Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans | Digitized House

Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans

Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans
Want the capability to review your security camera's video history? You may need to buy a subscription plan. Image: Digitized House.
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The latest in DIY security cameras and video doorbells are among the most popular connected home accessories, and for good reasons. These awareness solutions can instantly alert you to the presence of intruders, signal as a package gets delivered, enable you to see and converse with visitors at your door, or confirm when a child arrives home from school.

But at what cost? Beyond the initial investment, most of these internet-connected cameras require subscribing to a paid plan if you want the capability to record and retain video in the cloud for more than 24 hours. In this guide to security camera subscription plans, we have collected the specifics on free and paid plans from many of the most popular smart camera and smart doorbell makers—saving the headache of researching them on your own.

(Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 14 November 2019 to reflect the addition of August Home video doorbell subscription plans.)

In this guide, we detail the specifics on free and paid security camera and video doorbell subscription plans from top manufacturers. Image: Digitized House.
In this guide, we detail the specifics on free and paid security camera and video doorbell subscription plans from top manufacturers. Image: Digitized House.

Before You Buy: Consider Professionally Monitored Security System Options

While we are covering the available DIY camera subscription plans offered by many of the popular camera makers, we are not exploring the broader topic of whole-home security systems. In that realm, security cameras can be a component in a holistic home safety system that may also include a variety of door and window sensors, glass breakage sensors, smart door locks, integration with other smart home components, and much more. These security systems can be either be self monitored or professionally monitored.

— DIY Security Systems with Optional Professional Monitoring

A SimpliSafe security system, designed for DIY install. Image: SimpliSafe.
A SimpliSafe security system, designed for DIY install. Image: SimpliSafe.

The available options here are diverse. Some security systems can be installed by the homeowner as DIY, yet offer professional monitoring services for a monthly fee. On our security camera subscription plan list below, we list standalone plans and cameras from Google Nest, Ring, and SimpliSafe. These same companies also offer broader security systems that are typically homeowner installed, yet can be professionally monitored. For example, in the case of Google Nest, they offer the Nest Secure Alarm system. This system can be set up for 24/7 professional monitoring by Brinks Home Security, including a cellular backup option to ensure the system continues to operate during a grid power outage.

Typically, professional monitoring with these DIY security systems does not require a contract, and monitoring services are offered at monthly or annual rates.

— Professional Security Systems

A Vivint security system, designed for professional install. Image: Vivint.
A Vivint security system, designed for professional install. Image: Vivint.

Still other systems are professionally installed, supported, and monitored by a security dealer or security company. In this scenario, a support technician could be automatically dispatched to repair a failed critical component or first responders such as the fire department could be dispatched automatically in the event fire is detected. These end-to-end professional systems can be viewed as holistic home and life safety systems, and operate autonomously to protect the home and its occupants 24/7, whether its residents are at home or away.

In most cases, these professional systems are sold as packages with an upfront fixed fee and monthly fees for the monitoring services. Typically, the providers will require you to sign a multi-year contract. Examples here are systems offered by ADT Home Security, Alarm.com, and Vivint Security.

Security Cameras: Do You Need a Paid Subscription Plan?

Do you need a paid cloud storage plan for your security camera? Maybe not, if you plan to use your camera mostly for viewing its live streaming feature. Image: Ring.
Do you need a paid cloud subscription plan for your security camera? Maybe not, if you plan to use your camera mostly for viewing its live streaming feature. Image: Ring.

So you have decided to equip your home with one or more security cameras. But can you get by without a paid plan? Maybe, depending on how you plan to use your camera or doorbell. Lacking a paid subscription, you are typically limited to viewing and and interacting with a live video feed—though some camera makers give you 24-hour video retention as part of their free or included plans.

These typically free live feeds work great when the camera or video doorbell is installed at the front door, where you can use your smartphone to view and converse with visitors. Or to scare would-be intruders away with your voice from the comfort of your office, car, or the coffee shop.

Smart lock maker August Home has added the August View to its line of video doorbells. Image: August Home.
Smart lock maker August Home has added the August View to its line of video doorbells. Image: August Home.

But plans with live feeds only can be problematic when you are incommunicado for hours, stuck in meetings or elsewhere without access to your smartphone. That’s where you’ll want to choose a camera with a free 24-hour video retention feature, or a paid subscription plan with a minimum 5- to 7-day video retention period.

Are higher-end features, such as person or face detection, important to you? Most manufacturers will restrict that type of feature to paid plans. Do you travel extensively on multi-week trips? If so, you’ll want a plan with longer video retention capability, to meet or exceed your average trip duration. That way, you can review video clip history in the event of a burglary or other events upon returning home. Plans are available with up to 60 days of video storage.

Security Cameras: Diverse Costs, Diverse Feature Sets Reign

Security camera subscription plan costs and feature sets vary significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. It pays to do your research, but we just made it much easier for you with this guide. Image: Digitized House.
Security camera subscription plan costs and feature sets vary significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. It pays to do your research, but we just made it much easier for you with this guide. Image: Digitized House.

There are two things that ring true across all of the plans below: their costs are literally all over the map, and there is little commonality among the various manufacturers on the sets of features offered. In most cases, you will save by purchasing an annual plan (typically paid up front) instead of a month-to-month plan. Furthermore, most plans offer multi-camera discounts, and these can bring significant per-camera savings—particularly if you have more than a few cameras or smart doorbells.


Best Security Cameras for 2019: 13 Makers Compared

Home security is more important than ever. You can’t keep an eye on your home 24/7—or, at least, you can’t do it all by yourself. That’s where the latest genre of DIY home security cameras come into the picture, and in this comparison guide we cover the best security camera options out there for 2019.

Best Security Cameras for 2019: 13 Makers Compared

Still others, particularly those manufacturers with security systems, may bundle in video retention features with broader 24/7 security monitoring plans. These can be a cost-effective way to get both your overall home security and video retention needs met. And some manufacturers may offer bundles with the camera and a cloud storage plan at a special reduced price.

Not sure what direction to go with your home? Check to see if your camera maker offers a free trial plan. These generally run for 30 days, and can be a great way to see if you really need the features offered in these paid plans. Just be sure to cancel the plan promptly if you determine you don’t need it, which will prevent a potential charge to your credit card.

Security Cameras: Choose Your Camera and Subscription Plan Carefully

It will pay to choose both your camera and its cloud storage plan carefully. Image: Arlo.
It will pay to choose both your camera and its subscription plan carefully. Image: Arlo.

Let’s face it. The cumulative cost of most security camera subscription plans can amount to many more times the cost of the camera or smart doorbell device over time. So, it makes sense to thoroughly research both the available cameras and the available plans before making a purchase.

Here, we have conveniently collected the particulars on security camera subscription plans from many of the most popular camera and doorbell manufacturers, ranging from Amazon to SimpliSafe. We will continue to add to this matrix and keep its data refreshed as the home security camera landscape evolves.

Is your favorite system missing? Let us know through our social channels and we will work to add it to the list.

Security Cameras: Guide to Subscription Plans

Amazon Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Cloud Cam Included Plan (up to 3 cameras)24-hour video retention, intelligent notifications, unlimited sharing, live view, two-way talkCloud CamFree | —
Cloud Cam Plan Basic (up to 3 cameras)7-day video retention, all Included Plan features, person detection, audio detection, zonesCloud Cam$6.99 | $69.99
Cloud Cam Plan Extended (up to 5 cameras)14-day video retention, all Included Plan features, person detection, audio detection, zonesCloud Cam$9.99 | $99.99
Cloud Cam Plan Pro (up to 10 cameras)14-day video retention, all Included Plan features, person detection, audio detection, zonesCloud Cam$19.99 | $199.99

Amcrest Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
Amcrest Free Cloud Plan4-hour rolling video retention, 24/7 live viewing, camera health check, video timeline, motion activity zonesAmcrest IP camerasFree
Amcrest Motion Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)7-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, up to 4K resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$6
Amcrest Motion Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)14-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, up to 4K resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$10
Amcrest Motion Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)30-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, up to 4K resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$15
Amcrest Motion Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)60-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, up to 4K resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$23
Amcrest Motion Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)90-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, up to 4K resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$27.50
Amcrest Continuous Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)7-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, 24/7 continuous recording, up to 720p HD resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$9
Amcrest Continuous Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)14-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, 24/7 continuous recording, up to 720p HD resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$15
Amcrest Continuous Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)30-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, 24/7 continuous recording, up to 720p HD resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$20
Amcrest Continuous Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)60-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, 24/7 continuous recording, up to 720p HD resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$27.50
Amcrest Continuous Recording Cloud Plan (per camera)90-day video retention, all Free Cloud Plan features, plus recording downloads, cloud playback, off-site cloud storage, flexible schedule recording, 24/7 continuous recording, up to 720p HD resolutionAmcrest IP cameras$35

Arlo Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
Arlo “No Subscription” plan (up to 5 cameras)7-day cloud storage, two-way audio, push notificationsAll Arlo camerasFree
Arlo Smart (per camera)30-day video retention, all “No Subscription” features, advanced AI detection (person, vehicle, alarm, animal, and package detection), custom activity zones, lock screen notificationsAll Arlo cameras; Arlo Audio Doorbell (when paired with Arlo camera)$2.99
Arlo Smart Premier (up to 10 cameras)30-day video retention, all “No Subscription” features, advanced AI detection (person, vehicle, alarm, animal, and package detection), custom activity zones, lock screen notificationsAll Arlo cameras; Arlo Audio Doorbell (when paired with Arlo camera)$9.99
Arlo Smart Elite (up to 20 cameras)60-day video retention, all “No Subscription” features, advanced AI detection (person, vehicle, alarm, animal, and package detection), custom activity zones, lock screen notifications, e911 emergency call serviceAll Arlo cameras; Arlo Audio Doorbell (when paired with Arlo camera)$14.99
Arlo Premium Video Recording (per camera)Upgrade for Arlo Ultra camera to record and store clips in 4KArlo Ultra$1.99
Arlo a la carte cloud video recording (per camera)14-day video retention, 24/7 continuous cloud recordingAll Arlo cameras; Arlo Audio Doorbell (when paired with Arlo camera)$9.99
Arlo a la carte cloud video recording (per camera)30-day video retention, 24/7 continuous cloud recordingAll Arlo cameras; Arlo Audio Doorbell (when paired with Arlo camera)$19.99

August Home Video Doorbells

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
August Subscription Service Basic (per doorbell)24-hour cloud storage, activity preview, HD live view, doorbell and motion notifications, two-way talk, multiple chime tonesAugust View, August Doorbell Cam ProFree
August Subscription Service Premium (per doorbell)15-day cloud storage, activity preview, HD live view, doorbell and motion notifications, two-way talk, multiple chime tonesAugust View, August Doorbell Cam Pro$2.99
August Subscription Service Premium Plus (per doorbell)30-day cloud storage, activity preview, HD live view, doorbell and motion notifications, two-way talk, multiple chime tonesAugust View, August Doorbell Cam Pro$4.99

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
Blink Included Free Plan (per Blink Sync Module)7,200 seconds of cloud storage (or 1,400 five-second events) per Sync Module (multiple cameras can connect to a single Sync Module)All Blink camerasFree

Canary Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Canary Free Access (up to 4 devices)24-hour video retention, 24/7 watch live, video clips, person detection, activity zone maskingCanary View, Flex, and Pro camerasFree | —
Canary Premium Service (first 5 devices)30-day video retention, all Canary Free Access plan features, full-length videos, two-way talk, safety button, unlimited downloadsCanary View, Flex, and Pro cameras$9.99 | $99.99

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
D-Link Free (up to 3 cameras)1-day video retentionmydlink Wi-Fi camerasFree | —
D-Link Basic (up to 3 cameras)7-day video retentionmydlink Wi-Fi cameras$2.49 | $24.99
D-Link Premium (up to 5 cameras)14-day video retentionmydlink Wi-Fi cameras$4.99 | $49.99
D-Link Pro (up to 10 cameras)30-day video retentionmydlink Wi-Fi cameras$9.99 | $99.99

Google Nest Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Smart Displays

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Google Nest Free StreamingLive viewing, basic motion detection, sound detection, person seen alerts (Nest Hello only)Google Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub MaxFree | —
Nest Aware 5-Day (1 device)5-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$5 | $50
Nest Aware 5-Day (each add-on device)5-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$3 | $30
Nest Aware 10-Day (1 device)10-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$10 | $100
Nest Aware 10-Day (each add-on device)10-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$5 | $50
Nest Aware 30-Day (1 device)30-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$30 | $300
Nest Aware 30-Day (each add-on device)30-day video retention, all Google Nest Free Streaming features, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and time-lapses, activity zonesGoogle Nest Cameras, Doorbells, and Google Nest Hub Max$15 | $150

Kasa Smart Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Kasa Care Free Plan12-hour video retention for Kasa Spot Cam, 2-day video retention for Kasa Cam and Kasa Cam Outdoor. Limited to first 2 years, then a paid plan must be purchased.All Kasa Smart camerasFree | —
Kasa Care Plus (per camera)14-day video retention, 14GB of storage (approximately 60 hours of 1080p video), sharing, downloadAll Kasa Smart cameras$4 | $40
Kasa Care Premium (per camera)30-day video retention, 30GB of storage (approximately 128 hours of 1080p video), sharing, downloadAll Kasa Smart cameras$7 | $70

Logitech Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Circle Safe Free24-hour video retention, unlimited streaming and downloads, smart alertsAll Circle camerasFree | —
Circle Safe Basic (single camera)14-day video retention, all Circle Safe Free featuresAll Circle cameras$3.99 | —
Circle Safe Basic (up to 5 cameras)14-day video retention, all Circle Safe Free featuresAll Circle cameras$6.99 | $69
Circle Safe Premium (single camera)31-day video retention, all Circle Safe Free features, person detection, motion zones, custom time-lapse briefsAll Circle cameras$9.99 | $99.99
Circle Safe Premium (up to 5 cameras)31-day video retention, all Circle Safe Free features, person detection, motion zones, custom time-lapse briefsAll Circle cameras$17.99 | $179

Netatmo Cameras and Video Doorbells

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
Netatmo “No Subscription” Free PlanFree video storage (to local microSD card, personal Dropbox cloud storage, or personal FTP server), customized notifications, alert zones, 24/7 recording upon motion detectionNetatmo Smart Indoor Camera, Smart Outdoor Camera, Smart Video Doorbell (coming soon)Free

Resideo’s Honeywell Home Cameras

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Honeywell Home Free Plan (1 camera)24-hour video retention, view 50 clips, military grade encryption, Honeywell Home Secure WiseLink protocol, Alexa integration, motion sensingHoneywell Home Smart Home Security System, Honeywell Home Indoor Motion Viewer, Honeywell Home Outdoor Motion ViewerFree | —
Honeywell Home Standard Membership Plan (1 camera)30-day video retention, all Honeywell Home Free Plan features, view 1,500 clips, 5% discount on Honeywell siteHoneywell Home Smart Home Security System, Honeywell Home Indoor Motion Viewer, Honeywell Home Outdoor Motion Viewer$4.99 | $49.99
Honeywell Home Premium Membership Plan (unlimited cameras)60-day video retention, all Honeywell Home Free Plan features, view 3,000 clips, 15% discount on Honeywell siteHoneywell Home Smart Home Security System, Honeywell Home Indoor Motion Viewer, Honeywell Home Outdoor Motion Viewer$14.99 | $149.99

Ring Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Security Systems

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly vs. Annual Cost
Ring Included FreeMotion-activated notifications, real-time video with live view, two-way talk, lifetime theft protectionAll Ring cameras and doorbellsFree | —
Ring Protect Basic (1 device)60-day video retention, all Ring Included Free plan features, video sharing and savingAll Ring cameras and doorbells$3 | $30
Ring Protect Plus (all devices in a home)60-day video retention, all Ring Included Free plan features, video sharing and saving, 24/7 monitoring for Ring Alarm, extended warranties, Ring website discountsAll Ring cameras, doorbells, and Ring Alarm system$10 | $100

SimpliSafe Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Security Systems

(Commissions may be earned when purchase is made through links in Plan or Products columns below, see our policy for details)

PlanMain Plan FeaturesProductsMonthly Cost
SimpliSafe Recording Plan (single camera)30-day video retention, live view, two-way talk, event-driven recordingSimpliSafe SimpliCam and Video Doorbell Pro $4.99
SimpliSafe Recording Plan (up to 10 cameras)30-day video retention, live view, two-way talk, event-driven recordingSimpliSafe SimpliCam and Video Doorbell Pro $9.99
SimpliSafe Standard Plan (for security systems)No video recording or retention, 24/7 live alarm monitoring, cellular connection, environmental monitoringSimpliSafe Security Systems$14.99
SimpliSafe Interactive Plan (for security systems and cameras)Unlimited camera recording, 24/7 live alarm monitoring, cellular connection, environmental monitoring, mobile app, smartphone alerts, smart home integrationsSimpliSafe Security Systems, SimpliCam, and Video Doorbell Pro $24.99

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Tom Kolnowski

Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.
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