GearBrain tests many several DIY home security cameras — and we know many cameras that connect without wires, use up battery life quickly. While the batteries are rechargeable, it can be a hassle to take them in and out a lot depending on where you position your camera at home. But we recently tested a security camera with a rechargeable battery that's worth noting: the Swann Smart Security Camera, a wire-free, HD 1080p video camera.
The Swann Smart Security Camera comes with a 6000 mAh high capacity battery which you need to recharge every three or four weeks (depending on the amount of activity detected.) Its app alerts you when the battery charge is running low, and the entire battery can easily be recharged in four to six hours with the USB cable included . You just plugs the battery into your Smartphone's USB wall plug — very simple. The camera is weatherproof, and you get seven days of recording for free — and company offers local and cloud storage if you want. GearBrain tested Swann Smart Security Camera in rugged weather since this camera can go outside as well as inside your smart home. Here is what we found in out tests.
To operate the Swann Smart Security Camera, you need either a smartphone or tablet running either iOS (8.0 & higher) or Android (6.0 & higher) plus a high-speed Wi-Fi connection with a minimum upload speed of 512kbps. To charge, you will need a smartphone or tablet charging plug, which is not included. Swann recommends having a high amp charger (i.e. 5V 2.1 Amp) if you want faster charging. Also keep in mind the camera even though is weatherproof and can be used inside and outdoors, the batteries could be affected by extremely cold weather. When we tested the camera outside, we had it in temperatures below freezing for about a month. The batteries in the camera performed very well. They lasted up to 3.5 weeks in weather that averaged 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a lot longer than we thought they would last, especially after testing a number of other wired free security cameras.
Swann Security Camera can be mounted several ways and uses a magnet to secure the camera to the base. During testing, we found the magnet to be rather strong and kept a tight grip on the camera. You can secure the camera on your wall or ceiling with the mount and supplied mounting screws and wall plugs. It can also be positioned on a flat service like a book shelf or countertop. We liked how the base mount allows you to rotate the camera in any angle to assure your camera is positioned — that way you can record any part of your home, inside or outside, that you want to watch.
The camera records in HD 1080p and has a field of view (FOV) of 120 feet. It also has a passive infrared (PIR) distance of 25 feet (8m) and night vision up to 32 feet (10m). The camera also has a microphone which can monitor sounds up to 16 feet (5m). When testing the sounds, there is a delay of about five seconds but the sound is clear.
One of the best features of Swann Security Camera is its True Detect technology, Swann's new heat based PIR motion detection. This technology lets you to capture and record activity more effectively than just simple motion detection. How? It detects the heat of an object — whether that's a person or a car — and helps prevent false triggers. We've found many motion detection systems let you adjust the sensitivity of a sensor — so it doesn't keep pinging you when the cat runs across the hall. . This is the first security camera we've seen that uses heat signatures to determine what it's viewing — then alerting you when there is a threat.
Another feature we really liked is its free local video storage. The camera store up to seven days of 20-second video clips on its built-in, back-up memory. If you need, or want, to save more videos, no worries. The company offers privacy encryption — but that does come with a fee.
You get two days of free cloud storage, but can expand to two different 30-day plans if needed — both include a free 30-day trial period, plus premium support. The ExtraSafe Pay-As-You-Go Plan costs $4.99 per camera per month and can be cancel at any time. This is ideal for when you're on vacation or planning to leave home for a long period. The second 30-day plan is ExtraSafe Annual Plan. This option also comes with a 30-day free trial but offers two months for free. The cost is $49.99 per camera annually, and there's a payment option, if you need one.
The Swann Smart Security Camera retails for $149.99, but is available on the company website for $129.99. You can also purchase Swann Smart Security Camera on BestBuy.com, Sam's Club and other specialty consumer electronics retailers like B&H or BJs. The company also offers special packages, $279.99 for a twin pack, and $529.99 for four cameras.
Installing the Swann Smart Security Camera is very easy. Inside the box is the camera, a magnetic mounting stand, a USB to Micro USB charging cable, mounting screws, wall plugs, 3M adhesive strips, operating instructions and theft deterrent stickers from Swann. Once unboxed, you want to charge the Swann Smart Security Camera first. Using the supplied USB to MicroUSB cable, connect it to your smartphone plug and charge your camera — which should take about five to six hours.
After the camera is fully charged, download the SAFE by Swann app from either App Store or Google Play and open an account. You need to pair your camera with your home Wi-Fi network, so make sure your camera is close to your router. This will make it easier for you to pair the device. Once paired and setup is completed, name your camera and place it where you want it to work — especially if you plan to have more than one camera in your home. (You need to make sure you have a good Wi-Fi signal in that location.) Any issues with the setup process? Try resetting your camera by pressing the reset button on the back of the camera with a paper clip. We also recommend visiting Swann's site for videos which will help you troubleshoot any problems.
- Memory: Internal & secure cloud
- Power Source: Rechargeable 6000mAh Lithium battery
- Battery Recharging: via Micro USB cable (included)
- Audio microphone: Yes
- Audio Range: up to 16ft/5m
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 2.3" x 2.4" x 3.4" (58mm x 61, x 87mm)
- Weight: 0.49 lbs. (222g)
- Operating Temperature*: 14 degrees F to 113 degrees F (-10 degrees C to 45 degrees C)
- Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor & Outdoor (weatherproof IP65 rated)
- Wi-Fi Frequency: 2.5GHz & 5GHz
- App (iOS & Android): SAFE by Swann
(*Battery Performance may be affected by extreme cold weather)
Who should buy this camera?
The Swann Smart Security Camera is perfect for the person looking to build a DIY home security system. The Wi-Fi security camera is east to install, has HD video recording, night vision and provides free 7-day video storage. We like that the camera has a unique motion detection system, True Detect, which uses heat-based PIR motion to help prevent false alerts. You could also use the camera to keep a watchful eye on a pet, in a baby's room — or any area you want to monitor while you're away. We also like that the camera can be used outside of the home, which means you can get notified when people are moving around on your property. When positioning your camera outside, though, make sure there's a strong enough Wi-Fi signal — and adjust the camera settings for the optimal settings to preserve battery life.
The Swann Smart Security Camera is a good DIY home security camera. The casing's well-made and sturdy, able to withstand extreme heat and cold weather. The video resolution, 1080p HD video recording is very good. The night vision works for up to 30 feet, and we like the fact you can store up to seven days of video — in the camera — for free.
There are areas where we could see some improvement. The viewing angle is a little small (120' FOV) when compared to other Wi-Fi security camera. Also, having to recharge your battery is a little bit of a hassle. Many Wi-Fi security cameras we've reviewed offer longer lasting batteries (up to two years). Under normal conditions, Swann Security Camera's battery lasts for just about 60-days. And depending on whether you position your camera inside the home or outside, the batteries might not even work that long. Luckily, Swann does make it easy for you to pull the camera down to recharge it in just four to six hours. Also, the Swann mobile app will alert you when the batteries are running low and you need a charge.
We would also like to see the Swann Smart Security Camera work with smart home products and systems. Currently, it doesn't. We tried to add Harmony Hub, a Wi-Fi hub— which didn't work. If you want to build a DIY home security system, and include other security items like a motion sensor or smart lights, Swann is not the answer. We think Swann could be part of an effective home security system, if they were able to integrate Wi-Fi connected devices like motion sensors, smart lights or smart locks. We asked the company about integrations and they said the Smart Security Camera will integrate with Google Home and Chromecast later this year. We hope this list will grow.
If you're looking for a good reasonable priced wire-free HD Wi-Fi security camera with heat sensitivity motion detection, night vision and free video storage for seven days, you should consider Swann Smart Security Camera. It can function as a good security monitor for a baby's room, your garage, a grandparent's home or even a small business or home office. However, if want a security camera that can be integrated into your smart home system, Swann is not the answer today. We would recommend waiting until the company rolls out more smart home integrations, like the Google Home and Chromecast integrations later this year. At this time, they might also have other devices like smart lights or locks for you to add to your DIY home security system.
Pros: cost, installation, heat sensing motion detection, 7-day free video storage, HD 1080p video resolution, magnetic mounting bracket, 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi connections
Cons: low FOV, rechargeable battery, lack of smart integrations,