How Long Do Home Security Cameras Record?

Early on, one of my biggest frustrations with my Ring Cameras was the limited recording time. I felt like the recording time should be longer, if not continuous. But, to answer the question how long do home security cameras record?

The answer is, it depends. Some home security cameras record as short as 10 seconds, while others record continuously (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). The length of the recording depends on a few factors, including the power source, camera type, and expected usage.

Continue reading as I discuss which features have an impact on recording length. I will discuss why the power source plays an important role and provide a few examples.

Click here to see my favorite wired and wireless security cameras.

Recording Lengths for Popular Home Security Camers

Before getting into the factors that impact recording length, let’s look at home security cameras of various recording lengths.

  • Blink security cameras: 5 seconds standard, can be configured to record for 60 seconds
  • Wyze Cam: 12 seconds, but can record for as long as motion is detected
  • Yi 1080p Home Camera: between 40 hours and 4 days, depends on generation
  • Ring Video Doorbell: 30 seconds, continuous recording if in live view
  • Zosi 720p HD-TVI Home Security Camera System: 25 days of continuous recording. After 25 days, new recordings can write over older recordings.

As you can see, records can vary, now let’s look at what impacts recording times.

Recording Time is Impacted by the Power Source

In general, security cameras have two power sources wired and wireless. Wired security cameras can be further reduced to the video recorder (Digital Video Recorder (DVR, Network Video Recorder) or Electrical outlets. Wireless security cameras are powered using a battery (rechargeable or non-rechargeable) or a solar panel.

In general, wired security cameras will record longer than wireless security cameras. This is because wired security cameras have a constant power source while wireless security cameras don’t. If for example, the Ring Video Doorbell offered continuous recording, the user would need to recharge the battery every three days.

The battery theory can be proven with the above examples. Below are the cameras with their power sources

  • Blink: wireless, battery
  • Wyze: wired, wall outlet
  • Yi: Wired, wall outlet
  • Ring: wireless, battery
  • Zosi: wired, Power over Ethernet

As you can see from the above examples, the wired cameras offered longer continuous recordings whereas battery operated security cameras did not. In addition, the type of battery also influences the recording length.

Recording Time is Impacted by Battery Type

Cameras that use battery packs will record longer than cameras that don’t Let’s compare Blink and Ring. Blink uses a single AA battery for power. Ring however, uses a rechargeable battery pack. Because of this battery difference Ring can record longer out of the box.

However, the Blink camera can be configured to record up to 60 seconds. The tradeoff is Blink no longer has a battery life of up to 2 years.

Recording Time is Impacted by Recording Type

For wireless cameras, the recording time is also impacted by the recording type. In general cameras have two recording types: motion detection and live viewing. Motion detection recordings begin when the on-board sensors detect motion. Usually, the recordings are stored as events either in the cloud, or on local SD cards.

Live viewings are usually triggered by the homeowner. Live viewings occur when the homeowner opens the app. On the Ring video doorbell, for example, the homeowner can trigger a live view event by responding to a push notification or navigating to the app. These types of events record continuously until the user closes the app.

One drawback of wireless cameras is their ability to record events that happen back-to-back. For example, when the Ring Video Doorbell is done recording an event, it takes a few seconds before it can record the next event. Because it only records for 30 seconds, it is possible that something can happen between the first event ending and the device being able to record the next one.

Recording Time is Also Impacted by Storage Type

The final factor that impacts the recording time is the location of the storage. Security cameras can store recorded events in one of three places: the cloud, SD card, or video recorder.

The Cloud

The cloud means the event is stored on someone else’s server, usually the manufacturer of the security camera. The main benefit of the cloud is recorded events can be accessed from anywhere that has an internet connection.

The main drawback is cloud storage reduces the length of the recording. Of the example listed above, the cameras that have the shortest recording time, save the events to the cloud. Neither the Blink or Ring cameras include onboard storage.

SD (Local) Storage

Local storage, usually in the form of an SD card, is storage located in the security camera. Cameras with this type of storage can record continuously for a short period of time. As we see from the above examples, local storage can record less than 10 days continuously.

Local storage is a can be an alternative than cloud storage, but can be lost or stolen easier. Also, if you plan to keep the recordings for a long period of time, you must decide to either buy a new SD card or transfer the files to a bigger hard drive.

Video Recorders

Video recorders over the longest continuous recording time of up to 40 days. Because of the hard drive size and the physical connection with its cameras, it can record for much longer than the other storage types.

There are cons to video recorders as well. One con is dealing with physical hard drives. Eventually, hard drives will fail. And when the hard drive fails, you will lose most of your recordings. The only way to prevent a hard drive from failing is to back it up to the cloud.

Another drawback of video recorders is they can be an expensive initial investment. While this is slowly changing, most security camera systems are more expensive than security cameras that include other types of storage.

Conclusion

To conclude, recording length is impacted by the following factors:

  • Power source
  • Battery type
  • Save type

If you want a home security camera with the maximum recording length, you want a system that is power over ethernet, has a large hard drive, uses the most advanced coding type, and includes a network video recorder.

Additional Questions

How Long Does CCTV Record?

Traditional CCTV can record up to 25 days without stopping. The length of the recording depends on the size of the hard drive in the DVR/ NVR.

NVRs are better than DVRs because of the way the video is transmitted to the hard drive. CCTVs usually send audio and video recordings to the DVR via a coaxial cable. NVRs, however, usually send data to the hard drive via an ethernet cable. Ethernet cables are preferred over coaxial cables because of the speed, reliability, and the data is compressed.

Also, the recording time can increase or decrease based on the coding. Currently, the highest level of coding is H.264 and H.265. H.264 and H.265 are recording formats the video are saved as.

To receive the longest recording time, you want a network video recorder that records in H.264+ or higher. In addition, you want to largest hard drive as possible, anything greater than 2 Terabytes.

Do You Need a DVR For Security Cameras?

No, you no longer need a DVR to use a security camera. Many newer cameras send audio and video using your wireless network. Simply connect these devices to your router, like any other mobile device, and you will be able to watch live and recorded audio and video.

In the past, recordings were stored in a hard drive located inside the DVR. Now, many security cameras can store recordings to the cloud. The cloud is usually a branded service that includes a monthly cost.

Another option is to use a NVR. A NVR is like a DVR where you can store recordings, watch cameras live, and make changes. There are a few differences. The main difference is how the recorded connects to the cameras. DVRs connect to its cameras using coaxial cable, whereas NVRs connect to cameras via an ethernet cord.

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