This post is last updated on February 16th, 2020
Whether it’s for your home, or for your office, if you’re even remotely serious about security, you’ll want good security cameras. They’re the core of any good home security system, and they’re one of the places where you want the majority of your security budget to go. Actually, no, they’re the place where you want most of that budget.
With that in mind, lately, there’s a massive variety of manufacturers that produce some pretty good surveillance cameras. While a few years ago you were limited to just a couple of major brands, all of which were pretty expensive, now you have a lot of options and they’ve also gotten cheaper, too.
How, then, do you choose which one of them to go for? How do you pick the best surveillance cameras under $100, while still making sure that all of your needs and requirements are covered? Well, we’re here to help. First, we’ll talk a bit about surveillance cameras in generals, and then we’ll have a short buyers’ guide that should help you understand what features are worth your money. Oh, and that’s not all – we’ve also got the top 10 surveillance cameras in a list for you.
Table of Contents
Why do people use surveillance cameras?
When you’re considering a surveillance camera, chances are you have either a home or a business that you’re trying to protect. In any case, having a security system can help you add a bit of protection, and get yourself a bit of peace of mind.
If a thief was to see that you have a surveillance camera, that’s actually a pretty big deterrent. Chances are they’ll walk away because the risk of getting caught will be pretty high. In addition to that, if something does happen to your home or business, a surveillance camera can give you a proof of exactly what went down, and with a good one, you can identify the person responsible, too.
Therefore, the main benefit of a surveillance camera is the peace of mind you’ll get. If you look at the camera as a part of your whole home security system, you’ll be even better off, so that’s something you might want to consider, too.
How do you choose which one to go for?
You do have quite a lot of options. And if you aren’t well versed in the world of cameras and how they work, there’s a pretty big chance that you will fall for marketing tricks. You’ll spend money on something that isn’t really worth it and depending on what you go for, that can be a costly mistake. To prevent this, let’s take a look at what the most important factors are when deciding on a surveillance camera.
The resolution is the first thing you’ll want to consider. When it comes to videos (and photos), a higher resolution means that you’ll have a lot more details in your image. With surveillance, you want those details, because they’ll show you a face more clearly, and they’ll show you other small things that you might miss, such as license plates or tattoos that might identify a burglar. The minimum you should settle for is 720p, although you can easily get a good 1080p surveillance camera and still be well within your budget.
The field of view and framerate come next. A good, wide field of view will allow you to capture footage of a larger space, using fewer cameras. A narrow one, unless the camera rotates automatically, will be focused on one section of a room – something that won’t be too useful if you’ve got a larger room. The framerate dictates how many frames per second the camera captures. 30 should be your target, even though there are some lower quality options that only record 10 to 15 frames per second.
Next on our list, we have the camera’s power source. While at first, you might think that a camera should be plugged in, there’s actually a huge array of wireless models. Now, the opinions here are pretty divided. The advantages of a wireless camera are the convenience of being able to place it just about anywhere, and the fact that you don’t have to worry about cables since there aren’t any. However, you do have a battery to charge, and unless you’re saving on a cloud storage solution, a memory card to regularly transfer data from. On the other hand, with a wired camera, you don’t worry about storage, and you don’t worry about power. But you’re limited with placement since you need to consider the power, Ethernet and video transfer cables, and you’ll want to hide them if you need the camera to be concealed.
Last but not least, in this day and age, you should consider the possibility of getting a connected camera. That’s one that connects to your home network and is always connected to the internet that way. While you might think that this is a security concern, note that such cameras all work with encrypted data, so that’s nothing to worry about. The benefit here is that using a simple app on your smartphone, you can access the camera’s live video feed, as well as the recordings saved in the storage, wherever you are.
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what the key features are, and which of those features are actually worth spending extra on, let’s take a look at some of the best surveillance cameras that cost you well under $100 for your office or home.
If I were to go with a security camera in 2020, I would definitely go with a wireless one such as this by Conico
First, on our list, we have the YI Outdoor Security Camera. Yi is a brand of Xiaomi, and they’ve got excellent budget electronics, this camera being no exception. It has great video quality, you can use it outdoors, and it has a host of great features.
First things first, the YI records at a 1080p resolution. Combine this with a 110-degree field of view, and an easily-rotatable ball mount, and you’ll have excellent quality video and great coverage. There are 12 IR LEDs that help during the night, giving you a clear video at up to 50 feet.
Two-way audio is also present, with a microphone that records audio, as well as a speaker that lets you talk through the camera itself. Since this is an outdoor camera, it’s also weather-resistant, and you can use the motion detector to save yourself from needing to go through hours of footage to capture those fifteen minutes you need. All things considered, this is truly one of the best surveillance cameras out there, and it’s priced really well, too.
If you want something priced even more competitively than the YI we just spoke about, there’s the Conico wireless security camera. It’s small, it’s wireless, and it has a host of features that make it a great pick for just about anyone.
The resolution is 2304×1536, and while the field of view isn’t particularly impressive, the Conico does come with a 360-degree rotating head. Add tilt to it, and you can capture just about anything. A motion detector and IR night vision are included as well, and all footage is saved on a micro SD card, as well as on a cloud storage solution.
We spoke about one security camera under $100. What if you could get a 4 pack for that amount of money? Well, you can, thanks to Zmodo. The catch is that they only record at 720p, but the rest of the feature set is impressive.
You have IP65 water resistance, as well as IR lights for nighttime recording. The cameras are always online, and they’re wireless, so you can connect to them from wherever you are with Zmodo’s app. There’s also compatibility with Alexa, which is neat. If you want four great, yet cheap cameras, this is the set to go for.
Another wireless camera in this list. Litmor IP camera is one of the smallest and awesome looking cameras that can be used indoors or outdoors, thanks to its weatherproof feature. This camera is fully wireless and can run up to 120 days of battery life which is crazy.
The camera has all the other traditional features like two-way audio, HD recording, night mode, and object detection. Costing well under $100, this wireless camera is definitely a steal. This is one of my favorites on this list.
The HeimVision is one of the pricier options on our list, but it is absolutely worth it. It’s a waterproof camera that works both indoors and outdoors and records 720p video. While the resolution could’ve been better, there is a host of other great features that make up for it.
You do get night time recording and a good field of view, but you also have a temperature alert that will send sensors to your phone if it detects a person nearby. The app is excellent, and gives you accurate and fast real-time notifications, too.
Another option by NETVUE, this time we have their 2-pack of indoor cameras. They come at a reasonable price, and with a great feature set. 1080p video and a 130-degree field of view are terrific, and you have night vision with IR LEDs to record after the sun goes down.
Add to this two-way audio, as well as a motion detection sensor, and you’ll see why this is an excellent two-pack for a very reasonable price. Oh, it also has AI human detection that sends you notifications when there’s movement in front of the camera.
People who need a set of cameras for outdoor use will love this 2-pack by AMICCOM. The price is fairly reasonable for what you get, and this is a pretty heavy-duty camera, too. You have 1080p video recording and a wide lens, with night vision that works great up to 32 feet.
Add to this motion detection, activity alert, and a deterrent alarm, and you’ll see why this is a great option for outdoors. Oh, it’s also IP66 water-resistant, so even if it does get caught in the rain, it will continue working.
The NETVUE security camera is somewhat pricy for a relatively unknown brand, but the feature set is actually really good. You get 1080p video recording and night vision, as well as a 100-degree field of view.
Couple this with IP66 water resistance, wireless connectivity, motion detection, two way audio and compatibility with Alexa, and you’ve got yourself an impressive set of features at a somewhat reasonable price. It’s truly a great option if you want a budget camera you can operate and look at from just about anywhere.
Huntvision’s option on our list is another option that’s a bit pricey but comes with a great feature set. The highlight feature is the ease of setup and use, as this is a Wi-Fi camera that you can put anywhere. With a 360 degree pan, it’s going to record every inch of your home.
You do get 1080p video, as well as IR LEDs for nighttime recording, so you can rest assured that good quality footage is captured at night, too. The entire camera is rounded out by a free cloud service, which is something you should absolutely take advantage of!
We’re wrapping up our list with another premium camera that’s great for outdoor use. With a resolution of 2624 x 1512p and a framerate of 30 frames per second, the COOAU will record high-quality video both during the day and during the night.
Features such as IP66 water resistance, motion detection, and two-way audio are also here, and it works with Amazon Alexa and Wi-Fi. You can view and control the camera from just about anywhere, using your smartphone. It might be pricier than other options, but it’s definitely worth it if you want high-quality video outdoors.
There you have it. These are some of our top picks and if you have any suggestions or feedback on any of the cameras we featured, feel free to leave them in the comments section.