How Many Types Of Security Cameras Are There?

In my search to determine the best camera for my home, I first had to find out which type of camera security camera is right for me.

“How many types of security cameras are there?” All security cameras fit into one of six types. The six types of security cameras are: box, bullet, dome, internet protocol (IP), pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ), and wireless internet protocol (wireless IP). Each of these types may have subtypes including spy cameras, nanny cams or trail cameras.

In addition, you will primarily see these four types of security cameras in a residential neighborhood:

  • Dome
  • Bullet
  • IP
  • Wireless IP

The type of security camera that’s best for you depends on a few factors, continue reading to determine which security camera is right for you.

Box cameras

Box cameras are the most basic type of security camera. Originally, they were just cameras placed in a cardboard or plastic box. Currently, box cameras are called box because the camera is shaped like a box. In my experience, box cameras are most commonly found in and around convenience stores.


These cameras can be used both indoors and outdoors and have all the basic features of standard security cameras. The size of the box camera allows for additional customization not available to other security cameras. Box security cameras can be used individually or as a part of a security system.

Examples of modern box cameras include: 

  • Vanxse CCTV mini
  • USG Analog Box Camera
  • HDView Box Brick Professional Camera

Bullet cameras

Bullet cameras earn their name because of the size and shape. Bullet cameras look like bullet casings which are long and rebound. As with box cameras, bullet cameras can be found in and around convenience stores. I have also seen these cameras in residential neighborhoods.


Bullet cameras can also be found both indoors and outdoors. Bullet cameras are commonly used as part of a system of two or more cameras. Bullet cameras can record both audio and video. Recordings can be saved locally a part of a closed system (Closed Circuit Television) or saved to cloud storage. Older bullet cameras had to be hard wired, but newer models are taking advantage of wireless technology. Another feature of bullet cameras is their ability to pan, tilt, and zoom. The PTZ can be automated or manual.

Examples of modern bullet cameras include: 

  • Zosi Cut Bullet Security Camera
  • Vanxse Mini Bullet Camera
  • Samsung Weatherproof Bullet Camera

Dome cameras

Dome cameras take their name from their size and shape. These cameras are more compact than the two previously mentioned cameras, and they are shaped like a dome. These cameras can be found in both commercial and residential neighborhoods. In fact, my next-door neighbor has one (but is it real?).


Because of its compact size and lower profile, these cameras can be placed in more places than bullet and box cameras. Also, the dome provides an additional resistance to tampering, and conceals what the cameras view of view.

Like the bullet camera, the dome camera can be used individually, or as a part of a large system. These cameras can also record to local or cloud storage or can be a part of a CCTV system. These cameras can be either wired or wireless, and can pan, tilt, and zoom.

Here are a few examples of dome cameras: 

  • Observeye Ocli Home Security Camera
  • YI Dome Camera
  • Zosi Dome Security Camera

IP cameras

IP security cameras combine the strengths of bullet and dome cameras and combine them with the strengths and benefits of internet protocol (IP) technology. IP cameras are different from “old school” dome and bullet cameras in that recordings are transmitted as data over the internet.


IP cameras can be used both indoors and outdoors, and provide better audio, and video because they are sent as digital data packets. IP cameras can take the form of dome or bullet cameras.

IP cameras may still need to be connected to a wall outlet for power. Another feature of IP cameras is they can be viewed remotely over an internet connection. IP cameras may also have the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom.

Here are a few examples of IP cameras: 

  • Foscam Cameras
  • Hikvision Cameras
  • Dahua Cameras

PTZ cameras

Pan, tilt, zoom cameras (PTZ) are cameras that specialize in recording while on the move. There cameras can record 360 degrees. These cameras may also come with a joystick to better move the camera. These cameras are most likely to be found in businesses.


PTZ cameras are usually hard wired and come with a joystick or another type of remote control. In addition, the PTZ feature can be automated and viewed in a closed system. PTZ cameras can be considered a more advanced dome and security cameras.

Examples of PTZ security cameras include: 

  • TLS Mall PTZ camera
  • Sunba PTZ Camera
  • Foscam PTZ Camera

Wireless IP cameras

Wireless IP cameras (WIP) advance the technology of IP cameras. WIP cameras can connect to a local network without first needing to physically connect to a router or hub.


The benefits of WIP cameras is that it combines the features of previous cameras, with the flexibility of placing the camera anywhere there is a wireless signal. These cameras can be used both inside and outside and provide two-way audio. Also, WIP cameras can be as small as a phone charger.

WIP cameras are usually managed with web or mobile applications. Also, WIP cameras usually use cloud storage to save recordings. Cloud storage may come with an additional cost. WIP cameras may also by battery or solar powered.

Examples of WIP cameras include: 

  • Blink XT Security Camera
  • Zmodo Wireless Security Camera
  • Arlo Security Cameras

Dummy cameras

Dummy cameras look like real security cameras but provide no recording functionality. They are cheaper to purchase, and easy to install, but provide no audio and video recording. Dummy cameras may deter some crime but may not deter all criminals.

Examples of dummy cameras include: 

  • Wali Bullet Dummy Fake Surveillance 
  • Zosi Bullet Fake Security Camera
  • Armo Fake Dummy Security Camera

Which type of security camera is right for me?

The type of security camera that is right for you depends on a few different factors. Below are examples of when to use cameras based on need

Cost is most important

If cost is the most important factor, and you need something, you may want to purchase a dummy camera for the short term. The only benefit of a dummy camera is that it gives the appearance of security monitoring. An experience burglar will be able to tell the difference between a real and a fake

A better answer is to find an affordable camera system with local storage. This type of system provides everything you need to have complete security at your house. Another benefit of camera systems is that you only pay a one-time purchase price, and not recurring fees. Bullet cameras can provide the best value because multiple cameras are included.

Viewing type is most important

There are two viewing types: active and passive. Active viewing is watching a live stream on the camera either at the location of the camera, or remotely. Passive viewing is watching the video recordings later.

Active viewing: I recommend a IP or WIP camera for active viewing. The benefits of these camera types is that they can be monitoring anywhere these is an internet connection. Usually, IP and WIP cameras include alerts when motion is detected by your cameras. The additional feature of active viewing may incur an additional monthly/ yearly cost

Passive viewing: I recommend dome or bullet cameras for passive viewing. These cameras usually record to a hard dive at no additional cost.

Multiple cameras are most important

If multiple cameras are important you should choose between wireless IP and bullet camera systems. Both WIP and bullet cameras systems work well with multiple cameras. You will need to consider initial investment and functionality when deciding which two cameras to purchase.

Install time is most important

From personal experience IP and WIP are the fastest to install. They install in less than 20 minutes because there is no prewiring and wiring required.

From my experience, WIPs installed faster than the IPs. With the IP cameras, I had to physically connect them to my router, login to a website and configure settings. For the WIPs I just had to download an app, find the camera in my wireless settings, and let the app do the rest. It took more time to get on the ladder and drill holes into my overhang.

Continuous monitoring is most important

If continuous monitoring is most important I would consider bullet or dome cameras. Bullet and dome cameras connected to CCTV systems can record continuously and save the recording to a hard drive. IP and WIP cameras can record continuously but that can cause a strain on bandwidth (and your internet provider would hate it).


In this blog post, we examined the six security cameras. In addition, we gave a brief overview of each, as well as benefits of those cameras? Finally, we discussed different use cases as to when you should select one camera over another.

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