart cameras, add the camera to your home’s Wi-Fi network. This may require scanning a QR code.
- Name the camera in its mobile app based on its location.
How do I connect my security camera to my phone?
Connecting your security camera to your phone will probably involve scanning a QR code and adding the camera to its respective mobile application. That will connect your camera to your Wi-Fi network so you can control it via your phone.
Do security cameras need Wi-Fi?
Some but not all security cameras need Wi-Fi. There are cameras that don’t need Wi-Fi, like the Reolink Go and the Arlo Go. Instead, these cameras use cellular data to connect to the internet. However, most smart security cameras need Wi-Fi.
Do security cameras record all the time?
Some security cameras record all the time, while some record only when they detect motion or a person. Nest cameras are one example of cameras that have a continuous recording option with a paid Nest Aware plan.
Constitution Annotated. (2021). Fourth Amendment.
ResearchGate. (2012). Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective.