I’ve been installing security camera systems in one form or another since 2004, first at my loss prevention gig at a regional retailer, and then in 2006 when I started Spotter Security company and started helping business owners select security camera and access control systems to help them protect their business, construction site, building, and homes, their families, and their belongings.

Now, when you’re picking a home security camera, there are a lot of different considerations, and you don’t always have a professional like myself to help you, so I thought I’d share my top 8 considerations to think about when you’re buying a home security camera, and that’s what we’re talking about today.

Let’s get to it.

Buying a home security camera or a home security camera system can be a daunting process. There are so many different brands, so many different options, so many different things to think of. It can be overwhelming, but it’s also a very important decision because peace of mind when protecting your home, family, and belongings is priceless. I’ve been helping people select security cameras since 2006, when I started Spotter Security, and I have a top 8 list that I always think about when I’m guiding people through the process. Hopefully, it’ll help you out because you only sometimes have a professional like me around.

So we’re going to get right into it, starting with number one.

1. Wired vs. Wi-Fi

Those are the two main options for buying a home security camera or home security camera system. This boils down to your goals and what you’re trying to get out of the outdoor camera or the system.

Wired Cameras

Now, that’s an NVR or a DVR. DVR stands for digital video recorder. NVR stands for network video recorder. DVRs are a thing of the past. NVRs are the way to go now. They’re more future-proof. Then you’ve got your cameras. They’re typically four, eight, or sixteen-camera systems.

Most houses usually have between 4 and 8 cameras, 2 in the front, 2 in the back, and one on each side. So that’s 6. Now, again, I’m going to talk about the system. They run back to the NVR. The NVR controls the entire operation, but you have that nice wired connection. You’re not relying on your Wi-Fi. So if you want that robust system, the best of the best, lock down the outside of your house. I’m always going to recommend Wired because it’s more reliable. The cameras are usually more vandal-proof, weatherproof, and generally well-made.

WiFi Cameras

These security cameras rely on Wi-Fi. You can buy a standalone camera and put it outside of your house, but one thing I want to say about that is to keep in mind that Wi-Fi is made to be inside, not outside.

If you’re doing Wi-Fi, especially with several different cameras. So, if you have a small house or need one camera outside, go with Wi-Fi because those wired systems are most cost-effective when you buy them in four, eight, or sixteen cameras. So, if you need one or two, go Wi-Fi. But if you want that more robust system, go wired.

If you’re buying it for other purposes, like watching older people, kids, pets, or just inside your house, wired systems can sometimes be too much for the inside. They need to be more robust. Wi-Fi is perfect for that, especially with all the options they’ve got nowadays, including the pan-tilt cameras and things you can do inside.

They’re usually more cost-effective to do it that way. But again, it is perfect for kids, pets, and the elderly inside or if you want general security camera inside, where you just want to live camera monitoring one central area and just need that one camera, then Wi-Fi is the way to go.

2. Powering Your Cameras

Wi-Fi Cameras

On the Wi-Fi camera side of things, you have three options. You can plug them into a power outlet, use batteries, or use solar panels. Some cameras give you all the above as far as options go.

To me, it’s a no-brainer when you’re talking about indoor Wi-Fi cameras. Find one that plugs into an outlet. That’s always very easy to do inside. You’ve always got a power outlet nearby to put a camera. Outdoor Wi-Fi cameras present a dilemma because sometimes you need outlets near where you want to put a camera. So then that will take you to the battery options.

Batteries are great because you can put the camera wherever you want if your Wi-Fi reaches you. Keep in mind that these are Wi-Fi cameras. But the problem is that you’ll have to charge that battery. You’ll have to go up on a ladder, grab the camera and charge it, or grab the battery and charge it. So you’ve got your pros and cons there.

Solar power comes with battery cameras because you don’t have to worry about charging the battery. The only cons of solar power are the wire from the solar panel to the camera and the unsightliness of having a little solar panel next to your camera. There are a few different cameras out there, like Eufy has them, where the solar power is built into the camera, and those are great. But if you’ve got a separate solar panel, just keep in mind that you will have a wire from the panel to the camera.

Wired Cameras

On the wired side, your NVR usually has a PoE switch, which stands for Power over Ethernet. This is usually built into the NVR. NVRs typically come as four-camera, eight-camera, sixteen-camera, or thirty-two-camera systems. For homes, it’s usually going to be the eight-camera NVR. That usually has eight ports on the back. You plug a cable from the camera into the NVR, and that cable takes care of video and power.

So, you have a nice, clean install. You’ve got the reliability of knowing it’s always plugged in with one little Cat5, Cat5e, or Cat6 cable, whichever you use. And the NVR does all the heavy lifting. Then you’ve got one power outlet needed for the NVR because the NVR itself plugs in.

3. Price vs. Quality

WiFi Cameras

I’m telling you that as a guy who’s been doing this for a long time, you get what you pay for, especially on the wired side.

But let’s talk about Wi-Fi cameras first. You’re going to find a ton of different options on Amazon. Stay away from them. Stick with brands you know: Eufy, TP-Link, Reolink, Ring even. Ring’s a sore subject for me because I’m not a fan, but I know many of you are, and that’s fine. But stick with brands that you know have been out there for a while. You want to stick with that because otherwise, you’re on a slippery slope.

Some of those brands even have very affordable options. Eufy’s got this pan-tilt zoom camera that’s been around forever, and it’s like $50. It’s an indoor camera, but it’s a great one. So you can get away with some value and cheaper prices, but you want to be careful. A lot of times, too cheap is too cheap.

Wired Cameras

On the wired side, we’ve all heard me say it if you follow the channel: the drug dealer cameras, Swan, Night Owl, and Lorex. I used to install those systems for people. I had to stop because they made me look bad and were just low-quality. They’re very popular because they’re the ones at the big box stores, but I think you want to stay away from systems like this. You want to get a professional grade. Then, right above them, you’ve got Reolink. They own this little sweet spot between professional-grade and what I call the drug dealer cameras and Reolink is fine.

But if you really want the best, and again, I’m telling you on the wired side, it’s the robust system, the one that’s covering your whole house. You want to get a professional grade. Of course, I will say that because I’m a professional, but I’m not just saying that because I want to sell cameras. I am saying that because I’ve seen the alternative. I used to do that when I was young and hungry, and I won’t do it anymore because it fails people, and I don’t want people to be disappointed and not have the peace of mind they deserve.

So, start at Reolink and go up. My favorite brand is Avigilon. That’s professional-grade stuff you must go through a dealer like myself to buy, but you know you’re getting the good stuff. 1% fail rate, that’s unheard of. You’re just not going to get that with the cheaper systems.

4. Resolution

If you’ve got a security camera, you want to be able to see what you’re looking at. You want to be able to make out the fact that it’s a person or a vehicle and get a really good description. So, clarity and resolution are very important. You’ve got 720p, which is one megapixel. You’ve got 1080p, which equates to two megapixels. You’ve got 2K, which equates to four megapixels. You’ve got 4K, which equates to eight megapixels, and then 8K, which is sixteen megapixels, and 8K is a little less common now, but it’s coming.

But in 2024, if somebody tries to sell you a 720p camera, laugh in their face and tell them, “Oh, hell no.”

1080p is approaching that for me. I talked about this in a lot of my videos. 1080p should be an antique. It’s still very prevalent. It’s even in HomeKit Secure Video. That’s as high as you can go. That’s Apple’s smart home platform and its security platform. That should be on its way out in 2024. We should be at 2K and 4K.

For me, residentially, 2K is the sweet spot. If you look at 2K and 4K next to each other on a TV, you’d never notice the difference in a million years. It’s when you’re zooming in after the fact. When you zoom in, any normal camera gets more pixelated the further you zoom in. 4K gets less pixelated than 2K.

But when you’re talking residential and about normal-size yards, 2K gets the job done just fine. And it’s usually quite a difference in price compared to 4K, and 4K has to have a lot of other features built into it to make it worth it.

Again, both Wi-Fi and wired, all of this applies to both. But 2K is the sweet spot residentially. Now it’s exciting that 8K is coming, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it and all the bells and whistles that come with it.

Right now, it’s out there, and Reolink is doing it. There are a couple of companies that are doing it. So it’s coming, but start at 2K unless you’re dedicated to an ecosystem like HomeKit Secure Video like I would like. I made a video on why I’m done with that. Resolution was one of those reasons.

4. Night Vision

Night vision is very important. A lot of crazy stuff happens at night, and you want to be able to see it. You’ve got a couple of different considerations here:


This is especially important on the Wi-Fi side because a lot of Wi-Fi cameras have poor night vision distance—20 feet, 30 feet. That’s not very far, especially if you’re putting a camera 10-15 feet in the air. That doesn’t get you very far. So keep in mind the distance is very important. When you go to the wired side, especially the professional-grade stuff like Alibi, which is what I love, you’ve got 98 feet of color night vision, and you can go up to 300 feet. On the Wi-Fi side, you can’t do that.

Black and White and Color Night Vision

Black and white is achieved with infrared. Keep in mind with black-and-white night vision, you’re going to have LEDs around the lens. They’re like little light bulbs. Those light bulbs can burn out, and then your camera’s toast. So, when you buy an infrared camera with black and white night vision, make sure that it’s got a decent way of illuminating that IR.

On the color night vision side, that’s usually achieved with a spotlight or, in the case of Alibi, my favorite brand, what’s called Illuminate. On a lot of the Wi-Fi security cameras or cheaper wired security cameras, you’ve got those spotlights, and that’s fine because that’s how you’re going to get color night vision. It’s basically acting as the sun. But a lot of those spotlights are very bright and can bother your neighbors.

Like here, I’m testing all these outdoor security cameras that have these spotlights, and all my apartment people are passing by, and I wouldn’t say I like it because I feel like I’m bothering them.

So, keep it in mind when you’re talking about those spotlights. With Alibi and the Illuminati, you’ve got two little white lights. If you walk up to them, you can see them, but they’re not the spotlights bothering your neighbors or any car that passes by. So, color night vision is great, but keep in mind how it’s achieved.

Night vision is very important all the way around, and you want to take that into consideration, be well-educated, and buy the right solution.

5. Placement

Indoor vs. Outdoor cameras

Where are you putting these cameras?

On the Wi-Fi side of things, will you use an electrical outlet, battery, or solar panel if you’re going outdoors?

On the wired cameras, you’ve got to get a cable from the camera to the NVR. How are you going to run that? Are you going to run it through your attic?

Are you going to go through the siding?

That’s all very important for functionality and aesthetics.

General Security

Inside, get the most bang for your buck. Put it in a position where you get all your different travel points down all your different hallways and stairways. Get the most bang for your buck out of one camera.

Outside, it’s all about entry points. Cover those entry points: back doors, front doors, side doors, garage doors. Make sure you’ve got a camera for each entry point. That’s where the wired systems are key because you can get four, five, six, seven, eight cameras and cover your whole house. So, placement is very important.

6. Stationary vs. Pan Tilt or Pan Tilt Zoom

Stationary Cameras

Stationary means the camera’s just looking at one thing all the time. I like stationary cameras and would like to have more of them because they’re cheaper. You get more bang for your buck. You know what you’re looking at.

Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras

Pan tilt and pan tilt zoom cameras (PTZ cameras) are the kinds you can use to pan, tilt, and zoom. These are great if you’re using them all the time. If you’re sitting there physically using them, you can follow somebody. As a loss prevention manager, they were priceless to me because I was always sitting there watching shoplifters. I was sitting there following people physically, myself, all the time.

As homeowners, you’re not always sitting there controlling that camera. You’re just not doing it. Now, some of these pan-tilt cameras, which I’ve reviewed, have an auto-tracking feature. They see a person or a vehicle and follow them automatically. That’s great unless you have multiple people or multiple vehicles. If it’s following one over here and somebody is doing something over there, you need them.

Whereas if you have a stationary camera pointing in both directions, you’re always going to know what you’re looking at, and you’re always going to catch what’s happening. The pan-tilt feature sounds cool, but unless you’re using it all the time or they perfected that tracking, I don’t know; it’s a give-and-take.

7. Audio

One-Way Audio

One-way audio means you can hear them, but they can’t hear you.

Two-Way Audio

Two-way audio means you can hear them, and they can hear you. Two-way audio should be preferred because you’d want to yell through that camera and scare somebody before they get to your house. That’s the best way to be proactive and stop something before it gets to your house. I’d love to yell across my yard and say, “Hey, get out of here.” But unfortunately, in real life, and you’ve seen this in a lot of my reviews, two-way audio usually sucks on these cameras, and nobody can hear you across the yard, and if they do, you sound like a jumbled mess. So I wish they would perfect that because that’s a feature I’d always push.

Right now, it’s just not even really a thing. One-way audio is still great, and many of these cameras have good microphones, meaning you can hear outside. That can be great in the situation of thieves conspiring and admitting things outside, and you could give that to the police, and they could hear that.

On the flip side, the one problem with one-way audio or two-way audio, for that matter, is that you hear everything: birds chirping, cars passing, and all the different sounds outside.

Hidden Cameras

If you’re using hidden cameras, you have to be careful with audio because, in some states, you can get in big trouble if you hide audio and a person doesn’t know about it. We’re not talking about hidden cameras today, but I do want to keep that in mind because a lot of people ask me about hidden cameras, and audio can be tricky.

7. Viewing Devices

Do you want to go old school like we did in my loss prevention days and see it on a TV or a monitor?

There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. Do you want to see it on a smartphone, tablet, smart display, Apple TV, Google TV, or Amazon TV? What’s important to you?

Most of the people that I deal with nowadays want to see it on their cell phones. You can do that from an app from the brand, or you can do it through smart home integration, either way.

Personally, I like the smartphone and having the monitor and TV because with these Wi-Fi cameras, if your Wi-Fi goes out, you’re screwed. If you’ve got a good wired camera system going to a TV, you can still go home, and your footage is still there, and you can still watch it. So, I like the backup, but I love the cameras that do all the above.

8. Smart Home Integration

Wi-Fi Cameras

Do you want your camera or cameras integrated with Apple, Google, or Lady A from Amazon or other smart home platforms?

On the Wi-Fi side of things, you’ll have better luck than the wired side of things. A lot of Wi-Fi cameras do integrate with these platforms.

Wired Cameras

On the wired side, they’re more professional grade, commercial grade in a lot of cases. They care less about the smart home. It doesn’t mean your system doesn’t translate well to a residential situation. It just means it could be more smart and home-friendly.

Some people out there don’t care. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for a long time. And even though I’m a YouTuber and talk about this stuff a lot, many of our customers could care less about that. They want it on their phone, and they just want it on a TV or a monitor. They don’t need it in a smart home platform. But if you are one of those people like me, you want that to be factored into your decision.


That’s one of my top 8 considerations when buying a home security camera. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I deal with a lot of people. I put it in a list I can use in every situation. It doesn’t mean it’s all the considerations. If there’s something important to you or something that you think I left off, please let me know in the comments because I’d love people to see it because peace of mind is priceless, and knowledge is power.

So, let’s put it out there. Everything you can think of to get yourself a proactive solution to protect your home, family, and belongings.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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