Home security cameras are seemingly taking over the home security industry. It seems like every other day a new home security camera hits the market, vying for your attention and money. What happened to traditional home security systems? Here’s the skinny:

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Convenience

A home security camera is usually easier to set up than a home security system. Depending on the security system, you might need to set an appointment for a professional to install your system. It could take hours, stringing wires and drilling holes to install the base unit and various sensors. With a security camera, all you do is plug it in, turn it on, and sync it with your phone.

Definitely easier, right? Many people don’t realize, however, that several home security companies will send you self-install, wireless security systems. Yep! It’s true! These systems have all the features of a traditional system (base unit, door/window sensors, security cameras, smart home devices) without the wires and the drilling. And you can usually install them in about half an hour.

No monthly fees

Monthly fees associated with traditional home security systems can be a significant deterrent. You’ve already got enough bills to worry about, right? With all the subscriptions you maintain for Netflix, Spotify, your phone, utilities… why would you add another thing to the list? And home security monitoring can be expensive, right?

Well, here’s the truth. Some home security cameras have monthly fees anyway. You can probably get away with not paying them and have a live video feed on your phone whenever you want. But if you want cloud storage for video footage, you’ll be paying a monthly fee. Depending on the camera, this can cost only a few dollars or dozens.

What about traditional home security systems? They’re actually less expensive than you think. For example, Protect America offers a base package of $19.99 per month that doesn’t include any activation or equipment fees. It connects to your landline for 24/7 monitoring by a center staffed by certified security professionals. That’s better than just receiving a push notification on your phone whenever your dog runs through the living room.

Warranties

A home security company worth its salt will have an extended warranty on all its equipment. The best-case scenario is when the company has a lifetime guarantee on all its equipment. This means that if anything fails to work due to no fault of your own, the company will replace it without charge. That’s pretty awesome.

When it comes to home security cameras, lifetime warranties are a bit rarer. You can probably find a warranty if something breaks within a 30- to 90-day period, but a lifetime warranty is going to be harder to find. Besides, dealing with customer service from a larger corporation could be an enormous hassle. Working with a smaller home security company is the way to go if you want personalized service and customer care.

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The verdict

A home security camera might be the right option for you if you’re looking for something that does just the basics. You’ll have the ability to monitor areas of your home from your phone or tablet, and you’ll receive a notification if the camera detects movement. However, you’ll probably pay a monthly fee if you want to have video storage in the cloud.

It would pay to research the best home security companies before deciding on just a camera, though. You’ll probably find a home security system within your budget with a host of other features, including door sensors, window sensors, motion detectors, smoke detectors, and more.