Best budget home security cameras: Cheap cams to watch over your house

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a top connected security cam

Best budget home security cameras
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Budget home security cameras used to be horrible, delivering low-quality, blurry footage that made it pretty much impossible to see what’s going on. Thankfully, times have changed, and Full HD resolutions are now the defacto standard, letting low-cost cameras come of age.

At Full HD or even higher resolutions, cheap security cameras now have a level of sharpness that often competes with the more expensive big-brand competition.

To keep costs down, manufacturers do have to balance features and apps, so you’ll often find that you need to focus your search for a low-cost camera on the features that are important to you, and recognize that you can’t always get everything.

Here, we’ve rounded up the best budget cameras that you can buy right now. We’ve picked a top-end price of £130, although many of our choices are considerably cheaper than this - some even less than £50.

We’ll help you balance out the features that you need to make the right choice, too. Make sure you also take a look at our guide to the very best home security cameras as well, to see exactly what you get for a heftier price-tag.

kami cam

Budget security camera: Considerations before buying

Aside from getting a Full HD or higher-resolution camera, you need to decide if you want a wired or battery-powered camera. Wired cameras are typically a bit cheaper and often have stronger Wi-Fi but you have to place them near a plug, which can be harder, particularly if you want an outdoor model, where you may need to drill holes

Budget wireless cameras are now available, powered by batteries, but tend to be priced towards the higher end of our price limit.

And, cheap wireless cameras often don’t have the Wi-Fi range of the big-brand competition, so you’ll need to test locations carefully before installing them. We’ve had most success putting budget models on outside walls of houses, close(ish) to wireless access points.

Look out for storage options. Cloud storage on budget models keeps your footage secure but you can, conversely, end up paying more for storage than you would if you went for a big brand. If you want to avoid fees altogether, then look for a camera that gives you a microSD card slot: just be aware that if your camera is stolen, the footage will be taken, too.

Cameras that support HomeKit Secure Video can be the best of both worlds: you get cheap storage in Apple’s secure cloud, accessed via the Home app on your phone.

vacos cam

What else is important? Field of view (described in degrees) tells you how wide-a-view the camera can take in. The higher the number, the more the camera can see, making placement easier.

Look for wider-angle cameras outside (typically 120-degrees or more) to capture more of what’s going on; inside, where you’ve got walls to contend with you don’t need such wide angles and can focus a camera on areas of importance to monitor.

Night vision is important on all cameras, with IR the most common way of capturing footage at night. However, there is a range of cameras that now shoot full-color night vision, using better sensors or spotlights. The advantage of full-color night vision is that you get sharper, more detailed images.

Look out for 2-way talk features, too, as not all budget cameras have this. This feature lets you have a conversation with anyone that you can see, either to give help (say, telling a delivery person where to put a parcel) or to let you warn off anyone suspicious.

Reducing false alarms is important, so cameras that have activity zones can be important, letting you mark the areas of the image that you’re interested in, ignoring motion everywhere else.

Finally, make sure your camera works with your smart assistant of choice: with Alexa or Google Assistant compatibility, you can stream footage straight to a smart display.

Also look out for IFTTT compatibility (vanishingly rare on budget models) if you want to trigger rules, such as turning on a light when motion is detected.

With all that in mind, here are the top cheap security cameras you can buy today:

tp link kasa spot budget security camera

Brilliant all-rounder: TP-Link Kasa Spot KC105

£38.99, tp-link.com | Amazon

Key features: Cloud, 1080p, wired, local storage (microSD card), Alexa and Google Assistant streaming.

It’s not quite the cheapest security camera and it doesn’t have any particular stand-out features, such as 4K recording; what the TP-Link Kasa Spot KC105 brings are solid performance, excellent features and great 1080p video quality.

This new model gives you free cloud storage with two-days’ video history (or up to 1GB of footage), which should be enough for most people. If you want more storage, just pop a microSD card into the back and you’ll never need to pay for storage.

The app gives you all of the basics, including activity zones to focus on the areas that you want to monitor. We found that the KC105 picked up major movement but ignored smaller motion, preventing a flood of alerts. You can further reduce alerts with the scheduled do not disturb option, too.

Shooting at 1080p, the camera is capable of recording video in plenty of detail. Footage is better during the day, but IR nighttime footage is still good enough.

Any recorded clips are easy to find in the app, and they can be downloaded to your phone, too. There are Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant video streaming thrown in for good measure, too.

The TP-Link Kasa Spot KC105 is a little simple, but it covers all of the basics and covers them well, making it one of, if not, the best cheap smart security camera.

Read our full TP-Link Kasa Spot KC105 review


eufy 2k indoor security camera

Great for HomeKit Secure Video: Eufy Indoor Cam 2k Pan and Tilt

£47.99, eufylife.com | Amazon

Key features: HomeKit Secure Video, 2k footage, wired, local storage (microSD card), Alexa and Google Assistant streaming.

Given how cheap the Eufy Indoor Cam 2k Pan and Tilt is, it has no right to have so many features. Yet, this is one of the most feature-packed and useful smart home cameras that we’ve reviewed.

There’s excellent 2k video, which is sharp and detailed both during the day and at night, where you get black-and-white footage. With the option of a microSD card or HomeKit Secure Video, you don’t have any monthly fees to pay for video storage, either. It’s even got pet or person detection, although no facial recognition.

Have you got a naughty pet? You can use the Pet Command feature to draw a box around an area to watch. Every time a pet gets into the area, the camera can bark a command that you’ve recorded to get them to stop what they’re doing.

If that wasn’t enough, the name gives away that this camera has a motor, letting it spin around to track motion automatically, giving you a far wider field of view than a fixed camera, even if the movement is a little jerky. It’s a shame that the vertical viewing angles aren’t so good, as it’s hard to see the floor if you place the camera on a shelf.

Two-way audio is included, although the 2K Pan and Tilt’s speaker is a little on the quiet side; fortunately, there’s a built-in siren that you can use to grab attention. For privacy, you can use geofencing to turn off video recording and push notifications when you’re home, and back on when you go out.

Things can’t be all perfect, and the camera is rather ugly, drawing far too much attention to itself. Switch to use HomeKit Secure video and you lose pan and tilt (you can still do this in the app), and the Pet Command feature. Even so, for the price, it’s hard to get this many features elsewhere.

Read our full Eufy Indoor Cam 2k Pan and Tilt review


reolink 4k cheap camera

4K budget camera: Reolink RLC-810A

£94.50, reolink.com | Amazon

Key features: 4K, wired, local storage (microSD card).

Most budget cameras have a 1080p resolution, but the Reolink RLC-810A trumps this with a 4K video sensor. Impressively, the camera still costs less than £100. It’s not as though Reolink has cut corners in the design, either, with the boxy camera made out of metal, rather than plastic.

There’s no Wi-Fi, though, and you have to hook this camera up to your network via Ethernet. For convenience, you can use Power over Ethernet (PoE) to deliver data and power over a single network cable; there’s an optional 12V power adaptor connection, too. Neither a power adaptor nor a PoE injector is included, so you’ll need to budget for the power supply, too.

Once hooked up, the camera gives you basic monitoring control, including activity zones, and the ability to schedule both notifications and when the camera can and can’t record. You can even set the camera to warn you about your choice of people, vehicles or all motion.

There’s currently no cloud support at the moment, but the camera has a microSD card slot underneath a screw-in panel for security. Just make sure you set the high-quality stream option otherwise clips are downloaded at low resolution. There’s no option to stream video using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, either.

Basic it may be but the Reolink RLC-810A shoots excellent video. With the 4K sensor, the RLC-810A shoots footage that is far more detailed than on any other budget camera we have tested: even black-and-white nighttime footage is sharper than we’re used to.

If you just want the best-quality footage, then this is the camera to buy.

Read our full Reolink RLC-810A review


blink mini

Cheap and simple home security: Blink Mini

£35, Amazon

Key features: Cloud, Full HD, wired, local storage (requires Sync Module), Alexa Assistant streaming.

Simple, cheap and with no frills, the Blink Mini gets you decent home security for just $35. That’s incredible value and it currently includes free cloud storage but beware, this runs out in March 2021 and, after that time, you’ll either need to subscribe or shell out for the Blink Sync Module 2 so that you can add a USB flash drive for storage.

Upgrading to the Sync Module 2 may make sense if you plan on adding other Blink cameras into the mix, maybe extending your security outside of your home (see Blink Indoor and Outdoor entry below).

This tiny indoor security camera is powered by USB, and you get a 6-foot cable in the box, which makes placement pretty easy. There’s only a 110-degree field of view, though, so you’ll need to angle the Blink Mini to capture the area that you want.

You don’t get much in the way of features bar activity zones, which simply let you choose the areas of the image to focus on. There’s no person or animal detection with this model.

Video footage is very good, with sharp video during the day and clean black-and-white footage at night. We’d say that the Blink Mini’s footage is actually a little bit sharper than the Wyze Cam’s video.

As Blink is owned by Amazon, there’s Alexa streaming included but you can’t stream to Google Assistant smart displays, which could be a dealbreaker for some.

The lack of features may make an alternative camera better for some, but you’ll end up paying a lot more. If you just want quality video without overpaying for hardware, this is a great choice.

Read our full Blink Mini Review


blink indoor home security camera

Amazing battery life: Blink Outdoor + Indoor

From £79.99, Amazon

Key features: Cloud, Full HD, wireless, local storage (USB flash drive), Alexa streaming.

Having to remember to charge outdoor cameras can be a real pain, but not so with the Blink Outdoor + Indoor. These cameras will run for up to two years on a set of AA batteries, but add the optional battery pack ($30 / £30, coming later this year) and you can get up to four years. Placement of cameras can affect this, and putting your camera in a busy area will deplete battery life faster.

The first pack you buy must include one camera and the Sync Module. You plug the Sync Module into your home network and then the Blink cameras talk wirelessly through that. Additional cameras can be bought individually, and the Sync Module is compatible with the Blink Mini and older Blink XT2, too.

Gone is the free cloud storage, but you can plug in a USB flash drive to give you local storage instead.

Both of the new models have the same specs (1080p video, 110-degree field of view, IR night vision, motion detection and two-way audio), but the outdoor model costs $10 more because of its waterproofing.

As you’d expect from an Amazon company, the Blink Outdoor and Indoor cameras play nicely with Alexa, and you can watch a live feed on an Echo Show, use the camera’s motion sensors to trigger routines, and even arm and disarm the system with your voice (plus by app or by schedule). There’s no Google Assistant support, but IFTTT is there.

As the cameras are small, it’s easy to mount them where you want. Once in place, the cameras are basic (they detect motion but lack features such as person detection), but you do get Activity Zones, which are usually a paid-for upgrade on other battery-powered cameras. Image quality is basic: you can see what’s going on, but the footage was often blown out or a bit grainy, particularly at night.

There are better cameras on this list that will shoot higher-quality video, but the low price, local storage and easy ability to add extra cameras into the mix makes Blink an attractive all-in-one security camera system.

Read our full Blink Indoor + Outdoor review


ring stick up cam

Great for Alexa and Ring Alarm owners: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

From £89.99, Amazon

Key features: Cloud, Full HD, wired, Alexa streaming, Ring Alarm compatible.

With the Stick Up Cam, Ring is showing that you don’t have to turn to the smaller manufacturers to get a quality camera. This indoor/outdoor model is available as a battery version (that we tested) or plug-in version, with both costing the same amount.

The battery version gives you more flexibility in the placement, which could be handy if you want to install the camera outside, and you can add a solar panel or indoor/outdoor power adaptor to keep the camera charged.

With this model, you don’t get activity zones, although you do get a good degree of customisation over the PIR motion sensor, and can turn off one of three zones to reduce alerts. Particularly for outside installations, you can use privacy zones to blank out parts of the picture.

Both versions of the camera give you clear two-way talk via the live view. And, both require a subscription to Ring Protect if you want to store video clips in the cloud.

Ring Protect is well-priced, particularly if you have multiple cameras and the Ring Alarm. And, with the Ring Alarm, you can set your cameras to turn on and off based on the alarm’s mode, which is a very powerful way of maintaining privacy and security and goes some way towards making up for the lack of geolocation.

The footage is good, rather than outstanding, as we’ve come to expect from Ring. Colors outside were a little washed out and muted, and you get quite soft footage at night when the camera switches to black-and-white mode.

As an Amazon-owned company, Alexa integration is excellent, with the camera just showing up in the Alexa app automatically; there’s no Google Assistant integration. You do get IFTTT support, though.

If you’re after a simple battery-powered camera that you can place anywhere, this is a great choice, particularly if you have other Ring devices.

Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam review


wyze $20 camera

The absolute cheapest security cam: Wyze Cam

$19.99, wyze.com | Amazon

Key features: Cloud, res, wired/wireless, local storage, Alexa and Google Assistant streaming.

More than just a sub-$20 budget security camera, the Wyze Cam can also come as a kit that gets you contact sensors and a motion sensor, all for less than $50. Impressively, a new version of the camera has been announced that will cost the same but adds in waterproofing.

Although it’s easy to think of the sensors as giving you a complete alarm system, without a siren you’d need to keep a close eye on notifications to spot an intrusion.

Instead, think of this as a complete smart home system. Thanks to IFTTT integration, for example, you can turn on a light when motion is detected and turn it off when no motion is detected. You can use the sensors in the app to tell you when a door has been opened, and you can use the system to tell you if a door was left open or closed. You can also use IFTTT rules to activate and deactivate your cameras from recording, either with geolocation or Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant.

Thanks to the Alexa and Google Assistant Skills, you can also stream footage directly to a smart display, although the initial connection can be slow.

We found motion detection to be hit and miss with person detection turned on but adjusting the camera so that it could more easily capture entire people (head to toe) made the camera much more reliable.

Image quality is excellent during the day and at night, with the camera producing video that could easily have been shot on its more expensive competition. It’s good to see free cloud storage (12-second clips stored for up to 14 days), although you can just install a microSD card and skip the cloud altogether. You get all the other features you’d expect including two-way talk.

If you don’t want the extra sensors, you can ditch these and buy the camera standalone for $19.99. UK readers should note that you can’t buy this camera here, but the Neos SmartCam (£19.99) is effectively the same product.

Read our full Wyze Cam & Wyze Sense review


aqara g2h camera

Smart hub bonus: Aqara Camera Hub G2H

From £43.99, Amazon

Key features: HomeKit Secure Video, Alexa streaming, Zigbee hub.

As an inexpensive way to add both a smart camera, a hub and some smart sensors to your home, the G2H is a top choice.

If you're looking for a solid security camera and want to enhance your smart home with some handy sensors, the Aqara G2H indoor camera is an excellent choice. Thanks to its Zigbee hub you can pair any of Aqara's devices - sensors, lights, switches, and more - and kit out a really good home automation system.

The Aqara cam has 1080p HD video with 24fps, night vision up to 8 meters, and a 140-degree field of view.

The downside of Aqara's system is that it only works with Aqara devices - you can't pair Zigbee products from other manufacturers.

But any Zigbee devices paired with the camera that have HomeKit profiles will show up in HomeKit (door/window sensors, motion sensors etc.) and also in Alexa.

That HomeKit connection is another big selling point and it also has HomeKit Secure Video, which ads more customizable activity zones, person/pet detection, facial recognition, and cloud storage to view your recorded videos.

Read our full Aqara Camera Hub G2H review


cheap outdoor security camera

Easy to install outdoor camera: TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200

From £79.99, tp-link.com | Amazon

Key features: Cloud, 1080p, wired, Alexa and Google Assistant streaming.

As with the indoor model, the TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 is a simple, well-priced outdoor camera that gets all of the basics right. It’s a little cheap looking, but at least it’s easy to spot, which is half the point of external cameras.

Powered by USB, you’ll either need to drill a hole in your wall or use a protected power socket, as the USB adaptor is not weatherproof, even though the main camera is IP65 certified; TP-Link sells an optional extension cable with waterproof housing if you need more length than the provided 5m/16ft cable gives you.

You get free cloud storage with two days of video history (up to 1GB of storage) and people in the US can upgrade to get more storage space. There’s no microSD card on this model for local storage, though.

You can set activity zones to cut down on the notifications that you get, and schedule when you do and don’t want to get alerts. You miss out advanced features that you get elsewhere, such as person detection.

Shooting at 1080p with a 130-degree wide-angle lens, the camera shoots decent video both during the day and at night, when IR lights turn on to give you black and white footage. The same can’t be said for audio recording, which always makes it sound as though you’re shooting video in a hurricane. We do like the 80dB alarm for warning off would-be thieves, as this proves better than the two-way talk option. There’s support for streaming to Amazon Echo and Google Assistant devices, too.

Although it’s quite a simple camera, the TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 gets all of the basics right and shoots decent video, all for a great price.

Read our full TP-Link Kasa Cam Outdoor KC200 review


Best budget home security cameras: Cheap cams that do the job

Best for night footage: Ezviz C3X

From £129.99, ezvizlife.com | Amazon

Key features: Cloud recording, Full HD, wired, local storage (microSD card), Alexa and Google smart display streaming.

For the Ezviz C3X, the company has done something different that we’ve not seen in an outdoor security camera before: it has used two sensors. One captures ambient brightness and one captures color detail, with the two combined at the end into a Full HD image.

The result is that you get full-color video during the day and night. The camera’s spotlight helps at night, giving that extra bit of light to bring out the detail in the captured footage. It all works brilliantly, with the C3X shooting some of the best nighttime footage that we’ve seen. You can stream to a smart display using the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant skill.

You can record video to the cloud, although Ezviz’s service is relatively expensive; you can save money by switching to use a microSD card, fitted under the screw-in panel underneath the camera.

Installation is straightforward, and you just need to run power to where you mount the C3X. It uses Wi-Fi by default, picking up a strong signal thanks to the two rather ugly antennas on the side, although you can use Ethernet if you prefer.

Activity zones let you mark areas of the picture that you want to watch, cutting down on false alerts, although there three different activity zone options to choose from, which is confusing. And, the default detection settings, which play a loud siren when motion is picked, up are very annoying.

A slightly clunky app and expensive cloud storage are the main drawbacks, but if you just want to capture the best-quality footage, particularly at night, this is a great outdoor camera.

Read our full Ezviz C3X review


Best budget home security cameras

Wireless outdoor budget camera: Reolink Argus 3

From £119.99, reolink.com | Amazon

Key features: Cloud (US), 1080p, wireless, local storage (microSD card), Alexa and Google Assistant streaming

Going wireless tends to add to a camera’s price, as does the waterproofing to make an outdoor model. Somehow, Reolink has managed to cover both and the Argus 3 is still only $109/£119.99. Not that you can tell that this is a budget camera, as the sleek exterior makes it look as good as a high-end Arlo camera.

You have to remove the entire camera to charge the battery, but you can buy the Reolink solar panel to keep the battery topped up automatically. It’s a worthwhile investment, as it takes the hassle out of trying to keep your cameras charged.

If you live in the US, you get free cloud storage for one camera, with seven days of history; if you want more storage, then you can upgrade, although the plans aren’t that competitive compared to those the big-brands have.

There is a microSD card slot underneath for offline, free storage, although be careful of this option: when you download footage, it comes at a resolution of 640x480, rather than the camera’s Full HD. Only taking the SD card out gives you access to the full quality.

The footage is so-so, and a little soft around the edges both during the day and at night, when the Argus 3 turns on its spotlights to capture full-color night video. As well as viewing via the app, which gives you two-way talk, you can stream footage to Alexa or Google Assistant devices.

Features are a little thin on the ground, and you don’t get activity zones with this model, so be careful where you point it and adjust the motion sensitivity to suit. It’s a little basic, but you’ll find it hard to get a wireless camera for less.

Read our full Reolink Argus 3 review


Best cheap security camera

Smart home security camera glossary

Resolution
The size (in pixels) of the video that the camera shoots. Most cameras have at least a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is the same as HD TV. At this resolution, you’ll get sharp enough video to see what’s going on in most cases, although some cameras can use high video compression, reducing image quality. For more detail, you’ll need a camera that can shoot at 2K (2048 x 1080) or even 4K (3840 x 2060). The downside of higher resolution cameras is that they need more storage space to store the video files.

Night vision
The ability of a camera to shoot video when it’s dark. Most cameras use InfraRed (IR) LEDs to light up the night, shooting video in black and white. Night vision means that you can see what’s going on at any time, although IR does tend to make the picture softer. Some cameras use a variety of techniques to shoot color video at night, either using a spotlight to increase ambient light or more sensitive camera sensors. Full-color night vision will give you more detail.

Wired
These cameras have to be plugged into the mains, which usually makes them cheaper. Another advantage is that you don’t have to think about dealing with batteries, and the cameras will keep working as long as they have power.

Wireless
These battery-powered cameras are easier to place, as you don’t have to worry about running a power cable. You’ll need to keep them charged and you typically pay more for the privilege. Wireless cameras often have fewer features than their wired counterparts, relying on PIR motion detection (see below).

Motion detection
All security cameras can use motion detection to start recording automatically. There are two main methods. PIR motion detectors use the same kind of technology used in alarm motion sensors. Typically you get PIR motion sensors on battery-powered cameras, as they use little juice. When motion is detected, the PIR sensor wakes up the main camera to start recording. Plug-in cameras use the full picture and digitally detect motion. This method is often more accurate and it’s easier to filter out areas of the picture that you don’t want with activity zones; few battery-powered cameras have activity zones, so tend to record and notify you more.

activity zones

Activity zone
Activity zones let you draw on an image the areas that you want to monitor (as per the image above). All other areas of the picture are ignored, so you’ll only get notification about movement in important places.

Object recognition
Cameras can often now detect certain types of objects. The most common categories are people, animals or vehicles. Cameras that can spot these objects can be told to only notify you about the ones you’re interested in, so you may only want warnings when people are spotted. At the high-end, some cameras have facial recognition built-in, which lets it tell you who was spotted.

Two-way talk
With two-way talk, you can have a conversation with anyone that you can see in the camera’s live feed. It’s a useful way to scare people off, but many systems can suffer from a huge amount of lag and you can be hard to hear.

Field of View
Every camera has its field of view listed in degrees, usually listed as diagonal. The wider the number, the wider the field of view and the more the camera can see. Typically speaking, 110-degrees is the minimum you want, with 120-degrees pulling in a bit more. Go for 130-degrees or higher if you want to see a lot of what’s going on. This is particularly important outside, where you’ll have a larger area to cover; inside, where there are walls, you’ll hit natural barriers, and you’ll have more choice over where to place your camera, so going super-wide-angle isn’t as important.

stream camera on echo show

Home assistant integration
Most cameras can integrate with a smart assistant, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Check that your camera can work with your voice assistant. At the minimum, these skills will let you stream video to a smart display, such as an Amazon Echo Show. More advanced features can include the ability to arm or disarm your camera.

HomeKit Secure Video
If you find a camera that supports HomeKit Secure Video, then you can integrate the camera with the Apple Home app on your phone, and use Apple’s secure cloud-video storage. This can save money, but be aware that using HomeKit Secure Video can disable some camera features that are only available using the native app and storage.

Cloud storage
Cloud storage keeps recorded footage online. You’ll normally need to subscribe to a plan, although some cameras have basic cloud storage for free. The main advantage of cloud storage is that if your camera is damaged or stolen, all of your footage is securely stored.

Local storage
If you don’t want to pay for cloud storage, look out for local storage, which is usually provided by inserting a microSD card into a camera. With local storage, there are no fees to pay, but you’ll lose the footage if the camera is stolen.

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