CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Smart Home

The 5 questions to answer before you buy a wireless security camera

Here are the features that matter and some perks to look for.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

One of the best things about wireless security cameras, obviously, is that they don't have any wires. Often, installation is a simple DIY project for those with a ladder and a drill, while wired systems typically need to be installed by a professional.

What makes them even more appealing to home owners is that you have the freedom to install them anywhere, so they can protect their property without any restrictions.

Interested in getting a wireless security camera? Here are some things to think about before you go shopping.

How does it get its power?

Wireless security cameras have their own power supply, so even during a power outage, they can still keep tabs on your property. One of the biggest disadvantages, though, is that you need to manually change the batteries or charge them periodically. A camera with a rechargeable battery pack is usually a better choice because you won't need to buy batteries.

Also check the battery life. Some cameras can run for days or months without a recharge, but how much they record will affect that. Some cameras only start recording when they detect movement, which extends the battery life

arlo-pro-2-2

The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 has a six-month battery life.

Chris Monroe/CNET

What's the video resolution?

What's the point of having a security camera if you can't tell what's going on in the recording? This is where choosing a camera with good resolution comes in. The higher the resolution number, the better.

Here's an idea of what you should be looking for. One of the best wireless cameras on the market, the Amazon Cloud Cam, for example, offers a 1080p HD. Nest Cam Indoor, another good camera, also has 1080p HD resolution.

How's the field of view?

This is another important feature to look for. The larger the field of view, the more the camera can see, basically. Cameras with a 120- to 130-degree field of view are pretty much standard at the higher-quality end of the market, but you can find some that have even wider field of views, like the Logi Circle.

Now playing: Watch this: How to buy the right security camera for you
4:11

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.  

Does it have useful perks?

Some cameras offer little extras that make them particularly useful. Here are some features to look for:

How many cameras do you need?

Before you shop, you're going to need to know how many security cameras you'll need. Read up on where you should place home security cameras to get a better sense of what you'll need to purchase.

Security cameras can do much more than just sit there and record your yard in case of a burglary. Here are some extra uses for them that may bump up your camera tally.

See who's at the door

Connect your wireless security cameras to a voice-controlled smart assistant and you'll be able to use them as a doorbell camera. When the camera is linked to Google Home or Alexa, you can see who's at your door, unlock your smart door lock with your phone, and let visitors in without getting up.

To connect Alexa with your security system, use the manufacturer's companion app or website to link the two. If you have trouble, be sure the camera is connected to the same Wi-Fi network that your Alexa uses. Then, speak your device wake word to the Echo or other Alexa device and say, for example, "Alexa, show the [camera name] camera on television."

To connect your security system to Google home:

  • Open the Google Home app on your phone
  • On the Home screen, tap Menu > Home control > Devices tab > Add
  • Choose your security system from the list
  • Tap Done when the pairing is finished

Nanny cam

You can also use a wireless security camera as a nanny cam. Most traditional baby monitors only transmit sounds from the monitor to your handset, giving you only a partial idea of how your kid is doing. With motion detection and infrared night vision, some smart security cameras, like the Zmodo, are a great replacement for baby monitors.

Using cameras to watch your kids doesn't have to end when your child grows out of diapers. You can use them to:

  • Make sure your toddler isn't up to no good when he's suspiciously quiet.
  • Watch your teen's shenanigans when she's in the family room with her friends and you're at work.
  • Ensure that your latchkey kid is doing his homework.
  • Take a peek at your pets to see if they are keeping out of trouble.

Need help deciding which camera to get? Here are our picks for the top security cameras of 2018.

These 32 outdoor security cameras can withstand the elements and protect your home.