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Fake security cameras: Are they worth buying and what are your best options?
Fake security camera systems are, in theory, an inexpensive way to deter would-be burglars and porch pirates. However, they can potentially be easy to spot, which leaves your home just as open to theft. In our opinion, you’re probably better off with inexpensive cameras that actually work.
But if you see value in fake security cameras, this post has you covered. We’ll look at the good and the bad when it comes to fake cameras. We’ll also recommend the best ones to get and suggest a few real cameras to look at as well.
Do fake cameras work?
It really depends on who’s scouting out your home or business.
If professional burglars are staking you out, they’ll probably know the camera you’re using isn’t real. They’re likely be familiar with authentic security brands, either able to spot a fake camera the moment they see it, or ready to do the research to figure out if it’s genuine.
Fakes could fool less experienced people. Let’s say some random person walks by your house and sees a large package at your front door. If this person doesn’t typically steal from porches, he or she might think twice when they see a camera on your doorstep, especially if it’s in the middle of the day. The average person probably isn’t inspecting cameras too closely.
Let’s look at a few things that can give away a fake security camera.
How to spot a fake security camera
Many fakes have a red light that’s either flashing or continuous. It’s common for real cameras to have a red light, but they’ll only flash occasionally or every few seconds, just to show that it’s working or to aid with night vision. Another telltale sign is a camera’s wire setup, or rather the lack thereof. While wireless cameras like the Nest Cam are increasingly common, there are certain form factors that should almost always have wires, namely bulky, old-fashioned designs.
If someone looks really closely at a fake, cheap plastic may give it away, as well as a lack of a brand logo. Adding a brand can backfire, naturally, since as we mentioned, someone might look up that name and learn the truth.
See also: The best wireless security cameras
Positioning is a less likely tell, but still something to consider. Putting a camera inside the alcove by your front door wouldn’t make sense, for example, because it would cut off so much of the front of your house and the street.
Are fake security cameras legal?
If you install a surveillance system, you’re obligated to follow certain laws. This applies to both real and fake systems. While regulations vary, you generally can’t have a camera pointing towards your neighbor’s window for instance, or place a camera in your business’s bathroom.
If you as a business owner place a fake camera around a store or office, you run the risk of a crime or injury happening and someone demanding video you can’t deliver. Even if that’s not explicitly illegal where you live, there’s a strong chance you could be sued over the consequences.
A fake camera may initially save money, but if there’s any risk of legal threats, it’s not worth cheaping out.
Best fake security cameras
Good fake security cameras are pretty hard to come by if you’re looking for one that looks identical to a real camera. The options below have some resemblance to real security cameras, but still don’t tick all the boxes.
Idaodan dummy security camera
While you wouldn’t want anyone to look too closely, Idaodan’s bundle includes two fake cameras and four warning stickers for a very low price. The cameras even address two of our complaints by adding wiring and dual pivot points that make realistic positioning easier. The main catch is that their flashing LEDs are powered by AAA batteries (two per camera), so you’ll have to buy those and periodically climb a ladder to replace them.
AlfaView solar powered bullet dummy
AlfaView’s two-pack is similar to Idaodan’s, but critically, solar-powered. You’ll still have to buy two AA batteries for each camera if you want to keep the flashing LEDs going overnight, but the sun gets to take over during the day, and you can use rechargeables to avoid swapping batteries out. The generic “security camera” labels are a concern if you’re worried about professional thieves.
Ysucau solar-powered CCTV fake camera
Like AlfaView, Ysucau offers a solar-powered camera with support for rechargeable batteries. One key difference is that the brand name is written on the side, which adds to its superficial credibility, but also makes it easy to look up the truth.
If you’re going to install the camera outdoors, you’ll have to make sure it’s installed under something that will protect it from rain and snow, because it’s not waterproof. Ysucau’s product is also a bit larger than others.
F Finders & Co dummy solar security camera
F Finders & Co’s dummy camera is another solar-powered option that works with rechargeable batteries. It is waterproof however, which makes placement less stressful.
There’s no brand name displayed, and you’ll note that the red LED light flashes at two-second intervals. Indeed there’s not much else to say about the product, but that’s alright if it gets the job done — assuming any fake camera will do in your situation.
What are your other options for home security?
Most fake security cameras, including the ones on this list, range from $15 to $30. Many people think that it costs a lot of money to install a functional security system, but it really doesn’t. Sure, you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a state-of-the-art security system, but it doesn’t have to cost that much.
With a quick search, you can find plenty of real security cameras that range from $25 to $40. The option we’ve listed below is closer to the top end of that range, but for all of the features you get — especially the safety of actual video — the extra money is worth it.
Wansview Outdoor Security Camera
Wansview’s $30 camera records in 1080p, with night vision up to 20 meters (66 feet) away. It’s waterproof with an IP66 rating, and can withstand temperatures from 14F to 104F (-10C to -40C).
You’ll get motion alerts on your phone, and it works with Amazon Alexa, which isn’t guaranteed on budget cameras. You even get two days’ worth of incident (non-continuous) recording in the cloud without a subscription, which still more than what Nest and Ring offer without a plan.
If you’re willing to pay just a little bit more, we strongly suggest the Wyze Cam V3. You can check out that camera and more on our list of the best smart security cameras you can buy.
To reiterate, a fake security camera is not going to be your best option when it comes to home security. It may work in a pinch if money is tight, but if your goal is to make your home genuinely secure, even a low-end authentic camera is going to do better.