In this piece we're going to be taking a look at DiY CCTV Cameras or "The Best Stick Up Cams", if you're interested in professional, commercial or wired cctv camera system to cover a larger area, or for insurance purposes then we recommend you check out our list of The Best Commercial CCTV Camera Brands.
What Is A WiFi Camera?
Wifi cameras are security cameras which operate over wifi and without mains electricity or PoE (power over ethernet) like traditional CCTV Systems, this means they've started to become increasingly popular with home owners looking for a quick and easy way to install their own security cameras. The market has boomed in recent years and there's quite literally 100s of brands to choose from and the most well known ones aren't always (and quite often aren't the best). These cameras come in a wide range of prices with functionality people couldn't have even imagined a few years ago and have begun to bridge the quality gap between themselves and wired cctv systems. There are always going to be a few drawbacks to wireless security cameras, they will always be a little bit more venerable to tampering, and are reliant on an internet connection and aren't really suited for continuous streaming etc, but they're more than capable of putting off most would be criminals or keeping an eye on your pets and possessions whilst your out. In terms of bringing you peace of mind, the best home security cameras are more than up to the job.
Are Wireless Security Cameras Any Good?
The new generation of stick up security cameras are for the most part great, the battery life has come a long way, meaning that for almost any rural environment, garden, front door and the recording quality is great and comes in options even up to 4k.
Their night vision modes have also dramatically improved and now operate in full colour and even outperform a lot of old coaxial systems.
When Should I Not Use A Wireless CCTV Camera?
The number one reason to not use a stick up cam is if you're in a high traffic area. Because these cameras run on batteries and stick up cam battery life is not suited to continuous filming, if you live somewhere that is going to be constantly triggering motion detection it is likely that you'll have to recharge the camera more often than it's mounted, even with a solar powered smart security camera it will still have issues. We are in the UK after all. They're incredibly well suited for back gardens, sheds, or people living in areas where they're not going to trigger recordings constantly. Most of the best home security cameras on our list will allow you to stream live recordings and operate two way communication, but prolonged periods of time would not be effective.
The second reason that you may want to opt for a fully wired system is security, if you have particularly high value items that could encourage a properly targeted theft, not simply an opportunist, wifi blockers are available rendering the cameras useless, even with internal storage wifi cameras are typically not as well mounted as a professional grade CCTV system and are more easily removed.
And lastly is insurance of commercial property. We do not recommend that you use a wireless security camera to protect commercial property unless it is an extraneous region that requires a sim card based solution.
How Did We Choose The Best Home Security Cameras?
At CCTVdirect we're experts on all things CCTV, because we focus on selling commercial CCTV equipment we're able to look at the consumer market from an informed, but neutral stance. And we can see that wireless security cameras are undoubtedly the future of the home security camera market. We've evaluated how well each of the cameras on our list performs in multiple user tests, how easy they were to install and how well they held up against the strains of day to day home environments.
Beyond simply, was the image clear, and how good was the range, we needed to make sure that they worked well at night, the batteries held up for a reasonable amount of time (almost none last as long as they claim) the management apps work well, there weren't a load of sneaky subscription costs for cloud storage (this was common), how well the motion detection worked (a lot of cameras seemed to think anything from a leaf in the wind to a cat was a threat and yet a car or people didn't actually trigger anything.... we're looking at you yale...) and how well certain specialised features worked, like 2 way audio and PTZ controls.
Night Vision Wifi Cameras
Night vision quality is perhaps the single most important element beyond general image quality. Whilst most people will focus on a camera that can cover the house whilst they're at work, crime rates always spike when it's dark. Meaning that if you're security camera doesn't work well at night, then you only have a product that works half of the time. And unless you're planning to never leave the house in the evening you want to know you're protected at night too. A lot of the home security cameras we checked made bold promises and even showed what we can only image to be images taken from another camera in their advertising when we tested them against what we actually saw.
It's all well and good having a great camera, but it could be the best cctv camera ever made, if the app doesn't work well and you can't see the footage it isn't going to do you any good at all.
A lot of companies that make great cameras stuck stealth fees on to access half of the features, making you pay a monthly subscription to access the smart features that they marketed the security cameras with to begin with.
There's two really important reasons why the best home security cameras need to have good motion detection. The first being that if your outdoor camera goes off every time it detects a leaf blowing in the wind, your going to get a lot of annoying phone alerts and on top of that the battery life is going to be incredibly short.
The second is perhaps the most obvious, it may not actually pick up motion when you want it to rendering the security camera entirely pointless. As such motion detection is incredibly important, and we reviewed all of the best cctv cameras for accuracy, false alarms and missing key events.
Motion zones aren't essential, but seeing as a lot of cameras use them as a selling point we like to be thorough. This allows you to set up areas in the cameras field of view that will and won't trigger it to turn on. For example, say that your door is near a busy road and you don't want every car to set it off, but the only way to position it to cover your entry also means some of the road is in view, this is where motion zones become incredibly useful.
Local Storage Vs Cloud Storage
In 99% of use cases you're going to probably be more interested in the cloud storage than the local storage. The local storage is typically a backup for if your cctv camera can't connect to the internet for some reason. We're going to look at what cloud storage you get without charge and how if a local storage option is available.
Outdoor Security Cameras - IP/IK Ratings
IP and IK ratings are something that most consumers won't know too much about, but what they are is a standard to which the camera is impact proofed and weather proofed. IP66 is realistically a minimum for outdoor security cameras in the UK, although many cheaper options are rated to a lower standard and will eventually break down from wind and rain. IK ratings refer to how much impact a camera can take, if you're in an area where vandalism is likely most stick up cams are not the best solution and you'll want something that's designed to be anti vandal, but where cameras make claims on this we will put them to the test.
Best Wireless Security Cameras By Battery Life
And this one is a biggy, battery life. There's a couple of parts to what makes a good cctv camera battery life, and that is, does it still work properly when the battery is low, how well does it work with "normal use", this assumes that the motion detection works properly. This is less of an issue for indoor security cameras as these will probably be a lot easier to put on charge than something that you need to climb a ladder outside in winter for. It's also less of an issue with solar powered cctv cameras, but if the charge doesn't last well through winter, again it could be a problem with an outdoor camera.
VueNet EZ Cam - Best Value CCTV Camera For Home & Best Wireless CCTV Camera Overall
The VueNet EZ Cam is hands down our favourite WiFi CCTV camera right now. They're made by UK firm VueNet who usually specialise in commercial grade equipment and are used by professional installers up and down the country.
Their ethos with the EZ Cam was to make something that was well built rather than something that had useless features. That said they still managed to get it everything that you would realistically want in this little cam.
Ease of installation was quite probably the simplest of the lot with a magnetic locking back that simply requires 2 screws to mount although we managed to use it inside with command strips.
They also had the best free cloud storage option out of all the cameras we reviewed. Surprisingly cheap as well, it can work with multiple cameras on one app without a need for a hub like the EuFy cams.
The only thing it's really beaten on is that it's 2k not 4k, but this was a deliberate choice from VueNet that allowed for a longer battery life than it's competition. It offers both streaming and two way communication as well as good video quality, and a 200o lumen built in spotlight and full colour night vision. It does also have motion zones available. So it's covered all the bases, and we gave it a good beating and were surprised it turned out to be one of the two most robust options on the list.
So even with all that the fact that it comes in around £90-100's cheaper than the competition on this list for outdoor CCTV cameras, meaning it's also the best option if you're on a budget.
Best Battery Life
2 Way Audio And Flood Light
Very Clear Visual
No 4k Option Available
Some Cameras Have Wider Field Of View
No Sim Card Option
Doesn't Connect To Alexa (Update Coming 2022)
Best Floodlight CCTV Camera - Arlo3 Floodlight Camera
Arlo's floodlight cameras are by far the best home security cameras for very poorly lit areas. The 3000 lumen light outstrips the closest Eufy competitor by a long stretch and as outdoor cameras go it's 2k resolution is good.
It has a wide 160 degree viewing angle, but this does result in some slight image warping up close. Working with alexa and google home, means that if you're going for a complete smart home set up this will be a great option.
The main drawback for most people is going to be the poor battery life (they say it's good, but you'll be changing it every couple of months) and perhaps more importantly the complete lack of free cloud storage.
Arlo's storage package is £9/month which is an extra £100/year for 2 cameras (one camera is cheaper, but if you want to cover both your front and back doors this is a bit unreasonable), the product is at a higher price point in general, and Eufy it's main rival has the same storage cost structure in place. Perhaps this is less of an issue for people in the market for a premium product? And it comes in at £199.
Good image quality
Works well with other smart devices
Poor battery life
Best 4G CCTV Camera For Home - Reolink Go 4G LTE
The Reolink Go is an OK camera overall. But, it's 4g feature & solar panel option make it great for when the wifi just won't reach what you're trying to protect.
It's night vision mode is ok, not as good as the EZ cam and nowhere near the Arlo floodlight (although that has an obvious advantage), but when it comes to a good 4G camera it's great.
It has a backup slot for an SD card, and they have a 7 day free cloud storage option. So there's no hidden cost.
The only real downside to the Reolink for the job it's designed for is that it's only IP65 rated, which means it will be fine with rain and wind, but particularly bad weather could cause it problems over time. Coastal areas or particularly stormy valleys for example would likely see it pack in after 18 months.
It's 1080p HD resolution is fine, but nothing incredibly special in terms of video quality.
It's also priced at £199 or £209 with the solar panel, which we'd recommend. Which considering there aren't any hidden costs, is fine.
Free cloud storage
Best PTZ CCTV Camera For Home - A Couple Of Options
If you really want a PTZ, we'd highly recommend you get a professional grade system and look at one of the UNV PTZ cameras that we list here, and if you're comfortable running cables most of those are power over ethernet, so you'd only have to run the single internet cable to it.
However, if you're looking for a DiY battery powered PTZ option there are some available. They just have their issues. Indoor versions are relatively easy to come by, but outdoor cameras less so.
PTZ cameras are ones that can Pan Tilt and Zoom, so how well this functions and holds up over time was part of selecting the best stick up PTZ camera.
Best DiY PTZ Stick Up Camera - Reolink PT 2K
The Reolink option is the best of a bad bunch when it comes to outdoor stick up ptz cameras, it works well enough, but if you try to use it too often the battery is going to drain very quickly and you'll probably wish that you had a wired security camera relatively soon.
Best Professional PTZ Camera - Uniview 5MP Active Deterrence
The active deterrence camera by uniview is a great piece of kit, it features pre recorded messages, and you can pre record your own and with it's movement tracking allowing it to make it look like someone's watching even when they aren't.
Best Outdoor Security Camera For Home - VueNet EZ Cam
Yes it win again, it's just the best all around option, coming in at less than £100, without hidden costs, this little camera wins out here as well. It has all the features of the more expensive cams and we've had them stuck up in various locations with extreme weather conditions in the UK for the last year with no issues what so ever, which is more than we can say for some of the other home security camera on our best list.
Best Solar Powered CCTV Camera - Eufy Solo Cam
If you want an all in one security camera that doesn't have a separate, and relatively unattractive solar panel, the Eufy has a pretty good option. As with all Eufy's products they're not the best home security cameras, but they are good and their niche cameras are usually our favourite of their home security cameras.
It has a solid 2k resolution, the solar panel works well, it's AI person detection works about as well as all Eufy products, so better than anything made by ring, but not quite to a trade camera standard.
It's motion detection is good, and the night vision isn't to bad either. If you're looking to minimise the clutter around your property then this is a good option. The night vision mode is solid, but not the best. As a wireless security camera goes it's mediocre, but it does what it does well.
It works well with Alexa and Google Home, packs a relatively high 8GB of internal storage, which is lasts quite well at a 2k video quality. It also has 2 way audio and comes in at a reasonable price point of £189.
Solar panel built in
Works with Alexa and Google Home
Good local storage
Mediocre night vision
Average video quality
Best 4k Security Camera For Home - Arlo Ultra 2
The Arlo Ultra 2 has great video quality, and we can't fault it for that, that's why it's the best 4k option, but that's really where how much we like it ends. If you want the crispest image quality then you've got it. But, the catch is, you're going to need cloud storage, and you'll have to pay for it.
They're also quite expensive and the battery life is awful, which is to be expected when you're recording in a higher fidelity it uses more power. The other issue we have with it, is that it doesn't stand alone. You will also need to buy the Arlo home hub. Which, we really aren't big fans of. Just one camera is going to set you back £300 because you need to buy the hub, although it does become more affordable if you buy a couple of their CCTV cameras at the same time adding an extra £100 for each one.
The night vision is good, as you'd expect with the Arlo products, we just can't get over the pricing for a consumer product and the ongoing subscription fee. We did really like it's autozoom feature, that was a particular highlight.
Auto zoom with tracking
Great image quality
Best Security Camera For Alexa - Arlo Cameras
Arlo is the clear winner when it comes to their cameras working well with Alexa, whether that's a battery powered floodlight camera or one of their more standard options they integrate perfectly with amazon Alexa. They're not the best wireless security cameras overall, but they do work well with Alexa, and have good floodlights.
Best Indoor Security Camera - Wyze Cam v3
Indoor cameras don't need to be flashy, they need to be discreet, and they can be a lot cheaper, because they don't need to be weatherproofed, the Wyze Cam does that and does that well. It comes in below £40 and makes a great option for a nanny cam or something to keep an eye on your pets.
Colour night vision
Free cloud storage
Works with Alexa & Google Assistant (but can be a bit laggy)
Motion and sound detection (not always great with pet discrimination)
Some features require a subscription plan
Wireless Security Cameras To Avoid
And some cameras don't just not make the cut, they make the don't waste your money list.
The ring stick up cam is really bad, poor image quality, breaks all the time, somehow integrates worse with amazon than some of the third party companies. And if that wasn't enough these have been hacked multiple times to the point where customers have sued Amazon for the flaws in their smart home product. We wouldn't trust one of these at all. Honestly we're not sure why people like these, we honestly think a lot of the positive reviews must be paid promotion.
Anything By Yale
Yale is trading on it's old reputation as a great lockmaker, but their cameras have never been up to scratch and neither has a lot of their smart home devices and security systems. Avoid these, we've had two break within weeks, and one set off false alarms almost constantly.
Google Nest Cameras
These are just poor quality all around, it doesn't take more than a quick (and ironic) google to see thousands of complaints across reddit the security cameras are something of a disaster when it comes to quality control and consistency. Our experience was also one that lined up with the reviews, blurry, and sluggish image quality. It looked very dated and they're probably just trading on the Google name rather than actually being anywhere near the best home security camera.