I had to ask for help when I put up my security cameras. My neighbor saw me struggling on a ladder by the garage. He took over drilling the holes for the power cable and camera mounts. I have been waiting for wireless cameras to get powerful enough to buy one. I think they finally are. I’ve shopped for my 100% wireless cameras, and I’m sharing my research with you.
The best 100% wireless camera for seniors is the Reolink Argus PT, because:
- it uses solar power to run
- it does not require you pull it down for recharging every four to 12 months
- you can move the lens around (pan and tilt)
- it connects to your 2.4 GHz home Wifi signal
- it has a built-in spotlight
- it stores videos to an internal memory card
- it allows you to replace its siren alarm with a recorded voice message
This camera also has 2-way audio. You can talk with the person you are viewing.
You can also command your Argus PT with your voice, if you set it up with Amazon Alexa or a Google Nest device.
Let me just warn you now, however, that no 100% wireless camera gives an extremely crisp image. If you want the best possible visual experience, then you will not want a battery-powered camera.
What Makes this Camera Good for Seniors
Solar is best for seniors who do not want to run power and Ethernet cables to each camera. It might take a handy person an hour to put four cameras around the yard.
Solar is better than rechargeable batteries that require a periodic recharge. You need to retrieve those cameras, charge them, and put them back.
The pan and tilt features allow you to move the camera view left, right, up and down. This is crucial to feeling safe when checking the house exterior while you are safely inside. Fixed cameras cannot give you as much information.
The Argus PT connects to your homes 2.4 GHz wireless internet signal. Home internet Wifi usually runs at 2.4 GHz.
The Argus PT includes an automatic spotlight to enhance its night vision. More light gives you a more detailed picture.
The Argus PT stores videos on its internal memory card. You do need to buy an SD card for each camera. However, this is preferable to the “hub” storage method. Read on to find out why.
The Argus PT has a voice alarm feature with a recording of your voice. Imagine yourself scrambling to turn off an extremely loud siren, and you will see why this is a huge advantage.
In this article I compare two very popular wireless camera lines to show you the features best for a senior’s home.
What Can 100% Wireless Cameras See?
All cameras have a “field of view,” which is how much of a circle around the camera that you see through its lens.
Most 100% wireless cameras give you a fixed-position lens. It sees what it sees; there is no changing the view.
The pan/tilt cameras allow you to move them from the viewing software.
None of the wireless cameras have optical zoom, because this takes up too much battery power. So zooming in is equally mediocre on all the camera choices.
Reduce Blind Spots with a Wider Field of View
I once left the fence gate open by accident. The dog noticed he was free to roam the neighborhood, so he did.
I checked the camera alerts to help me find the dog. He had walked right under the camera. I got a tiny bit of his tail going by.
Unless you deploy multiple cameras in the same spot, you are going to have blind spots. Cameras cannot see the entire circle around them.
The camera’s “field of view” is how much it can see in a fixed position. .
If you really needed to cover all the blind spots, you would not be buying a 100% wireless camera. That kind of security requires much more power (literally, it requires more electricity) than wireless cameras have, at least now.
If the camera had a lens that could see in all directions at once, it would see 360 degrees around its axis. That would fill in many gaps, but that is not how cameras work.
Most cameras can see between 105 degrees and 140 degrees of that 360-degree maximum possibility.
The wider the field of view, the more you can see. This feature should be as large as possible.
Why the Pan and Tilt Matter to Seniors
A camera that “pans” can move its lens to the left and to the right on the horizontal plane.
A camera that “tilts” can move its lens up and down on the vertical plane.
I consider pan and tilt to be must-have features.
As a senior securing my home, I want a camera that shows me what is going on outside.
If it is late at night and I hear a noise, I want to be able to move the cameras to see more areas.
When you look at a camera with pan and tilt, it is like going outside, looking left and right, and looking up and down.
When you use a fixed view camera, it is like going outside and staring at one point in space.
The pan and tilt functions give you visual access to a larger areas.
You get a much larger window onto the world with pan and tilt.
Cameras without pan and tilt do not show you as much.
Most wireless cameras give you a fixed view. You see what it is pointing at, and that is all you see.
Pan and tilt will not increase your field of view. When you move the camera left, you see less of what is on the right. You always see the same amount of area, but pan and tilt let you point the camera to new areas.
I consider pan and tilt to be must-have features for any senior who will use them. If you/your parents are not going to move the camera around in real time, then it is not necessary.
I like pan/tilt because I usually use my cameras when I hear a noise outside. Because my cameras have pan and tilt, I can silently look around my yard from the comfort of my bedroom.
Zoom in on the View
100% wireless cameras do not have great zooming abilities. All choices right now offer digital zoom.
Digital zoom uses less power than optical zoom, so it does not drain the battery as fast.
Optical zoom moves the camera lens to show you more detail. It happens in real time as you command it from your phone/tablet/computer.
Optical zoom is like walking toward something to see it better.
Digital zoom moves the viewport through which you view your camera. It happens after the image is processed.
Digital zoom is like moving your face closer to a picture to see it better.
At this point (June 2020) there are no 100% wireless cameras offering digital zoom, so it is not a deciding factor in which camera to buy.
The Best Pan and Tilt Cameras
The best camera would combine features that you will not find in 100% wireless cameras. That is because:
- wireless cameras do not offer optical zoom
- the pan/tilt 100% wireless cameras have a smaller field of view than the fixed cameras
The absolute ideal choice of pan, tilt, optical zoom, and a wide field of view does not exist in 100% wireless cameras right now.
The eufyCam 2 has a 140-degree field of view, but it does not have pan and tilt.
The Reolink Argus PT has only a 105-degree field of view, but it does have pan and tilt.
All the cameras have the digital and not the optical zoom.
If you will use the pan and tilt, then the best camera is the Reolink Argus PT. It is the only pan/tilt camera with 100% wireless power.
Otherwise, the eufyCam 2 has the largest field of view.
Why the Battery Type Matters to Seniors
If you take one message away from Senior Home Central, it is please, DO NOT FALL!
A nasty fall is usually the last event before the nursing home.
We usually mount cameras out of reach. It requires a stepstool or ladder to reach them.
Some wireless cameras have rechargeable batteries. You need to recharge these cameras every 4, 6 or 12 months.
Climbing a step stool or ladder is a great way to fall and break your hip.
Therefore, you want a camera that does not require you access it to recharge it.
Solar cameras do not require regular recharges. The solar removes the maintenance problem of climbing ladders to get the cameras.
Just be aware that you might be in a difficult situation if you live in the north or in a snowy climate.
Solar does not work if the panel cannot get enough sunlight.
Let’s look at the options.
Do This in a Warmer Climate
100% wireless cameras come with rechargeable or with solar batteries.
Rechargeable batteries always require that you access them one, two, or three times a year.
They require an electric recharge. You can run a USB cable to them where they are mounted, or you can pull them down and recharge them in the house.
Solar panels charge the solar batteries without you getting involved.
Solar panels are better for seniors because there is no need to climb a ladder to recharge them.
Do This in a Freezing Climate
Neither rechargeable nor solar batteries do well in freezing temperatures.
You might reconsider the 100% wireless option if you get several freezing days in a row.
Either that, or be aware that you might not have a camera when it is bitter cold outside.
The first option is to commit to recharging the batteries during freezing weather.
This means that you have to mount the cameras where you can reach them. Then you need to go outside on the coldest days of the year. Bring the cameras inside, warm them up, and then charge them. Then go outside and put them back.
The second option is to get a wired camera. They are a pain to install, but they stay on in the cold weather. They do a better job of showing motion because their software is not always trying to conserve battery power.
Best Wireless Battery Types for Seniors
The Reolink Argus PT fits all requirements unless you are in a freezing area. In this case, you might go with a wired camera, rather than 100% wireless.
The solar powered camera is best for warmer climates. You do not need to retrieve the camera to recharge it. The best solar camera is the Argus PT, because it works on the home Wifi, charges by both solar and home electricity, and has pan/tilt movement.
In freezing climates, you should consider going with a wired camera. If you put a 100% wireless camera in a freezing climate, you could well lose the cameras during bitter cold weather. The batteries will not charge when it is very cold.
One option is to mount the cameras lower, and bring them inside to charge during the cold spell. This is better than climbing a ladder during a cold spell, because now the cameras are within reach. However, you are still committing to going outside to get your cameras, and then going outside again to put those recharged cameras back up. You need to do this maintenance on the absolute coldest days of the year. This is a deal-killer for me. I am not going outside to get my cameras in bitter cold weather.
The Argus PT is best for freezing climates, because you can bring it inside to charge on home electricity, and let it charge on solar as well. Just consider getting a wired camera. Go through the installation hassle, and avoid doing any maintenance on your cameras’ batteries.
Why the Network Connection Matters to Seniors
A Wifi connection is cheaper and easier to use than a cellular connection, making it the best choice for seniors who need to save money and want convenience. The cellular connection usually works even when Wifi drops out, making it the best choice for seniors with delicate Wifi connections for their cameras.
You must give the camera an internet connection so that you can then view the camera from your phone.
You can connect it to your home’s Wifi or to a cell phone company’s phone signal.
We are only talking about your camera’s connection here. We are not talking about the phone you use to view your cameras.
If you have a home Wifi, it is easiest to connect your camera to that.
If you do not have a home Wifi, you will need to rent a connection from a cell phone company.
To figure out how to do this, you go to the manufacturer’s website. Find your camera model. There should be a link there to which mobile phone connections their camera will support.
You then buy a SIM card for each camera you are going to deploy. You also buy a data plan for each SIM card. The data is the signal the camera sends to your device. The more you watch your cameras, the more data you will need.
Get a Wifi camera if you have a solid Wifi signal that rarely goes out.
Get a cellular camera if you cannot depend on your Wifi signal.
Connect to 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz Wifi
If you are connecting your camera to Wifi, you probably have a 2.4 GHz router.
On the very off chance you have a 5 GHz Wifi router that does not have a 2.4 GHz option, then you need to get a 5 GHz camera, too. You cannot connect a 2.4 GHz camera to a 5 GHz Wifi.
The cameras in the article that connect to Wifi all use 2.4 GHz Wifi, not 5 GHz Wifi.
Connect to a 3G or 4G LTE Mobile Signal
A cellular camera connects to a cell phone company’s network.
To connect over cellular, each camera needs a SIM card and a data plan.
Reolink explains the SIM card and data plan requirements here.
Eufy offers only Wifi cameras.
The Best Camera Network for Seniors
A Wifi network is best for seniors, because it is easier and cheaper than a cellular connection.
I based this choice on convenience and expense.
The Reolink Argus 3, Argus 2, Argus Pro, Argus Eco, and Argus PT connect to 2.4 GHz Wifi.
The Eufy eufyCam 2, eufyCam 2C, and eufyCam 2E connect to 2.4 GHz Wifi.
The Reolink Go and Go PT connect to a cell phone network.
Why the Camera Lighting and Night Vision Matter to Seniors
All cameras in this article offer night vision. They use infrared to light the area. Some add artificial intelligence to enhance the nighttime videos. Some add an automatic spotlight to light the area too.
Even if your vision is very good, nighttime images can be difficult to make out.
If you are a senior with low vision then you want to throw as much light on the night images as you can.
Whether the artificial intelligence actually enhances the images is another question. More light is usually a good idea for nighttime photography. Artificial intelligence might add enough crispness for you to make out who is at your door, or it might not.
The Best Nighttime Wireless Cameras for Seniors
As seniors wanting to see who is at the door, we want more light on what the camera sees. A little artificial intelligence might help, but light definitely helps.
The best cameras add an automatic spotlight to the images.
These are the Reolink Go, Go PT, Argus 3, and Argus PT; and the Eufy eufyCam 2C.
You can put a motion-detection light up near the camera, so you do not need the camera to have a spotlight.
The cameras in this article all have the same resolution. They see at night from 25 to 33 ft. ahead. Therefore, there is no competition among them.
The differences are in the spotlight.
If you are a low vision senior who needs a very clear picture, then you probably do not want a 100% wireless camera. The need to save battery life degrades the picture you see on a 100% wireless security camera.
The Best Video Storage Method for Seniors
100% wireless security cameras store their videos in one or more of these choices:
- an SD or an eMMC card inside the cameras
- an SD or eMMC card inside a central camera system hub device
- a “thumb drive” plugged into a USB port on a camera hub device
- a “cloud” service accessible on the internet
The best choice for seniors is the camera SD card, because it is the most like to have your videos when you go to watch them.
The Local SD Card is Best
A “memory card” is a tiny magnetic disk that holds computer data. The SD format is by far the most common. The Eufy cameras use the eMMC format in some of its cameras. The other cameras use SD format memory cards.
When your camera has an SD slot with a memory card, it can save your videos to this tiny little disk drive. You can then log into your camera over the internet, to view what the camera saved to the disk.
The Eufy Hub Storage Devices
The Eufy cameras store their videos on a hub inside your house. The hub contains an eMMC memory card or a USB thumb drive.
The cameras do not have memory cards, so they must have a network connection to the hub to store their videos.
Reolink cameras do have internal storage, so these cameras store their videos if the network connection goes out. When the connection comes back, the videos are waiting on the camera drives.
If your Wifi signal is prone to going out, your cameras will not record because there is no place to put the videos.
The hub is a good choice for anyone who has a solid Wifi signal. Just do not use the hub if you do not have a solid Wifi.
Storing Videos in the Cloud
“The Cloud” is a disk drive partition dedicated to your videos that you access over the internet.
Both Eufy and Reolink offer cloud services.
Reolink gives you 1 GB of cloud storage free. Eufy does not offer free cloud storage. The catch is that you can only view one camera per cloud account.
Both companies offer paid cloud video storage for multiple camera configurations.
Reolink has plans for 5, 10, or 20 cameras.
Eufy charges by the camera.
100% Wireless Camera Recording Triggers
Closed circuit television (CCTV) security system record while you view the camera on a remote device. 100% wireless cameras do not do that.
Instead, they record only when a motion triggers the camera.
Cameras with PIR motion detection differentiate between humans and everything else. PIR cameras record when they see humans. They are not supposed to record when they see cats, grasshoppers, or leaves blowing in the wind.
You can always view what your camera sees, but that does not automatically record what you and the camera are seeing.
Either a motion has to trigger the camera to record, or you can command a recording from the camera app.
Smart, Hands Free Viewing for Seniors Who Don’t Want to Use an App
The cameras in this article all connect to Alexa and Google smart hubs.
When you connect your Alex or Nest Hub to the camera app, you can then command the devices with your voice.
If you are buying a security camera for a sick mom or dad, then this is a super feature to have.
Low-vision seniors love hands-free camera control. It gets rid of the need to use software. You just use your voice.
Once you have Alexa or Nest setup, you say “Alexa, show me the backyard,” or “OK Google, show me the backyard.” Alexa Echo screen or the Nest Hub Smart Display then set their screens to the backyard camera’s view.
Seniors Can Set Off a Loud Alarm
The cameras in this article all have siren alarms. They are extremely loud.
The Reolink cameras have voice alarms as well.
A voice alarm is a tidbit you record to take the place of the siren.
You can invoke the alarms from the app. If you set it this way, they will also go off when someone moves the camera.
You must shut that off before taking the cameras down for recharging, or the camera siren will go off in your ears.