Pros and Cons
- Affordable Security Cameras
- Flexible Recording Options
- Premium Tech Support Available 24/7
- Relies Solely On Cameras
- Overwhelming Product Options
- Lacks Professional Monitoring
Swann offers a long list of security cameras ranging from inexpensive IP cameras to complete security camera systems with always-rolling DVRs. They also offer affordable cloud recording plans, as well as premium tech support and accessories to help their cameras provide better protection.
Swann's product portfolio is so long that it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Their products also have a history of having less-than-optimal quality.
Swann is a solid option for DIYers who want their homes to be protected solely by security cameras. They provide a handful of self-monitoring options and they offer 24/7 premium tech support to paying customers.
Who's It For?
Swann is one-stop shop for security cameras. They have cameras designed for homeowners, renters, and even those who want a more permanent security camera setup. All of their products are DIY installed, so if you plan on getting Swann products, prepare to do things on your own. All their cameras are also self-monitored, so it's best for those who have time to regularly review to their camera footage.
Swann Equipment Review
Shopping for Swann security cameras can be overwhelming, mainly because they provide tons of options. To make things easier, let's split their cameras into three categories: wired, wireless, and wire-free.
Wire-free cameras are exactly that: wire-free. They don't need access to a power source and they rely on Wi-Fi for communication. Wire-free cameras usually have a fixed angle lens (does not pan and tilt) and can be used indoors and outdoors. However, they usually vary in resolution, viewing angle, and local recording capacity.
The greatest advantage of wire-free cameras is their flexibility. They run on battery power, allowing you to place them almost anywhere. Of course, they must be placed within Wi-Fi range because most of their helpful features rely on being able to send alerts to you and store videos in Swann's cloud server.
Most wire-free cameras work indoor and outdoor. They come with standard security camera features like motion and sound detection, smartphone alerts, night vision, and event recording. However, it's missing continuous recording. Wire-free cameras need to conserve battery power, so they only turn on when they detect motion or sound or when you start a livestream using your smartphone.
Another downside of wire-free cameras is their need to be recharged every few months. Their battery life depends on the type of battery they're using and also on external factors such as the traffic in the area they're monitoring and the weather. Low temperatures can cause a camera's battery power to drop at a faster than normal rate. A potential workaround to the charging issue is getting a solar panel. Swann sells solar panels for their wire-free cameras that can power the cameras continually and eliminate the need to recharge.
When it comes to recording, wire-free cameras rely mostly on cloud storage. If there's motion, they wake up and record for a few seconds up to a few minutes and store the recorded clip in the cloud. All wire-free cameras come with a 2-day cloud storage for free, but you can pay a minimal amount to upgrade the storage. More on that later. Some wire-free cameras also come with a microSD card slot, which they can use to store videos locally.
- Runs on Battery
- Requires Wi-Fi
- Motion & Sound Detection w/ Event Recording
- Local & Cloud recording
- Lacks Continuous Recording
- Accessories Available
Not to be confused with wire-free cameras, wireless cameras communicate wirelessly over Wi-Fi but still require access to a power source. Wireless cameras come in many shapes and sizes. There are indoor cameras with a fixed angle lens, indoor cameras that can pan and tilt, outdoor cameras, and even cameras equipped with a spotlight for added smart feature. Light-equipped cameras have the added ability to surprise and potentially scare away intruders by turning on their light when a motion or sound event is detected.
Like wire-free cameras, wireless cameras come with standard security camera features: live streaming, motion and sound event detection, smartphone alerts, night vision, and event recording. Wireless cameras can also record continuously if you purchase a DVR or NVR from Swann that works with it. Be careful, however, because not all wireless cameras and DVRs can work together. Before buying a DVR or NVR, it's best to check with Swann to confirm if the particular recording device works with your cameras.
Continuous recording is a nifty feature because it gives you the power to playback entire days worth of videos. All cameras have the tendency to miss motion or sound events. If your camera only records event videos, you run the risk of missing important clues or evidence in case of a break-in. With continuous recording, every second is recorded.
The advantage of wireless cameras is that it's easy to install— almost as easy as wire-free cameras — yet they're reliable enough. You don't need to remember to recharge your cameras. Just plug them in, connect them to Wi-Fi, and you're good to go. However, since wireless cameras still rely on AC power source, they're vulnerable to power outages. If your house loses power, your cameras will turn off too. That said, we recommend using a combination of wireless and wire-free cameras for added security.
Just like wire-free cameras, wireless cameras have the ability to record locally and to the cloud. Both types of cameras use Swann's cloud storage, and since premium subscriptions are charged on a per camera basis, you can choose which cameras to give access to premium cloud storage. As far as local storage, some wireless cameras also come with a microSD card slot or you can use a compatible DVR or NVR for continuous recording.
Swann views wired cameras not just as security cameras but as security systems. Wired cameras are sold in packages that often include a number of indoor and outdoor cameras and one or more DVRs. As the name implies, wired cameras require wiring. One wire powers the camera by being plugged into a wall outlet, another goes to the DVR for video transmission, and finally, another cable connects the DVR to your router. This allows you to playback videos stored in the DVR from anywhere using a computer or smartphone.
The main advantage of wired cameras is their reliability. Wired cameras don't experience wireless signal interference because the components are all physically connected. It also allows you to expand your security camera system without crowding your Wi-Fi network.
The biggest downside of wired cameras is installation. If you want their wires to be arranged neatly, you're going to need to drill through walls. It's also difficult to manage wiring when you're cameras are over 20 feet away from the DVR.
In addition, wired cameras can only record locally into the DVR. If someone breaks into your home and takes the DVR, you lose all video evidence. Without cloud backup, there's no other way to recover any clues.
Finally, it's vulnerable to power failures.
Besides cameras, Swann also sells accessories. Most of the accessories are designed to make installation easier, such as long wires and different kinds of mounting devices. However, there are also accessories that you can use to add an extra layer of security. For example, Swann sells wireless video doorbells, motion sensors, and door/window sensors. Like the cameras, these are self-monitored. They are designed to send alerts to you, but they can't call for help on your behalf.
Swann Self-Monitoring Features
All of Swann's cameras are self-monitored. They will help you ensure your home is safe, especially when you're away, but it's up to you to call for help in case something goes awry. That said, Swann's cameras provides standard features that can help the self-monitoring process a little easier.
Alert Detection With Recording
All of Swann's cameras offer motion detection, either using PIR (passive infrared) or computer vision. When they detect motion, they will generate an alert and send it to your smartphone via push notification. The alert will tell you which camera detected the movement and the time it occurred. Simultaneously, the camera records a video clip of the event. The clip is usually stored in the cloud, but if your camera has built-in local storage, it will go there, too. Wherever the clip goes, however, you can play it back wherever you are using the Swann smartphone app. Your phone must be connected to the internet over Wi-Fi or cellular data.
Using this feature, you can check on your house even if there's no movement detected by your cameras. Simply open up the companion app and click the camera you want to view. It will show you a real-time camera footage. In addition, in most cameras, you can activate two-way talk, which is basically a walkie-talkie-like feature that lets you speak through the camera and hear what's going on around it.
Finally, cloud recording is a much-needed feature because it stores event clips recorded by your camera in a remote Swann server where they're out of intruders' reach. All wireless and wire-free cameras come with a two-day cloud storage, which means events clips captured by the cameras remain in the cloud for two days. During that period, you can play them back, share them, or download them. After two days in the cloud, videos are gone forever. If that's not enough, Swann offers a premium cloud storage option that stores your videos in the cloud for 30 days. This option requires a monthly subscription fee of $4.99/month for every camera. You can choose which cameras to activate this feature in, so you're in total control of your monthly subscription fee. You may also choose to pay annually. The cost is $49.99/year per camera. Aside from premium cloud storage, getting a subscription gives you access to premium phone support that is available 24/7. Those who are on the free plan only receive a 90-day trial of premium customer support.
To learn more about Swann's pricing plans, check out our take on Swann's pricing and ways to save on costs.
Swann Customer Support Review
Swann's customer support staff is specially trained to provide help in their area of expertise, which is security cameras. Unlike companies that offer different home security products, with Swann, you're likelier to talk to an agent with the appropriate technical knowledge to answer your questions. You can reach Swann via email, live chat, or their 24/7 phone support. However, the 24/7 phone support is reserved to customers subscribed to a premium cloud recording plan. Those who are not on a premium cloud recording plan can only use the 24/7 phone line for the first 90 days of use of their cameras.
Besides directly reaching out to Swann for answers, you may also visit their FAQ page, video tutorials, and knowledge base. You can also post your questions in the Swann community forum and get answers from fellow Swann users.
Because Swann is solely focused on providing hardware rather than monitoring services, they don't require contracts or impose penalties. However, it's good to know that their products come with a 30-day return period and 1-year limited warranty.