Our pick for the best Z-Wave Camera is the SANNCE 1080N. This system comes with 4 720-pixel weatherproof high-definition cameras with 24 Infrared LEDs for night vision. You also receive a high capacity 1-Terabyte digital video recorder that you program to record only when convenient.
The Foscam 720P is our next best choice for a Z-Wave camera. You get the option of easy access remote viewing of your property from your smartphone. The can also view your property in 720-pixel high-resolution day or night with automatic vision control and listen in on any visitors. The camera is also protected with lifetime tech support.
The HISVISION 1200TVL is your budget pick for a camera. It comes with a built-in high resolution camera capable of viewing objects up to 100 feet at night. The camera is also gain controlled for changing lighting conditions and it can be plugged into a wide array of recorders. You also get lifetime product support.
Understanding Z-Wave Camera
Choosing a home security system can be one of the most tasking decisions that you can make. You don’t want to spend a great deal of money on a lousy camera, but a cheap camera could also be second-rate. At the same time you might be anticipating updating your home to a Smart Home. You might have recently completed a smart update and now you want to add security.
The conventional option for connecting a Smart Home is to use WiFi, but this is not without its drawbacks. Typical WiFi networks are energy and bandwidth hungry. This feature is acceptable when you are browsing the web or watching movies, because they are high-bandwidth applications. You wouldn’t want your security cameras obstructing your network around the clock. WiFi also has the weakness in that it is only distributed from a central hub. Interference, hacking, or even vandalism can damage the network hubs.
Another common option is Bluetooth, which functions as a network for connecting nearby computers. You could be using it at this moment to stream music to a speaker from your smartphone. The disadvantage of Bluetooth is that its signal is very close range, requiring all the devices to be in close proximity. This can be a challenge when you are securing a space the size of your home.
You could also use ZigBee, which is much more resilient than the above schemes. ZigBee functions by creating a mesh network to connect devices. Mesh networks function by using each connected device as a node in the network. Any message produced by a device is distributed to other devices until it arrives at the central hub of the network. It is also very low powered and can be battery powered for years between cell replacements. The difficulty with ZigBee is that you need some expertise to set it up.
Finally there is Z-Wave, and it works much like ZigBee. It also uses mesh networks for robust connections and can be run for years off batteries. The main difference between the two is that Z-Wave uses a much lower communications frequency. Backers of Z-Wave claim that it is less prone to interference compared to conventional networks. The challenge with using Z-Wave is that it is not a mainstream protocol for Smart Homes, but that is rapidly changing. The technology has matured in recent years and it is increasingly being used in surveillance systems.
You should expect a functional system to have these components:
Security Cameras: Today cameras are available in many forms and with many features. The real trick is to select a Z-Wave camera that is reliable and best serves your needs. You can find cameras packaged in domes, bullets, or as covert units. You will also find that a diverse set of resolutions, lenses, and mounting options are available.
You will generally want to buy a camera with a short focal length and a wide viewing angle. They are ideal for monitoring enclosed spaces like your living room. The opposite is true for large outdoor spaces. Long focal length cameras with narrow viewing angles work best outdoors watching large open areas like yards.
DVR: Digital Video Recorders are now a common feature on security camera systems. The recorder is used to store and manage incoming news feeds. The number of monitored feeds can be as few as four and as high as sixteen depending on your needs and budget. They can be analog or digital, but digital units are the most prevalent today. Typical recorders use a hard drive, but flash drives are also becoming available. Flash drives are more durable than hard drives and have nearly the storage capacity. Today you also have the option of storing the footage in the cloud. The cloud stores your video at a remote location on the Internet and any captured evidence is safe from theft or fire.
Power Supply: All camera systems will need a power supply. Today 24 volt Alternating Current and 12 volt Direct Current supplies are common. The power supplies are available in single, four, nine, and sixteen camera configurations. Today many systems are wired using Siamese cables. The cables function by transmitting power directly from the digital video recorder (DVR) to the camera. Today you should expect many wireless cameras to have their own built-in power supply. You should also expect all but a few cameras to have the power supply included.
How We Selected
Video Resolution: Surveillance cameras are available in both wired and wireless configurations. The advantage of wireless cameras is that they can be placed anywhere on your property without the difficulty of wiring Ethernet cables to a switch or a central hub. While physical connections are ideal, they can be painstaking to install and fix. Z-Wave cameras solve the problem by replacing the cable with a simple sturdy radio frequency connection.
You should generally purchase cameras with the best resolution available. Before you buy you should already know which areas of your property need surveillance. People typically choose to watch the entrances and windows of their home. If that is your intention, than a 2-megapixel camera should be adequate. You should double the resolution of the camera for larger areas like backyards and sports fields.
Night Vision: The world can be a dark place; otherwise you wouldn’t be considering security. You need to choose a camera that can clearly see intruders in the darkest of night and at great distances. You really should consider purchasing a camera with both conventional and night vision features. Luckily, these features are often combined these days. Many cameras include built-in Infrared LED illuminators. You need to purchase these cameras with great care because their quality varies widely.
Motion Detection: All security cameras available today should have the capacity for motion activation. It is no longer practicable to set-up and monitor all the video feeds around your property. Modern hard drives and cloud storage do have high capacity, but it is still infeasible to check every feed. Modern computers have made cameras that are motion activated. Today they can be programmed to record only when they detect suspicious activity. Modern motion sensors use ultrasound, microwave, Infrared, or a combination of sensors.
Sound Detection: There is also the option of sound recording with modern cameras. Many cameras have built-in microphones that could be helpful for recognizing visitors to your home. For example, you could check that your children are safely home by their conversation. On many cameras you can now have full conversations with visitors on a two-way radio. You should also purchase cameras with this feature at great care. The performance can vary widely between manufacturers and models.
Remote Access: You will probably be away from home when a crime or a tragedy strikes. Sometimes it will just be a false alarm. Don’t panic! Remote Access is standard with many Z-Wave camera systems. Today you can monitor your property from the comfort of your desk using an Android or Apple smartphone. Today many manufacturers even let users manipulate the camera from their smartphone or computer browser.
1. Our Pick
The SANNCE 8CH 1080N Security Camera is your best choice. With this network you get the flexibility of high-definition weatherproof cameras that can work indoors or out. You also receive the option to configure your digital video recorder for any convenient input. You also get the comfort of many positive Amazon reviews.
High-resolution camera: Each of the 4 cameras are fitted with 720 pixel high-definition cameras. The cameras are weatherproof and have the capability of HDMI and VGA output. You can also monitor your property with night vision cameras fitted with 24 Infrared LEDs each.
DVR: The digital video recorder is built for flexible input options. You can input video using analog, TVI, or wireless options. You can also watch your property remotely from a smartphone application.
Web Access: You also have the option of monitoring your property from the comfort of your browser. The digital video recorder is capable of communicating with your Safari, Firefox, and Chrome browser.
Motion Activation: You have the option of selecting the activation range of the camera sensors. The system will also alert you to any potential intruders by email.
Flaws but Not Deal Breakers: Some consumers have complained that the wireless network is difficult to configure. There have been complaints that the user manual is difficult to understand.
2. Step-Up Pick
The Foscam HD 720P Outdoor WiFi Security Camera is a cheaper but still very capable security network. You have the flexibility of storing your security recordings anywhere that is convenient. You also get lifetime product support.
High-resolution camera: The camera is capable of 720-pixel resolution and can view up to 65 feet at night. You can also use it as a two-way radio and zoom onto objects of interest.
Customizable: You can configure the sensitivity of the camera. The system can be calibrated to alert you to a nearby intruder while ignoring the motions of a nearby tree. You can also set-up alerts on your smartphone and even schedule recording times.
Remote Access: The camera can be accessed from your smartphone or from any mainstream browser. You can even watch your home in real-time from a computer anywhere.
Secure Storage: You have the capability of storing your recordings locally or in the cloud. You can also share videos at no charge. The cloud service is available by subscription.
Flaws: Some consumers have complained that the live camera feeds are difficult to access remotely from their smartphone. Other consumers have complained about grainy night vision.
3. Best Outdoors
The Sumpple Wireless camera is an excellent option for outdoor surveillance. The 720 pixel high-resolution camera is fully weatherproof and can be wired or wireless. You can even configure it to alert you to activity around your house.
Remote Viewing: You can view your possessions anytime from the convenience of your smartphone or desktop computer. The camera is compatible with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers and can be remotely controlled.
Motion Detection: The camera can be set to take snapshots anytime it detects motion. You can also receive emails with photos of any suspicious behavior on your property.
Plug & Play: You can plug in the camera and use it with minimal effort. Each camera includes a QR code that can be scanned to pair it with the smartphone application.
Night Vision: Infrared illuminators are built-in to the camera to provide night vision. They will automatically switch on in poor lighting conditions.
Flaws: Some consumers have complained that the cameras are buggy. They might randomly become unresponsive requiring a reset.
4. Best Pan Tilt Camera
The Amcrest ProHD 1080P camera is a good choice for when you want to actively supervise your household. This camera can be remotely panned and tilted to watch visitors, like with an Airbnb. The camera also records in high-definition.
Smart Security: You can configure the camera to instantly alert you to any events at your home. The camera can also record events and stream the video to the Amcrest cloud, but other backups are available.
Resilient: You and the camera can safely watch accidents from as far as 32 feet away. The camera also includes Infrared illuminators for clear vision at night.
Secure Storage: Terrible accidents happen everyday. Your home could be vandalized or burned. The cloud will securely protect any criminal evidence far away from the action.
Reliable: Amcrest provides lifetime support for technical problems.
Flaws: Some consumers have complained that the camera will randomly cease functioning.
5. Best Camera Package
The Zmodo 720p HD is a good choice for a camera bundle. You get three high-definition cameras for the price of many single cameras. You also get quick and easy set-up.
High-resolution camera: Each camera is 720 pixel high-definition with 115-degree angle of view. You don’t need to pan the camera to watch the entire room. You can also communicate with people over a two-way radio attached to each camera.
Easy Setup: The camera can be turned on and connected to a network in minutes. You can also easily connect the camera to your Android or Apple smartphone.
Reliable: You get a 3-year warranty on the camera and lifetime tech support.
Flaws: Some consumers have complained that the cameras would randomly quit working without notice. Other customers have complained about difficulty connecting the feed to their smartphone.
6. Best HD
The Amcrest ProHD 1080P Camera provides 1080 pixel resolution at thirty frames per second.
Quick set-up: The Amcrest is built for quick setup and assembly. It only takes minutes to connect the camera to WiFi and you can watch your property from your smartphone.
High-resolution: The 1080 pixel high-definition camera is capable of recording at 30 frames per second. You can also view the space in 90-degree angles and up to 32 feet away at night.
Intelligent Alerts: The camera can be configured to send alerts when it observes motion. It can also be set to send snapshots and email alerts when triggered.
Flaws: Some customers have complained that the camera will randomly cease functioning. Others have complained about problems connecting to Firefox.
7. Best with Amazon Alexa
The Netvue 720P Wireless Camera is the choice for your smart home. It is capable of clear surveillance day or night and it can be mated to your Amazon Echo.
High-resolution camera: The camera shoots in 720 pixel high-definition. The camera also includes Infrared night vision.
Quick setup: The camera can be connected to your home Wifi in minutes. Once that is linked you can watch your property anytime from your smartphone.
Motion detection: You can adjust the motion detection to best serve your needs. The application will send you notifications, alarms, and pictures when triggered.
Smart home: The camera can be controlled from your Amazon Echo. Some Echo’s can even stream video feeds directly.
Customer support: You also receive lifetime technical support on the camera.
Flaws: Some customers have complained that the camera shoots poor snapshots. Others have also complained that you need a subscription to record any usable video evidence.
8. Best with subscription
The Nexia Wireless Indoor Camera is the best choice when you need a monitoring subscription. The contract can be ended at anytime.
High-resolution: The camera records at 720 pixel high resolution. This can be adjusted to compensate for lower bandwidth.
Night vision: You can also observe your home illuminated in Infrared.
Flexibility: The camera can use a wired Ethernet connection or a wireless connection.
Flaws: Some customers have complained about poor picture quality.
9. Best Baby monitor
The sleek YI 1080p Home Camera Indoor Wireless security system is your best pick for a baby monitor. It utilizes a 1080 pixel high-resolution camera connected to a powerful processor to broadcast on your network with little bandwidth.
Night Vision: The sensor uses 11 Infrared LEDs to softly illuminate the room without distracting the child.
Two Way Radio: There is also a hypersensitive noise-cancelling microphone for monitoring the baby. You can also communicate with the child using a small speaker.
Motion Detection: The camera also includes intelligent motion detection software. It will only alert you to important motions within the room.
Cloud Storage: You have the option of having all of your recorded videos compressed and stored on the cloud. This could prevent a thief from stealing the evidence and it makes your home much more secure.
Flaws: Some customers have complained about the quality of the WiFi connection. There have also been complaints about the camera producing a lot of noise interference on the radio.
10. Budget Pick
The HISVISION CCTV Home Surveillance system is your best option when you are pressed for cash. It features a high-definition camera with night vision, and it is compatible with many digital video recorders.
Night Vision: The camera provides 36 Infrared LEDs for up to 100 feet viewing at night. The camera can also view rooms at an eighty-degree angle.
Gain Control: The camera is programmed to automatically adjust for lighting conditions.
Versatile: The camera is compatible with most analog and digital video recorders.
Flaws: You will need to supply your own power and video cables to make it work. Some customers have also complained about the workmanship of the camera. They have complained that it quit working after only a few months.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need more than one camera?
A: Before you even consider purchasing a camera network, you should evaluate the risks to your property. How many entrances are vulnerable to theft or vandalism on your property? Is your space located in a larger building with its own security? If you are only protecting a single entrance, than one camera should be adequate.
For any space with more than one entrance, you really should buy multiple cameras with the system. You should also purchase cameras with night vision capability. Buy a minimum of four cameras for a small home or business. Each entrance should have a camera focused on it.
Q: Do I need to worry about lighting conditions?
A: While many structures are illuminated by streetlights at night, criminals can still attack dimly lit places. In this situation, you have two options. You can either upgrade the lighting or invest in Infrared cameras. You might not need an Infrared camera, because certain cameras are optimized to work in low light. When you are evaluating cameras, purchase a unit with the lowest LUX rating available. The lower the rating, the better the camera performs in low light.
Q: Will you be using the camera outdoors?
A: Indoor cameras have the feature of being smaller, lighter, and easier to conceal. Outdoor cameras will always be more expensive because they must be built to tolerate harsh weather and damage from thieves. Many of the highest quality units can be used indoors or out. Concealed cameras can be purchased at an additional cost.
Q: How wide of an angle do I need for a camera?
A: You should generally buy cameras with short focal lengths and wide viewing angles. They are ideal for watching small spaces like your office or living room. With the correct set-up, you can watch the entire room with one camera. Short focal length cameras will not be of help in the monitoring of large spaces like a sports field. Long focal length cameras with short viewing angles are ideal for this situation.
Q: What amount of resolution should I purchase?
A: You should generally purchase the best resolution available when buying cameras. This is however not always practical. High-resolution cameras have higher bandwidth and memory needs, that can be taxing on memory and wireless networks. When you are struck by tragedy, like a robbery it is essential that you quickly identify the perpetuator or their license plate. 2-megapixel camera resolution should be sufficient for most situations. When you are monitoring large expanses, upgrade to 4-megapixel units.
Q: Do I need weather hardened cameras?
A: Any cameras that you intend to use outdoors need to be hardened against the weather. You also need to consider the limitation of the technology. Cameras are optical systems just like your eyes, and they need to be shielded from rain and snow. People typically choose to mount cameras underneath structures like roof overhangs. You will also need to periodically clean and check cameras to maintain security.
Q: How easily can I set-up my camera system?
A: You should always consult with the instructions delivered by the manufacturer. Wired systems can be very tedious to assemble, but they are also very resilient to vandalism and interference. Wireless cameras are much easier to mount, but you will need expertise in configuring a secure network.
Q: How easily can I remotely view my property?
A: You must always consult with the user manual of the manufacturer before buying. Each camera system will have its own challenges with remote viewing. Cameras with built-in smartphone compatibility are preferred and becoming very common. Today many digital video recorders include the feature out of the box without custom configuration. You will need a reliable high-speed connection at your home and a good connection wherever you happen to be.
Q: Is the builder of the camera important?
A: You are encouraged to deal with businesses that are experts in security cameras. Don’t buy from a manufacturer that markets security as a side product. You should also expect that your Z-Wave camera network will break down at some point, and that technical support will be needed.
Q: What should I investigate before buying?
A: Before you purchase anything, carefully analyze the risks to your household or business. Where do you store your valuables? How many entrances do you need to monitor? Ideally you should place a camera in each room and record at the highest resolution available. Watching the outdoors is another option, but by no means required unless you have valuables outdoors. If you have important belongings outdoors, standard motion activated lights can be an easy upgrade without the expense of night vision cameras.
You are also sabotaging yourself if you purchase Z-Wave cameras without tech support. You should accept that you will encounter problems at some point, and guessing won’t help your security. I would also only purchase cameras with smartphone features, but this is increasingly becoming a non-issue. You should accept that at some point you will receive false alerts, and there is no point in calling the police for every incident.
Security warning can also go a long way towards providing security. Most criminals can probably be persuaded to attack elsewhere if they know they are being watched. You should always make sure that you place the stickers no matter which camera you purchase.
Q: What features should I avoid purchasing?
A: Buying any Z-Wave camera is a major decision. You need a camera that you can afford that is also reliable. You also need a camera network that provides many features. Regrettably, the industry is very unregulated and you can easily buy a lemon.
Buying Cheap: Buying a cheap camera can be a very risky option. Today many economical cameras market similar features to the more expensive competitors. The cut-rate cameras are often Do It Yourself (DIY) projects. You will find that many cameras can be difficult to set-up, use, and that the application software is below standard.
No Night Vision: Any space that is not illuminated at all time needs night vision. It is very easy for many buyers to overlook this feature or be confused by the hype. In many cases you will discover that cheap cameras produce grainy video that is completely unhelpful in identifying criminals. You are encouraged to contact a retailer and arrange a demonstration before you buy. You can also lookup security footage and reviews from existing customers.
Neglecting Subscriptions: Do not forget to consider any subscription fees that might be attached to your Z-Wave camera. Some camera networks are completely non-functional without a subscription fee that can be expensive. Some companies have known to sell cheap cameras attached to hefty subscriptions. You should always add the subscription fee to the final cost and be aware that there are fully featured cameras without fees.
Privacy: Security can be a two-edged sword. You can watch intruders, but they can also watch you. Your privacy can be easily compromised when you are using wireless networks or the cloud. Today many cameras are secured by 128-bit encryption or higher, but that is not always satisfactory. You should always choose a strong passcode to secure the network. There are also benefits to storing your video footage locally on a digital video recorder. Digital video recorders are much more resistant to hacking and interference than the cloud.
Gimmicks: You really don’t want to purchase the newest product or the latest Kickstarter campaign. New tools can be very cool, but they also have a reputation for being very risky. New companies collapse all the time and you will need tech support for years to come. Despite the best efforts of engineers, computer networks are hacked all the time. You will need periodic software updates to keep your system current and safe.
The Future: You should expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars on new Z-Wave cameras. The device that you ultimately purchase should be the perfect solution for your security needs, but it won’t be the final solution. Over time cameras become obsolete, and your security needs change. For example, you might need an extra camera to protect your new boat. Smart Home technology is also constantly evolving. You should only buy cameras that can be used across multiple platforms. It might also be wise to purchase cameras that can support multiple users.
Verifying Specifications: Specifications can be misleading at times. This can be deliberate on part of the manufacturer or simply that cameras are complicated. For example, a camera could have excellent resolution but a lousy frame rate. Poor hardware choices could give you a camera that works great in daytime and terribly at night. If you are unable to find reliable specifications, your best bet is to find footage shared by owners.
Plan for the Worst: You should always hope for the best and plan for the worst. When you are shopping for a new camera, ignore the marketing hype. For example, free cloud storage can be a cool but also totally unusable if it only lasts thirty seconds. Buying a poorly engineered camera can be as painstaking as being the victim of a crime. Make sure that you buy a camera that lets you easily store and retrieve evidence.
Wrapping It Up
The SANNCE 1080N security camera system is your best bet for home security. The cameras are high-resolution and built to take the worst abuse that the weather can throw. You also get a sizable 1-Terabyte of storage on a digital video recorder and the flexibility to watch your property from almost any computer browser. You also get the comfort of many positive Amazon reviews.