Remember in the movies when the bad guy casually walks up to the giant security camera and shoots or beats it out of functioning? The days of the obvious security camera are over. People are smart, and if you want to protect your space, you need a camera that isn’t so obvious. So how do you install a camera without alerting everyone? Well, what’s one thing every responsible household has? Something no one will think twice about when it’s on the wall or ceiling? Yep. A smoke detector, or to be precise the best smoke detector camera.
Installing a smoke detector camera is an excellent choice when you need to monitor without suspicion. We’ve put together a list of the ten best smoke detector cameras, plus answered a few questions you might have about how to choose. Let’s take a look.
10 Best Smoke Detector Camera Reviews
Our first smoke alarm camera is a wifi enabled digital signal camera. It has a wide viewing angle and a large camera sensor for better graphics (720p) and viewability. It needs to be connected directly to a power source, which may limit where you can install it, but the tradeoff is no dead batteries.
If you want your viewing to run around the clock, a direct power source is necessary. If you aren’t sure about installing it directly to a power source, this one might not be the right one for you.
It runs with a handy smartphone app and comes with an 8GB card capable of storing up to 30 hours of video. You can swap that card out for one up to 32 GB if you need more storage.
-no batteries required
-has a smartphone app
-requires installation at a power source
AES’s spy camera is a long-lasting battery powered smoke detector that uses wifi to broadcast in 720 HD. If you need a battery powered camera, this is one of the longest lasting ones. It uses a rechargeable battery pack that’s good for up to 36 hours, so you aren’t always buying batteries or changing things out every few hours.
AES gives you a 16GB card, twice the industry standard, but it’s compatible with cards up to 32 GB. It also comes with a mobile app and a secured network so someone can’t just tap into your wifi connection.
This one is best if you don’t plan to record all the time. It should give you plenty of battery life for targeted recording times.
-excellent battery life
-rechargeable battery pack
-comes with an app
-more expensive than most battery operated cameras
The Conbrov is a more modern take on the smoke detector camera. It looks a little like a motion detector as well, so if you want a hidden camera but aren’t 100% sure you want a smoke detector, this one could work for you.
It does require a hook up to a power source, which is less convenient than a battery pack, but it gives you 24/7 recording capabilities without having to charge anything. It has night vision up to 30 feet, unusual for this grade of camera.
It records when it senses motion so you won’t get hours of video of a still room. The video is saved to an SD card, which can hold about ten hours of video, but you can always upgrade the card. The app is impressive. It sends push notifications and even gives you the option to view the live video after the notification.
-night vision option
-records only when motion is detected
-low recording storage hours
HDView’s camera is a commercial style smoke detector body with a pinhole viewer that records high-quality video. You can keep an eye on things in 1080p with a 2.4 mp camera.
It requires a power source, so you may have to run wires through the wall. However, you can record continuously without having to recharge. It’s compatible with a particular type of DVR (TVI) so make sure your other equipment is compatible.
The cable is very large for the type of camera that it is. It would be easier to hide the cord if it were smaller. It’s also a slightly more significant investment, but if you want better quality video and a body that looks more like a commercial smoke detector, this one is a good choice.
-excellent video resolution
-continual power source
-motion triggered, so you don’t get hours of uneventful recording
-only compatible with certain types of DVRs
Protectif’s camera comes with a 4G SD card for storing video but has space for up to 32 GB. The battery life isn’t great, only about an hour, but recording comes on only when motion is detected. It’s discrete and comes with a remote.
It’s easy to set up and use, but it’s best for those who only need intermittent recording such as a babysitting situation. The battery itself is rechargeable, but with the kind of life that it has, we think it’s best for smaller recording needs.
It can be mounted anywhere, but the best places are in open areas where the camera doesn’t have far too look. The usual height of a standard room should be fine.
-good for intermittent recording
-motion triggered recording
-short battery life
The next camera is Sunsome’s Wifi enabled spy camera that streams through a secure connection. It has a 1080p recording capability, plus it has a compatible smartphone app.
It supports real-time viewing from anywhere through the app. It has motion detection, and when the recording device fills up, the video is looped around to the oldest video. It supports up to 64 GB of storage (which isn’t included). The external battery records continuously for up to four hours and recharges.
One benefit is that it also records sound. You can watch and listen anywhere as long as you’re connected to your network without worrying about changing the battery or switching out SD cards.
-supports up to 64 GB of storage
-sometimes the wifi is difficult to connect
Vipwind’s hidden camera has both motion detection and continuous recording options. It has video and sound recording, plus you can take a still photo.
It comes with a remote that works from up to 15 feet away. It records HD and can record up to 12 hours of video on one charge. You’ll need to download a driver to your computer to hold the recordings, so be sure you know how to do that.
You have to buy the SD cards, which is a pain, but you can upgrade to a larger SD card if you want more recording capability.
It records in 30 frames per second, which is a decent quality of a video. It records and syncs to the PC so that the time stamp appears on the video.
-records 30 frames per second
-supports both continuous and motion triggered recording
-can take still photos
-no SD card included
PalmVID is a recording device with an adjustable view. You can change the viewing range up to 90 degrees up or down. It uses motion triggered recording and works with microSD cards.
It records to a built-in DVR that’s compatible with memory up to 32GB, so there’s no need to connect to a computer or other DVR system. It can run for nearly 30 hours on a single charge. It can record up to 12 hours of video.
It has lights that signal when it’s on, but the lights do not flash when recording begins. These are pretty sturdy little cameras if you need something to record often but not continuous recording.
-can adjust viewing angle 90 degrees
-30-hour battery life
-no continuous recording option
Umanor’s hidden camera is an affordable and discrete hidden camera that uses 1080p recording. It can provide 16 hours of continuous recording, and it has a wide range of view, so it’s suitable for larger spaces.
It includes 8GB SD card which gives you about three hours of recording. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a companion app, so you have to transfer the video or connect the camera to a computer.
It includes a remote, and it’s an affordable option if you need a medium range spy cam for a large family room.
-suitable for larger home spaces
-provides up to 16 hours of continuous recording
-no companion app
Our last recording device is a classic smoke detector style with continuous recording, motion detection, and still photos. It records continuously for up to 16 hours and the video loops when recording is full. There’s nothing to change out to continue.
It records in full 1080p video. It includes an 8GB SD card, but you can exchange it for something with more memory. It doesn’t have an app, but you can download the video to your computer to view. It’s best for occasional recording or recording that happens within a limited period although the battery life allows you to get a full day of recording.
-16 hour continuous recording
-no app or live viewing
Best Smoke Detector Camera Buyer’s Guide
Buying a discrete surveillance camera is pretty straightforward. Find one that looks like something else, set it up, and press record, right?
Not exactly. There are a few things you should consider before you buy the first surveillance camera you find. Let’s take a look.
You aren’t going to get very far with a grainy, hard to see video. Some surveillance cameras now record in 1080p full HD, but this might be slight overkill. If you want to go the way of the market, you should get a camera with at least 720p. If you’ve got the budget, go ahead and invest in 1080p so you can get a longer life from your camera.
Another recording capability is sound. Not all surveillance records sound, so your situation will determine if you need this ability. If you’re hoping to catch a thief in the act, the sound may not be necessary. If you’re recording the nanny, it might be worth it.
You need to be able to retrieve the video if necessary, so storage is essential. If your camera doesn’t have the option of live viewing, like some budget-priced cameras, storage is even more critical. We recommend at least four hours of storage for short-term recording such as babysitting, but we think a full work day is probably better (at least eight hours).
Another storage issue is video looping. You don’t want the device to stop recording if it fills up its available memory. The best option is video looping, so you don’t have to worry about changing out storage devices.
Here’s a divided question. Battery or direct power? Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Batteries are convenient. They’re discrete without having to hide a bunch of wires or undertake significant installations. The downside is that batteries run out and you have to remember to charge or replace them. If you do decide on batteries, make sure you get a long enough life to record what you need.
The upside to direct power is that you can record continuously forever. You don’t need to remember to charge or replace power; your device is ready to go whenever you need. The downside is that your camera needs to be within the range of a power source. In the case of smoke detectors, you’re placing the device pretty high on a wall or ceiling, and you’re going to have to run wires through the wall to a power source, so you don’t give your camera away.
Apps and Extras
Other things nice to have but not necessary are things like apps and night vision. A dedicated app is convenient to view and keep up with recordings you want to save. It can send you push notifications when motion is detected and means you don’t have to set up your camera to a computer or other DVR.
Night vision is another option you may want if you’re recording but won’t be near a light source. Again, your unique circumstances will determine if night vision is necessary.