In the age of Amazon and home deliveries galore, normalized petty crime — such as package stealing — is no longer overlooked. Affordable security and monitoring is now a norm not only with businesses and homes but pretty much everywhere. When we think "cheap," our minds tend to go down a slippery slope of products that are cheaply made. That's not the case with these DIY home security cameras.
Video of the Day
There has never been a better time to get a cheap home security camera with little to no installation time. With brands like WYZE and Ring, we're taking home security to a whole new (inexpensive) level. That's because our list is full of affordable security cameras that offer WiFi-enabled live streaming, at 1080p quality, for less than $200. Some security cameras go even lower, with prices in the $30 range.
As a homeowner, finding a way to scratch your security-conscious itch can pose some tough concerns: how long will the camera charge last or how are we alerted when no one is home? We've pulled together a list of quality cameras that are hard on shady activity, but gentle on our budget. Plus, we'll explain exactly how they work.
The Best 5 Cheap Home Security Cameras
WYZE Cam v3
This home security camera is at the top of our list for a reason: it's about $35.
We also like it because we get a subscription to its AI service called Cam Plus for only around $1.99 more per month. The WYZE Cam v3 stores video for 14-days at a base price and also includes motion detection alerts.
Cam Plus takes it a step beyond and lets us customize the types of alerts we receive. It also recognizes cars, people, and even package deliveries. We weren't so concerned with receiving alerts from our friendly neighborhood squirrel, but we did appreciate that humans can also be filtered on the motion detection alert panel. Of course, the option to keep all alerts available is still there at the base price only; you'll just have to deal with the frequency.
The main drawback of the WYZE Cam v3 is that it records 12 sections of motion every five minutes. That means for five minutes it shuts off between takes. It does have the option of saving 24/7 live video recording, but the 32GB MicroSD card is sold separately. This is a definite essential add-on — trust us.
The weather-resistant body can hold its own against rain, snow, or wind. (Although, it works perfectly as an indoor home security camera, too.) It also does well recording nighttime footage in full-color thanks to its new Starlight Sensor, whose lens lightens twice as effective as the average camera on the market for the same price.
The app is to-the-point and user-friendly. You won't find highly vague technical jargon here. Voice commands can even be accessed through the app and conveniently work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. While it is a wired security camera, all we needed to do was plug it into the nearest power outlet and the WiFi did the rest. We recommend your connection speeds to process up to 1200 MPs for a smooth, live transmitting experience.
Overall, the WYZE Cam v3 is the best bang for your buck in the most authentic sense of the term.
Did we mention it also has a built-in siren? Yup. Unwanted intruders are left scrambling when this loud alarm goes off.
YI 4-Piece Home Security Camera
Four separate cameras, two-way audio, 1080p high-definition viewing, and a … nanny cam? We can't decide if this is a home security system or the ultimate way to keep the eyes and ears of our home in the palm of our hand (where we hold our smartphones, of course).
Let's start with the basics: This set of four cameras runs at about $90. We're able to stick these in the primary bedroom, kids' room, on the porch, and in the garage. The LED lights get it through many a dark night and achieve a clear picture quality. There are a variety of sound sensitivity perks — such as the 'baby crying' sensor — that are practical and useful. Additionally, it has a two-way audio system that allows us to speak to (or spook) anything on the other end of the camera.
Then comes the security system itself. We're able to receive a 24/7 live emergency response service. That means that certified dispatchers like EMS services, police, and firefighters are alerted with a tap of a button on our smartphones.
We're able to store continuous recordings on an optional microSD card or on the included cloud storage option. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa also are supported with the YI camera. Setting up the YI system is fairly easy, and a basic 2ghz WiFi connection is needed to connect to the app. The power cable does have its downside, though: You may need to buy an additional extension for power units that are harder to reach.
The YI Camera is like a baby monitor/outdoor/indoor surveillance system, depending on where and how it's placed around and in the home. Its portability and solid sense of versatility give it an edge that singular home security cameras can't beat.
Ring Indoor Cam - 3-Piece
They say good things come in threes and this next camera follows suit. This pack of cameras is bumped up to a cool $180. Short, sweet, and available in black and white, the Ring Indoor Camera brings us back to the (efficient) basics. For less than $200, we are getting three 1080p HD home security cameras that integrate seamlessly with Amazon Alexa.
No fussy or additional app downloads are needed to have a hands-free experience. The Ring app also lets us connect other indoor cams to this one. This is a useful feature for when we need additional surveillance but don't want the hassle of using different monitoring apps each time.
Installation takes about five minutes. It's the standard plug-in to the wall, download the app, and sync your device to the camera!
Live motion detection is included at all times and two-way talking is available. The camera quality is the biggest pro of this DIY home security cam. That's because it also allows for a wide range of motion with its 140-degree field of view.
One small caveat may dissuade the most fervent outdoor observer, though: The Ring Indoor Cam, hence the name, is strictly an indoor cam. Nevertheless, this is an affordable home security camera that is as effective as they come.
ZEEPORTE Solar Outdoor Security System
We couldn't touch base on indoor home security cameras without mentioning outdoor cameras. The ZEEPORTE Solar Outdoor Security Camera is completely wireless — and yes, solar-powered. Our earth-conscious folk can rest easy knowing that this rechargeable camera comes with its own tiny solar panel.
The cuteness factor of this accessory is also unmatched by no other home security camera on this list.
Now, it's time for the specs: This solar outdoor camera gives us 1080p of HD live streaming. As with other mentioned cameras, additional storage can be added in the form of a microSD card. There is little to no buffering or choppiness on the transmission of this footage, and the price tag is an affordable $80.
The waterproof body of the ZEEPORTE Solar Camera holds true to its outdoor capability. It can withstand extreme temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit to up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The 130-degree wide-angle smart lens is equipped to automatically adjust to a variety of day and nighttime light conditions. It also boasts an impressive 32-foot visible range. This is an excellent camera for storage monitoring no matter what climate you live in.
One upgrade this home security camera could use is the configuration with a voice assistant. Although it has two-way audio, it, unfortunately, doesn't connect to any other hands-free services outside of the app.
Google Nest Cam Indoor
The Nest Cam is an affordable and reliable option for those of us who want a Google-integrated camera system while on a budget.
The Google Home ready security camera rings in at an average of $130 and does not falter in terms of design. The 3.3-inch x 3.3-inch body has a 130-degree field of view and screw mount for hard-to-reach areas. It is battery-powered, so while it can be used as an incognito device against a tree in your yard (it is a "nest" after all), it will eventually need to be recharged. That's hardly a concern with the average seven-month (yes, month) battery life.
That being said, the Google Home app shows battery life and lets us access all camera settings through a 'device features' menu option. We like that the Nest Cam gives us three hours of free rolling internal video storage — perfect for any WiFi downtime issues or any other connectivity problems. For an additional $6 per month, we can store 30 days of live footage through their cloud service, which can also be extended to 60 days of video recordings for $12 per month.
The Nest Cam shows live notifications and can be customized to show what type of motion to send alerts on (i.e. cars, people, animals, etc.).
Once you grasp that it's strictly managed through Google Home, this cheap home security camera is a modest gem.
Monthly Fees or Long-Term Contracts?
There are a few ways cheap home security cameras charge for their subscriptions, most often being time an option.
One way is for "free" when you purchase the camera itself. This means that no subscription is required and generally cloud storage is included in the package. Be careful with no subscription services in this regard; the cloud-stored recordings usually will only last around seven days before they're rewritten or deleted. For serious home watchdogs, it's best to stick with a subscription with unlimited storage options.
This brings us to the next type of contract for most cheap home security cameras: a monthly contract form. That means that, for around 30 days, the camera's footage will remain saved and eligible for download.
Another thing to keep note of is the cost of remote video monitoring (letting an external company keep a constant eye on our footage for us). Luckily, most services have no cancellation policy. These monthly subscriptions are usually non-contractual but will range anywhere from $5-50 per month. Some popular companies that offer remote home security camera monitoring are Ring, ADT, Vivint, and Simplisafe. They, of course, usually add additional costs for their surveillance equipment on top of their contract price.
Finding the Right Camera Within Your Budget
Through market competition and the increased need for surveillance in our technologically capable world, cheap home security cameras are available at a fraction of the cost that advanced systems have used for decades.
If there's a time to buy an affordable home security system, it is here and now. The most important factor to take into consideration (aside from budget) is the capabilities of modern DIY home security systems with cameras.
To your advantage, most — if not all — cameras have HD-quality viewing and apps to monitor activity. The rest of the features are up to which extras simplify our peace of mind.