Most people buy a security camera to watch out for intruders, but that is just one way you can use these smart devices.
Security cameras can help manage all manner of household tasks, from deliveries, checking on your pets and even recording the activities of birds and animals in your garden.
Some require specific features – like animal motion detection, and you’ll want to make sure a camera ticks important boxes, like good quality footage. Our reviews and advice can help – read on to find out how you could get more from a wireless camera.
Wireless camera reviews – browse more than 40 indoor and outdoor security cameras all expertly tested in our lab.
1. Home security
The clue’s in the title here – the primary reason you buy a wireless security camera is to make your home more secure.
Whether placed inside your home or mounted on the outside, these cameras can alert you if they spot or hear any suspicious activity so you can take action. All cameras have motion detection, so they will send you an alert – however, there can be differences in how sophisiticated and customisable detection works.
For example, some cameras let you set detection zones so you are only alerted if they spot anything in that area. Others offer specific functions for detecting people, faces, cars and even parcels that have been delivered, but you often need to sign up for an additional subscription to unlock this.
Our reviews detail exactly what detection features a camera offers, and if you have to pay extra for them.
For additional peace of mind, discover five ways smart tech can keep an eye on your home.
2. Watch your pets
Many people use an indoor security camera to help them feel connected to their pet dog or cat while away from home. You can check on what the animal is doing and talk to them if they are seeming anxious or doing something naughty.
All cameras we’ve tested have two-way talk and so should be suitable for communicating with your canine and feline friends.
Some outdoor security cameras can detect animals and alert you accordingly – check the tech specs in our wireless camera reviews to see if the model you’re considering includes an Animal Detection feature. This could generate an alert for your own pet, or a neighbour’s cat annoyingly trying to do its business in your garden.
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3. Manage parcel deliveries
We’re all buying more and more things online, and that means a steady stream of delivery drivers leaving parcels at your home. An outdoor security camera can keep an eye out for an deliveries, and you can then instruct the person to leave the item in the safest place possible.
We also flag if cameras we’ve reviewed have package detection so they can spot if a parcel has been left in your garden.
You should also consider getting a smart doorbell as they are specifically focused on helping you manage visitors and deliveries to your front door.
4. Keep an eye on your home while you’re away
Even if you are just going away for a weekend, it can give peace of mind to be able to check in on your home via a wireless camera.
Whether that’s just for the occasional reassurance that all’s quiet on the home front, or to show off your snazzy new tech to a friend, ultimately that camera provides you with eyes and ears on your home that are accessible from your smartphone whenever you feel like checking in.
Read our guide on how to buy the best smart security system for more ways to safeguard your home.
An outdoor security camera can be used to watch for bird and animal life in your garden. You can record clips of the various creatures that visit while you’re away, and then share them on social media.
As above, go for a model with animal detection if you can, such as the Arlo Pro 4, and then it will alert you and record a clip automatically.
You’ll want a good resolution HD camera so that you can see the pictures you’ve recorded in the best possible detail, either in the day or at night.
6. Use it as a baby monitor
You can potentially use an indoor security camera to watch over your sleeping baby, as they will alert you to the infant crying so you can attend, or even try and soothe them through the microphone.
However, dedicated video baby monitors offer useful additional features, such as parent units, room temperature sensors and sound sensitive lights.
Make sure you check our baby monitor reviews before you make your decision. And don’t use a cheap and poor quality wireless camera as a baby monitor.
7. Talk to someone while you’re out
Most cameras have two-way talk functionality, meaning you can hear what is going on near the camera, such as someone talking, but also speak through the camera via the smartphone app.
So, you could greet a visitor while you are out, or yell at an intruder to get off your property or you’ll call the police.
With an indoor camera, it can also come in handy to talk someone through a tricky task, or simply to tell the kids off for fighting if you spot them on the camera feed.
8. Keep an eye on elderly relatives
If you have an elderly relative, you could place a security camera where the person lives to keep an eye on them.
This can be useful to spot if they have fallen over or there is a problem at the house, or even just to check in and see how they are doing via the two-way talk.
Just make sure that they have given the permission for you to set the camera up so that their privacy isn’t unfairly intruded.
9. Home automation
Many wireless cameras can be used as part of home automation routines involving connecting gadgets together into set routines.
There are various home automation systems, such as If This Then That, which enable you to sync up smart gadgets into routines, such as a security light being activated when a camera detects movement. Likewise, many security cameras will work with Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Homekit to enable you to connect devices and control the system with your voice.
Bear in mind that some brands or types of devices won’t work with each other, so do your research before investing heavily in a system.
Browse our range of smart speaker and smart display reviews to find some great value ways to kick-start a smart home with a voice assistant.
10. Neighbourhood watch
Finally, it might be that your camera has captured something that is useful to a neighbour who has been the victim of a crime.
Go for a wireless camera with the capacity to store video clips for a period longer than 24 hours, and then if required you can dip back into your archive and see if there is any useful footage.
However, it is equally important that your camera does not infringe the privacy of your neighbours, so be careful when setting it up that it only films in the border of your property. Read more about the legalities of recording video at your home.