I remember a time when private security cameras were available only for the rich and famous, with dozens of CCTV’s dotting their gated communities all hooked up to a wall chock full of monitors and security guards checking it around the clock.
Luckily, technology has advanced in such a way that this kind of equipment can be available to all. Sure, you and I might not have thousand-square foot manors, but we have stuff we don’t want stolen too! Like uhh…you know the thing with…look, the point is: security should be available to everyone, and now it is.
In fact, many of the commercially available security cameras only require a simple installation process, a smartphone, and good Wi-Fi, all staples of the modern household. For a few dollars, the everyman can now afford peace of mind and safety. Take that, capitalism!
Even better, smart cameras are now available to alert you or the authorities if anything goes amiss, and their wireless setup means no more struggling with wires or drilling holes or buying monitors. All good news.
To help you find the right product, we tested out some of the best WiFi cameras under $50. We tested for clarity, ease of use, and speed of connection, as well as compatibility with other smart devices in the house. Here’s what we came up with.
ZOSI 720P CCTV Camera
First on the list is the ZOSI CCTV. It looks like a traditional security camera, which alone already gives it plus points. Studies show that even just the presence of some kind of security measure in a house is enough to deter most burglars.
But the ZOSI isn’t just for show: it records at 720p and is connected to an online server where you can upload your videos. In fact, many ZOSI owners have already uploaded hours of security footage where their cameras foiled a burglary.
The ZOSI 720p is weather-proof and vandal-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your footage being blurred by rain or ne’er-do-wells. It also has night vision that’s clear for up to 65 ft., enough to cover your entire yard (and, in my case, the front yard).
A couple of downsides, though: because it’s a “budget” model, it does lack a few premium features like motion tracking or being able to control its pan and tilt. It also doesn’t have two-way audio so you can’t hear what they’re saying and you can’t scare the bejesus out of them with a scary voice-of-God thing. But overall, it’s still a solid purchase and a great looking/functioning camera.
Price: $20.99 – See it on Amazon
YI 1080p Indoor Wireless IP Security Surveillance System
Despite its relatively low price-point, the YI Indoor Wireless IP Security Surveillance System manages to pack in as many premium features as it can, chief if which is its 1080p resolution recording capabilities. This allows you to record 15 frames a second. Coupled with automatic night vision and motion detection, and you’ll feel like you’re living in Fort Knox.
The YI also has activity alerts, which sends out a notification to your smartphone or PC whenever the camera detects unusual movement. A baby crying feature will also help you keep tabs on your babies if they’re alone in the other room. There’s also a lens distortion feature that helps you record very clear video.
It has a multifunctional stand that allows you to place it in diverse locations. It can also support up to 5 different devices so you can monitor it from wherever you are in the world. The YI comes with a microSD slot, but if you want to save more of your footage, you’ll have to upload it. This is where the YI’s downside comes in: while you do get access to their cloud storage, only the first week is free: the rest you’ll have to pay for in 30-day paid plans.
Despite the added expense, it’s still a cost-efficient purchase, especially if you’re looking for an all-around security system.
Price: $49.99 – See it on Amazon
Wansview Wireless 1080P Security Camera
Criminals can strike anytime of the day and night, which is why you need protection in both, and the Wansview Security Camera arguably has the best night vision capabilities in this entire list, able to record in 1080p no matter what time of the day or night. Couple that with its 350° pan range and 4x digital zoom, and you have security camera that can capture your would-be burglar’s every step.
It also has two-way communications, which allows you to speak through its pretty impressive speakers. All of these features, of course, are accessible via its mobile app.
A couple of downsides, though: while it does have excellent night vision sight, it only extends up to 20 ft. It’s good if you just want your immediate property safe, but it won’t capture anyone or anything outside its range. The Wansview also doesn’t pair well with other smart home devices, and while the iOS app is ok, the Wansview Android app is glitch at best.
However, all minor drawbacks, especially considering how great it is at night, even if it is limited.
Price: $39.99 – See it on Amazon
Canary All-in-One Indoor 1080p HD Security Camera
The Canary All-in-One Indoor Security Camera stays true to its word by offering you a slew of features that the other cameras on this list can’t beat.
What are these features? Well, aside from having great 1080p recording during both day and night, the Canary also features a temperature/humidity monitor which tells users if their HVAC is working properly. It also has a contaminant monitor which alerts you if it detects high levels of toxic gases in the area.
But the best part for me is its 90+dB siren which you can sound either remotely or program it to go off when there’s any unusual activity. It has all the other features of other cameras too, like two-way comms, compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant, and night vision.
It’s not perfect, of course. For all its features, the Canary does have an awkward stand that limits the places that you can mount it on. Although it has a wide-angle lens, it can only turn up to 147°, limiting your field of vision.
Price: $49.00 – See it on Amazon