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If you’ve considered buying a smart security camera from the leading brands such as Ring, Nest, or Logitech, you’ll quickly discover that an ongoing subscription is required to access all the features.
Luckily, several manufacturers have recognised that not everyone is happy with an ongoing commitment. In this guide, I’ll share the best smart security cameras without any monthly fees and some tips on how to choose the right one for your home.
- Quick Summary
- How Do Security Cameras Without Subscription Work?
- Best Security Cameras Without Subscription
- Comparison Table
Best Overall: Eufycam 2C Pro• Designed from the start to work without subscription
• Footage stored on hub (included) and can be accessed remotely via app
• Decent price for the features
Runner Up: Arlo Pro 3 (With Smart Hub)• High resolution and frame rate for excellent footage
• Pair with smart hub (included) for local storage
Best for Indoors: Blink Mini• A small, wired camera for use inside your home
• Features two-way audio and a live feed from anywhere in the world
• No hub required, footage saved to on-device SD card
How Do Security Cameras Without Subscription Work?
Mainstream brands charge subscription fees because recorded footage is stored and processed in the cloud on their servers.
The security cameras shared below all have some form of local storage which is kept on the device or a hub in your home. This eliminated the need for cloud storage and the associated fees.
However, this poses its own challenges. Some things to look out for:
- Can you still access the footage via a phone app or do you need to remove the SD card and use a laptop?
- Can you access the footage remotely or do you need to be on your home Wi-Fi network?
- Is the footage overwritten when the memory is full or do you need to wipe the memory card?
Best Security Cameras Without Subscription
The best smart security cameras without a subscription are:
- Best Overall: Eufycam 2C Pro
- Runner Up: Arlo Pro 3 (with Smart Hub)
- Best for Indoors: Blink Mini
- Best for Security: Netatmo
- Great Value for Money: Eufycam 2
- Budget Pick: TP-Link Tapo C100
- Best POE Camera: Amcrest POE
Keep reading for more information about these recommendations along with the pros and cons of each.
At the end of the article, I’ve put together a full table with side-by-side specs for easy comparisons.
Best Overall: Eufycam 2C Pro
My top pick is the Eufycam 2C Pro which has been designed by Eufy to meet the growing demand for a security camera without any subscription. For this reason, all of the features work seamlessly without any monthly fees.
The Eufy 2C Pro cameras have excellent, crisp footage with a 2K resolution and an above-average 140° viewing angle. The built-in spotlight helps improve visibility at night as well as being a deterrent. However, the downside is the low frame rate which is reduced to 15fps to account for the higher resolution.
Any footage captured by the camera isn’t stored on the camera itself but on the included home base which sits inside your home with 3 months worth of storage capacity and military-grade encryption.
The thing that impresses me about the home base is that you can still view your recordings remotely for free using the Eufy app, most other manufacturers require a cloud storage subscription for this feature.
The cameras use a bespoke low-energy frequency to talk to the base which does wonders for their battery life, lasting 180 days on a single charge.
As with all the devices here, the Eufycam can integrate with both Alexa and Google Assistant to bring up a live camera feed on your Nest Hub or Echo Show. However, it also works with Apple’s new HomeKit Secure Video service which allows you to manage and view your camera through the Home app and store footage on Apple’s secure servers.
The only downside from our point of view is that the cameras don’t have two-way audio or a siren as several other manufacturers do. Apart from this, it’s a no-brainer!
Runner Up: Arlo Pro 3 with Smart Hub
In the runner up spot has to be the Arlo Pro 3 which can be used without paying a monthly fee when bought with the smart hub as shown in the bundle here.
The Arlo Pro 3 is a step up in terms of video quality compared to the Eufycam 2C Pro. Although it is also 2k, it has a higher frame rate of 24fps and HDR which both add to the overall quality. Plus, with a 160° viewing angle, it gives the widest view of any camera here.
The cameras themselves do not have storage, but local storage is made possible using their smart hub. You can plug a USB storage device into it to keep all your recordings without needing their cloud subscription.
Unlike the Eufy device, the downside to the Arlo is that you’ll lose some features when using it without a subscription which is why I placed it as the runner up. You won’t be able to view recordings stored on the hub whilst away from home, instead, you have to use the Direct Storage Access feature on their app which requires you to be on the same Wi-Fi network as your smart hub.
You’ll also lose many AI features such as person detection as this is done in the cloud which you won’t have access to without a subscription.
It’s also worth touching on the price as it’s easily the most expensive camera on this list. However, that’s partly because it’s bundled with the smart hub. You can add 4 additional cameras to the same smart hub so it becomes slightly cheaper.
Best Indoor: Blink Mini
If you want something that’s small, compact, and budget-friendly for indoor use, the Blink Mini camera from Amazon is a great pick. It has 1080p HD video quality and two-way audio.
To use the device without subscription, you’ll also need the Blink Sync Module 2. You can insert a USB storage device to store video from up to 10 blink cameras. However, accessing the footage is even more difficult than the Arlo as you’ll need to remove the USB stick and put it into a laptop or PC to watch the footage. This isn’t very seamless.
There is also a cloud storage service if you change your mind at any point and it’s one of the cheapest plans available from just £2.50 per month for 1 camera.
Of course, being one of Amazon’s brands, it works seamlessly with Alexa to pull up the feed on your Echo Show or Firestick, but Google Assistant and HomeKit support are nowhere to be seen, thanks Amazon.
Best for Security: Netatmo
The next camera we recommend is the Netatmo smart outdoor camera which has a built-in floodlight and siren. The floodlight comes on when it detects motion as both a deterrent and to improve the video quality at night.
The device works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s new HomeKit secure video which was mentioned earlier.
Unlike the previous two devices, the Netatmo doesn’t require any hub and connects directly to your Wi-Fi network. The benefit of this is that you don’t have to fork out on a hub which can be expensive. However, it does mean you’ll need the camera to be in range of the router to use many of its features.
It has a built-in micro-SD card slot which allows you to use it without any ongoing fees. This can sometimes be risky on an outdoor camera, however, Netatmo have a great feature that allows you to sync it to a Dropbox account or your own FTP server if you’re a bit techy.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a wired device because of the high power requirements of the floodlight and siren. This means it may be harder to install than the other outdoor cameras here.
Great Value for Money: Eufycam 2
If you liked the sounds of the Eufycam 2C Pro which was my top pick (and for good reason) but it’s slightly out of your price range, you might want to consider the Eufycam 2 which is a slightly lower spec device and with a lower price tag.
The camera works in the same way by using a home base to store your recordings. This means you can view the live feed and recordings from wherever you are in the world without ever paying a subscription. In fact, the included home base is identical.
Where the Eufycam 2 is different to the Eufycam 2C Pro is the video quality. It’s 1080p HD rather than 2K, although the frame rate is higher at 24fps rather than 15fps which offsets this slightly. Also, there is no spotlight which compromises the quality at night, although it’s still usable.
Budget Pick: TP-Link Tapo C100
If you’re on a very tight budget, you can still get some security in your home thanks to the TP-Link Tapo range. Shown here is the C100, but most of their range is very affordable and reliable.
The camera allows you to view a live feed via the app and can integrate with both Alexa and Google Assistant so that you can pull up the camera on your smart display or TV (via Chromecast or Fire Stick).
The camera quality is 1080p HD and it has infrared sensors which give a night vision viewing distance of about 9m.
You can use the camera without subscription fees because it has a built-in slot for an SD card. Whilst you can view a live feed via the app from wherever you are, you cannot view recordings via the app. You’ll need to remove the SD card and use a laptop or PC to view them. Fo this reason, it’s not great if you’ll need to regularly check your footage.
It also has two-way audio, although this isn’t nearly as useful on indoor cameras as it is on outdoor cameras, but a nice feature nonetheless.
There are some limitations to the device, especially in terms of location. The C100 is only suitable for inside your home and uses a wired connection so you’ll need to ensure it’s near a wall socket.
Best POE: Amcrest POE
The final subscription-free camera on our list is a power-over-ethernet device from Amcrest. This is a completely different type of camera than the wireless and Wi-Fi cameras shared until now.
Power over ethernet cameras use a single ethernet cable to provide both the internet connection and the power for the device to operate.
They are more secure than a traditional power outlet as they will continue to function in a power outage and once set up they are more convenient than a battery-powered device as you don’t need to worry about changing batteries.
The main downside to a POE system is that there’s a high setup cost because you need to have a network video recorder and you’ll need to place ethernet cables through your home.
These systems are best for larger security installations. They are commonly used by professionals but are increasing in popularity among residential users, especially because they offer a reliable, local storage solution that doesn’t require any ongoing fees.
The Amcrest device shown here is a bullet camera, but this is just one type of PoE camera. See my full article on the best PoE cameras for dome and pan-tilt-zoom poe cameras.
Here is a comparison table so you can see the side-by-side specs of each camera without monthly fees:
|Eufycam 2C Pro||Arlo Pro 3||Blink Mini||Netatmo Outdoor camera with Floodlight||Eufycam 2||TP Link Tapo C100||Amcrest POE|
|Best Overall||Runner Up||Best for Indoors||Best for Secuirty||Best Value||Budget Pick||Best PoE|
|Resolution||2k||2k with HDR||1080p||1080p||1080p||1080p||UHD|
|Frame Rate||15fps||24fps||30fps||Unknown||24fps||15 fps||Unknown|
|Indoors/Outdoors||Indoor + Outdoor||Indoor + Outdoor||Indoor only||Indoor + Outdoor||Indoor + Outdoor||Indoor only||Indoor + Outdoor|
|Power||Wireless - 6 months battery life||Wireless - 6 months battery life||Wired||Wired||Wireless - 1 year battery life||Wired||Wired (via ethernet)|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon|