In the age of Amazon and home deliveries galore, normalized petty crime (like package theft) 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.
There has never been a better time to get an affordable 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 cheap security cameras that offer Wi-Fi enabled live streaming, at 1080p quality, for (almost) below $100. Some security cameras go even lower, with prices reaching 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 narrowed down the 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
1. Wyze Cam V3
This home security camera is at the top of our list for a reason: it's only $35.
We also like it because we get a subscription to its Cam Plus subscription service for only around $1.99 more per month. The Cam Plus service enables 2x and 4x fast-forwarding, subscriber discounts, and even the ability to view your live feed through your browser.
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.
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. It also does well when recording nighttime footage in full-color thanks to its Starlight Sensor, whose lens captures twice as much light as a normal camera.
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 Wi-Fi did the rest. We recommend your connection speeds to process up to 1,200 MPs for a smooth streaming 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.
2. YI 4-Piece 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 provide clear picture quality even in the dead of night. 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 system is fairly easy, and a basic 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi 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.
3. Ring Indoor Cam - 3 Piece
They say good things come in threes, and this next camera follows suit. This pack of cameras is only $180. Short, sweet, and available in black and white color options, the Ring Indoor Camera brings us back to the (efficient) basics. For under $200, you get 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 process of plugging-in to the wall, downloading the app, and following the on-screen instructions.
Live motion detection is included at all times and two-way audio is available. The camera quality is the biggest pro of this DIY home security cam thanks to its 140-degree field of view and high resolution.
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.
4. 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 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 matched by no other home security camera on this list.
Now, it's time for the dirty: this solar outdoor camera gives us 1080p of HD live streaming. As with other 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 up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The 130-degree wide-angle smart lens is equipped to automatically adjust to a variety of day and nighttime lighting 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.
5. 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 a screw mount for hard-to-reach areas. It's battery-powered, but boasts an average seven 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 Wi-Fi downtime issues or other connectivity problems. For an additional $6 per month, we can store 30 days of live footage through the Nest Aware 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 (usually optional) subscriptions.
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. This 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 penalties. These monthly subscriptions are usually non-contractual, but will range anywhere from $5 to $50 per month. Some popular companies that offer remote home security camera monitoring are Ring, ADT, Vivint, and Simplisafe. They usually add additional costs for their surveillance equipment on top of their contract price.
Finding the Right Camera Within Your Budget
Affordable security cameras are more available than they've ever been before.
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.