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The best wired security cameras of 2023

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Wired security cameras is a somewhat vague, catch-all term that covers a number of types of security cameras. Often, they’re referred to as PoE security cameras, which stands for “power over Ethernet” and means that the cameras are connected by Ethernet lines for both power and for enabling the captured video footage to be downloaded. However, these cameras are also part of a system: In this case, it is an NVR, or “network video recorder,” system since the video is stored locally on a server in your house. You may also come across an older type of security camera system, called a DVR, or “digital video recorder system, which relies on coaxial cables instead of Ethernet lines. Many of these cameras are also referred to as IP cameras, which stands for “Internet Protocol,” which means they can send data over the internet, although many of these cameras simply send their video over a Local-Area Network (or LAN) instead of online. Regardless of going IP, POE, or DVR, the best wired security cameras are now significantly easier for consumers to install than they have been in the past. 

How we chose the best wired security cameras 

I’ve written about many types of different cameras, including security cameras, for a number of publications over the years, including PCMag.com, Consumer Reports, The New York Times, Popular Photography, Popular Science, Tom’s Guide, and Gearbrain. I brought my expertise in this area to help discover the best wired security cameras. I also looked at critical reviews, user recommendations, and did a lot of research to narrow down our list to find the best models.

To find the best ones, I carefully considered a number of factors, including specific features such as video resolution, video frame rates, night vision capability, and audio, as well as more expansive qualities, like ease of use, versatility, and smart-home compatibility.

The best wired security cameras: Reviews & Recommendations

Historically, wired security camera systems require you to hire a professional to install the systems. And even today, you might consider hiring a professional, since the security cameras need to be connected via Ethernet lines, which can be a bit challenging to install. You’ll find a variety of wired security cameras on this list, which should also accommodate a wide range of budgets and needs, from inexpensive models that cost as little as $40 to more feature-packed models and bundles that can cost $1,400 or more. One of our wired security camera picks should give you a steady eye on your driveway, backyard, or any room in your home and can help complement and strengthen a home security system.

Best overall: Lorex 4K with 4TB Wired NVR System with Nocturnal 4 Smart IP Bullet Cameras

black Lorex 4K 4TB Wired NVR System with Nocturnal 4 Smart IP Bullet Cameras over a white background

Specs

Video resolution: 4K resolution at 30 fps

Field of view: 110.4 degrees to 45 degrees (optical zoom-lens field-of-view range)

Power: PoE

Night vision: Yes

Size: 10.8 x 3.7 x 3.7 inches (camera)

Pros

A rugged four-camera system designed to withstand all weather conditions

Each camera includes an optical zoom lens

Excellent in low light

Color night vision

Comes with a very large 4TB hard drive for local storage 

Cons

Expensive

Some consumers may need professionals to install

Although this bundle is expensive, it’s worth the price: For starters, it features four 8-megapixel rugged-and-waterproof cameras that can capture high-quality 4K resolution in low-light conditions. It also comes with advanced color night-vision capabilities to further enhance low-light video footage. Each camera comes with a 4x optical zoom lens and a very durable camera exterior (IP67 rated), which ensures protection against harsh weather conditions. The Lorex system also includes advanced people-counting analytics and heat mapping capabilities. This system also includes a large 4TB security-grade hard drive, which is designed for advanced processing and 24/7 recording capabilities.

Specs

Video resolution: 4K resolution video at 25 fps (both models)

Field of view ( E1 Outdoor): 94 to 50 degrees (horizontal) and 53 to 30 degrees (vertical)

Field of view (RLC-823): 105 to 31 degrees (horizontal) and 55 to 17 degrees (vertical)

Power: PoE

Night vision: Yes (both models)

Size: 4.6 x 4.6 x 3.3 inches (E1 Outdoor); 7.91 x 8.58 x 8.58 inches (RLC-823A)

Pros

Very good price for two 360-degree cameras

Each camera includes an optical zoom lens

Comes with smart detection and auto-tracking features

Both models include color night vision

Cons

Both cameras have a frame rate of just 25 frames per second for 4K video

This pair of 360-degree cameras offers a lot of value for the money. Not only do both cameras come with the ability to pan and tilt nearly 355 degrees horizontally, but each camera has an optical zoom lens that allows you to more clearly focus on the scene. Each also has 4K video resolution, to capture video footage with clearer details, which is especially important if you’re using it as an outdoor security camera. Each also comes with color night vision, two-way audio, and more.

Best with dome-type POE camera: Annke H800 8MP PoE Security Camera System

Annke H800 8MP PoE Security Camera System with four cameras over a white background

Specs

Video resolution: 4K resolution at 15 fps 

Field of view: 123 degrees

Power: PoE

Night vision: Yes

Size: 6.1 x 6.0 x 5.6 inches

Pros

Easy to set up

Both models include color night vision

Comes with large 2TB hard drive for local storage

Cons

Frame rate is only 15 frames per second

Lens is fixed, with no optical zoom

This wired security camera system bundle from Annke offers a lot of value for the money: It gives you four PoE dome cameras, which are designed to provide extra protection from the weather and the elements as well as intruders trying to tamper with the camera units. It captures video in 4K but uses H.265+ compression, which allows you to record longer videos and consume less bandwidth without losing 4K quality. The included NVR comes with a 2TB hard drive for storage but can be expanded to 10TBs. However, the camera lenses lack optical zooms, and the 4K video footage is captured at only 15 frames per second, which is lower than other systems. 

Best smart: Swann’s 8-Channel/4-Camera Home Security Camera System

Swann’s 8-Channel/4-Camera Home Security Camera System with four cameras over a white background

Specs

Video resolution: 4K resolution (frame rate not listed) 

Field of view: 93 degrees

Power: PoE

Night vision: Yes

Size: 3.94 x 3.94 x 3.94 inches

Pros

Easy to set up

Both models include color night vision

Offers smart detection and other smart features

Comes with large 2TB hard drive for local storage

Cons

Lens is fixed, with no optical zoom

Frame rate not listed and may be less than 30 fps

There’s a lot to like about this four-camera 4K wired security camera system from Swann. The camera units capture video at 4K resolution video, which includes color night vision capability for better quality video in very low-light settings. The system is also easy to use and easy to use. What makes it smart is that it comes with face recognition, human and vehicle detection (via heat detection), as well as alerts and notifications to your phone via the Swamm Security app. The system comes with a pre-installed 2TB hard drive. However, the lens on the camera is fixed and lacks optical zoom, which makes it a bit less versatile than other systems. Also, the frame rate for the 4K video is not listed, which means it may be less than 30 frames per second.

Best budget: EZVIZ C3N

white EZVIZ C3N best wired security camera over a white background

Specs

Video resolution: 1080p resolution at 30 fps

Field of view: 104 degrees

Power: wired

Night vision: Yes

Size: 2.83 x 2.83 x 5.91 inches

Pros

Inexpensive

Easy to set up

Offers the option of either Wi-Fi or wired connection

Works with Amazon Alexa

Can store video clips on cloud or microSD memory card

Cons

Not exclusively a wired security camera system

System isn’t as robust as true wired PoE security systems

This very inexpensive security camera offers the option of using either an Ethernet connection or a WiFi connection. So, if you’ve never had a security camera system, you can get a feel for how both a wired and wireless security camera functions. It shoots at 1080p resolution and gives you the option of storing video clips in the cloud, starting at $3.99 a month

What to consider when buying the best wired security cameras

Most security cameras, as well as security camera systems, can be broken down into two main groups: Wireless security cameras, which as the name implies, generally connect to your home wireless network in order to store the video footage it records, as well as enabling other functions; and wired security cameras, which are connected via cables for power, storing video footage, and accessing the Internet.  

Although wired security camera systems offer some of the same features available with wireless systems, they’re a little more complicated to install, since you’ll need to run Ethernet cables to provide both power and connectivity. However, there are other features and capabilities that they do share with WiFi models:

Installation: DIY or professional

Before you buy into a wired security camera system, be sure to do some research to see if you can do it yourself, or if you’ll need to spend extra money to have a professional install the system.

Video resolution

An important factor when buying a security camera since the higher the resolution, the more detailed the video footage can be. So, as far as video resolution goes, you’ll want to make sure that you buy a system that at least can capture 1080p-resolution video. Of course, you’ll find many recent models that include features that capture 2K or 4K resolution. Be sure to also check that the cameras can catch the video at a frame rate (frames per second) that you need: 30 frames per second will provide you with smoother, less jittery video than lower frame rates (25 fps or 15 fps).

Angle of view

Another important technical specification is the angle of view, which indicates how wide or how narrow the lens is on the security camera. The higher the number, the wider the view. The lower the number, the greater the telephoto effect.  

Video recording options

A network video recorder will include a number of important options that you’ll want to check. See if you need an NVR that uses cloud storage to store video clips, or if you only need your video stored on-premise or using a local drive. There are other features to check as well, including the ability to set alerts, remote access, the ability to search video clips using artificial intelligence tools, and more.

Specific features you find important

Most wired security camera systems include some of the latest features that might be important to you, such as night vision, the ability to capture 360-degree coverage of a scene, mobile app access, and more. However, you’ll need to research and compare the features with other comparable models or systems to see if they fit your specific needs.

FAQs

Q: What are the advantages of a wired security camera system?

One reason you might choose a wired security camera system is if you don’t have a good home wireless signal coming from your home WiFi network. Since wired security cameras connect via Ethernet cables, the signal is always consistent and reliable. Another benefit is that, in the long run, you can save money: Most PoE cameras store video locally, onto an NVR’s hard drive or SSD, which means you don’t need to spend extra money on cloud storage. 

Q: What kind of Ethernet cables are used to connect PoE security cameras?

You can use either Cat 5E or Cat 6 cables for your PoE security cameras. Either of these types of cables will power the wired security cameras and allow you to download video from the individual cameras to your hard drive or SSD. 

Q: How many cameras can be used with an NVR wired camera security system?

Most NVR systems allow you to connect as many as 8 or 16 PoE cameras to your system via Ethernet cables, depending on the model. There are some models that may be able to handle more, but it’s important to remember that the NVR needs to power each PoE camera via Ethernet cables. So, the more cameras you have in your system, the more power the NVR needs.

Final thoughts on the best wired security cameras

In theory, criminals can hack into almost any type of wireless or wired security camera system. However, wired home security cameras are more difficult to compromise since they don’t need to be connected to the internet. Wired systems can simply use a local-area network to power the cameras and download video. But, there are many wired systems that offer WiFi features, too. Make sure you choose a wired security camera with plenty of built-in safety and privacy features. You want peace of mind for your home; you want to feel safe installing security cameras, too.   

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.


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