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A hidden camera can help you keep tabs on your home and monitor potential intruders, contractors, kids, or pets. For some, it's not necessarily about hiding the fact that it's there but more so that it doesn't affect the aesthetics of your space. Whether you have home security in mind or are just looking for something small or cordless, an inconspicuous camera might be a great solution.
"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.
As Silva explains, one thing to keep in mind when shopping is that "the types of covert cameras available are limited when compared to regular cameras." These miniature wireless models don't always have the best image quality or battery life simply because they're so small. However, you can also find slightly larger, higher-quality cameras that are still compact enough to hide.
There are super-tiny options no bigger than your thumb, cameras disguised as household objects, and more robust recording devices that could be hidden or at least blended in with your decor. Some offer real-time footage, some record when they detect motion, and others have audio features.
When browsing options, you'll want to consider where you'll put it, the image quality, the battery life or wiring requirements, how much memory it can store, and whether you want the footage to sync with a smart device. With guidance from Silva in mind, we rounded up standout video recorders in every category.
Below, the best hidden cameras to keep your home secure.
Best Overall: Quniao Wireless Hidden Spy Camera Air Purifier
Video Quality: 1920X1080P Full HD | Field of View: Not listed | Motion Detection Range: 8-10 meters max | Night Vision: Yes
Muffled audio recording
If you want your camera to be discreet, your best bet is to get one that's built into an everyday object, like the Quniao Spy Camera Air Purifier. The camera component provides real-time video, audio, and 24-hour surveillance with 1080P resolution. It records high-definition footage at 30 frames per second and even has clear-as-day night vision.
It plugs into a wall, so you'll never run out of batteries or have to recharge it, and the video surveillance connects to your smartphone through WiFi. This hidden camera also has two-way talk and a motion sensor that alerts you when it detects movement. What's more, it's an actual air purifier with a filter. Just bear in mind that when the air purifying feature is on, it can muffle the audio recording.
Best Budget: Prosia Hidden Camera with Audio Live Feed
Video Quality: 1920X1080P Full HD | Field of View: 150 degree | Motion Detection Range: Not listed | Night Vision: Yes
Short battery life
Looking for something a bit more affordable? Check out this wallet-friendly model from Prosia. Measuring roughly 1 x 1.7 inches, this teensy-tiny wireless camera is super easy to conceal.
But don't let the small size fool you—it captures 150 degrees of footage with high-def 1080P resolution, plus infrared night vision. We also like that the included lithium battery charges with a USB port.
Best Splurge: Swann Indoor/Outdoor 1080p Wi-Fi Surveillance Camera
Video Quality: 1920X1080P Full HD | Field of View: 180 Degrees | Motion Detection Range: 26 feet | Night Vision: Yes
Two colors available
If you're open to spending a little extra on a high-quality model, you should definitely consider this two-pack of surveillance cameras from Swann. These indoor/outdoor video recorders capture around-the-clock footage at a 180-degree angle up to 26 feet away.
With vivid 1080P resolution, night vision, a two-way talk feature, a built-in siren, and voice commands through smart devices, you'll have peace of mind about your home security.
Best Smart: Blink Mini Indoor Wi-Fi Security Camera
Video Quality: 1920X1080P Full HD | Field of View: 110 degrees diagonal | Motion Detection Range: Not listed | Night Vision: Yes
Syncs with smart devices
No continuous viewing
We're also big fans of the Blink Mini. This indoor security camera has a built-in motion detector and captures high-definition 1080P footage.
It syncs with the Blink Home Monitor app and any Alexa-enabled smart device to offer a live view when movement is detected. The pint-size 2-inch square connects to a USB power source and is super easy to hide.
Best Wired: Google Nest Indoor Cam
Video Quality: 1920X1080P Full HD | Field of View: 130 degrees diagonal | Motion Detection Range: 20 feet (night) | Night Vision: Yes
For those interested in a wired model, we recommend the Google Nest Cam. You'll get continuous live streaming with 1080P resolution from any smart device, never running out of batteries.
Boasting a night vision feature with high-powered infrared LEDs, you can expect crystal-clear footage even in the pitch dark. We also appreciate that this mini camera has two-way audio.
Best Outdoor: Arlo Wire-Free Video Doorbell
Video Quality: Full HD, 1536 x 1536 resolution | Field of View: 130 degrees wide | Motion Detection Range: 25 feet | Night Vision: Yes
Long battery life
If you're looking for something to monitor the front of your home, consider getting a video doorbell, like the Arlo Essential. It connects to your WiFi and offers high-def viewing at a 180-degree angle.
Setup is easy—no hardwiring needed—and the rechargeable battery lasts a whopping six months. This hidden doorbell camera also has two-way audio and syncs with the Arlo app to offer real-time notifications.
"Most consumer-grade cameras made by companies such as Arlo, Ring, and SimpliSafe are perfectly fine for residential use." — Michael A. Silva, CPP, CSC, of Silva Consultants
Best with Audio: Kasa Smart Spot Indoor 1080p Wireless Surveillance Camera
Video Quality: 1920 x 1080 Full HD | Field of View: Not listed | Motion Detection Range: 20 feet | Night Vision: Yes
Finicky motion sensor
Memory card not included
The Kasa Spot offers crystal-clear continuous viewing with 1080P resolution and high-def night vision. Not only will you be able to see what's happening, but you can also hear it, thanks to the crisp, two-way audio feature.
This discreet indoor camera plugs into a wall, so you'll never run out of batteries. Then it pairs wirelessly to voice-control devices, like Google Assistant and Alexa, allowing you to talk through your phone.
Best for Pets: Eufy Security 2K Indoor Pan & Tilt Pet Camera
Video Quality: 1920 x 1080 Full HD | Field of View: 360 degrees horizontally or 96 degrees vertically | Motion Detection Range: 32.8 feet (night) | Night Vision: Yes
Syncs with smart devices
Want to monitor your fur baby while you're away? Go with the Eufy Pan & Tilt. This indoor pet camera connects to smart home hubs like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.
When motion is detected, it automatically tracks and records the movement and displays it on your synced device. We also like that you can talk with your pet through the built-in two-way audio feature.
Most Discreet: WNAT Hidden Camera Smoke Detector
Video Quality: 1920 x 1080 Full HD | Field of View: 125 degrees | Motion Detection Range: Not listed | Night Vision: Yes
Only points down
Short battery life
This faux smoke detector is an excellent option for your entryway, mudroom, or hallway. The wireless design can be installed on any ceiling and provides live viewing with 1080P resolution.
This hidden camera also has a built-in motion sensor and night vision to capture movement at all hours of the day. Just bear in mind that it's not a real smoke detector, so don't install it in place of your existing one.
Our number one pick for hidden cameras is the Quniao Spy Camera Air Purifier (view at Amazon). The inconspicuous design doubles as a covert video recorder and an actual air purifier, plus it's got two-way audio, night vision, and continuous 24-hour viewing. For something a little more budget-friendly, your best bet is the Prosia Hidden Camera (view at Amazon), a teensy-tiny wireless model with a rechargeable lithium battery.
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 be installing 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, think about whether it'll be installed on your wall, ceiling, or home exterior. Some options can be placed 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," Silva tells The Spruce. "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, as well as 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) are only used in primary entrances and walkways. This 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. Battery-powered cameras should be first charged fully then attached 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, you'll download the app and sync the video recorder through WiFi.
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.