10 Best Home Security Cameras for Airbnb Hosts – Updated for 2019
2019 Security Camera Reviews and Buying Guide
With the rise in home sharing through Airbnb short-term renting comes a need to protect one’s investment. After all, if your home ends up trashed or mistreated by a guest, you as the homeowner are the one who will be on the hook for repairs.
There are no shortage of horror stories of rentals gone wrong, such as the host in Toronto, Canada who had $21,000 worth of items stolen; or the host in Maryland whose home was used as the site of a wild party; and the host in Oakland whose home was rented by a drug addict who stole thousands of dollars worth of belongings and caused significant property damage.
One way to help protect your home from these sorts of things, as an Airbnb host, is to install security cameras. While Airbnb does offer a Host Guarantee Program, it is limited in what damages and losses it covers. Having video evidence from a security system can help with any potential claims, as well as dealing with the authorities.
While some hosts believe that the use of security cameras is a violation of the trust and community values the Airbnb platform is built on, others see no problem using them to protect their homes. There is much debate on both sides of the issue.
PROS AND CONS OF SECURITY CAMERAS
The pros of installing a security camera in an Airbnb homeshare include:
- Peace of mind
- Ensuring the correct number of guests
- Party prevention or deterrent
- Theft prevention or deterrent
- Personal security for hosts renting rooms in their homes
The cons of installing a security camera in an Airbnb homeshare include:
- Potentially fewer bookings
- Negative reviews should you not disclose the camera
- The upfront cost of cameras
- Any ongoing monitoring and maintenance costs to the system
AIRBNB GUIDELINES ON THE USE OF SECURITY CAMERAS
No matter which camera you decide to install, according to Airbnb’s rules, you must disclose their use. They also cannot be installed in private areas such as bathrooms or bedrooms. Recently, a host in Florida came under fire for this very thing. Not only is it a violation of Airbnb rules, but it is also potentially a criminal act under laws governing voyeurism. While hidden cameras like the Littleadd Hidden Camera Detector, FREDI Mini Camera, or FULAO “Nanny” Cam might seem appealing for watching over your property, they can cause a world of problems and are best avoided.
The type of camera you install will depend in large part on how you are sharing your home. Hosts renting their entire home are often concerned with parties, thefts, and other abuse of their property, while hosts who are renting rooms are more concerned with personal safety.
TYPES OF SECURITY CAMERAS
There are 4 main types of security cameras an Airbnb host might install. They include:
- Indoor Cameras: Indoor security cameras can be wireless or hardwired, and are available in many different styles and configurations to suit a homeowner’s needs. They are typically visible to hosts and guests.
- Outdoor Cameras: Outdoor security cameras can also be wireless or hardwired, and are available in many different styles and configurations to suit a homeowner’s needs. They can be hidden or fairly obvious, and have durable outer casings to protect them from the elements.
- Hidden/Spy Cameras: These types of cameras are difficult to spot, but can provide excellent surveillance. We do not recommend their use in a homeshare setting.
- Dummy Cameras: These cameras are not functional, but their very appearance can be enough to deter a would-be intruder, vandal, or other malicious acts.
SECURITY CAMERA FEATURES
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing a security camera for your homeshare property. They include:
- Ease of setup. Some units are easier to install than others, with a plug-and-play setup. Some cameras will require a trained technician to install. Consider how important ease of setup is when shopping for a home security system if you plan to install it yourself.
- Wired vs wireless. Generally speaking, wired systems provide better quality video than wireless systems, without the need to recharge or swap out batteries. Wired systems may require a trained technician to install, and will require the drilling of holes and the running of cables through your home. This can be messy and time-consuming. Generally, both types of systems can be installed ceiling- or wall-mounted.
- Working temperature. This is an important consideration for outdoor security cameras. If a camera flakes out during extreme weather, it’s useless and is something to keep in mind for areas that experience very hot or cold temperatures.
- Alerts. You’ll want to consider what type of alerts are possible and how the alerts are delivered when shopping for a security camera. Some systems send text messages, emails, or short videos clips when an alert is triggered. These can be sent via SMS, email, or in-app notifications depending on the system.
- Accessibility. Different systems are accessed differently. Some use a mobile app as a means of remote monitoring, while others are accessed via the web. Remote monitoring is ideal for those sharing their entire home, whereas someone who is sharing a room may find that web-based accessibility is enough.
- Video quality. At a minimum, you want a camera with 720p resolution, ideally 1080p. This is imperative for recording details such as facial features and license plates. Two-way audio is another nice feature to look for in a security camera, as you can not only access live and recorded audio, but you can also speak to your guests or delivery people. Cameras with tilt/pan/zoom allow you to find the ideal viewing spot, and a field-of-view of 130-degrees will provide solid coverage.
- Video storage. Whichever security camera you choose, you’ll need a way to store your recordings. Cloud-based storage is convenient for accessing but often comes with additional ongoing monthly fees and may be limited in amount. Hard drive storage can often hold a lot of footage, but is not easily accessible remotely, and requires another component to the system.
- Energy consumption or battery life. Depending on whether you choose a wired or wireless camera, you’ll want to consider how much energy it uses and if the batteries can be recharged or need replacing. Changing recording or alert settings can often extend the battery life of the camera, but at the cost of video quality.
- Night vision. This is more important on outdoor cameras, especially if you have guests arriving after hours. Being able to clearly see visitors in low-light settings is an important safety consideration.
- Reliability. You don’t want to be purchasing a new camera every year, or having a service technician come in for repairs every month. Choosing a system that is reliable will save you money over the long term while providing peace of mind that you and your home are protected.
- Cost. One final important consideration is price. Some security cameras simply require a one-time purchase for the camera itself, while others require the initial camera(s) purchase plus monthly subscription fees for monitoring. Be sure to factor in any recurring monthly costs when choosing a security camera system.
2019 Home Security Camera Reviews and Recommendations
NEST HOME SECURITY CAMERA REVIEW
The Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera is a solid choice for those looking for a weatherproof camera to keep tabs on the comings and goings at their rental property. It offers outstanding picture quality and a wide viewing angle, as well as being incredibly easy to install and setup right out of the box. Ultimately, the Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera is a great DIY choice for remote monitoring, although the annual monitoring costs can add up.
Why We Like It
Crisp, 1080p video. The Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera is one of the few outdoor security cameras to offer true 1080p HD video. This is great for identifying license plates and faces from up close and far away. The all-glass lens features a 130-degree field of view, and 8x magnification to catch details.
Weatherproof design. This camera is completely weatherproof, with several reviewers commenting on its ability to withstand even the harshest of extreme temperatures without compromising on video quality.
Nest Aware ease of use. Being able to monitor remotely via the Nest Aware app is a huge benefit for those who aren’t on site of their homeshare property. With features such as two-way audio and the ability to trim and share clips, users can ensure their property is always protected.
Easy setup. Most reviewers commented on how easy it was to set up the Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera. It comes with all required mounting hardware, and easy-to-follow instructions. Plus, the magnetic mounting base gives you more options when it comes to finding the ideal monitoring location. It is even compatible with Amazon Echo, for seamless smart home integration. Another added benefit of the indoor Nest camera unit is the Nest smart home management tool, which monitors CO2 levels and temperature.
Monthly monitoring costs. One of the biggest downfalls of the Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera system is that it requires a monthly subscription purchase in order to view saved videos. These options are similarly priced to traditional home alarm systems, but there are only two levels of packages and the costs can balloon if you have multiple cameras installed.
SAMSUNG WISENET SMARTCAM REVIEW
The Samsung Wisenet SmartCam is another great choice for DIY home monitoring and can be expanded to provide coverage of all a home’s entry points. It offers a wireless mounting system that is simple to install, and can be used both indoors and out. Video storage and app functionality are limited, which may be a consideration for homeowners who aren’t on site.
Why We Like It
Expandable security solution. The Wisenet SmartCam can be expanded to up to 16 cameras, to provide homeowners with a complete indoor and outdoor home monitoring system. It features a weatherproof design with two-way audio and night vision up to 24-feet.
Outstanding viewing angle. The Wisenet SmartCam features a 110-degree viewing angle and offers the ability to pan, so you can find just the viewing spot, or follow suspicious activity in case of an alert.
Long battery life. With up to 6 months battery life, the Wisenet SmartCam offers reliable indoor and outdoor video protection. It easily detaches from the included mounting base for quick battery changes.
Poor app reliability. Many users report that the app has issues with loading event clips, making reviewing footage a challenge. Neither the iOS nor Android apps have decent ratings, and it lacks rich features of other similar systems.
No cloud storage. While users can set the camera to record either continuously or only during an alert, the Wisenet SmartCam system does not offer cloud-based storage for recordings. There is a MicroSD card slot instead, so you will be limited storage-wise by the size of the memory.
RING DOORBELL SECURITY CAMERA REVIEW
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 offers a decent way to see your guests arriving and departing from your home, and is also useful for communicating with cleaning people or delivery people. While live view and motion-based recordings sometimes lag, the picture quality is clean and crisp. Ring’s customer service is also second to none. Overall, this is one of the best smart doorbells on the market and makes a nice addition to a homeshare monitoring system.
Why We Like It
High quality 1080p video. While previous versions of the Ring Doorbell offered 720p resolution, this version offers full HD 1080p images for detailed surveillance around the home. It offers a wide, 160-degree field of view to cover large portions of the home. The free Ring app lets users view footage on iOS, Android, MAC, and Windows 10 devices.
Ease of installation. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is simple enough for even the most tech-challenged to set up and offers the option of being hardwired or wireless. It comes with several faceplate color options to suit most home’s decor and features a quick-release rechargeable battery pack that lasts from 6-12 months per charge. It operates in -5°F to 120°F temperatures.
Connection issues. Many users report the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has issues connecting to their WiFi, and as such is not always reliable. It appears that the purchase of a Chime Pro unit from the company solves this issue, but is an additional cost to consider.
Video lag time. One common complaint about the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is that there is a lag when viewing the feed in real time, as well as for motion-activated recordings. This means homeowners could be missing crucial information in the event of an abuse of their property.
Subscription-based video storage. Ring offers two levels of video storage via a paid monthly subscription. The Basic package is $30 USD per year or $3 USD per month per camera, and the Protect package is priced at $100 USD per year or $10 USD per month for unlimited cameras.
Blink Security Camera Review
The Blink camera system is a great option for homes that want ample coverage at an affordable entry price. The video is clear and sharp, the additional sensors help keep tabs on the home, and unlike competitors, Blink offers free (minimal) cloud storage for recordings. What it lacks in features it makes up for in being a straight-forward, easy-to-use security camera system.
Why We Like It
Whole home coverage. Expandable to up to 10 cameras, the Blink can easily cover all entry points of one’s home. It features a completely wire-free setup that users love and sets up in just minutes. It offers 720p HD video resolution and a 110-degree viewing angle.
Built-in sensors. The Blink features a built-in motion sensor alarm and temperature sensor, so you can be alerted to potential problems sooner.
Phenomenal battery life. Blink says that the lithium-ion batteries in the camera should last for up to 2 years, so you’re not worrying about whether you’re covered or not. With an operating temperature of 32°F to 95°F, it’s suitable for use in moderate climates.
Free cloud storage. While some other companies charge a fee for cloud-based storage, the Blink offers up to 2 hours of recordings at no charge. Every time one of the WiFi cameras detects an event, it sends an alert to your smartphone and records a short clip of the event to the cloud for you to review later.
Lacking in features. The Blink camera offers an affordable home security camera solution, but it does trade off the availability of a lot of features to do so, and the app is described as “bare bones”. If simple is all you need, this camera is a decent choice.
MSRP: $249 for Ring Floodlight Camera Motion-Activated HD Security Camera with Two-Way Talk and Siren Alarm, White
Amazon review score: 4.3 out of 5
Amazon 5 star reviews: 72%
Ring Spotlight plugged-in HD security camera with built-in spotlights, two-way talk and a siren alarm. Works with Alexa: $199
RING FLOODLIGHT SECURITY CAMERA REVIEW
The Ring Floodlight Camera is a great choice for those looking for an integrated home protection system and easily installs into any current floodlight wiring. The lights are bright, the sensors are responsive, and the customer service is outstanding. Overall, this is a great choice for those with larger properties to monitor, or who want to clearly see what’s happening outside their home after dark.
Why We Like It
Nice all-in-one package. Not only does the Ring Floodlight Camera offer crystal clear 1080p HD video quality, it features two 3K kelvin floodlights that illuminate your property with customizable motion-based triggers. It boasts a weather-resistant design, with an operating temperature of -20°F to 120°F for use in even the harshest of climates, and the 110-decibel alarm sounds on suspicious activity.
Top-of-the-line features. Not only does the Ring Floodlight Camera offer smart zoom and panning, it features a 140-degree field of view and infrared night vision. The app, compatible with both iOS and Android devices, lets you stream video and audio in real time, with instant alerts sent to your smartphone, tablet or PC in case of suspicious activity.
Dedicated customer support. Ring prides itself on its customer support, many reviewers commented on how helpful support was whether it was for troubleshooting or installation assistance.
Camera feed issues. Similar to the Ring Video Doorbell 2, many users report problems with the Ring Floodlight Camera’s video feed not working consistently. Some users reported that a WiFi signal extender or resetting the camera fixed the problem. Because it is a hardwired device, power cycling requires turning off and on the connected circuit breaker.
Professional installation may be required. Since the Ring Floodlight Camera is a hardwired device, you may require a pro to install it unless you are particularly handy and comfortable working with electricity.
Subscription-based video storage. Ring offers two levels of video storage via a paid monthly subscription. The basic package is $30 USD per year or $3 USD per month per camera, and the Protect package is priced at $100 USD per year or $10 USD per month for unlimited cameras.
ARLO PRO SECURITY CAMERA REVIEW
The NetGear Arlo Pro is an excellent high-end home security system that is capable of being used both indoor or outdoors, and in a completely wireless manner. It boasts a sleek and stylish design and includes a “positioning mode” to help homeowners find just the right setup. While the daytime picture quality leaves a bit to be desired, it offers excellent night vision images even at longer distances. Overall, this is a great, intuitive system with a feature-rich app.
Why We Like It
Quick and easy setup. With plug-and-play setup right out of the box, users love the ease of the Arlo Pro camera. It can be wall- or ceiling-mounted, and thanks to its rechargeable batteries, offers infinite placement options. The batteries last 4-6 months and can be recharged without removing them from the camera unit.
Indoor or outdoor solution. The Arlo Pro features a weatherproof design that can be used both indoors and outdoors and offers a 130-degree field of view with night vision. The wire-free camera records in 720p HD, and come complete with two-way audio. The base station does need to be hard wired but comes with a 100 dB siren to help prevent tampering.
Different package choices. With more package options than both Nest and Ring, the Arlo Pro camera offers a monitoring solution for everyone. It does include 7 free days of cloud storage/recording and can connect to an external hard drive (via USB) to store recordings.
Recording limitations. One of the biggest complaints about the Arlo Pro is that it only records videos 2 minutes at a time. This means that ongoing activity will be broken up into multiple clips. You can also only view one camera at a time.
False alarms. Many users report that the Arlo Pro camera is ultra sensitive to motion, which can be a problem in areas with active wildlife or dense trees.
Amcrest Security Camera Review
The Amcrest Home Security System is your classic home security system, with all the modern features that are a must-have for homesharers on-site and remote. The infinitely customizable mobile alerts are a great plus, and the picture quality is outstanding. The Amcrest Home Video Security System requires a bit more installation time, but is well worth it to have the added, reliable peace of mind, and is suitable for homes up to about 2500 square feet in size.
Why We Like It
Reliable app for remote monitoring. Users love the Amcrest Link app for live remote monitoring of their homes and report almost no issues with it. It is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Email alerts notify when a problem is detected.
Unlimited alert and monitoring customizations. When a camera detects motion per the homeowner’s customized settings, it can activate multiple security responses including turning on the DVR’s buzzer, sending an alert email, and triggering recording.
Ultimate in HD video quality. The Amcrest system comes with high quality, high tech cameras that feature a weatherproof design with night vision and 75-degree viewing angle. It provides widescreen high definition footage thanks to advanced image sensors that allow for 34% increased resolution over traditional CCTV systems.
Expandable storage. The Amcrest system comes with a 1TB hard drive, but it can be expanded up to 3TB to capture tons of video recordings. At the highest quality setting, it offers up to 6 days of continuous video recording. There’s even a USB backup feature for additional peace of mind.
Installation limitations. Because it is a hardwired system, the Amcrest Security Camera System will require the services of a professional to install, unless you are particularly handy. Depending on the locations you want the cameras installed, this could mean getting into some tight spaces, and may limit where you can place them. Also, once mounted you won’t be able to change their location.
Frontpoint home security review
The Frontpoint home security system offers an affordable professional monitoring service that is a solid choice for home share owners that aren’t on site. With a number of available sensors that protect everything from windows and doors to basement flooding, they offer a monitoring solution for everyone. Easy installation and reliable remote monitoring are a big plus, though the 3-year commitment may be hard to swallow. Overall, it’s a great choice for homeowners who want to leave the monitoring to someone else.
Why We Like It
Professional home monitoring solution. The Frontpoint system boasts 100% wireless and cellular 24/7 monitoring of your home, so hosts who aren’t on site can rest assured their home is protected. Choose from a flood sensor, carbon monoxide detector, window sensors, door/garage door sensor, motion sensor, and glass break sensor. The system even performs self-diagnostic checks every 60 minutes to ensure everything is online and active.
DIY plug-and-play installation. The Frontpoint system is designed for quick and easy installation by even the most tech-challenged homeowner. Build your ideal solution and have it shipped for next-day delivery.
Video monitoring at a cost. Unfortunately, video monitoring is only available with the highest tier package, meaning you’ll need to spend extra money each month in order to be able to see what is happening around your home.
Pricing is not clear. It is quite difficult to find any sort of pricing information on the Frontpoint website, necessitating a call to one of their sales agents.
Long-term commitment. Frontpoint monitoring is only available on a 3-year commitment. This might put some users off of purchasing, although the system can be swapped over if you move houses. Many users report having problems canceling the service but say staff are helpful for technical issues.
MSRP: $353.47 for 13 piece camera system + $14.99/month for professional monitoring service
Amazon review score: 3.5 out of 5
Amazon 5 star reviews: 74%
Simplisafe Home Security Review
The Simplisafe home security system is a great choice for hosts looking for a professionally-monitored system as an alternative to a self-monitored option. There is even a privacy shutter hosts can use for when they are on site and don’t require monitoring. Overall, the system offers an affordable entry point for home monitoring, with new features added to the remote monitoring app on a monthly basis.
Why We Like It
Flexibility in usage. The SimpliCam can be used as a stand-alone system, or in conjunction with a monitoring plan from Simplisafe. The camera boasts 720p video quality, two-way audio, night vision, a 120-degree field of view, and an operating temperature of 14°F-104°F.
Super secure system. The Simplisafe system offers end-to-end encoding with bank-level encryption and SSL for incredible security. In case of trouble, users have 30 seconds to override the alarm, after which time the system will contact the authorities on your behalf.
Intelligent sensor system. The SimpliCam features high tech sensors that are calibrated to detect the unique heat signature of humans, in order to cut down on false alarms. Motion-activated alerts to your smartphone let you know if someone is on your property.
No long-term commitments. There are no contracts to sign when purchasing a Simplisafe security system, and they even offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. While there is an upfront cost for the equipment, the price is not exorbitant and there is the option of self-monitoring or professional monitoring service. Refurbished systems are available at a discount if affordability is an issue.
Cost of additional features. There is an additional charge of $5/month for very basic features such as event-based cloud video recording, storage, and the ability to view the live feed on the web app. Some users believe the SimpliCam does not do enough to justify these costs, but without them, the camera itself is not particularly useful.
Protect America Home Security REview
Protect America is an OK choice for those looking for a quick and easy professionally-monitored home security system. Remote viewing options are not available at the popular advertised price, but with 24/7 professional monitoring, this might not be an issue for hosts. It can provide a complete smart home solution with Amazon Echo integration and features intelligent alerts. Overall, it’s a reliable solution for hosts that wish to be more hands-off and don’t have a ton of cash to shell out on equipment.
Why We Like It
Intelligent alerts. The Protect America system features customizable smart alerts that are sent straight to your mobile device along with video feed quick view links, so you are always in the know of the goings-on around your property. This and other features are not available on the advertised $20/month plan, so be prepared to shell out additional money for them.
Plug-and-play installation. The Protect America system offers a variety of sensors including a smoke detector, motion detector, window and door sensors and home automation via Amazon Echo to help protect one’s home, and features an intuitive installation that is easy enough for most homeowners to DIY.
Affordable upfront cost. The Protect America system features no installation or activation fees to get started and is an affordable upfront solution for homeowners who aren’t planning to move in the foreseeable future. With a locked-in rate, you can easily budget monthly costs. There is a choice of landline or cellular monitoring, and even though cellular is more expensive, it prevents would-be vandals from tampering with the system.
Stick on sensors fail. Some users reported that the stick on sensors used to secure the monitors would fail after some time, especially in warmer climates. This is something to consider with regards to reliability and perhaps figuring out a more permanent mounting solution.
Long-term commitment. Protect America monitoring is only available on a 3-year commitment. This might put some users off of purchasing, and the system cannot be swapped over if you move houses. Many users report having problems with canceling the service if they can get ahold of customer support at all.
There is no one perfect security camera for all Airbnb hosts. Different hosts have different needs for surveillance, some need it solely for the prevention of parties and making sure guests don’t bring additional, unpaid guests back to the property.
Some hosts may live around the corner or be hosting while staying in their home and not need a powerful system. Other hosts live far away and want the peace of mind that a high-quality security camera offers in deterring intruders as well as misbehaving Airbnb guests.
Before you decide on a particular surveillance camera system, think about your needs and how each type of camera may meet those needs. Understand the features of the various types of security camera systems and read through a sample of the customer reviews. Weigh up the options, the pros and cons. Think about whether you want an outdoor camera (or cameras) only or also an indoor camera to monitor entranceways and insecure areas of your home.
Don’t forget to leave your comments below. We will keep updating the guide based upon your unanswered questions and we also love the feedback.