Best Surveillance Systems
Camera security nowadays is a complicated affair, and with features like motion sensors, HD house cameras, smart home integration and everything in between, choosing the right surveillance system for your home or property can be a rough hill to climb. Whether you’re away on holiday or just want to be able to keep an eye on things, home security cameras and systems can help you protect what’s important to you.
High quality video footage
- Build Quality4.7 (6)
- Ease of Use4.3 (7)
- Value for Money4.5 (6)
- Night Vision4.4 (5)
- Motion Detection4.6 (5)
- Ease of Installation4.2 (6)
- Connectivity / Reliability4.5 (6)
Clear video in day and night
- Build Quality4.3 (13)
- Ease of Use4.5 (14)
- Value for Money3.9 (13)
- Night Vision4.1 (14)
- Motion Detection3.6 (14)
- Ease of Installation4.4 (14)
- Connectivity / Reliability4.2 (14)
The Anker Eufy Wire-Free Security Kit uses Full HD video, facial recognition, and a panoramic wide-angle lens to help you put safety first. Combine that with free local storage and compatibility with smart home devices, and you’ve got yourself an easy-to-use winner.
Easy to install and sync to devices
Long lasting battery
Great video and audio quality
Quick video download
Live viewing sometimes lags
- Build Quality4.1 (22)
- Ease of Use4.1 (22)
- Value for Money3.1 (22)
- Night Vision3.5 (16)
- Motion Detection3.4 (18)
- Ease of Installation4.3 (20)
- Connectivity / Reliability3.4 (20)
Clear night vision
Power cord is too short
Videos taken are too short
Unclear video in certain situations
- Build Quality3.4 (20)
- Ease of Use3.4 (20)
- Value for Money3.4 (20)
- Night Vision3.4 (18)
- Motion Detection3.1 (16)
- Ease of Installation3.4 (18)
- Connectivity / Reliability3.4 (17)
- Build Quality2.8 (32)
- Ease of Use2.7 (32)
- Value for Money2.6 (32)
- Night Vision2.8 (24)
- Motion Detection2.7 (24)
- Ease of Installation3.1 (25)
- Connectivity / Reliability2.4 (28)
How do surveillance systems work?
A surveillance system is a network of connected electronic devices that work in synergy to protect your home, shop, workplace, or any area against potential intruders. They can secure and monitor entry points, as well as larger, less specific spaces, and often have alarms which sound when someone tresspasses on your property.
A typical surveillance system can include any of the following:
- A control panel
- Motion sensors
- Wired or wireless security cameras
- A siren or alarm, or feature which sends alerts to your personal device
- A two-way speaker (also commonly found in )
- A sign indicating that a surveillance system is in use
What is the difference between DVR and NVR?
When you’re shopping around for some surveillance systems, you’ll have to choose between a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) and a Network Video Recorder (NVR). So what exactly do these terms mean?
DVR systems take video directly from cameras through a cable and then process it for recording. They use analog security cameras (also known as CCTV cameras).
NVR systems encode and process video data at the surveillance camera, and then transmit it to the NVR recorder to be stored and viewed remotely.
- Cheaper than NVR.
- Less complex to use.
- Lower video resolution because they must use CCTV.
- Less flexible as there’s less choice in cameras you can use and ways of mounting your camera.
- Must be part of a wired security system.
- Better picture quality.
- Easier installation.
- More flexibility in camera choice and mounting options.
- Can be wired or wireless.
- More expensive.
Factors to consider when buying a surveillance system
Overlooking the features of a surveillance system is a sure way to have you ending up in a refund queue, so consider whether its features are necessary and fit for your home and your needs.
- Motion detectors are used differently in different systems. Some only record video when movement is detected, saving on storage space, while others notify you when something has happened so that your eyes don’t need to be glued to your surveillance monitor (and some do both).
- Live viewing lets you see your home through your security camera system in real-time. There are also house cameras that connect to your phone, letting you see what’s going on at home when you’re out and about.
- Some wireless surveillance systems offer cloud storage, meaning video data is stored online, but make sure you check if you have to pay a subscription fee to access this feature. If it doesn’t have cloud storage, consider whether other storage options are available, such as memory card, PC, or smartphone storage.
- Considering people are most anxious about safety at night, a surveillance system with night vision can be particularly useful for seeing clear images in low light or complete darkness.
- Some surveillance systems have integrated sirens that generate a loud, piercing sound when there are intruders in and around your home or shop. Ensure your alarms are correctly installed to be at the right level of sensitivity so that only unusual activity can trigger it.
- Two-way audio lets you hear the audio coming from where a camera is located and talk to anyone that’s there, letting you either confront an intruder or converse with a visitor.
Connectivity and reliability
The reliability of your connectivity often boils down to what type of surveillance system you choose. You may have more connectivity issues with wireless solutions, but that doesn’t mean that wired systems are always guaranteed to work. Here are the differences between the two.
Wired surveillance systems are wired to both a power source and your internet connection.
Wireless systems also need to be connected to a power source, but you’ll need WiFi for wireless security cameras, as the footage is transferred wirelessly from the camera to the recorder. You can also find wire-free systems that are battery powered and connect wirelessly to the internet.
Wired surveillance systems
- Reliable. Because they’re powered by physical connections, they’re not prone to interference from wireless signals.
- Supports large-scale networks. If you want coverage for a large area (as opposed to only monitoring entry points), you may need quite a few cameras. Wired networks can support 4 to 16 cameras.
- Better for long-term security. The more complex installation can be a drawback, but for people who want their surveillance system to stay, the difficult installation could make a wired solution more reliable and difficult to tamper with.
- Longer, more complex installation. Although professionals aren’t always necessary for installing a wired system, handling all the required cables can be a difficult task. Installation is also less flexible with mounting options than wireless systems, as your system needs to connect to a power outlet.
- Vulnerable to electrical failures. As with wireless systems, power outages will cut power to your wired surveillance. However some properties may be able to use a backup generator in these situations.
Wireless surveillance systems
- Easier installation. It’s simple adding wireless cameras, sensors, and other components to your security system.
- Cheaper or free installation. You rarely need a professional to install a wireless system.
- More damage-resistant. Without the fuss of exposed cables connecting monitoring devices and control panels, your security system is less vulnerable to damage.
- Portable. It’s easy to move the different components around, so you can focus on a different access point to your home, or bring the whole system to a new home.
- Easily accessible footage. Footage is often accessible via a smart device.
- Great for renters or temporary security solutions.
- Vulnerable to interference. Different signals in a hyper-connected world, as well as the signal of your router and other nearby routers, makes your WiFi security camera or entire system less reliable.
- Need to be within Wi-Fi range. Being dependent on a wireless signal means that you may experience connection issues.
- Susceptible to power outages. If there’s a power outage, you will lose connection to your system.
- Wireless systems are limited to 4 cameras.
Video quality is an important consideration to have when shopping for a surveillance system, as often the point of one is to be able to see a situation clearly. Here are the different resolutions found in security systems.
- Standard definition (480p) footage is the lowest resolution you can find. While there’s very little chance of it putting strain on your home network, images may not be clear enough to be certain about what’s going on.
- High definition (720p) video is clear enough for most surveillance system uses, and is a good starting point for people.
- surveillance systems capture images in excellent detail. While this feature can be handy, it’s not necessary for all purposes and can also overwork your home network, potentially affecting things like your internet connection and speed.
One important aspect of how your surveillance system is designed is whether or not it can withstand the elements and general wear and tear. This is considerably more important for outdoor security cameras and systems than for house cameras in indoor spaces, as they’re more likely to be tampered with and they need to work in rain, hail or shine. Look out for certain features that protect your system, such as housing encasing a surveillance camera that makes it harder to remove or damage.
You should still look for good quality design for indoor home security camera systems, however you can expect them to be more lightweight, standing rather than mounted, and use less durable materials.
Ease of installation
Installing security cameras and home security systems is becoming easier as technology advances and manufacturers are more and more conscious of making installations as stress-free as possible.
While wireless security camera systems are usually easy to install yourself, wired surveillance cameras and systems are often more complex to install, particularly when they involve components like alarms, sensors and control panels. A professional may need to be called (unless you’re handy with household DIY) - if this is the case, sometimes manufacturers can recommend a reliable installation company.
Ease of use
When considering how easy home surveillance cameras or systems are to use, consider how the footage can be accessed. Many security cameras let you easily download footage from your camera and recorder to your PC or personal device. Bonus points are given if you can connect multiple personal devices to the same camera, so that everyone in your household can see what’s going on.
An often overlooked aspect of security systems is the user interface (UI) of the control panel or the connected mobile app. If you have a chance to try these out before buying a system - do it. Different people have different preferences when it comes to UI, so you need to see for yourself whether you can easily view, archive, and download footage.
Memory size on a surveillance system usually ranges from around 50 GB to over 500 GB. However just because you can get one with over 500 GB of storage, it doesn’t mean that you should. If you only have a specific or small area you want to monitor, your home security camera system may not need a huge amount of memory space.
Surveillance systems on the market range in price from around $70 for a cheap security camera to over $600 for multiple cameras or a high quality system. Generally, the more features you want, the more you should expect to pay.
There isn’t one surveillance system that will suit every household or workplace. Some people prefer more traditional models that get the job done, while others depend on having the latest features to make them feel more secure. Thinking about exactly what you want and need from a surveillance system is a good place to start, and will put you well on your way to improving the safety of your home and your loved ones.