22 Best Security Camera Features Ranked

Security camera features can make or break a camera system. The features are what set cameras apart for one another. I think there are a number of must-have features or the camera isn’t work buying.

In this post, I will rank the 22 best security camera features, where it is ranked, and how they can improve.

22. Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) like Amazon Alexa and Google home rank dead last in my rankings. VAs have the ability to answer questions and control other connected devices.

Why it earned this ranking

The VA earned this ranking because of how new it is. The VA is relatively new and the functions don’t quite integrate smoothly with all security systems. The Amazon Alexa plays well with other Amazon devices, but how well does it play with non-Amazon devices?

The VA should work as follows: “Hey Alexa, show me who’s at the door.” This feature doesn’t always work seamlessly, and you have to ask a few different times.

I Think the VA will naturally move up over time as more developers are able to think of new ways to integrate the product into everyday life.

21. Siren

Some wireless Internet Protocol (WIP) cameras include a feature in which the homeowner can set off an alarm if needed. The alarm sounds like an emergency alert siren similar to a burglar alarm. The alarm will either activate at the camera, or at the base station inside of the home.

Why it earned this ranking

The siren earned the 21st ranking because I don’t think it is very practical. In theory, a criminal will leave if they hear a siren. In practice, I don’t think a siren is more effective than someone yelling “Stop! or I’ll call the police.”

Also, I think a homeowner should call the police if they see suspicious activity happening on their property. Setting off a siren may have the opposite of the intended effect. 

The siren feature could be moved up the list if it was attached to an automated call to fire and rescue. If a homeowner presses the siren or panic button, fire and rescue are notified and they can either call (like home security systems) or send a police officer.

20. Size

The 20th ranked feature is the size of the security camera. Security cameras vary greatly in size. Some cameras are the size of envelopes and others are the size of phone chargers.

Why it earned this ranking

I don’t care if the camera is as large as a DVD player, or as small as lipstick as long as it does it does its job effectively. I want my cameras to record effectively in the day and night, and record in high definition.

I think this feature is locked in at its current ranking. The only way this could change is if size was directly tied to field of view, or night vision distance. 

19. Temperature sensor

Temperature sensors record and display the current temperature on the camera recording or in the user interface. 

Why it earned this ranking

I don’t have a need for a temperature sensor. I have so many other devices that can tell me the sensor that it seems like a throw-in feature. Also, how does knowing the temperature affect the camera or the surroundings?

This feature could move up the rankings if it was a more important feature. If this feature was a carbon monoxide feature, I would move this to top 15.

18. Motion snooze

Motion snooze provides the homeowner the ability to disable snooze for an extended period. For example, a homeowner would use motion snooze they are cutting grass in the front yard. The motion snooze will disable push notifications and recording for 30 minutes.

Why it earned this ranking

While this is a great feature, it doesn’t rank high on my list because I rarely ever use it. When I’m cutting the grass and I have music playing through my headphones, I don’t feel the vibration, so I don’t see all of the notifications.

Motion snooze could move up the list if it was smarter. For example, if the camera could recognize that the same person is walking by at the same pace, then disable for a few minutes, that would be a better use of the technology

17. Cost

The cost is how much you pay for the cameras or system. 

Why it earned this ranking

I don’t think cost is that important for two reasons: first, security cameras are an investment. If you buy an “expensive” camera and your house is never broken in to, then it was worth it.

Second, it is very difficult to compare cameras to each other. For example, I made a comparison video between two cameras, they have different audiences.

Another example is comparing PoE cameras to wireless cameras. While PoE camera systems may be cheaper, they also come with additional limitations. 

The only way cost could move in the rankings is if they charged the same price for all of the cameras, and I don’t see that happening

16. Pan/ Tilt/ Zoom (PTZ)

PTZ is a feature in some cameras that allow cameras to automatically or manually pan tile and zoom. This feature gives a camera to have a field of view of up to 360 degrees. 

Why it earned this ranking

While the PTZ feature is nice, it is not a must have for a security camera. If you buy a camera with a wide field of view and position it correctly then it will not matter that the camera can PTZ. 

This feature could move up the rankings if it has the ability to stop panning if it detects motion. The PTZ cameras that I’ve used in the past continue to pan even after the motion was detected. Also, sometimes the panning caused the images to be blurry.

15. Web application

The web application refers to the user interface when homeowners log into the website. This refers to the user profile section, and not the sales or products page. 

Why it earned this ranking

Some companies will tout that their user interface is ranked number one in the land. While that is a great accomplishment, I just don’t log into the user portal. I only use the web able, and very rarely the desktop app. 

The time has passed when a user portal had to be on a website and it had to be perfect. Mobile applications are usually faster and provide a better user experience.

I don’t see this one moving at all, mostly because companies are moving toward application based user interfaces, and not website based portals

This is the portion of the list where I begin splitting hears. The features listed below are all great, but have subtle differences.

14. Doorbell

Some security cameras include a doorbell that you can place at your front door. The doorbell can be configured with different ringtones and other options.

Why it earned this ranking

The doorbell earned this ranking because it just isn’t more important than the other features listed. I love my doorbell but I only purchased it after my dumb doorbell stopped working 2 years after we moved in. If my original doorbell hadn’t stopped working, I may have never purchased it.

Another reason for this ranking is smart doorbells are accepted widely by the general public. I’ve had a number of people knock on the door because they couldn’t find the doorbell (hint: its the giant circle in the middle of the rectangle).

I think the doorbell feature will naturally move up as people begin to recolonize that it is a doorbell, and you should push it.

13. Continuous recording

Continuous recording is a camera that has the ability to record 24/7. Other cameras record based on “events,” which is when a camera detects motion. Most often, these continuous recording is only available for Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems and Power over Ethernet (PoE) systems. 

Why it earned this ranking

I like continuous recording, but it is ranked at 13 because of the additional costs. Because the cameras are continuously recording and saving to a hard drive, the owner must decide if they want to delete previous recordings or buy another hard drive. While hard drives are cheaper than ever, it is still n extra expense for owning the equipment

Also, I would like it more if it was available on wireless IP cameras. My cameras record on motion and not continuously if I had a preference I would choose ongoing recording. 

I think continuous recording can move up the list if wireless IP cameras began to record in that way.

12. Two-way audio

Two-way audio is the ability for the homeowner to have a voice conversation with someone on the other side of the camera. Usually, the homeowner doesn’t need to be home to hold these conversations.

Why it earned this ranking

I love the two-way audio feature. I like the fact that I can tell someone I’m not interested without having to get out off the couch and go downstairs. Even better is the ability to tell someone that I’m not interested when I’m not at home. 

The only reason two-way audio is ranked 12 is the other features are just a little bit better. I really only use the two-way audio with my doorbell camera. When I try to use it will my security cameras, people don’t hear me or they block it out.

11. Power source

Power source simply means how the camera receives power. There are four ways cameras can receive power: wall outlet (electric), Ethernet, battery, solar power. 

Why it earned this ranking

Power source falls just outside my top 10 because there are a variety of ways to power security cameras. In fact, one of my cameras is powered by both solar and battery power. 

Power source is important when deciding where to place the cameras, but you have enough options where it isn’t the most important feature. Also, the type of power source can limit other features the camera has.

For example, if your camera runs on battery or solar power, you may not be able to record 24/7.

The only way power source moves up is if they offered all features for every power source

The top 10 could all be 1a, 1b, … but very minor things are the difference.

10. Mobile application

A mobile application is an app you download for your camera to your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. This includes the features security configurations, and the ability to view live and recorded events 

Why it earned this ranking

Mobile applications are ranked 10 because of the response times and some of the limitations. There have been times where my app would not load live viewing of one of my cameras. Another issue that I have is some applications limit the number of live cameras you can view to just one. I think the homeowner should have the ability to view all of their cameras at the same time live.

My apps live view works 90% of the time, but that 10% always feels like it’s happening when you need the picture the most.

9. Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is where video recordings are saved. In general, there are two types of storage: cloud and local. Local storage is saved to a hard drive or SD card at your home. Cloud storage is stored on someone else’s computer.

Why it earned this ranking

The main benefit of cloud storage is the ability to view recorded events from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. An additional benefit is that you don’t need additional hardware in your home. 

The only reason for this ranking is that the features to come are more needed for a good home monitoring system. Cloud storage should be the default mode of saving recordings.

8. Waterproof

A waterproof camera is a camera that can be placed anywhere an work normally. Traditionally, cameras that are waterproof can be placed inside or outside, cameras that aren’t can only be used inside. 

Why it earned this ranking

Waterproof is ranked 8th because it determines where a camera can be placed. If a camera is not waterproof it will limit placement and effectiveness. I tried placing a non-waterproof camera in a window and anytime is detected motion it would take a picture of the window.

Also, make sure your camera is rated as weatherproof. Even if a camera says it is weatherproof, check the ratings in the product description.

7. Field of view

Field of view is how wide or narrow a camera can see. The smallest field of view I’ve seen is 80 degrees, while the widest is 360 degrees.

Why it earned this ranking

Field of view is important because it determines how quickly the motion sensor is activated. I like wide viewing angles, but not at the expense of the features listed. 

I think field of view is perfectly placed among its competitors. 

6. Wireless

I define wireless as a camera that is completely wire free. Some companies define wireless as not needing to physically connect to a DVR or NVR. Some cameras that are considered wireless still need to connect to a wall outlet for power. 

Why it earned this ranking

Wireless is 6th because it provides the ultimate level of flexibility to homeowners. Homeowners can place a truly wireless camera anywhere that has a connection to the internet. You cannot say the same for a camera that needs a wall outlet for power.

Like field of view, I don;t like wireless technology can move up or down.

5. Live view

Live viewing is the ability to log in to your mobile application and view what is happening at this very moment. You can live view from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. 

Why it earned this ranking

I use the live view feature more than any of the other features listed. The reason that it’s “only” ranked 5th is that I use the live view based on other features. For example, I use live view when my motion sensor sends me multiple push notifications in a short period of time.

I do occasionally open up live view on my camera, but it usually based on some other factor, like sirens blaring down the street.

I don’t think live view is base, I just think these other features are a bit better.

4. Night vision

Night vision is composed of two parts. First, how well your camera can see at night. Second, How far your camera can see at night. A lot of this is based on the number of infrared senors on the camera, lighting and picture quality. 

The number of infrared sensors on your security loosely ties to the night viewing distance. In general, the more LEDs the farther your camera can see at night. There is some wiggle room for that claim but is a good general guideline.

Another factor is the amount of light surrounding the camera. A camera will see further of there is light above or below the camera lens. 

Why it earned this ranking

Night vision is very important to me. If a camera doesn’t have a way to view objects at night, then it has no value.

3. Video quality

Video quality refers to the resolution of the camera. Cameras have the ability to shoot in standard definition (up to 1080P), and ultra high definition (4K). 

Why it earned this ranking

I wont even consider a camera that records in anything less that 960P. The video quality can have an impact on see license plate numbers, scars, tattoos, and lettering on t shirts. If I only could choose one feature, it would be video quality.

2. Motion sensor

Motion sensors detect when objects enter the leave the cameras field of view. Basically, motion sensors detect the change in temperature within the viewing angle. To be clear, they are not heat detectors. 

Why it earned this ranking

I ranked the motion sensor at number 2 because many other features depend on this one feature. If your security camera has a poor motion sensor, your first line of defense is weak. 

Motion sensor could have been number 1, but I have a personal affinity for the feature I placed number one.

1. On board lighting

Onboard lighting is simply the lighting that turns on when the motion sensor is triggered. This lighting automatically activates beginning at dusk and stops around dawn.

Why it earned this ranking

I love this feature for a number of reasons. First, it lets people know that you are being watched. It is the exact reason people install motion activated flood lights.

Second, it reduces some of the challenges cameras have recording at night. Like human eyes, cameras see better with light, and the more light that is around a camera, the better it will perform.

Third, the lighting can be used for other purposes. If you’ve ever dropped something in a dark driveway you know how important lighting is.

Conclusion

So, there is my list, as I mentioned, the was splitting in the top 10, and the top five came down to personal preference. What do you think? How would you range your top 10?

Additional questions

What is a security camera used for?

Security cameras can be used for another of things including deterring potential criminals, identifying criminals, additional lighting, and peace of mind. Some security cameras have additional features like doorbells that make them multi-use devices. 

I use my security camera for all of these things. I hope that my security cameras make potential criminals think twice before attempt to break in to my home. My security cameras have spotlights that activate on detection of motion. 

Also, one of my security cameras has a doorbell attached that lets me know if someone is at the door. This doorbell also has motion detection. 

Latest CCTV camera features

The newest CCTV cameras have features that are similar to IP cameras. New CCTV cameras have the following features (in addition to the old features):

  • Ethernet networking
  • Mobile application integration
  • Cloud storage
  • Remote viewing 

So these are my rankings, do you agree? Leave a comment below!

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