There are a lot of motion-activated cameras on the market. It can be difficult to sort through all of your options to find the best ones out there. To make your decision easier, consider the benefits and features that motion-activated cameras have to offer. Which features are most important to you? Which features will be the most useful in your home security system? Which benefits will bring you the most peace of mind?
Video Recording: How Long Does Your Camera Record?
Video recording is a standard feature across all security cameras, including those with motion detection. Video recording is unique to different types of cameras when considering what footage to capture. It also differs by camera when it comes to how that footage is stored.
Most motion-activated camera models will record video only when they detect suspicious activity. They are designed to do this so that you aren't stuck with hours upon hours of footage of a still, lifeless room. Footage without movement really doesn't benefit you in any way. Since these cameras are designed to record and store video only when there is movement, you save on storage space.
Different cameras record video for different lengths of time after they are activated. Most will continue recording and saving footage for 3-5 seconds after the camera stops detecting movement. Take the time to think about if you want a camera that records video for a long or a short time once it senses motion.
Video Storage: How Does Your Camera Store Video?
Video from a motion-activated camera can be stored several different ways, so you have the flexibility to choose a storage method that you feel comfortable with. The most common methods of video storage are via SD card and via cloud storage.
If you choose a camera that stores footage on an SD card (also known as a memory card), your video will be stored on that card. The SD card fits inside of the camera and keeps a record every time the camera's motion sensor is activated. Something to watch out for is how much memory your card has.. You'll want to choose a memory card that can hold a lot of footage, and you'll want to make sure you know how much room it has left to capture new video. If a memory card gets too full, your camera will begin to overwrite the oldest footage.
It is also important to note that an SD card needs to be removed from the camera in order to get the footage it carries. All you have to do is click it out of your camera and into a card reader. From there you can delete footage you no longer want. You can also export video you do want to save to a hard drive. This method of storage can be beneficial because it does not depend on a wi-fi connection.
If you decide to go with a camera that uses cloud storage, any video that your camera records will be automatically exported via wi-fi connection to the cloud. You'll have access to your videos anywhere that you can access your cloud storage, and you won't have to worry about removing an SD card from your camera to see what it has recorded. The cloud offers a lot of storage space, but it is always a good idea every now and then to make sure that you have enough room left to save new videos. Many services offer free cloud storage for the last 7-days of recordings.
If your wi-fi signal is disrupted, your camera won't have a way to connect to your cloud storage. Look for a camera that can back up footage while it waits for a wi-fi connection to be restored or for one that also offers memory card storage as a fail-safe.
Scheduling Feature: Does Your Camera Let You Schedule Alerts?
If you have a child who is home sick or a friend who is staying at your place while you are away at work, you probably don’t want your motion-activated camera to send you constant notifications. If you are home every evening, you don’t want your camera to go into red alert whenever you walk through your living room. It just isn’t productive to receive notifications that there is movement in your home when you are expecting someone to be there and finding a camera that has a scheduling feature can help you avoid that situation.
Conversely, you can also schedule your camera to be active while you are away. Say you normally have your camera set to ignore movement from 5:00 pm until bedtime every day because that’s when you spend time at home. If you were to go away on vacation, you could change that setting on your camera to monitor constantly since you know you won’t be around.
This feature helps your motion-activated camera work smarter and decreases the amount of unnecessary notifications you receive.
Power Source: How Does Your Camera Get Its Power?
Motion-activated cameras will either get their power from batteries or from an AC power outlet. Both methods of power have their benefits. If you choose an AC powered camera, you won't have to worry about battery life. On the other hand, if you choose a camera that uses batteries, you won't have to worry about your camera functioning in a power outage.
Two-way Audio: Does Your Camera Offer Two-Way Audio?
Cameras equipped with audio capabilities pick up audio where they are placed and can transmit it to your app. This allows you not only to see what is happening, but to hear it as well. With two-way audio, you have the option of talking back to your camera and transmitting your message in your home. Should intruders ever break into your space, you could tell them that the police are on their way. Hopefully, though, you'll only ever need this feature to tell your kids that they shouldn't eat snacks before dinner when you get a notification that there is activity in your kitchen.
Mobile App: Does Your Camera Come with a Mobile App?
In today's app-drive world, it is standard practice for a motion-activated camera to come with a security app. This feature allows you to see what your camera sees anywhere you go. It sets your mind free from having to worry about your home because you know that if anything suspicious happens, you will be notified right away and have the evidence of the suspicious activity. Security apps are incredible because they won't let you miss a thing.