Integrating your cameras into HomeKit is one of the best ways to build your smart home environment. But which cameras are the best? This week I am going to bring you all the info on the best HomeKit cameras to secure the nature of your home in 2021.
HomeKit Weekly is a series that focuses on smart home accessories, tips and tricks on automation, and everything related to Apple’s smart home framework.
HomeKit Secure Video
HomeKit Secure Video is not a requirement to use cameras with HomeKit. Some products do not yet support HomeKit, but HomeKit Secure Video.
If a product only supports HomeKit, you can use it for automations like using a camera’s motion sensor to trigger a light or showing the live stream in Apple’s Home app.
If a product supports HomeKit Secure Video, the camera will save the footage to iCloud. To use HomeKit Secure Video, you need a compatible camera, a HomeKit hub (Apple TV, HomePod or HomePod mini) and at least an iCloud storage plan of 200 GB. If you want to use more than one camera, you’ll need the 2TB iCloud storage plan.
HomeKit Secure Video contains end-to-end encryption. As our world becomes more connected, it’s even more important to consider the security of your data from the start. In a few decades there will be no more home compared to smart homes. All houses will be smart homes. When you start with a secure foundation, customers can know they can take full advantage of modern conveniences while knowing that their privacy is still intact.
When thinking about putting equipment in your home that you can hear and see, consider the companies that make these products. What are their business models? What is their track record in protecting customer privacy? Is data protection at the core of what the company values? In my experience, Apple is the only big tech company that cares deeply about your privacy. This is why I believe HomeKit Secure Video is an essential part of the smart home experience.
HomeKit cameras for outdoors
With HomeKit cameras outdoors, the first step is to decide whether you want to be battery operated or hardwired. However, both have advantages.
With battery-operated cameras, installation and updating will be straightforward in the future. To get started, you need to do the initial charge, put it on your Wi-Fi network, add it to HomeKit, and then deploy it anywhere you want coverage. However, depending on the camera, you may need to tame it a few times a year to charge it.
One of the aspects of battery operated cameras that I think are underrated is how easy it is to update in the future. If a new model has higher quality or longer battery life, you don’t have to worry about plugging the power cord back into an electrical outlet. All you have to do is swap out the cameras.
With hard-wired cameras, you have the advantage that you mount them once and then don’t have to worry about it anymore. The main downside here is that you need to power it. Most outdoor cameras generally recommend plugging into an indoor / attic socket, as most plugs are not weatherproof. With a product like SOCKiTBOX you can protect the plug from external elements.
The eufyCam range has long been one of my favorite HomeKit products. They are available in different models with different battery life and camera quality.
The eufyCam products require a base station connected to Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and the cameras then communicate with the base station. There are no monthly fees for storing on the base station. However, if you use HomeKit Secure Video, you will get the iCloud recurring storage subscription.
While the Eufy cameras are battery operated, Eufy now offers a solar charging option if your cameras are in a location exposed to direct sunlight. When the Eufy cameras use HomeKit Secure Video, the battery life is not fully reported as they need to communicate with HomeKit. With the solar charging option, you don’t have to shut down the cameras to charge.
Another popular HomeKit outdoor camera product is the Arlo cameras
Like the Eufy cameras, they are tied to a base station, but are also compatible with HomeKit. The Arlo Pro 3 series is a great option if you want to go in that direction. Still, Arlo has several HomeKit compatible options, including Arlo Ultra, Essential Video Doorbell Wired, Pro 4, Pro 3, Pro 3 Floodlight Camera, Pro 2, and Pro Camera.
However, Arlo cameras do not support HomeKit Secure Video. Arlo sells a cloud-based subscription service for its cameras. It supports viewing your live streams in the Home app and setting up HomeKit automations.
Logitech circle view
Last week I posted my review of the Logitech Circle View camera. For a hardwired HomeKit outdoor camera, it’s hard to beat. It’s compatible with HomeKit Secure video and doesn’t even require a third-party app to use the camera. All firmware updates are carried out wirelessly.
With the Circle View camera in the Home app, I was able to set a recording zone and ignore vehicle detection for areas that drive by frequently. My house is the first in my neighborhood, so cars pass by every few minutes. If this camera were to cover my driveway I would probably want to turn on vehicle detection, but since it covers my side courtyard, I don’t want a constant stream of cars driving past my house to clog my HomeKit Secure video feed.
Logitech sells a wireless indoor / outdoor camera that supports HomeKit Secure Video. If you need a single area coverage this camera is great, but otherwise it is more cost effective to use one of the Eufy options.
Pack the best HomeKit outdoor cameras
Before deciding which HomeKit cameras to use to secure the exterior of your home, you need to decide whether you want to be battery operated or hardwired. You then need to decide if you need support for HomeKit Secure Video.
I personally use the Eufy cameras and the Logitech Circle View and I am very happy with both products.
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