A CCTV system is another way to make your home more secure
Best CCTV Systems
You know those movies where the security camera feeds show up on a bunch of different TVs? And the guards are always distracted at the exact moment the intruder runs across the monitors? A camera system like that is called closed-circuit television (CCTV). You can install a CCTV system in your home as either an alternative or a supplement to a home security system. (Just don’t get distracted at the exact moment something happens onscreen.)
Cameras deter criminals. They also provide surveillance to identify a perpetrator and/or establish a timeline during a break-in.
- : Best value
- : Most popular
- : Best design
- : Best starter system
- : Best for protection plans
Amazon.com List Prices as of 10/26/2022 11:00 a.m. (MST).
Every system we recommend uses a mobile app. Modern tech has taken the TV out of CCTV. Now, instead of needing multiple screens, you can manage each CCTV camera view through a mobile app. It’s way more convenient, and it gives you remote access.
All of the CCTV cameras in this review are weather-resistant. They should be safe to use as outdoor cameras, but they can also be used indoors.
What to look for in a CCTV system
If you’re intent on getting a good old-fashioned CCTV system, you’ll want to look at the following:
- Maximum number of channels
- Number of included cameras
- Storage type
- Storage limit
- Installation difficulty
- Internet requirements
- Multiple camera feeds
- Night vision
- Two-way audio
- Remote access
Since CCTV systems are still decidedly old-school, most aren’t brimming with all the features of the neatest, latest smart security cameras. You won’t get motion detection, package detection, motion-activated spotlights, or anything like that … yet. We expect to see more sophisticated surveillance in the feature.
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1. Amcrest Video security system: Best value
You get higher resolution and more storage potential with Amcrest Video.
Amcrest’s security system takes the top spot on this list for a few reasons. Its resolution is greater than every other camera on the list, and you can expand its storage from 1 TB to 8 TB. Although it has fewer channels than some of its competitors, its price is reasonable: this is the second-cheapest camera on our list.
In short, if you’re looking for quality, you’ll find it in Amcrest. But if you need lots of channels, this system isn’t the best fit.
Out of all our recommendations, Amcrest gets you the clearest pic: 1440p (2688 x 1440), which is also referred to as “Wide Quad HD.” It has 77% more pixels than 1080p for a higher-def image.¹
What about nighttime? A camera worth its salt should be your eyes and ears while you’re sleeping. Amcrest’s system is no exception. Customer reviews rave about the clear 98-foot night vision, and the cameras also have motion detection to catch suspicious movement.
Amcrest’s system holds up to 8 TB of storage. However, you have to buy and attach extra storage space to reach that max. On its own, the system holds 1 TB. With that, you can still save at least a few hundred hours of camera footage without upgrading.
Either way, Amcrest sends you a notification when your storage is full.
What kind of service will you get from Amcrest? Your camera comes with a 30-day guarantee in case you need to send it back after a trial run. You also get a year warranty and lifetime support.
Keep your expectations low, though. Reviews indicate the support is less than impressive.
2. Annke Home Security camera system: Most popular
Amazon buyers fall hard for this eight-channel system.
According to oodles of positive Amazon reviews, people love this Annke Home Security system. It has eight different channels and a 100-foot night vision range while still being the cheapest option on our list. You’ll especially love it if you want the eight channels but don’t need a ton of storage.
Annke’s CCTV system records in 1080p. It’s not quite as good as Amcrest’s, but it looks crisp in customer clips. Plus, Annke has an entire 100 feet of night vision.
Like the Amcrest system, Annke has a terabyte of video storage on the hard drive. One note, though—the hard drive comes as a separate item and needs to be inserted before use.
The customer service at Annke shines! The product itself is easy to install, so you may not need to use the lifetime support. But if you do, you’ll get the help you need without the hassle.
We saw a review of the Annke CCTV system that said the footage-viewing app doesn’t work on a Mac. In our experience, most people check the footage from their phones. But for those outliers who prefer to use a laptop or desktop, a Mac might not be compatible.
3. Night Owl security system: Best design
This system costs a lot but has a user-friendly design.
There’s something to be said for a pretty camera. We especially like Night Owl’s sleek design because it also takes user experience into account. The camera looks appropriately intimidating, and it has a lip to keep rain and snow off the lens. It also has two-way audio in case you want to confront the suspicious-looking stranger lurking in your backyard.
The only real downside to Night Owl is the price. It costs a lot more than most of our other recommendations but has fewer channels than Annke, the cheapest product on the list. But we think Night Owl’s intruder-intimidating yet customer-friendly design makes it a worthwhile investment, possibly even for a business.
True to its name, Night Owl sees in the dark for up to 100 feet. And like other recommendations on this list, it takes HD video at 1080p.
Night Owl comes with 1 TB of storage pre-installed. Just like with Amcrest, you can increase the storage space with an added drive. Night Owl’s total storage limit is lower, though: 4 TB.
Night Owl provides 24/7 phone and web support. If you encounter any difficulties with your recording system, representatives are available to help. Based on the reviews, though, it sounds like the customer support is a toss-up. You might want to troubleshoot on your own before going that route.
4. Reolink 8CH 5MP PoE camera system: Best starter system
You can expand this system with other Reolink products.
We chose Reolink because its surveillance systems are flexible. You can add more Reolink cameras and CCTV setups to your system as needed. That makes this system a perfect way to get started with CCTV. It’s an especially good choice if you have a large home and want to test a partial system before decking out your whole space with cameras.
We also love the 2 TB of built-in storage, which is double the 1 TB standard.
Reolink’s got 1080p vision that works up to 100 feet in the dark.
Not only does this system have 2 TB already in place, but it also has the option to add four more terabytes. That means you can use up to 6 TB of video storage.
Most Reolink users didn’t have to contact customer service because they had no problems with their systems. Those who did seem split down the middle. Half had an amazing experience; the other half had an awful one. So if you have to contact Reolink customer service, be ready for anything.
5. ZOSI 5MP Home Security video-recording system: Best for protection plans
Protect your security investment long-term.
ZOSI’s another easy-install, eight-channel system. Instead of coming with a single-year warranty like Amcrest, it offers inexpensive two- or three-year protection plans when you buy. We’re big fans of this feature. When you make a costly investment like a CCTV system, you should be able to protect it for an extended period. Especially if you’re just starting a small business, the comforting knowledge that ZOSI has your system covered could go a long way.
ZOSI also records at 1080p. Its night vision is pretty limited though: just 50 feet.
The recording for ZOSI’s eight cameras is motion based. When a camera detects motion, it begins recording and sends either an email or mobile notification to you.
Like Reolink, ZOSI comes with 2 TB of storage already built in, which is more than the other systems we reviewed. You can also expand its storage for a total of 6 TB.
We didn’t see many reviews about ZOSI’s customer service department. But we feel that reviews of the equipment tie back to customer service because it tells us whether the manufacturer really considered customer needs.
ZOSI’s easy to set up, which is an indicator of good customer service. But apparently, the system is unreliable. That doesn’t make for a pleasant user experience.
Recap: Best CCTV systems
All of the CCTV systems we recommend are highly rated on Amazon. The best one for you comes down to what you need in your home setup.
To recap, here are the options we recommend.
- Amcrest is relatively inexpensive but has some of the best features on the list.
- Customers love this cheap Annke.
- Night Owl’s product was clearly developed with customer needs in mind.
- Start with this basic Reolink system and then add to it as needed.
- Get an extended protection plan with ZOSI.
If you want to learn more about whether a CCTV system is right for you, check out our comparison of CCTV systems and traditional security systems.
When picking the best home security systems, we considered the following:
- Customer reviews and ratings
- Number of channels
- Storage amount
You’ll notice that most of our top picks don’t have that high of star ratings. That’s because CCTV systems are, by nature, not the easiest thing for the average person to set up and use. Also, they’re expensive.
We’d rate more CCTV systems higher if they were cheaper and easier to set up.
Best CCTV systems FAQ
When you have multiple cameras set up, it's challenging to keep footage synced and stored. That’s where a multi-channel video recorder comes in. A multi-channel video recorder (MCVR) records and syncs footage from your separate security cameras.
Here’s a brief rundown of the features you need to look at when shopping for a multi-channel video recorder.
Number of channels
The number of channels (a.k.a. inputs) determines how many cameras you can use at a given time. If you plan to set up four security cameras around your home, you’ll need at least four channels. If you want to set up six, you’ll need at least six channels, and so on.
It’s unlikely that your home needs a 16-channel video recording system (unless you’re Richie Rich). Most people won’t need more than four or eight channels: a camera on the front and back doors, the garage, and maybe a few inside.
Frames per second
Data storage speed limits CCTV systems. The “write rate” determines the number of frames per second the camera will record.
Security cameras can record anywhere from five frames per second to 30 frames. Cameras that capture 30 frames are called “full” frame.
For reference, the human eye captures somewhere around 30 frames per second.
Ease of setup
Most security camera systems are DIY. Before buying, evaluate the ease of setup. Keep in mind that you can always hire a freelance professional installer if you need to.
Some video recording systems have built-in hard drives to save the data they record. Video files take far more storage space than text files or even a quality image, so these hard drives need at least 1 TB. Look for a recorder that can store a large amount of data.
Some video recording systems connect to the internet, while some don’t require the connection. If your CCTV surveillance system needs internet, make sure you have a stable, secure Wi-Fi network.
Whichever you choose, we recommend using a camera system with a mobile app. That way, you can see what’s happening around your home even while you’re away—a perfect feature for someone who travels.
You probably won’t need a system that can record input from a dozen cameras at once. And, even if you only use a few of the channels, the footage needs to be at a decent resolution. Quality security videos solve crimes.
We think a residential CCTV system can generally be simpler than a business CCTV system. In a work setting, you’d want cameras on each exit/entrance, on all the cash registers, on the safes, and probably at other regular intervals throughout a building.
For a home, we still recommend putting cameras on entrances and exits. We think you should also keep one pointed at the garage/driveway. Beyond that, though, it depends on how big and costly your home is. Also, if you have a lot of valuable stuff in your house or your yard, you’ll probably want eyes on a larger area.
It’s going to depend. If having a bunch of cameras hooked to a central nervous system appeals to you, CCTV is probably a good choice. But if you want a single camera or are looking for a setup that seems more modern (cloud storage vs. NVR or DVR), you might want to try a standalone wireless security camera setup.
The biggest benefit of a more traditional camera setup is picking each camera individually. You can pick a more inexpensive indoor camera while getting a state-of-the-art outdoor security camera (or vice versa, depending on your needs).
- Deni Latić, Levvvel, “2560 x 1440 vs 1920 x 1080 [Which Is Actually Better].” November 13, 2021. Accessed December 13, 2021.
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