Best DIY Home Security Camera System – 2019 Recommendations

There used to be a time when a professionally installed home security camera system was the only option for most of us. But in 2019 we live in the golden age for DIY enthusiasts. Why pay a ‘professional’ when you can select, buy and build your build your own home security camera system for far less money?

My top 3 recommendations for the best DIY home security camera systems are:

Now while I prefer the Pro-DIY route of picking my own IP cameras, Network Video Recorder (NVR), network switches, Ethernet cables, and what not, this may be too much for you. If so, you want the alternative which I call easy-DIY home CCTV where you buy a pre-packaged kit that has all the equipment you need along with installation instructions.

Going the DIY route means you gain flexibility – you can choose the features you need to start off, then upgrade as you learn more about your needs. You also save money by not paying a monthly fee. If anything, the problem is choice. There are different types of technologies to choose from and then there are dozens of brands across the price spectrum.

That’s why I thought of writing this article to help you choose a ready-to-use Easy-DIY home CCTV kit.

Best PoE Security Camera System Recommendations 2019: Summary

AwardModelCameras in KitPrice
4-Channel Kits
Best Budget Amcrest NV2104E-IP2M-852EB4 4

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Best Value (with Wi-Fi) Reolink RLK4-210WB4 4

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8-Channel Kits
Best Budget Reolink RLK8-410B4 4

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Best Value Amcrest AMNV40M8-4B-B 4

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Best High-end LaView LV-KNX968E88W4-T4 8

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16-Channel Kits
Best Budget Reolink RLK16-410B8 8

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Best Value LaView LaView LV-KN996P1612A4-T3 16

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Best High-end 4k LaView LV-KNY49E616W4D48-T6 16

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Methodology

As usual, we have grouped our recommendations by the best budget kit, the kit offering the best value, and the best high-end kit system.

Which DIY route – Easy-DIY or Pro-DIY?

A home security camera system consists of the following essential parts:

  • The heart of the system, the Network Video Recorder (NVR)
    • Before the advent of network cameras, the equivalent of the NVR would have been called a DVR which works only with analogue security cameras. An NVR works only with network-based cameras. So remember a DVR works with analogue cameras. and an NVR works with network cameras only. In this article, I will be looking only at NVR based systems.
    • This is because DVR-based analogue systems are on their way out, they simply cannot compete with the quality and convenience of network cameras and NVRs.
  • Cameras – Network cameras (a.k.a IP cameras) are fully digital – the image is sent digitally to the NVR through a network cable instead of an analogue BNC cable as in a DVR-based system. This enables resolution higher than 1080p(2MP), and currently you can go up to 4MP.
  • The hard drive that will store the recorded video and images – read my detailed guide to selecting the right hard drive.
  • The Ethernet cables needed to connect the cameras to the NVR
  • The power adaptors for the cameras (read on to see how you can avoid these)

Now there are two ways of choosing the different parts above for your dream DIY home security camera kit – what I call going Pro-DIY or Easy-DIY.

Pro-DIY – A fully custom solution where you pick NVR and cameras separately

This is what I have done – I built my DIY NAS-based NVR system, the benefits being maximum flexibility, power and economy. The downside is having to read up on the essentials and ensuring compatibility between all the different bits (but that’s why I am writing this blog: to help you make sense of it all).

A huge advantage of going Pro-DIY is that you can also set up a home automation system that can talk to your CCTV setup!

Easy-DIY – An All-in-one pre-packaged solution where cameras are bundled with the NVR system

You leave the tough work of building the kit to somebody else but you pay for the benefit. This is recommended for novices or even experts if you don’t have the time or inclination to do the research. Just pick a brand you are comfortable with, look for the options you want and push the button.

Any NVR kit from a decent manufacturer will use the Power over Ethernet standard. If you are looking for the best PoE security camera system, all the kits I recommend below are PoE-enabled. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How to choose your Easy-DIY home security camera system

So you have chosen to go the Easy-DIY Home CCTV route. That’s a great choice if you want to get started right away and don’t want the hassle of researching and understanding how to put a home CCTV system together.

First off, lets get the confusion about names out of the way. Home Security Camera System, Home Surveillance System, NVR Surveillance System, NVR Security System, NVR kit, IP Camera Surveillance Kit – these all typically mean the same, a complete kit that includes everything you need to get up and running.

Choosing your digital network-based home security system depends on the following:

  • How many cameras do you need?
    Security camera systems are commonly specified by the number of separate channels they support. This simply indicates how many separate camera video streams they can record. They start from single channel devices going all the way up to 32.
  • What level of video quality or resolution do you need?
    My usual recommendation of at least 1080p (2 Megapixels) applies. There are tons of substandard 720p (HD-Ready) systems you can get, but none of them will have the resolution needed to allow law enforcement positive identification of an intruder.
  • Do you want the ability to use wireless cameras as well?
    While I generally do not recommend using wireless for critical home systems such as security, there are some situations where a wireless camera makes sense. Now you don’t need a WiFi enabled NVR to use a Wi-Fi camera – this is a common misconception. A Wi-Fi camera can simply connect to your Wi-Fi router and thus be connected to the NVR.
  • Do you intend to upgrade by adding more cameras later on?
    If you think you need only 2 cameras now, get a 4-channel system. If you think you need just 4 cameras right now, go for the 8-channel. Once you start enjoying the security provided by your spanking new CCTV system, you will enjoy the option to add more cameras. But if you want that luxury, plan ahead.
  • Do you want automatic redundant storage?
    Most NVRs can record only to one hard disk. This means data storage is not redundant – a hard disk failure or theft of the NVR would mean that you lose all your recorded footage. USB backup is supported on most NVRs to mitigate against this risk but ideally the NVR should have at least 2 hard disk bays and automatically write a copy of the footage to the second hard drive. The other option to explore is whether the NVR can write the footage to a remote network location such as a NAS. To learn more about surveillance hard drives, check my latest guide.

Best 4-channel NVR Kits

Best Budget 4-ch NVR Kit: Amcrest 1080p 4-channel NVR Kit with 4 1080p PoE cameras and 1TB hard drive (Amcrest NV2104E-IP2M-852EB4)


Amcrest AMNV20M4-4B-B Budget 4-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

Amcrest AMNV20M4-4B-B Budget 4-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 4-channel recording @ 1080p supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 1TB hard drive included, max. possible is a single 6TB hard drive
  • Motion detection with email alerts and push notification
  • Remote smartphone access
  • ONVIF support allows you to connect 3rd party cameras

IP Camera Features - IP2M-842EB

  • 3-axis black colour camera
  • 2MP CMOS image sensor (1080p)
  • Night vision with 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • IP 67 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


Amcrest is already on our recommended outdoor and indoor IP camera lists. These guys have just burst on the scene and come up with some very high quality products. This NVR security camera kit is an entry-level model at a very budget-friendly price. Amcrest bundles their NVRs and cameras in a wide range of combinations, so you are sure to find a kit that matches your exact needs.

The NVR in this kit is a 4-channel affair which can record all the channels simultaneously at up to 1080p. It can also do motion detection on all the channels and send email alerts. One thing I really like about Amcrest is that they do not try to lock down their products and trap you in their ecosystem. Since the NVR supports the ONVIF standard, you can add any 3rd party camera from manufacturers like Hikvision, Dahua, Sony, Vivotek, and even Foscam (Amcrest’s nemesis whom they had a falling out with and the reason for the Amcrest brand being created).

The camera included in this kit appears to be the IP2M-842EB model, which can also be purchased separately. These are 1080p (2MP) IP cameras that ca do night vision and have a very good IP67 weather rating. They are also ONVIF compliant so can be used with ONVIF compliant NVRs or a DIY NAS NVR system if you have one.

Using the Amcrest smartphone app, you can login to the NVR at any time to see a live feed of all the cameras as well as recordings.

See the full datasheet of this NVR here(opens in new tab).

PROS:
  • Good image quality with 1080p cameras
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Very good value for money
  • USB Backup feature
  • 2-way audio (voice chat) possible

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection
  • Free smartphone app could be better – it lacks basic features such as push notifications, paid version needed really
  • No redundant storage due to single SATA interface, cannot write to network
  • No scheduled USB backup option
  • No alarm in/out connections

Check Price on Amazon

Back to comparison table

Best Value 4-ch Wireless Security Camera System: Reolink 1080p 4-channel NVR Kit with 4 1080p PoE/WiFi cameras and 1TB hard drive (Reolink RLK4-210WB4)


Reolink RLK4-210WB4 - Best Value 4-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

Reolink RLK4-210WB4 - Best Value 4-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 4-channel recording @ 1080p supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 1TB hard drive included, max. possible is a single 4TB hard drive
  • Motion detection with email alerts and push notification
  • Remote smartphone access

IP Camera Features - RLC-210W

  • 2MP CMOS image sensor (1080p)
  • 80° viewing angle at 4mm focal length
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports and Wi-Fi(IEEE802.11 b/g/n 2T2R)
  • Embedded mic
  • IP66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


Reolink is one of the better brands out there. These guys have been getting quite popular due to their good quality systems at affordable price points. This NVR kit from Reolink is quite unique – it supports PoE and has built-in Wi-Fi.

The included RLC-210W cameras are Wi-Fi capable but also have PoE in case you can’t get power at the installation location. They do not have on-board storage so cannot function as standalone cameras, but they can be used with any ONVIF compliant NVR or DIY NAS system. Yes the NVR itself doesn’t support the ONVIF standard anymore but the IP cameras still do.

Can you add 3rd party IP cameras to this NVR? Maybe, Reolink doesn’t guarantee it but some users have been successful by changing their camera port to 9000 (Reolink default port) and playing around with the bit-rate and H.64 settings.

See the full datasheet of this NVR here(opens in new tab).

PROS:
  • Good image quality with 1080p cameras
  • Choice of Power over Ethernet and powerful Wi-Fi
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Excellent value for money
  • USB Backup feature

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection
  • NVR doesn’t support ONVIF standard for automatically adding 3rd party IP cameras
  • Free smartphone app could be better – it lacks basic features such as push notifications, paid version needed really
  • No redundant storage due to single SATA interface, cannot write to network
  • No scheduled USB backup option
  • No alarm in/out connections
  • Camera video bit-rate tops out at 3Mbps
  • No 2-way audio (voice chat)

Back to comparison table


Best 8-channel NVR Kits

Best Budget 8-ch NVR Kit: Reolink 4MP 8-channel NVR Kit with 4x 4MP PoE cameras and 2TB hard drive (Reolink RLK8-410B4)


Reolink RLK4-210WB4 - Best Value 4-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

Reolink RLK4-210WB4 - Best Value 4-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 8-channel recording @ 4MP supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 2TB hard drive included, max. possible is a single 4TB hard drive
  • Motion detection with email alerts and push notification
  • Remote smartphone access

IP Camera Features - RLC-410

  • 4MP CMOS image sensor (1440p)
  • 80° viewing angle at 4mm focal length
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • Embedded mic
  • IP66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


This is an 8 channel NVR that can record at up to 4MP. The included RLC-410 camera is a highly rated 4MP model that can record at up to 8Mbps. While I recommend 1080p (2MP) as a minimum resolution for security camera footage, 3MP is better for getting additional detail. This is especially useful if your cameras cover a large area like a yard. Every little bit of detail helps. That’s why 4MP is even better. While the cameras can do up to 8Mbps, you can adjust the bitrate to around 4-6Mbps to get more days of storage out of the included 2TB hard drive.

These cameras do not have on-board storage either and so cannot function as standalone cameras, but they can be used with any ONVIF compliant NVR or DIY NAS system.

PROS:
  • Good image quality with 1080p cameras
  • Choice of Power over Ethernet and powerful Wi-Fi
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Excellent value for money
  • USB Backup feature

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection
  • NVR doesn’t support ONVIF standard for automatically adding 3rd party IP cameras
  • Free smartphone app could be better – it lacks basic features such as push notifications, paid version needed really
  • No redundant storage due to single SATA interface, cannot write to network
  • No scheduled USB backup option
  • No alarm in/out connections
  • Camera video bit-rate tops out at 3Mbps
  • No 2-way audio (voice chat)
  • Only 4 channels can be played back simultaneously (synchronous playback)

Back to comparison table

Best Value 8-ch NVR Kit: Amcrest 8-channel NVR Kit with 4 4MP PoE cameras and 2TB hard drive (Amcrest AMNV40M8-4B-B)



Amcrest AMNV40M8-4B-B Best Value 8-ch NVR Kit - NVR - VueVille.com

Amcrest AMNV40M8-4B-B Best Value 8-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 8-channel recording @ 4MP supported
  • 8 PoE-enabled RJ-45 ports
  • 2TB hard drive included, max. possible is a single 6TB hard drive
  • Motion detection with email alerts and push notifications
  • Remote smartphone access
  • ONVIF support allows you to connect 3rd party cameras

IP Camera Features

  • 3-axis black colour camera
  • 4MP CMOS image sensor (1520p)
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE port
  • IP 67 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


This kit from Amcrest is similar to the 4-channel kit we saw earlier but additionally supports alarm in/out connections. This is very handy as you can trigger camera recording from your existing alarm system. You can also use the NVR’s motion detection to trigger your alarm system. It works both ways.
PROS:
  • Good image quality with 1080p cameras
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Alarm connections
  • Excellent value for money
  • USB Backup feature

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection
  • Free smartphone app could be better – it lacks basic features such as push notifications, paid version needed really
  • Supports only one SATA hard drive
  • No redundant storage due to single SATA interface, cannot write to network drives
  • No scheduled USB backup option

Check Price on Amazon

Back to comparison table

Best High-End 8-ch NVR Kit: LaView 8-channel NVR Kit with 8 4MP PoE cameras and 2x2TB hard drive (LaView LV-KNX968E88W4-T4)



LaView LV-KNX968E88W4-T4 - High-end 8-ch NVR Kit

LaView LV-KNX968E88W4-T4 - High-end 8-ch NVR Kit - Camera



LV-N9608C8E NVR Features

  • 8-channel recording @ 4MP supported, H.265 encoding
  • 4K HDMI Output (3840×2160)
  • 8 PoE-enabled RJ45 ports
  • Alarm in/out connections
  • 2x6TB hard drives included, max. possible is 2x4TB hard drives
  • Advanced motion detection with email alerts and push notification
  • Remote smartphone access
  • ONVIF support allows you to connect 3rd party cameras


LV-PB3040W IP Camera Features

  • 4MP 1/3″ CMOS image sensor (1520p)
  • 83° Viewing angle, 4mm lens
  • Max 8Mbps bitrate
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • IP 66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


Now we are getting to some real serious IP camera systems. LaView is a company that officially re-brands Hikvision CCTV equipment. So the hardware is really top-notch stuff and that explains the much higher cost compared to Reolink and Amcrest. They will also customise kits to your exact needs, so you can get the best bank for your buck.

This NVR kit is one of the most powerful Easy-DIY systems around. The NVR can support ONVIF compliant cameras up to 12MP – even those from 3rd party manufacturers, so you are future-proofed in a huge way. Just bear in mind that the total incoming bandwidth of the NVR is 80Mbps. So divide 80 by your desired bitrate to see how many cameras you can hook up to the NVR.

Audio in/out, alarm in/out, advanced motion detection, NAS/FTP support, you name it, this kit’s got it. By the way did I mention it supports 4K HDMI output? Imagine hooking up this NVR to your 4K TV and see all 8 cameras simultaneously on your high-res TV. That’s quite impressive, I tell you.

PROS:
  • Excellent image quality with 4MP cameras, max 8MP supported
  • Wide 3rd-party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Redundant storage supported due to dual SATA interface
  • 8-channel synchronous playback
  • Advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection supported
  • Great value for money
  • USB Backup feature
  • LaView will customise the kit to your exact needs

CONS:
  • Incoming bandwidth of 80 Mbps limits maximum bandwidth per camera to 10 Mbps

Check Price on Amazon

Back to comparison table


Best 16-channel NVR Kits

Best Budget 16-ch NVR Kit: Reolink 4MP 16-channel NVR Kit with 8x 4MP PoE cameras and 3TB hard drive (Reolink RLK16-410B8)


Reolink RLK16-410B8 - Budget 16-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

Reolink RLK16-410B8 - Budget 16-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 16-channel recording @ 4MP supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 3TB hard drive included, max. possible are 2x8TB hard drives
  • Motion detection with email alerts, push notifications
  • Remote smartphone access

IP Camera Features - RLC-410

  • 4MP 1/3″ CMOS image sensor (1440p)
  • 80° Viewing angle, 4mm lens
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • Embedded mic
  • IP 66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


Reolink is once again the budget option for 16 channel home security camera systems with their unbeatable price points. Support for 4MP cameras is impressive at this price level, but note that it cannot simultaneously play back more than 4 channels. The hardware is not powerful enough to simultaneously playback 16x4MP streams.

Its a great option if you are on a budget but I would encourage you to look at our best value recommendation below.

PROS:
  • Good image quality with 4MP cameras
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Excellent value for money
  • USB Backup feature

CONS:
  • No advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion or dwell detection
  • NVR doesn’t support ONVIF standard for automatically adding 3rd party IP cameras
  • Can playback only 4 channels simultaneously (synchronous playback)
  • No redundant storage support
  • No remote control

Back to comparison table

Best Value 16-ch NVR Kit: LaView 6MP 16-channel NVR Kit with 12x 2MP PoE cameras and 3TB hard drive (LaView LV-KN996P1612A4-T3)


LaView LV-KN996P1612A4-T3 - Best Value 16-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

LaView LV-KN996P1612A4-T3 - Best Value 16-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

LV-N9916C6E NVR Features

  • 16-channel recording @ 6MP supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 3TB hard drive included, max. possible is 4x6TB hard drives
  • Advanced motion detection with email alerts, push notifications
  • Remote smartphone access
  • ONVIF support allows you to connect 3rd party cameras

IP Camera Features - LV-PB932F4

  • 2MP CMOS image sensor (1080p)
  • 79° Viewing angle, 4mm lens
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • IP 66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


Yes this is a very powerful NVR that comes bundled with just 2MP cameras. I believe its great value though as most people can do just fine with 1080p resolution. What is more important is that it supports advanced motion detection algorithms to cut down on false alerts. Besides you can always add more higher resolution cameras as 4 PoE ports are available for further expansion.

Although it come with only 1 hard drive, you can add up to 4 in total for an amazing level of redundancy. You can even specify which cameras should be recorded on each disk – that is a degree of fine tuning that you cannot get in lesser models. I am not as happy about the lack of 4K output, especially as the NVR supports cameras of up to 6MP.

PROS:
  • Good image quality with 1080p cameras
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Very good value for money
  • Can record simultaneously to more than one hard drive for redundant storage
  • USB Backup feature
  • LaView will customise the kit to your exact needs

CONS:
  • NVR HDMI output is only 1080p, no 4K on offer here
  • Nitpicking here really but the cameras are only 2MP.

Check Price on Amazon

Back to comparison table

Best High-end 16-ch NVR Kit: LaView 6MP 16-channel NVR Kit with 16x 4MP PoE cameras and 2 hard drives (5TB) (LaView LV-KNY49E616W4D48-T6)

LaView LV-KNY49E616W4D48-T6 - High-End 16-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 16-channel recording @ 4MP supported
  • PoE-enabled
  • 1x3TB and 1x2TB hard drives included, max. possible are 4x6TB hard drives
  • Advanced motion detection with email alerts, push notifications
  • Remote smartphone access
  • ONVIF support allows you to connect 3rd party cameras

IP Camera Features - IP2M-842EB

  • 8x domes and 8x bullets
  • 4MP CMOS image sensor
  • 2.8mm domes and 4mm bullets
  • 30m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • RJ45 PoE ports
  • IP 66 Weather-rated

Read Amazon user reviews


If you are after the ‘Best of the Best’ Easy-DIY NVR kits, look no further. This is it – in a convenient kit that has 8 domes and 8 bullet style cameras. Everything that I would ever want to have in my home security kit is here – 4K recording, 4K playback, redundant storage, advanced motion detection, you name it, its got it.

I am considering adding an NVR to my DIY NAS NVR system and this would be the perfect addition.

PROS:
  • Excellent image quality with 4MP cameras
  • Wide 3rd party camera support through ONVIF standard
  • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
  • Great value for money
  • Can record at 8MP (4K) resolution, and output 4K over HDMI
  • Can record simultaneously to more than one hard drive for redundant storage
  • USB Backup feature
  • LaView will customise the kit to your exact needs

CONS:
  • None

Check Price on Amazon

Back to comparison table

Other popular NVR Kits

Too many compromises: Zmodo 1080p 4-channel NVR Kit with 4 1080p PoE cameras and 1TB hard drive


Zmodo ZM-SS88B9B4-S-1TB - Best Budget 4-ch NVR Kit - VueVille.com

Zmodo ZM-SS88B9B4-S-1TB Budget 4-ch NVR Kit - Camera - VueVille.com

NVR Features

  • 4-channel recording @ 1080p supported
  • PoE but with proprietary cables
  • 1TB hard drive included, max. possible is a single 4TB hard drive
  • Motion detection with email alerts
  • Remote smartphone access

IP Camera Features

  • 3-axis black colour camera
  • 2MP CMOS image sensor (1080p)
  • 2.8mm lens
  • 10m IR range, true IR-cut filter
  • USB-to-RJ45 connector
  • Weather-proof


The Zmodo really has the potential to be the budget-king, and challenge Reolink’s dominance at the entry-level. Where do I begin? Bizarre design choices such as using a micro-USB cable and camera connections instead of regular old network cables and RJ45 ports, and deceptive marketing which then calls this a “network cable” which it is anything but! I have never ever seen a “network cable” that has one RJ-45 end and a USB connector at the other end.

A frustrating smartphone app experience rounds off the overall lack of finesse. These kits may look great value but its false economy. Even purchasing additional cameras can be a nightmare. Save yourself the hassle and just stick with any of our recommendations above instead of these Zmodo kits.

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A mechanical engineer by profession, I am passionate about building a great smart home experience using the best of home security and home automation.

30 Comments
  1. Hi Daniel – thank you for this write up and as well as for “How we built our DIY Home Security Camera System.” The latter is simply amazing!

    I’m currently researching a solution for my home and was thinking of using one of these DIY NVR solutions you’re recommending (thinking the LaView or Amcrest) however, I’ve been reading that the NVR software is HORRIBLE for these and that their mobile apps are just about the same.

    I’m starting to suspect that this would be the case for all DIY NVR solutions because I’m currently testing one out. It’s from GW Security Systems (8CH6C5072IPC) and while the cameras are pretty good the NVR software really su*ks!

    What’s your experience with these DIY NVR?

    How is the software for your QNAP NAS? Would you know where I can go to preview the software? I’m starting to seriously consider going down the same route as you and build my own.

    Thanks again for your blog and for the great resources!

    Steve

    • By the way, I am putting together a step by step tutorial on how to use QNAP Surveillance Station. I should add one downside of the NAS NVR solution is that it doesn’t support the advanced motion detection methods some cameras support such as the intrusion detection mode of Hikvisions. But I am not bothered as I run 24/7 recording with alarm recording on top so that I can scrub through just the alarm events.

    • Hi Steve, thanks for dropping by! I call these NVR kits the EasyDIY solution to home CCTV but my preferred option is FullDIY where I run everything off one small NAS box, my QNAP TS-253A. I have 4 cameras and the QNAP Surveillance Station takes care of my needs nicely with redundant storage and an OpenVPN server all for under $500. The QNAP Surveillance STation software hasn’t changed much in the last 3 years but its reliable and does the job. You can check out a live demo on this page. It should give you a taste for the software. Synology is another option but I haven’t tried it personally.

  2. Dear Daniel, bless your generous tech loving heart for this blog! I am a grandma who doesn’t speak the language, and in desperate need of security. For months, the RingPro was all I could barely understand. I still couldn’t answer the question: would this set-up, or ones like it, incur extra charges for data usage on my Comcast internet bill? In my mind the video to their storage equaled streaming. Told ya. More importantly, I held off because I knew there was a better way. I have tried my best at NVR vs. PoE. Then there’s the world of software for that. Now, I’m going to look at QNAP. My consideration are: would wi-fi security cameras affect the speed of the internet ping? My son makes his living gaming. He doesn’t speak any other language. My main requirement is recording all motion & an easy time stamped access log of recorded motion on my pc. Real-time remote alerts and viewing is nice. I wouldn’t have to be home to send the police for an active event. I live in Boulder, CO where there are 100 times more pot stores than grocery stores. People who would never think of moving here are moving here. My first time in an apartment building, and it sucked before the low-lifes moved-in. Now, I have to have all my online purchases sent to my other son’s place, because my packages disappear within the hour. Detroit druggies are in the house, and its about to get real around here. Third consideration, I need an undetectable micro camera to catch the person who vandalizes the first camera I install at my door. Told ya, really real. I’m a retired police officer, and I’m not moving for crack heads. As soon as I figure this out, someones going to jail. And it begins. Chapter 2 will be a smartlock. The creepy pos maintenance man who enters apartments at will. Post when I’m there. Happy Thanksgiving to you, and thanks again for your generous information sharing in terms I can understand & giving your time to answer questions!

    • Hi really enjoyed reading your comment and thanks for the kind words. You must have a lot of stories to share from your law enforcement career!

      1) Having a lot of WiFi cameras in the house can slow down your Internet but this depends on how fast your connection is and only if you have cloud recording on, so the cameras need to stream the video over the Internet all the time.

      2)I would not recommend using Wi-Fi cameras only because I have found that WiFi cameras are not 100% reliable. I would use wired cameras and use wireless cameras only to reach places the wired ones cant go. Wi-Fi is not great for maintaining a 100% reliable connection at all times, it was never designed for that purpose. Plus your wireless cameras then are dependent on how good your WiFi router is. At some point Wi-Fi cameras will lose their connection to the Internet and have to reconnect, worst case they may fail to reconnect automatically and you may not realise they are down. I have got wired cameras running for nearly 2 years straight without as much as a reboot. You want reliability like that for your home security but you cant get that from wireless cameras. At least not yet.

      So I would rather go for a wired NVR kit like the LaView or Reolink sets you see in this article. A NAS as your NVR is great if you need all the extra tech features but otherwise may be overkill.

      3)I think the Reolink Argus battery powered camera would be ideal for catching vandals attacking your main security cameras because its battery powered and you can put it anywhere and disguise it too! Read my review of the Argus here. For something more discreet check out the various spy cameras you can get here.

      4) Smart locks – I have a smart home (smart sensors, smart plugs, cameras, heating, humidifiers, air purifiers, speakers) but the one thing I decided against is a smart lock mainly because I am afraid that it could be hacked and a burglar can waltz in easily.

      Hope this helps.

  3. Daniel,

    After reading this article it is a nice write up but I notice that you only touch base on 4 brands of camera’s. Are there other brands of camera’s that you would recommend on other levels such as these or even others that you would simply stay away from? Examples like Swann, Lorex, Nightowl, Ezviz, or Q-See?

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Thanks, I mainly write about proven reliable brands like the ones I use myself daily. Swann and Lorex are mostly just dumbed-down rebranded Hikvision and Dahua and are the better options on your list. However Nightowl, Ezviz and Q-See are among the hundreds of brands that are very light on features and are built to a price. They may do the job for a while but the question is how reliable are they? You don’t want your cameras to crap out when you need them the most! That’s why it pays to go for a proven reputable brand.

      • FWIW, EzViz at least claims to be a consumer/residential-oriented subsidiary of Hikvision (see the company profile page on their website). My church installed three 8ch Ezviz NVRs in early 2017. We recently installed a bunch of Hikvision dome cameras on our DVRs after applying the most recent firmware upgrade (which offers line crossing and intrusion detection): pretty much plug-and-play.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your research, learning, and your setup. I’ve been researching PoE security systems and I always come back to your site. I know how much time I’ve spent researching and am happy you’re so willing to share.

    Based on your analysis, I’d narrowed my choices down to the Hikvison, DaHua, and Reolink when I read about Ubiquiti’s line of security cameras. They seem relatively new to security cameras. But I love their home network products so much because of the quality and thoughtful engineeing that I am seriously considering them. Do you have any thoughts on Ubiquiti?

  5. Thanks for the nice reviews. I will try a LaView for my next NVR. Yep, zmodo is crap. I bought two systems from zmodo trying to get one working system. In the end, they all went to the dump, worthless. Bad software, bad hardware, bad tech support. Never again.

  6. Thank you for this great article. Looking for a complete new security solutions, I’m looking at the DIY solution (NVR + mix different cameras brands), but having read bunch of articles, I’m still confused about the legitimity/quality of some brands (like Reolink). I’m in favor of buying a Hikvision NVR and maybe their cameras as well. Do you have feedback, review, technical advices about Hikvision products (for NVR as well as cameras)? Thank you soo much.

  7. Just an FYI: according to the EZViz website, EZViz is the consumer/residential subsidiary of Hikvision. I can confirm that with the current firmware upgrade, Hikvision cameras are plug-and-play, which does seem to support the claim. (Dahua ONVIF cameras take some tweaking to get full functionality.)

    We installed three 8-channel systems in our church in Dec 2016, and they’ve been trouble-free. With motion capture enabled, we’re able to record about 19 months of video (2TB drives) before the drive fills and it starts overwriting the oldest files.

    Haven’t tried other NVR-based systems so don’t know how that compares, but we have no complaints.

  8. Than you for all this information. However I am confused on at least 2 matters:

    1. Your system reviews show all Reolink NVRs as with ONVIF support, whereas the Reolink web site on its only NVRs says in red letters “The Reolink NVRs are designed for Reolink security cameras ONLY”

    2. Whatever CCTV system one chooses it will always need cameras, so a camera is a no brainer first purchase, assuming that one would opt for a ONVIF compliant system. One can then test this using Blue Iris or similar and a spare PC. However, in order to choose an appropriate camera one needs to understand how motion detection works. Is it done by the NVR or by the camera, or a combination of both? For example, a camera could have a PIR built in, whereas the NVR can only “see” the image. In this connection, I recall that somewhere in your articles you said that your system did not support advanced motion detection, whereas in your packaged systems review you put this as a con.

    When is advanced motion detection necessary or even desirable?

    Unfortunately none of the systems reviewed seem to be still available – according to the links. If you wish to earn from clicks it would be fruitful to update the equipment and links accordingly.

    The other issue is that I am in the United Kingdom, and although I can order direct from the USA there are very bad reviews for all of the featured ONVIF makes such as Hikvision and Amcrest with regard to customer support. LaView is not found in the UK at all.

    I expect that others starting to put together a security system are having the same questions and we would all welcome and appreciate the benefit of your experience.

    • Hi there. I have checked all the links and they are all working if you are from the US. My blog is US focused as most of the readers are from the US. For UK readers, the blog tries to find the closest match on the Amazon UK page but some products like the LaView do not exist on the Amazon UK site unfortunately.

      Reolink NVRs used to be advertised with ONVIF support, apparently they cannot guarantee or support with non-Reolink cameras but the still work with non-Reolink cameras. Note the word ‘designed’ – they don’t say it wont work.

      Advanced motion detection is typically a camera feature that only NVRs of the same brand as the camera can detect. They are often called Advanced Video Analytics or VCA events. The advanced motion detection methods such as line crossing, intrusion detection are very useful for reducing false alerts as detailed in this blog post.

      Yes at the moment, my NAS based NVR cannot detect the advance motion detection alerts coming from my Hikvision cameras for example.

  9. Hi,

    I’m looking for an easy DIY setup. I see your recommendations on the page but they appear to be dated. The LaView products for the 8CH link to a new different set. Can you provide your thoughts based on what’s available from the manufacturer’s today? I’m debating between an 8CH or 16CH DVR kit. I only need 6 cameras to start but may eventually add a few more.

    • Hey there. I double checked and the link is working correctly for me. It is a current model, not dated at all. The 8 channel model I have described is LaView LV-KNX968E88W4-T2, and the link in the article takes you to the Amazon USA page of that product. Are you looking at a different Amazon website, maybe Amazon CA?

  10. Great blog, there isn’t anything else like it that I have found.

    Are you familiar with Swann equipment (I am in Canada) They have a thermal/motion camera 5MP Super HD NHD-865-MSB that is supposed to reduce false motion alarms by sensing thermal as well as motion.

    I am considering a POE/NVR system for our summer trailer that has no power in winter so will be installing solar power. It is also Canada and it seems like wireless cameras just don’t work reliably in very cold weather. Two way audio would be nice but most mid price systems don’t seem to offer it. What is involved in triggering a siren from a NVR? I was hoping to see NO/NC contacts in the specs but most NVRs don’t seem to have anything like that.

    Tony, Waterloo, Ontario

    • Hi Tony,

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes I am familiar with Swann equipment and they have lots of good features. However the reason I do not recommend them is that their cameras and NVRs are locked down – they do not work with any other brand or manufacturer’s products. You can see under the compatible products section of the product page, they list only a few Swann NVRs. This is because they do not support the ONVIF standard which guarantees inter-operability. Or in other words you are stuck with them once you start buying their cameras/NVRs (similar to what Apple does with iOS). This is not at all the DIY spirit I subscribe to, so I avoid such brands.

      Now it is a good idea to combine PIR motion sensing with digital motion detection to reduce false alerts. However be advised this will not avoid animals like cats triggering motion detection. It will however avoid false alerts due to clouds, shadows, wind & trees etc. The ONVIF compliant alternatives with PIR onboard are: Vivotek IB8377-HT (Bullet), Vivotek FD8181 (Dome), Axis M1065, Vivotek FD9181-HT, Hikvision DS-2CD2432F-IW etc.

      True full-duplex 2-way audio is a premium feature and it is supported only by a few cameras – see suggestions here and here.

      Regarding NO/NC contacts, this are typically called Alarm in/out ports. There are models on this page that have alarm in/out ports, but I have personally not tried using this feature.

  11. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the help! I’m looking into buying a Reolink kit with the RLK8-410B4 and four cameras. I’d like to add a HIkvision DS-2CD2155FWD with the two way audio and alarm. Your review says the NVR supports 3rd party cameras but the Reolink site says only their cameras are supported. I’ve asked them as well and waiting on a reply, can you confirm your position?

    Thanks, Pano

    • Hey Pano, until recently Reolink advertised ONVIF support for their NVRs. However recently it seems they have stopped doing so. It looks like they are trying to lock down their NVRs by disabling ONVIF support at firmware level. However this only disables automatic camera detection. some people have still been able to add 3rd party cameras by configuring the cameras directly and adjusting H.264 / bitrate settings and using port 9000 (which is the Reolink default port). I will add this bit of info to the post.

      • Thank you Daniel. I can confirm Reolink replied their NVR works ONLY with their cameras, or so they say. I’ve settled with one of their systems so no longer looking to add 3rd party. Thanks again for the reply though.

  12. Hi,
    Most of your Amazon links on this page seem to be dead.
    They go to “We found 0 results for “Amcrest Ultra ….” ” etc. Only one is working as intended.
    This might be costing you referrals!
    Thanks for a useful website.

    • Thanks for commenting – I have a plugin which automatically customizes the Amazon link based on your location. Since you are based in the UK (I can tell from your IP address), the plugin is attempting to redirect you to the same product on the Amazon UK site. But not all products sold on the Amazon US site are sold on the Amazon UK site – so you get an error. Sorry about that.

  13. I am reading comments on product supports sites & Amazon reviews saying that the only browser capable of accessing these NVR systems is Internet Explorer. If one only has Mac, or only has Chromebooks, does that mean these will only be accessible via phone apps (e.g. Android)?

  14. Hi Daniel,
    Quick question for you (great blog btw)! Was looking into LAview for a easy diy kit (US based) although you have mentioned that Laview is rebranded hikvision. My question is why would one want Laview over hikvision. Are there certain benefits that laview offers that hik does not or is it simply from a price stand point? Thank you for your time!

    • Hikvision was not selling their gear retail until recently, and so LaView was the best alternative given it was just rebranded Hikvision gear.

  15. Hi Daniel,

    Greetings from Canada. I’m looking to get a 4 camera system. What do you think of this HikVision kit. https://complink.ca/search?type=product&q=EKI-Q41T44 I recognize that it’s only 4 channel system but that’s not a big factor for my situation. The HD is only 1Tb but can be upgraded

    I will also check out LaView to see what they have available.

    • Hi Marshall, the kit looks good. If you can get Hikvision retail, then definitely go with that. Do check the warranty on offer though. Hikvision themselves do not support retail customers for their Hikvision brand products. They are now aimed more at installers and system integrators.

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