If you're on the fence about investing in different types of home security cameras, you may want to do a little research first. You may also have already heard the good news: Most crime rates in the United States have steadily fallen over the past several decades. Property crime rates, in particular, dropped even more in 2015 for the 13th consecutive year. You can toss your cares to the wind! No need for that security camera, right? Wrong. Now for the bad news.

Although the U.S. is enjoying its lowest crime rates in decades, compared to many of our friends in Europe, Canada, and Asia, we're just not winning any awards. Indeed, as of 2010, the U.S. was #14 among 89 other nations for burglary rates. When you only include the G7 nations (Germany, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, United States, Japan) the U.S. immediately rises to the top. We may be enjoying dropping crime rates, but we still have a long way to go, especially in our largest cities.

Chances are, you're still going to want to get a security camera or two (or three). While home security cameras may not always be able to prevent a home invasion or a burglary, they can go a long way toward dissuading some burglars, while also helping to catch those in your house who are simply up to no good. That includes your own visitors, housekeepers, contractors, mildly disgruntled family members and others you allow into your home.

Security Camera Types | Compare Security Cameras | Where to Place Cameras

Different Types of Home Security Cameras

Consumers now have a large number of home security camera types to choose from. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, serving different purposes for different parts of the home (and even different types of homes). Security cameras can be organized in two basic ways: by signal output and by camera design.

All types of home security cameras must output their video data in some way. Traditional cameras utilize Analog output. This means the video data is transmitted through more of a traditional composite video cord. Cameras with analog output have among the lowest video quality.

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Among these two primary categories, consumers will find many different types of home security camera designs:

  1. Box Style Security Cameras

    Just think of these as the common, old-school home security cameras, only upgraded for a modern age. These are not the most pleasing to look at but work well outdoors as long as they have their own housing.

    • Pros: Effective, heavily customizable lens styles; operates well outdoors
    • Cons: Unattractive design; difficult to hide; requires a fair amount of wiring and receiving equipment; among the most expensive cameras
  2. Dome Security Cameras

    Popular for their ability to pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) as well as their sleek look and functionality both indoors and outdoors, dome surveillance cameras are increasingly popular. Their name fits their design: A rotating camera inside of a dome casing.

    • Pros: Dome can be tinted, hiding the camera location; low cost; powered through Ethernet cable
    • Cons: Limited lens options; less preferable for extreme weather
  3. Bullet Security Cameras

    These small cameras are very similar to box cameras, only much smaller. Usually only 2-2.5 inches long, these cameras are less discrete than some other security cameras. Their benefit is in their low cost and small size. Their small size also limits their lens options.

    • Pros: Small size; low cost; good for outdoor perimeter monitoring; operates well with low light
    • Cons: Limited view angle; limited lens options
  4. Doorbell Security Cameras

    These cameras are typically small, with varied options. They primarily serve their named purpose, operating as a doorbell and a security camera that allows the owner to see who is at the door. Some provide monitoring and security features for their sometimes-limited field-of-view.

    • Pros: Often allows for 2-way communication; serves multiple functions
    • Cons: Limited field-of-view; no lens options; often battery powered

Security Cameras can also include a few additional features, including:

In many cases, different types of home security cameras can contain a variety of different features and designs, such as a dome wireless IP security camera with PTZ and thermal imaging.


Compare Home Security Cameras

Camera Description Outdoor Indoor Pan/Tilt/ Revolving Motion Sensor Night Vision Best for
A sleek IP camera with professional surveillance in mind Yes Yes No Yes Yes Outdoor day and night surveillance
A combination doorbell and security camera with Wi-Fi connectivity and a mobile app Yes No No Yes No Limited exterior and front entrance monitoring
An IP, wireless camera with high resolution for outdoor surveillance needs. Yes No Yes No Yes Outdoor monitoring for high resolution needs.
An indoor camera for discreet, HD monitoring No Yes No Yes Yes Low cost indoor monitoring
Nearly 360-degree view angle, pan and tilt wireless indoor camera No Yes Yes Yes No Low cost indoor monitoring


Where to Place Your Home Security Cameras

Not every security camera works best in every location. Before you purchase a security camera, make sure you know which cameras and features you need most for where you're planning to place the camera. Even different rooms require different cameras and features.

Click the blue star to see what are the recommended security cameras for each room:

  1. Bedroom Security Cameras
  2. In many cases, you'll want to avoid placing cameras in bedrooms that are used by guests or children. This is because of very serious recording laws that exist in each state. For your own bedroom, go for either a bullet camera in an innocuous place. No tilt or zoom is needed here. Simply place the camera in a location where it can capture all of the room. If possible, night vision, motion detection, and infrared are great features to look for here as well. This will help make sure the camera is both capturing at night and only capturing when it needs to.

  3. Living Room Security Cameras
  4. A good bullet camera or wireless IP camera will work great for a living room space. Place one or two in the corners of the room for full, effective coverage. Motion detection and night vision are highly desirable features here in case of a break-in, as well as IP. Consider pan, zoom or tilt here, as the room should have full coverage. High-definition is unnecessary, as the room size generally helps negate the need for it.

  5. Hallway Security Cameras
  6. A good dome camera can go a long way for a hallway. These will often include pan, zoom and tilt features that are necessary to ensure you can capture the entire hallway. You may also consider a set of bullet cameras in separate corners of the hallway to capture the full hallway. Night vision and motion detection are beneficial here, especially given the often low-light conditions that exist in many hallways.

  7. Kitchen Security Cameras
  8. The kitchen is an interesting place for a camera. You'll want one that is out of the way so as to avoid getting splashed by anything while cooking. A bullet camera works well here. Motion detection is a great option if you have a kitchen an outdoor entrance. Night vision could be beneficial here as well, although not always necessary, depending on the light levels. No pan, tilt or zoom are necessary here, and neither is high definition. Small room sizes here make it easy to monitor the room with one camera.

  9. Basement Security Cameras
  10. Depending on the size of your basement, you may or may not benefit from a pan, tilt, zoom camera. A dome camera is a good idea here, installed on the ceiling in a place where it can gain access to the entire basement. Night vision is extremely necessary here, as basements can often be low-light at many times of the day. Motion detection is also a good idea as well. A wireless IP may be a good idea if available. Depending on the location of the camera, high definition might be a good idea as well to gain better definition of anyone breaking in.

  11. Laundry Room Security Cameras
  12. Most laundry rooms are extremely small. A small camera is all you need in this room, and one at that. A wireless IP camera should cover what you need in this room. As many laundry rooms are in basements, night vision may be needed due to the lower light conditions.

  13. Garage Security Cameras
  14. Garages are a good place to put an outdoor camera. Although garages are indoor spaces, it's best to treat it as an outdoor space. Many garages remain unheated and uncooled, making temperature changes during the winter and summer months a major concern for the camera. A good box style camera works well here, especially if it has pan, tilt and zoom features, night vision and motion detection. An wireless outdoor IP camera is a good idea here as well, to help prevent the camera's wires from getting cut.

  15. Porch Security Cameras
  16. There are several different cameras that can fit the bill for the front porch. The first, and most obvious, is the doorbell security camera. This is a great option for the front of your house, as it can serve multiple purposes. Most modern doorbell security cameras are wireless, battery powered, and have their own mobile apps. Many even allow for two-way communication, adding to the security, as well as including motion detection and occasionally night vision. You may also consider a more traditional box style camera or outdoor IP camera, which is great for the outdoors. Pan, tilt, and zoom is a beneficial feature here as well, as is high definition (the more, the better).