- Surveillance cameras are must-have security devices for your smart home
- Power over Ethernet (PoE) simplifies the installation and makes cameras easier to manage
- We explore some PoE basics to understand the main factors you need to consider when selecting best PoE smart IP cameras
- Our test facility reviewed over 15 devices and give you recommendation on the best PoE security camera systems in 2019
- The best PoE camera under $100 is Amcrest IP4M-1026E due to value for money and build quality while Swann NHD-885MSFB has more robust IR and detection for extra $50 costs
- Also, check out our recommendation on the best PoE NVR to record and store you surveillance video feeds
Our Top Pick
Why you should use PoE Camera Systems?
PoE works by combining power supply and network connection into one Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 cable. PoE can be used to power a number of devices including security IP cameras, access points and even Voice over IP phones. To inject electricity into Ethernet cable you need to use one of the PoE compliant devices either PoE injection that you use on top of your Ethernet cable or have a PoE compliant router that already injects power into the cable.
From a technical perspective, you need to be aware of two main specifications. PoE (or 802.3af) works with a maximum of 15.4 Watt per each port. PoE+ (or 802.3at) on the other hand goes up to 25.5W. The majority of PoE surveillance IP cameras will use well under 15.4 Watt so PoE is enough. The only exception is PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) security IP cameras which require more power to move the lenses around. You can learn more in our guide to PoE Power Supply Devices
- More cost effective for larger networks
- Simple cabling which reduces the installation cost
- Easy maintenance (power functions like switch on and off available)
There are not many. One that comes to mind is if you go PoE route there will be another device to a house somewhere and look after. Also in the unlikely case of the PoE power supply failure, you will lose all your cameras while a separate power supply per camera would potentially be more resilient.
How To Start Using PoE with Your Surveillance Cameras?
You can inject the PoE into your cable using three PoE power supply devices
- PoE injector – a small device for one or two devices. Our top pick is single Gigabit port injector by TP-link
- PoE switch – provide a power source for multiple PoE consumers. Our top pick is 4 port switch by Netgear
- PoE NRV – can power and record your IP surveillance cameras. Our top pick is 8 channel NVR by Amcrest
You can get more details in our practical guide on how to choose best PoE Injectors, PoE Switches
Overall Best PoE Security Camera System under $100 Amcrest IP4M-1026E
- Wide 118° viewing angle
- Night vision up to 98 ft
- Intelligent digital zoom
- Easy to setup
Our top pick is Amcrest IP4M-1026E. It is a small-bodied 4k surveillance camera that works both for indoor and outdoor installation. They are easy to setup, very reliable, and provide good quality of the picture. ONVIF compliance means that you can connect to the devices of other brands such as network recording devices or phone applications with no complications
Compared To Competition
- Amcrest IP4M-1026E is a solid camera and sometimes might be an overkill for your purposes. Amcrest IPM-723B is similar but have lower resolution and more affordable price.
- For slightly more money you can get a better lens, sensor and WDR functionality with Hikvision 4MP DS-2CD2042WD-I ($95.99 )
WHAT WE LIKED
- Best value for money
- Great customer support
- Good iPhone and Android applications
- ONVIF compliance
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
- Live view only works with the Internet Explorer
- Instructions might be improved
- Oversensitive night mode
- Small viewing angle
Installation and Use
The camera comes with the standard kit and includes a camera itself with the power supply cable for PoE as well as the conventional power supply jack. There are also you have a weather sealed cable and a connection sleeve. It was noted that you won’t be able to thread existing plug through the connector and either cut the plug and install the connector again or buy another connector.
Installation is quick if you already sorted PoE cables. Plug in PoE cable into the camera and use your phone or PC for the initial setup. Amcrest provides a very good “Amcrest IP configure” application which we recommend to use for configuration. Do not forget to immediately change the initial password
Next, you will need to configure camera monitoring parameters. Make sure to set up the motion detection areas, notifications and specify the recording mode. We recommend using SD card slot as the secondary recording option.
Using camera is usually more light touch than configuring it. Depending on the preferred way to access your camera you just need to make sure that you configure your phone, NVR or PC accordingly.
Armrest Cloud is a good option to never lose the video feed, but it will cost you some money. The current price minimal plan for seven days of recording is $6 per month per camera which includes the unlimited streaming.
Top PoE Camera Over $100 Swann Thermal Sensing NHD-885MSFB
- True Detect thermal Sensing motion detection
- Two-way audio and siren
- Audio adds another layer of evidence
- The powerful infrared night vision (up to 150ft (45M))
There are a number of reasons why you should invest into more this expensive PoE CCTV camera.
- Infrared throw – at around 40 feet any black and white images in darkness are are quite clear up
- Manual controls of the camera LEDs . You can also activate them at the motion detection
- Two-way audio – with mic being sensitive enough to hear conversation from about 20 feet away. You can communicate back using the speaker
Basically, this can be a more wholesome solution compared to “video doorbells” which don’t record locally and you also will not be able to see very far. Additional benefits are that you do not need to pay any monthly fee.
Note: you can save up to 15% if you buy it as the bundle: Swann 6 Camera 8 Channel 4K Ultra HD NVR ($899.99 )