A break-in can be scary. The situation can become life-threatening if you’re home. If you’re not, having your privacy violated can be even more unnerving than the theft. Smart security system tools, like Wi-Fi security cameras, can help homeowners feel safe again.
What Is A Wi-Fi Security Camera?
Advanced security systems used to be the privilege of industrial or commercial applications; however, with the advent of smart home devices, private residences can also enjoy the benefits of this emerging technology. A Wi-Fi security camera can capture video of a designated area and transfer it as either recorded or live footage to a smartphone.
This allows the owner to see what the camera records in real time. If the system notices any motion, it can immediately alert the owner via a smartphone app. The live transfer and alerts are the biggest differences between traditional security cameras and Wi-Fi camera systems.
Wi-Fi security cameras can be installed both indoors and outdoors, and owners can control their functions from miles away through an app. These days, most cameras offer high-definition videos that make it easy to observe the smallest of details. Owners can zoom in on any suspected activity as the camera records it.
These cameras have other user-friendly features like night vision and two-way audio. Owners can talk to the delivery person outside their home—even if they’re not inside themselves. Some can record continuously, while others start recording when they sense motion. Most are equipped with wide-angle lenses for a comprehensive view of the designated area.
Wi-Fi security cameras are unique for two reasons. To begin with, they put the owner in real-time control of security. With live alerts, the owner can immediately notify authorities if there’s an attempted break-in.
While a Wi-Fi security camera cannot physically stop anyone from invading your space, it can help authorities nab the culprits. Law enforcement can run the video through their database or share it with other departments to find the invader.
Second, the cameras are designed to be intelligent and intuitive. They can easily detect an unusual motion and focus on its source. This means that they will show you precisely what you need to see. With traditional cameras, this was never an option. It’s not just criminals you can keep an eye on with your camera. If you have pets, you can track their movements and know that they are not venturing out when you’re away.
Features To Consider
So, what features should you be looking for in a Wi-Fi security camera? It depends on your security needs, the location of your house, and your budget, among other things. The structure of your residence and the kind of access it has will also influence the features you prioritize, but here are some features you should keep in mind.
1. Fast Motion Detection
The purpose of a Wi-Fi security camera is to notice any motion and alert the owner immediately. This is true for both indoor and outdoor cameras. To be effective, your camera needs to get to work fast. Its built-in sensors should be able to pick up any motion instantly.
Unfortunately, sensors that are extremely sensitive to the tiniest of movements can be irritating at times. They may create false alarms due to leaves falling from a tree or a change in lighting. You’ll want to check if you can customize the sensors to avoid detecting these normal movements.
2. Flexible Resolution
Many users prioritize this feature, as the quality of the video is crucial to the effectiveness of your camera. If video footage is blurry, it won’t help you or law enforcement.
Quite simply, clarity improves with resolution. High definition, or 1080p, is the standard resolution for most security cameras these days. You can also opt for ultra HD (4K) or super HD (1440p). Full HD should be enough for homeowners, but with higher resolution, you’ll be able to focus on elements that may prove to be crucial later, like a license plate.
3. Clear Night Vision
There’s no point if your security camera is effective during the day but dysfunctional at night. Needless to say, criminals prefer the dark for ease of movement. That’s when your camera has to be at its best, or the entire effort will be worthless.
Ensure that the camera has excellent night vision. Most cameras can intuitively turn on their night modes as darkness sets in. You should also check the night vision range of your camera. Some offer up to 300 feet, but you may need only 50 feet or so.
Some Wi-Fi cameras are equipped with LED lights that turn on automatically when the camera senses a movement. This can be a powerful deterrent and shock the intruders into thinking that the homeowners have spotted them.
4. Two-Way Audio
While some cameras don’t record sound, others do capture audio. Even better is a system that enables two-way audio. That will come in handy when you have to talk to someone who’s at your door when you are away—or when you are inside but would like to talk to the individual before opening the door.
The last few months have seen an exponential rise in e-commerce in the country. The individual delivering your product may not find you at home. With two-way audio, you’ll be able to talk to them and make arrangements. The feature is also helpful when friends or family stop by unannounced and you’re not home.
5. A Solid Smartphone App
A smartphone app will enable you to monitor and manage your security system. This is the control hub, and you should be able to use it effortlessly. Before you finalize your decision on a Wi-Fi security camera, thoroughly check the app. Make sure you find it easy to use, responsive, and fast.
You can also check online reviews from existing customers of the brand to know how the app works in real-life situations. Does it take too long to load? How good is the video quality? How easy is it to manage all the cameras in the system? There’s no better source than existing users for answers to these questions.
6. Recording Storage
The video that your camera captures should be safely stored and be easy to retrieve when you want it. There are three ways to do this with a Wi-Fi camera.
SD Storage: Some brands will give you an SD card to store the footage on. Although this is an inexpensive option, remember that SD cards generally don’t have much storage capacity, so the system will record over the old footage at periodic intervals.
The old footage should still be accessible through your app. But a serious downside to this option is that if your security camera is damaged or gets stolen, you’ll lose all your data.
Hard Drive/Computer Storage: Some manufacturers will provide a hard drive where you can save the video or allow you to store it on your computer. This increases the storage capacity, but if your camera’s resolution is full HD or higher, you may run out of storage sooner than you realize.
Cloud Storage: This allows you to store your footage in the cloud. This gives you exceptional storage capacity but comes with a monthly subscription fee.
7. Wide Field of View
The field of view is the area your camera covers. Dome cameras have a larger field of view than regular bullet cameras, which point in one direction.
If you have a large entrance area, go for a dome camera. However, you should also consider installing multiple cameras to cover all angles.
8. Design and Durability
The design should allow for easy installation and removal if necessary. An outdoor camera should be able to withstand the elements. If it gets easily damaged by snow or rain, it’s not worth it.
Your camera should be weather-proof and shouldn’t trouble you with periodic maintenance. Again, check online reviews for a clearer picture.
9. AI Facial Recognition
This is one of the latest features smart home device manufacturers are rolling out. With AI-enabled facial recognition, your camera will, theoretically, be able to distinguish between people. But in practice, most cameras begin by differentiating between people and objects and learn through practice.
So, over time, your camera will know when it’s you at the doorstep (no need for alerts) as opposed to a total stranger (alert immediately).
10. Fast Motion Activation
Most break-ins are committed by individuals who know that they have to get in and get out fast. This means that everything could be over in a matter of minutes. If your camera is slow to sense a motion and then to record it, you will waste precious time.
Your camera should sense motion fast, start recording immediately, and quickly send alerts via the app. If there is a lag, it will defeat the purpose of installing a security camera. You should also keep in mind that your Wi-Fi speed will play a crucial role in how quickly you get the alerts.
11. Competitive Price
Wi-Fi security cameras range from $59 to $399. If you want a camera with a higher resolution, you’ll have to spend more. Similarly, advanced features, including AI facial recognition, zoom in, and tracking, will increase the price of the system.
When comparing the prices, do include the storage costs. If you opt for cloud storage, remember that it will have a recurring monthly fee.
Smart Home Compatibility, Integration, and Voice Control
Wi-Fi home cameras are another step toward a fully connected future. Smart home devices are transforming the way we look at everything, from security to household chores.
You should be able to easily integrate your camera system with other smart systems in your home. Whether you use Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s home system, soon you will be giving voice commands for everything from locking your doors to zooming in on your camera. If your device isn’t compatible with the systems in your home, it will create problems down the line.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Break-ins are seldom random acts. Most often, the perpetrators do reconnaissance of the place before they break in. When they notice a security camera, they’ll know that the authorities will have proof of their act. That’s why Wi-Fi security cameras are an excellent deterrent against break-ins.
If you’re in the market for a comprehensive, well-built, and easy-to-use system, our number-one recommendation is the Arlo Pro 3. It’s versatile and easy to install and delivers exceptional video quality.
You could also go for the Google Nest Cam, which has advanced sensors and easily integrates with Android smart home systems. The outdoor camera from Frontpoint is also remarkable for its detection range, night vision, and durability.
Any one of these three can do the job for you. If you are hesitant about buying a system, remember this: A Wi-Fi security camera isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for the times we live in.