Which wireless IP security camera is best?
With a wireless security camera, you might expect to have simple installation and high-tech functionality. With some you do, but the term “wireless” can be deceptive — you may still need a cable for power.
That, and other important details, are what we investigate in this buyer’s guide. We’ve also made a few product recommendations at the end. Our favorite model, the Arlo Pro 2, can be used indoors and out and can build from a single camera to a comprehensive home security system.
Wireless IP security cameras
The images you see of indoor models generally show them standing alone on a table or other surface. They appear to be cable-free, but, in fact, most need to be plugged into a standard power outlet. The “wireless” aspect only refers to the way they transmit images and sound. The same is often true of outdoor models which, again, may need to be wired for power. Completely wireless versions of both indoor and outdoor models are available, running off rechargeable batteries, but they tend to be more expensive and require regular charging. If you’re installing a half dozen around the outside of your house, the wired version might actually be more convenient.
Considerations when choosing a wireless IP security camera
Almost all of these devices use infrared technology, so they can capture video both day and night. They are motion-activated, but the range varies. That will be particularly important for outdoor versions. Sensitivity is often adjustable so the neighborhood dogs and cats don’t keep setting it off, and some claim to be able to make that kind of distinction automatically.
Offering 1,080p resolution (also called HD for high definition) is now common, which should give a clear picture. However, the number of frames per second (fps) makes a considerable difference to how smooth the playback will be. Having 24 fps is standard for most movies and TV shows, so something around that will give decent playback.
Live streaming is invariably enabled, which is great if you’re using the IP camera as a nanny cam, but for security purposes, you’ll want to store images. This is done either via an onboard micro SD card (usually extra cost) or via cloud storage. Short-term it might be offered free of charge, but subscriptions are usually required if you want to keep them longer.
Not surprisingly, most of these devices have apps for control functions. This can range from directing the camera itself to having two-way conversations. There’s lots of variation, so you need to investigate each carefully before you make your decision. You’ll frequently find wireless IP cameras that are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free voice control though, again, they do vary.
Finally, the type of internet connection needs to be checked. Most run at 2.4 GHz, some at 5 GHz. A few wireless IP cameras cannot work with the latter.
Price of wireless IP security cameras
Cheap wireless IP security cameras for indoor use start at around $30, which isn’t very much for the versatility they offer. You can find outdoor security cameras for just a few bucks more, but you’ll need to run cable for power. For fully wireless models you’ll pay about $80 per camera. If you want a complete outdoor system with a half dozen cameras, you can expect to pay between $700-$900.
Wireless IP security cameras FAQ
Q. Will the IP security cameras light up the area if they detect an intruder?
A. No. They use infrared technology to “see” in the dark, so they don’t need built-in or separate light sources. If you want potential intruders lit up as well, you’ll need to install PIR (passive infrared) lighting.
Q. Can someone hack my wireless cameras and gain access to personal data?
A. If you follow general security advice, and use a different strong password for each of your wireless devices, it’s very unlikely. Don’t leave things in the factory setting, and don’t be tempted to use the same password for everything just because it’s easy to remember.
The best wireless IP security cameras
Best of the best
Our take: Comprehensive fully wireless package capable of running numerous cameras.
What we like: Weatherproof cameras can go anywhere (wall mounts included). Two-way audio. 1,080p video with seven-day free rolling cloud storage. Can be wired for power or use rechargeable batteries. Alexa compatible.
What we dislike: A few have problems with signal interruptions/resets. Support could be more responsive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Our take: Comprehensive, easy-to-use indoor camera offers Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.
What we like: It comes with human and pet AI and is compatible with a Voice Assistant. The camera is equipped with night vision and motion tracking. It has a 2K-pan view and can also tilt. Comes with a plug-in camera for the ease of Wi-Fi connectivity.
What we dislike: HomeBase not compatible. A bit pricey.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: Feature-rich indoor model offers remote two-way audio and intelligent detection.
What we like: Records 1,080p video at 25 fps, recording to onboard MicroSD (extra) or cloud (subscription). Can discern between people from pets, thus reducing false alarms. Comprehensive app. Voice operation via Alexa or Google Assistant.
What we dislike: Connectivity can be flaky, and buyers are critical of Foscam support.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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