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There is perhaps no price too high when it comes to protecting your home and monitoring for unsafe or criminal activity. That doesn't mean you have to break the bank for effective DIY home security, though, especially considering how inexpensive many quality home security cameras can be.
Established names like Wyze, GE, Amazon Blink, TP-Link and others offer Wi-Fi cameras for $100 or much less without sacrificing basic features or performance. Even with these "cheap" cameras, you can expect live video streaming, 1080 resolution or higher, a motion sensor and an app to send push notifications, plus compatibility with smart home ecosystems like Google Assistant or Alexa.
Along with price and features, security and privacy is also a concern, maybe even more so when purchasing an inexpensive camera from a lesser-known manufacturer. If it's top of mind for you, start by looking for a camera with two-step login authentication and WPA2 compatibility with your router (preferably WPA3, but most cameras are equipped for WPA2). End-to-end encryption, which prevents the company in question from viewing your footage without your consent, is ideal for privacy as well, but not every brand supports it.
You'll find my picks for the best cheap cameras listed below to come with those basic features, security measures and more. Some are better suited than others for indoor or outdoor monitoring, motion tracking or other specific uses, but I'd deem them all to be worthwhile and relatively low-cost home security investments.
Best cheap home security cameras
Cloud, local storage
Field of View
The Wyze Cam v3 is one of the cheapest home security cameras you'll find, now on sale for just $30. Given the low cost, it's certainly plausible to outfit your home with multiple Wyze Cam v3 cameras for the same cost as a single outdoor camera (or less) from another manufacturer.
In addition to standard features like 1080 HD resolution, motion detection and Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility, the camera also includes two free weeks of cloud storage -- a perk you won't get with most other cameras -- and optional local storage via a built-in micro SD card slot.
Unlike most cheap security cameras, the Wyze Cam v3 is built for indoor or outdoor use, though I'd recommend it primarily for indoor use due to its requirement for a wired power source. The Wyze Cam Pan v2 is also a solid choice for an indoor camera and comes with the added ability to pan 360 degrees, though it'll cost you about $10 more than the Wyze Cam v3.
The $40 Kasa KC410S indoor security camera features a crisp 2K video resolution, automatic motion detection and tracking, a Patrol Mode, plus 360-degree pan range -- all perfect tools for keeping up with your pets or home care professionals wherever they happen to go. Additional features include two-way talk, vibrant color in low-light conditions and local storage on a (not included) microSD card up to 256GB. Cloud storage with up to 30 days of video history is available with a Kasa Care account, starting at $3 per month per camera.
Two-step authentication is also a prominent feature of the Kasa KC410S and the accompanying app. Though I didn't set it up initially, the app prompted me to do so roughly 50% of the time when I pulled it up. I appreciated the emphasis on security, especially from a camera that could be used primarily to monitor a nursery or home activity while you're away.
Power cables aren't much of a concern with indoor cameras, but they can limit where you place an outdoor camera and may require running long, unsightly extension cords along your home's exterior. Amazon remedies this problem with its wireless Blink Outdoor Security Camera -- a battery-powered HD camera that enables you to set up a vantage point virtually anywhere your Wi-Fi signal will reach.
The $100 kit, now on sale for just $60, includes the wireless camera, two AA lithium batteries, a Blink Sync Module 2, charging cables and mounting hardware. Even on sale, it's a bit more expensive than other cameras on the list, but I'd say the convenience of not having to plug anything in is worth the extra cost.
From a security standpoint, the Blink camera features Multiple Factor Security and end-to-end encryption, like other cameras on this list. Additionally, the company also hides your account details from Blink support unless you grant access permission from the Account Management screen.
The $50 (currently on sale for $40) TP-Link Tapo 2K HD Outdoor Security Camera isn't wireless, unfortunately, but it does come with the added security feature of an automatic siren. When armed and triggered, the camera activates two lights and a sound alarm to scare off potential intruders. The lights aren't super bright, but they will definitely put any trespassers on notice. As for the sound, it's loud and intimidating, but not so loud as to excessively disturb the next-door neighbors, if at all.
You can turn the alarm on or off, of course, and program specific times, activity zones or line-crossing detection to trigger it. Additional features include color night vision up to nearly 100 feet away, two-way audio and local storage of 128GB (SD card not included). Cloud storage is available with a Tapo Care subscription starting at around $3 per month.
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Other cheap home security cameras we've tested
Each of the cameras listed above is available for under $100. We've also tried out a number of other low-cost, high-quality cameras including the GE Cync Indoor Stickup Camera and the Kasa KC410S, both of which made our list for the best indoor cameras. We make an effort to test every major camera as it comes out and will update this list as more cheap cameras hit the market.
Cheap home security cameras compared
||Wyze Cam (2020)||Wyze Cam Pan v2||Blink Outdoor Security Camera||TP-Link Tapo|
|Resolution||Full HD 1080p||Full HD 1080p||Full HD 1080p||2K (2304 × 1296)|
|Field of View||130 degrees||120 degrees||110 degrees||130 degrees|
|Setup||Moveable, indoor/outdoor||Moveable, indoor only||Moveable, outdoor||Mounted, outdoor|
|Extra Features||Livestreaming, motion detection, night vision, weather resistance, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant||Livestreaming, two-way talk, sound/motion alerts, color night vision, panning and tilting functions||Livestreaming, motion alerts, two-way talk, integration with Amazon Alexa, wireless||Livestreaming, motion alerts and light/sound alarm, two-way talk, integration with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant|
How we test home security cameras
Hands-on testing is core to our evaluations of any home security products. When it comes to security cameras, we pay special attention to resolution, night vision and latency, extra features, general performance and overall value. We evaluate each attribute in a home environment over the course of a week to get a sense of how the camera and accompanying app responds to real-life activity and sounds during the day and night. Check out our in-depth article on how we test home security cameras and video doorbells to learn more about our testing practices.
A note on the security of home security cameras
Like any Wi-Fi-connected smart home device, security cameras are vulnerable to hacking, potentially granting unauthorized access to your camera feed, stored videos and account information. Not only that, but cameras without end-to-end encryption could leave your footage exposed to outside interception as it travels from one endpoint to another.
The manufacturers listed above have taken steps to enhance security and patch vulnerabilities in their cameras, though companies like Wyze and Ring (an Amazon-owned brand in addition to Blink) have had privacy and security concerns in the past. Still, each of the picks for "best cheap home security camera" feature an optional two-step authentication process, end-to-end data encryption and WPA2 compatibility.
When shopping for a cheap home security camera, compare pricing and features first, but don't overlook the security aspect. And when you set up your camera, be sure to create a strong password to help prevent someone from gaining access to your data.
Even with strong security measures, your camera will never be completely impervious to security threats. A best practice is to treat your camera as if it has already been compromised and avoid placing it where you wouldn't want the view to be seen or shared by others.
Home security camera FAQs
What's the cheapest home security camera?
You can find lots of cheap security cameras online for under $50, but of the ones we've personally tested and would recommend, the Wyze Cam v3 and Blink Mini are the cheapest at $30 and $35, respectively. The two share similar features, though the Wyze Cam v3 offers more free cloud storage, while the Blink Mini can now pan and tilt with the addition of the new $30 Pan-Tilt Mount accessory.
Which security cameras have no monthly fee?
Nearly all home security cameras are operable with no ongoing monthly fee. Upon purchasing the camera and downloading the app, you should have free access to many features such as live video viewing, push notifications, night vision and possibly two-way audio. Paying a little extra -- often between $2 and $6 for a single camera -- can unlock extra perks like more cloud storage, facial recognition, emergency calling and more.
What is the easiest home security camera to install?
If you just want to place a security camera on a shelf or counter, indoor cameras like the Blink Mini, Wyze Cam v3 and Cam Pan 2, Arlo Essential Indoor Cam, GE CYNC Cam and others are generally the easiest to install. Just set the camera where you want it and plug it in.
On the other hand, if you want to mount a camera to a wall or the ceiling, most will come with a detachable base and mounting hardware (a few screws and maybe some drywall anchors). This makes the installation fairly quick and easy, but keep in mind that the majority of cameras are wired, so you may have an unsightly power cord trailing down the wall when mounting your camera. If you'd rather not have to deal with the power cord, consider a wireless camera like the Blink Outdoor Security Camera.
Where should I install a security camera?
Before installing a home security camera, especially if you plan to mount it with hardware, plug the camera in and place it in different locations to determine the best spot to give you a full, unobstructed view of the area you want to monitor. Placing the camera in a corner is often ideal for providing a full view of the room, though a more central location may be better for a camera with 360-degree pan capabilities.
For outdoor cameras, consider the night vision and motion detection range and avoid placing the camera too far away to be able to detect and record activity.