Selecting the best nanny cam for your family
If you are searching for a nanny cam with audio, 2-way communication, pan & tilt, wide viewing angles, lullabies and much more besides, then you have come to the right place.
Most of us don’t know anything about nanny cams or wireless surveillance systems, so the whole topic can seem overwhelming at first. However, as with anything, the more you know, the better you understand the subject matter and the easier it is to make a decision.
That’s why I wrote these nanny cam reviews, to make your life a lot easier!
So let’s look at a few important features of nanny cameras that will help you to decide which one is best for your situation. We are going to look at live video feeds, video storage, battery or mains power, hidden nanny cams, viewing angles, nanny cameras with audio and/or 2 way communication, sound and motion sensors, temperature sensors, lullabies, and pan & tilt, and whether you want remote access or not.
A few of these features are more important to me than others, for example, at the very least I want a nanny cam with audio, preferably with 2 way communication. I want pan & tilt, a wide angle lens, live video feeds, free cloud storage, sound and motion sensors, remote access and I want a battery backup if possible (so it still works if the power goes out).
So let’s jump right in and you can make a list of the features you want in a nanny cam, then you can go ahead and read my reviews.
Do you want live video feeds?
All nanny cams record live video images, but only some of them allow you to view these images in real time. Others simply store the recordings and you can watch them later in your own time.
So you need to decide whether the functionality of real time monitoring is important and practical to you.
If you don’t have internet access during the day, either from a desktop PC, your smartphone or via WIFI or you simply don’t have the time to view videos during the day, then the cheaper option where the nanny cam stores the videos, but doesn’t give you real time monitoring, might be your best option.
Otherwise, if you want real time monitoring, you need a WIFI enabled nanny cam.
How are the video recordings stored?
There are three ways your video recordings can be stored, which as you will see can be a strong deciding factor on which system you eventually select.
Storage on your PC
You can connect the nanny cam directly to your PC or to an external hard drive. The problem with this is that your PC or external drive could crash, die an untimely death or even be stolen. You have then lost all of your stored video recordings. So nanny cams that only offer video storage on a PC or external drive may not give you as much security as you need – from the point of view of storage. They may better used for home security, where you want evidence of who broke into your home
Storage on an SD card
Most nanny cams can store video footage on an SD card, rather than a PC or external drive. The problem with SD cards is that they can fill up fairly quickly (depending on the size of SD card)
Storage in the Cloud
This is a more high tech and more recent method of video storage, where the images are transmitted via WIFI and stored in the Cloud. You can then access the live video footage from the Cloud using WIFI on any mobile device or PC.
The problem with Cloud storage is that it costs money, usually a monthly fee, which for the time being makes this the least popular storage method (based on customer reviews). Although some nanny cams do not charge a fee for cloud storage.
The most popular nanny cams have live video streaming, which are stored on an SD card.
Battery operated nanny cam or one that needs electrical power?
You can purchase nanny cams that run only on battery, with the batteries lasting for up to 20 hours.
The majority however, last from 3 to 5 hours, some to around 10 hours.
The longer the battery life, the greater the price and you may find that nanny cams with a 20 hour battery cost hundreds of dollars.
With battery operated nanny cams you really want to use the motion sensor so that they only record when motion is detected. This will extend the life of the battery, as when they do not detect any motion, they enter a standby mode which uses hardly any power.
Yes, if you have a power outage, these nanny cams will keep recording, however you have to balance the cost against the probability that your home will lose power.
Do you want a hidden nanny cam or an obvious surveillance camera?
There are laws concerning recording people in your own home and these are different depending on which state you live in. So it is best if you check the nanny cam laws in your state, so you know what is and isn’t legal.
It’s also best to check these laws before you spend money on expensive hidden cams, such as those hidden in teddy bears for example, as these tend to be more expensive than the more overt home surveillance cameras that are available.
In many states you need someone’s permission to record them using a hidden nanny cam (particularly if it’s a nanny cam with audio), so the take home message is to check the laws in your state before you invest in a nanny cam or other type of home surveillance.
Do you want two-way communication?
This can be useful if you want to be able to talk to your children while you are away and they are in their nanny’s care or with your partner at home.
Although, you could always use the phone, which might be a cheaper option 🙂
Two-way communication is great when you can soothe your baby while the baby sitter is changing them or settling your baby and it is also useful to chat with the babysitter or your partner at the same time.
If you feel that this functionality is important to you, then you need to add this to your list of requirements. You can also choose a nanny cam with audio instead of 2-way communication, where you can only hear each other, but not talk.
Do you want the widest possible viewing angle?
If you want a nanny cam then you most probably also want one with the widest possible viewing angle. This is because you want to see all areas of the room with no areas that are out of view – so think about a pan & tilt function in the nanny cam.
If you only want a surveillance camera for home security, then aiming the camera at the front entrance for example, might be all you need. So in this case, a narrow field of view is most probably fine for your needs.
Do you want sound and motion sensors?
Sound detection is a great feature because it turns on when it detects sound and you can hear what is happening and being said in the immediate area. You can also hear if your baby is crying and if you have the 2-way communication function as well, you can then soothe your baby, even when they are with your partner or babysitter.
Motion sensors are good because the nanny cam only turns on if it detects motion in its field of view, otherwise it is in standby mode.
This saves on battery time (if you have a battery operated nanny cam) and also doesn’t fill up your SD card with videos of an empty room.
If you want the nanny cam so you can view the interactions of your children and a carer, then it is unlikely that a motion sensor would be needed. This is because motion sensors tend to be more useful for home surveillance, where they turn on because someone is in the room who shouldn’t be there.
Some nanny cams have both sound and motion detectors, others have have just sound detection.
Do you want a nanny camera with audio?
If you want your nanny cam to observe your children and their carer, you might want a nanny cam with audio functionality, which is a point to note when you are deciding which surveillance cameras to buy. You need to be careful here however, because there are laws about actually recording people without their consent, particularly if you have hidden nanny cams with audio turned on.
The laws are different depending on what state you are in, but if you search for ‘wiretapping and eavesdropping laws’ you should find the laws applicable to your state. It’s best to sort this out first, before you go to the added expense of purchasing a nanny cam with audio functionality. You can however, turn off the audio recordings on many of the nanny cams, but there are a few where you cannot switch it off.
One way to avoid breaching any laws is to simply let the carer know that you have installed nanny cameras with audio functionality in your home, obtain their consent and then you are good to go. Even when they have given their consent, make sure that you don’t record in areas that are considered private, such as bathrooms or if you have a live-in nanny, in their private bedroom.
FYI: If you want a nanny cam with audio functionality for your home (or even in your office), check on the list of features before you buy it, because many home surveillance cameras don’t have audio, whereas most nanny cams have either audio or 2 way communication.
Do you want a temperature sensor?
Some of the nanny cams have an inbuilt sensor that checks the ambient temperature in the room.
If the temperature changes by more than a degree or so, then you are notified via SMS or email. Some people find that this is an important function, others – not so much.
So if you aren’t fussy on this feature you can select a cheaper model or even swap over to a home surveillance camera rather than a specific nanny cam.
Do you want lullabies?
A nice feature of nanny cams is that some models play a limited number of stock lullabies, some allow you to load your own music and messages, whilst others don’t offer this feature at all.
Some parents love that they can turn on a lullaby remotely from the office, to help their little one settle at any time.
However, the more features you want, the more expensive the camera, so if you want lullabies, then make sure the model you select offers this functionality.
Do you want remote pan and tilt?
This function allows you to move the camera lens around in real time so you can track what is happening in a room.
If you can’t do this, then you are stuck with one set view of the room – which may or may not be acceptable to you. It all depends on the reason for the nanny cam.
If you just want to keep an eye on your baby while he or she is sleeping, then you most probably won’t need a pan and tilt function.
On the other hand if you want to keep an eye on other people in your home and their interactions with your child, then you might find that the pan and tilt function is just the ticket.
Do you want to access video feeds outside your home?
If you only want to observe your baby or child while you are at home, for example while they are sleeping in another room, then you won’t need as much functionality.
You might just be happy with a WIFI baby monitor that you can carry around with you at home and has a limited range of say – 500 feet?
On the other hand, if you want to observe your baby while you are at work or anywhere in the world, then you will need a WIFI/wireless nanny cam, specifically designed for remote access outside your home.
12 questions to ask yourself before you purchase a nanny cam:
- Do you want live video feeds?
- Do you want to store the videos on a PC, external drive, SD card or in the cloud?
- Do you want a battery operated nanny cam or one that needs electrical power?
- Do you want a hidden nanny cam or one that is clearly visible?
- Do you want 2-way communication?
- Do you want the widest possible viewing angle?
- Do you want sound and motion detectors?
- Do you want a nanny camera with audio?
- Do you want a temperature sensor?
- Do want the nanny cam to play lullabies?
- Do you want remote pan and tilt?
- Do you want a WIFI nanny cam?
That’s nanny cams in a nutshell!
Once you have noted the features that important to your situation, you can read my individual nanny cam reviews here.
If you have decided that you need an in-house baby monitor, not a WIFI nanny cam then you can read my baby monitor reviews here.