Best CCTV Systems 2020

A CCTV system is another way to make your home more secure.
  • Best Value
    Expandable storage
    Fewer channels
  • Most Popular
    Easy to install and use
    Software may not work with a Mac
  • Best Design
    24/7 support
    High price
  • Best Starter System
    More built-in storage
    High price
  • Best for Protection Plans
    More built-in storage
    Requires internet connection

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.)

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Why security cameras?
Cameras deter criminals. They also provide surveillance to identify a perpetrator and/or establish a timeline during a break-in.
Best CCTV systems of 2020 packages, prices, and details
ProductAmcrestAnnkeNight OwlReolinkZosi
List price$279.99$229.99$499.99$399.99$299.99
Resolution1440p1080p1080p1080p1080p
Video channels48488
Viewing angle100°82°100°80°100°
Night vision98 ft.100 ft.100 ft.50 ft.100 ft.
Max storage8 TB1 TB4 TB6 TB6 TB
Mobile appYesYesYesYesYes
View productView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

Data effective 02/11/2020. Offers subject to change.

Amazon.com List Prices as of 2/11/2020 11:01 a.m. (MST).

You’ll notice that 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.

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Weatherproof cameras
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.

1. Amcrest Video security system: Best value

You get higher resolution and more storage potential with Amcrest Video.

Amcrest CCTV system

Pros

  • Expandable storage
  • USB backup
  • High resolution
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Lifetime support
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Minimal pre-installed storage
  • Fewer channels

Why we chose 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.

Resolution

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.

Storage

Amcrest sends you a notification when your storage is full.

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.

Customer service

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.

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Long night vision range
  • Lifetime email support
  • 90-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Software may not work with a Mac computer

Why we chose Annke Home Security

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.

Resolution

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.

Storage

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.

Customer service

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.

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Annke and Macs
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.

Night Owl CCTV system

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Large night vision range
  • 24/7 support
  • Two-way audio

Cons

  • High price
  • Minimal pre-installed storage
  • Fewer channels

Why we chose Night Owl

The camera has a lip to keep rain and snow off the lens.

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.

Resolution

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.

Storage

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.

Customer service

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.

Reolink CCTV system

Pros

  • Expandable storage
  • More built-in storage
  • Large night vision range

Cons

  • Requires internet connection
  • High price

Why we chose Reolink 8CH 5MP PoE

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.

Resolution

Reolink’s got 1080p vision that works up to 100 feet in the dark.

Storage

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.

Customer service

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.

Pros

  • Multi-year protection plans available
  • Easy to install and use
  • Expandable storage
  • More built-in storage

Cons

  • Doesn’t always perform as it should
  • Requires internet connection
  • Limited night vision

Why we chose Zosi 5MP Home Security

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.

Resolution

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.

Storage

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.

Customer service

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: Our picks

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.

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.

You can also look at our reviews for indoor and outdoor security cameras.

FAQ

What should I look for in a multi-channel video recorder?

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.

Outdoor CCTV security camera

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.

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Vision speed
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.

Storage

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.

Internet connectivity

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.

Which system should I use?

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.

How many cameras do I need in my CCTV system?

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.

Sources:

  1. Levvvel, “2560 x 1440 vs 1920 x 1080 [Which Is Actually Better]

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