9 Features You Should Look For in a Home Security Camera

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CCTV security camera for home security & surveillance.

Homes without security systems are 300% more likely to be broken into—and installing a security camera can be one of the simplest ways to feel safer and protect your home. You’ll have a second set of eyes on your home at all times, and, depending on the camera, you can check in on your home anytime, anywhere.

Home security camera technology has vastly improved over the last decade, and there are hundreds of styles and features available. So many options, however, can make it harder to know which camera is best for your home and which features are really necessary. Here are nine security camera features to review before making your purchase.

Weather Resistance

Will you be monitoring your home’s interior, exterior, or both? If you plan on placing a security camera outdoors, you need one that is weather resistant. The degree of weather resistance you need will vary based on your location, but make sure yours can withstand rain. Look for an outdoor security camera with an IP rating higher than 44. While weather-resistant cameras can be more expensive, they’re also more durable. Placing security cameras outside your home can save you money on home insurance premiums and increase the re-sale value of your home, so it’s well worth the extra investment for a camera that will be reliable, rain or shine.

Remote Video Monitoring

One of the most significant recent updates to security cameras is the ability to access the video feed remotely. IP cameras that integrate with smart home hubs make it easy to monitor your home online or on your smartphone from any location using a proprietary app. Check in to see if the kids arrived home from school safely or if a package you were expecting was delivered. IP cameras can be more expensive than closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, but the extra control and peace of mind is often worth the price.

Recording

Nearly 65% of burglaries happen during the day when no one is home. If something happens when you aren’t there or aren’t watching, how will you know what happened? For a higher level of security, you may want to invest in a camera that records on a computer or digital video recorder. Most modern security cameras include a recording function, but it’s important to check each camera’s specific features to confirm.

Size

Security cameras tend to shrink in size every year—just to prove they can—and many cameras feature sleek and attractive designs. However, choosing a smaller or larger camera depends on your goals. Do you want passersby to notice your camera? Visible outdoor cameras may help deter potential burglars. Alternatively, you may want to be discreet, especially for filming indoors, and choose a smaller and more covert option.

Motion Detection

When a home security system is triggered, you receive an alert. But what if someone is prowling around your property? Security cameras with motion detection can notify you of suspicious activity so you can check the camera footage and monitor the situation. Not all cameras include motion detection, but if you want to know when someone may be on your property, any additional costs may be worth the investment.

Adjustability

A fixed camera focuses on one area, whereas an adjustable camera can pan or tilt to scan a larger area. If you’re monitoring a small room or yard, a fixed camera will likely work fine. However, if you want to record a larger area and use only a single camera, choose an adjustable one. While the camera may cost more, you can reduce the total number of cameras needed to observe a particular area, which can cut your total expenditure.

Night Vision

Most burglaries occur during the day, but many still happen at night. Depending on what you’re recording, you may want a camera with infrared capability to increase the distance your camera can record images in low- to no-light conditions. The better the infrared capability, the more expensive the camera. You will want to find a balance between night vision quality and price based on your security goals.

Speakers and Microphone

In the past, most security cameras didn’t include sound systems, or they had to link to intercom systems that allowed for monitoring through verbal contact. Many security cameras today feature speaker and microphone systems. Listen for loud crashes or eavesdrop on prowlers, and communicate with anyone nearby who approaches your home, such as a delivery person or neighbor. Depending on your home security needs, this may be more of a luxury than a necessity.

Color and Resolution

How clear of a picture do you need when monitoring your home? Color cameras with a higher resolution are pricier than black and white systems, but they provide more accurate information. If a burglar were to break into your home, you might not be able to identify what he was wearing or his hair color unless you had a color camera. If you’re on a budget, you may want to stick to a black and white system unless you’re concerned with picture quality.

There are myriad features available in home security cameras that go beyond this list. Define what features are most important for your home and needs and balance them with your budget. Get started by reviewing a security camera guide to compare some of the most popular and top-rated systems.

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clairjones

Clair Jones is a safety and home security expert with SafeWise.com, and is passionate about helping families and singles stay safe in their home through practical tips and innovative products. To read more of Clair's safety and security recommendations and find the perfect home security solution for your home, visit SafeWise's 5 Top Security Systems for 2015 Report or drop by the SafeWise Blog.

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