A hidden camera is an inconspicuous way to monitor your home and keep an eye on contractors, kids, or pets. "In a residential setting, I recommend that cameras be used to view the primary entrances to the home (front door, back door, etc.), as well as the major hallways and stairways," says security expert Michael A. Silva, CPP, CSC, of Silva Consultants.
We researched dozens of small and discreet options, evaluating ease of installation and use, camera quality, and advanced features such as motion tracking and two-way audio. Our top pick, the Wyze Cam Pan v2 is compact and offers excellent range and smart features.
Here are the best hidden cameras to consider.
Best Overall: Wyze Cam Pan v2
Color night vision
Real-time viewing capabilities
Memory card not included
The Wyze Cam Pan v2 has a 360-degree horizontal view of its surroundings plus a 92-degree vertical view, making it a great indoor monitoring option. It’s compatible with Alexa- and Google-enabled speakers and hubs for viewing and voice commands, has two-way audio capabilities, and sends motion detection notifications to the Wyze app. This camera also allows you to set four motion detection zones throughout a room to check on high-traffic areas around your home easily.
The Starlight Sensor offers a full-color view of night footage, so there’s no confusion about what’s on the video footage. The real-time movement sensor also automatically begins tracking objects and following their movement after detection. And unlike others with night vision, the Cam Pan v2 doesn't use an indicator light when in this mode, reducing disturbances and making this camera more discreet at night.
While you can place this camera on any flat surface, you can purchase a separate wall-mounting system. Another potential expense is a microSD card for saving and storing footage. Although it would be nice to receive all these items in one kit, we still recommend this camera because of its range and numerous advanced features.
Price at time of publish: $100
Best Budget: Blink Mini Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera
Works with Alexa
Advanced features require subscription
The Blink Mini Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera is a budget-friendly, smart option for keeping an eye on what's going on at home. This small 2-inch camera comes with a stand for propping, but it can also stand freely on a flat surface without it. The Blink Mini also comes with two plug-in options (USB or a plug-in adapter) and has night vision, two-way talk, and a built-in motion detector.
This camera syncs with the Blink Home Monitor app to offer a live view if it detects movement. However, the Live View function is limited to 60 seconds without a subscription plan. Like other similar models, you can pay for cloud storage, but the Mini also works with the Sync module, which you can purchase separately for local storage. If you use Alexa and have an Alexa-enabled speaker or display, you can view live footage or arm/disarm the camera with your voice.
Price at time of publish: $35
Best for Ring Users: Ring Indoor Cam
Good audio and video quality
No motion detection settings
Must subscribe to record footage
If you have Ring products like a doorbell, the Ring Indoor Cam offers discreet home monitoring that works well with the Ring ecosystem. This compact camera comes as a single plug-in unit that you can mount or place on a shelf or other surface. You can also purchase additional units for numerous rooms and even integrate them with a Ring Doorbell for a wider home security experience.
This Alexa-enabled device offers two-way audio and crisp high-definition video quality you can monitor in real-time using the Live View on the Ring app. The Ring Indoor Cam also sends motion-alert notifications straight to your phone if you enable this setting, but the camera can't distinguish between humans versus pets. If you'd like person-specific alerts and the option to record and download footage, note that a Ring Protect plan gives you this access for a monthly fee.
Price at time of publish: $60
Best Outdoor: Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell
Long battery life
Requires subscription for advanced features
If you're looking for something to monitor the front of your home, consider getting a video doorbell like the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell. It connects to your Wi-Fi and offers high-definition viewing at a 180-degree angle. A 1x1 aspect ratio also helps keep the subject in frame from head to toe for a better viewing experience on the Arlo app.
Setup is easy—no hardwiring is needed—and the rechargeable battery lasts six months. This camera also has wide smart home compatibility, two-way audio, and syncs with the app to offer real-time notifications. However, if you want object detection or to view recordings, these features require an Arlo Secure subscription.
Price at time of publish: $200
Best Value: Kasa Smart Spot Indoor 1080p Wireless Surveillance Camera
Finicky motion sensor
Memory card not included
The Kasa Spot offers a rich feature set at an affordable price. This small but mighty wired camera provides continuous viewing with 1080-pixel high-definition day and night footage. Not only will you be able to see what's happening, but you can also hear it, thanks to the two-way audio feature that allows you to listen to and communicate with pets, delivery personnel, or unwanted guests.
You can set up specific zones for monitoring certain areas in your home and receive alerts to the Kasa app on your phone when the camera detects motion or sound in these areas. The Kasa Spot works well with Google Assistant- and Alexa-enabled devices for voice commands and viewing and integrates with Kasa's Smart Actions platform for automating routines with other Kasa smart devices. While the motion detection might not be as advanced as competitors, this camera option also offers convenient local storage via a memory card—though you need to provide it.
Price at time of publish: $30
Best for Google Users: Google Nest Cam (indoor, wired) Second Generation
Detects people and animals
Comes in stylish colors
Only 3 hours of event history
Subscription for full features
While several discreet indoor cameras are compatible with Google Assistant, the Google Nest Cam (indoor, wired) Second Generation could be for you if yours is a Google-exclusive smart home. You can view the live feed from Google-compatible smart displays through a seamless setup process in the Google Home app. This stylish camera also comes in several neutral shades, giving it a look that could blend well with your other decor. While the attached stand does not come off, you can mount this wired camera or place it on a flat surface.
Like other options, the Nest Cam offers night vision, two-way audio, and activity zones. But one standout feature of the second-generation Nest Cam is its ability to decipher between pets, people, and even cars. You can receive these distinct notifications, monitor what's happening in real time, and view up to three hours of event history in the Google Home app. Access to historical footage past the three-hour window and other perks, like familiar face alerts, require a subscription.
Price at time of publish: $100
Best for Pets: eufy Security 2K Indoor Pan & Tilt Pet Camera
Syncs with smart devices
Audio quality isn't top-notch
No included memory card for local storage
The Eufy Indoor Pan & Tilt Pet Camera uses artificial intelligence (AI) to distinguish between pets and humans, which makes it a great option for pet owners. Once it detects motion or sound, this camera will automatically begin following the movement of interest and record it on your synced device. You can also talk with your pet through the built-in two-way audio feature.
If you have compatible Google, Amazon, or HomeKit-enabled smart home products, this camera offers voice control or another option for streaming a live feed. This camera also offers cloud or local storage for recordings, so you can always look back at what your playful pets got up to during the day. However, be aware that you need to supply the memory card for local recording and the audio quality might not be as crisp as competitors.
Price at time of publish: $100
Most Discreet: WNAT Hidden Camera Smoke Detector
Only points down
Short battery life
The WNAT Hidden Camera Smoke Detector is a faux smoke detector and inconspicuous option for your entryway, mudroom, or hallway. The wireless design can be installed on any ceiling and provides live viewing with 125-degree viewing capabilities. This camera also has a built-in motion sensor and night vision to capture movement at all hours of the day. After recording movement, the camera will enter standby mode to save power so that all videos can be saved (memory card not included).
This camera can only record about 20 hours of footage and must be removed from the smoke detector casing to charge. However, standby mode allows the camera to remain charged for 180 days. Bear in mind that this camera is not a real smoke detector, and you shouldn't install it in place of your existing detector.
Price at time of publish: $120
The Wyze Cam Pan v2 is our top pick for a discrete and practical indoor camera. It's compact and packed with features, including 360-degree panning, full-color night vision, motion detection zones, and smart assistant compatibility. For something a little more budget-friendly, consider the Blink Mini Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera, a small USB or plug-in model with a 110-degree field of view and many of the sought-after features on more expensive options.
What to Look For in a Hidden Camera
The location where you plan to use your hidden camera will determine the best product for your needs. Will you install it in your entryway, hallway, indoor staircase, or outside on your porch, patio, or walkway? Is wide-angle viewing necessary, or will a narrower image suffice?
When considering where you put a camera and what you want it to capture, consider whether you'll place it on your wall, ceiling, or home exterior. You can position some options on a shelf, cabinet, or another surface. For plug-in models, make sure there's an outlet nearby.
Another important consideration is the quality of the video. "Covert cameras often don't provide the same quality of image that regular cameras do," says security expert Michael A. Silva, CPP, CSC, of Silva Consultants. "This is because most covert cameras view through a very small hole that restricts the camera's field of view and limits its light-gathering abilities." You'll want to look for a product with at least 720p (pixels) resolution, even better if it's 1080p. Otherwise, you may not be able to make out the details in the footage.
Some hidden cameras only capture motion-activated clips, while others record continuously with live viewing. Look into which method your camera uses and whether the video footage is stored on a memory card or uploaded to the cloud. If it goes to a memory card, most cameras rewrite over existing files once full, so make sure you check the footage regularly and store it elsewhere if needed.
Silva doesn't typically recommend the use of covert (hidden) cameras in homes except under very special circumstances. "The only exception would be when there was a need to investigate a person who was misbehaving (such as an abusive babysitter or caregiver) and you wanted to gather evidence without the person being aware that they were being watched," he explains. "However, this type of covert surveillance is fraught with legal liabilities and should only be done by a licensed investigator and/or under the advice of an attorney."
Where should you install a hidden camera?
In residential settings, Silva recommends that cameras (whether hidden or not) only in primary entrances and walkways. This list includes areas like your front door, porch, entryway, foyer, mudroom, hallway, stairway, back door, patio, and driveway. With the exception of nurseries, placing them in bedrooms and other living areas isn't recommended, as it's a privacy concern.
How do you install a hidden camera?
The proper way to install a hidden camera depends on the model. Fully charge battery-powered cameras before attaching them to the ceiling, wall, or concealed within another object. With a plug-in device, you'll probably need to place it on a shelf, cabinet, or another flat surface, though some can be attached to a wall. If your camera has an app component, download the app and connect to the device via Wi-Fi.
What is the best size for a hidden camera?
As Silva explains, the most covert devices have either tiny lenses or lenses that view through very small holes, which can affect the image quality. If you're less concerned with getting high-def footage and prioritize a hidden design, go with a smaller device no more than 2 inches in size. However, if you want crystal-clear video and more features, like two-way talk, continuous viewing, and night vision, you may want to get something slightly larger.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a freelance commerce writer specializing in home improvement and consumer tech. For this roundup, she spoke with a home security and surveillance expert who offered insight into camera designs and legal/privacy considerations. She combed through user reviews, pored over product specs, and considered the key features, size, image quality, and price of a wide range of cameras before landing on her final picks. Theresa has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, where she covers smart home gadgets, appliances, and organizational solutions.