As responsible vacation rental managers we always want to ensure that we always have eyes on our property.  It’s the responsible thing to do and it’s good for the guests, your neighbors, and generally everyone. We know different vacation rentals have different needs and with that in mind we’ve looked at a number of camera systems and even tried a number of them out at our own rentals and here’s our evaluation and recommendations:

Q-See – Our top pick

The Good: Q-See has a number of different package and camera options to fit just about any need, whether you only need a few 1080p cameras or 12 4K cameras, it generally has you covered.  The video and image quality is quite good and the system will send you motion alerts which you can configure at the camera-level so you aren’t inundated with alerts because there’s a tree branch waving all the time in the corner.  It’s also available at Costco and on Amazon, making it easy to buy and if you don’t like it, easy to return. I also like that it has apps for your phone and computer and a dashboard where you can see live feeds of the cameras all together at the same time. The Q See system is also pretty good if you have multiple properties, allowing for you to keep them grouped and separated but in the same app.  It isn’t too expensive as security systems go running you anywhere from around $325 to $1,200 depending on the configuration you need. The $325 package sports 8 1080P indoor/outdoor/night vision cameras and 1 TB of hard disk space on its server while the $449 package has 4 4MP cameras and a 2 TB hard drive all the way up to a $1,199 12-4K camera system from Costco.  

The Bad: The system can be a bit clunky and difficult to deal with.  It also relies on your public IP address at your property staying the same so if it changes you need to update that in your app.  It can also be a pain to name the cameras in the system. It’s just not the most user friendly.

The Bottom Line:  You’ll need to have a bit of patience with this system but you’ll save money and get great quality video.  It’s also easy to find and augment and return if need be.  

Ring

The Good:  Ring is a good system with good quality video and images.  It’s quick and easy to install and the user interface is pretty intuitive, making it easy to use as well.  We like Ring and use it at our own house where it is pretty handy. You can also use Ring to actually speak through the camera which is nice.  Ring’s alert system is pretty good allowing you some of the best control over how alerts are triggered by cameras. Ring is also sold at Costco, on Amazon and at most major retailers so it’s easy to buy and return.  There are also Ring apps for your phone and computers so you can always easily access your cameras. The Ring cameras generally run anywhere from $179 to $199 per camera.

The Bad: The Ring system is definitely on the more expensive side and relies on cloud storage and a moderately priced subscription to function properly. While it will email you alerts, the images in the alerts don’t show up in the preview of the email so you have to click into each individual email to see the alert.  It doesn’t group properties well or have a live feed dashboard view of all the cameras like in some other systems.

The Bottom Line:  Ring is good and we would probably recommend using it if you have just one property to look after and don’t mind paying a premium for your system.  But some of the drawbacks keep us from using it at multiple properties on a larger scale.

Lorex

The Good:  The Lorex has a lot of similar positive qualities to other systems such as motion activation, local storage, two way audio and push notifications.  There are tons of options when it comes to equipment for Lorex making it fairly versatile. The price range can vary wildly from $99 to $3,000 depending on which setup you get.

The Bad:  The image quality leaves much to be desired with blurriness common for motion images.  We’ve also seen issues with quality and customer service that may make you think twice about the Lorex.  

The Bottom Line: With a sea of options the Lorex can be a good system at the right price.  But we recommend getting it somewhere like Costco where you can easily deal with any equipment issues you have quickly.