The best fake security cameras keep intruders at bay, while costing little and being super-easy to install. This guide will help you choose the best dummy CCTV camera, and buy it at the best price.
You might think we at Digital Camera World would be against security cameras that don’t actually capture images. But ultimately, criminals are opportunists, and go for the easiest option. So fake CCTV cameras, aka dummy cameras, really do work in keeping them at bay. And even if you install a real camera, too (which you might need for insurance purposes), having multiple cameras on your premises – real and fake – can add an extra dose of deterrence.
Read on, to discover the best fake security cameras on the market today, and how to choose between them.
See also:Ring Indoor Cam review (opens in new tab)
Best fake security cameras in 2022
Striking an effective balance between discrete and deferent, this black dome-style fake camera can be placed indoors and out, where it’ll stand out just enough from a white ceiling or porch. It's cheap and not designed for those who change their mind frequently: taking the battery in and out is the only way to disable the blinking light. On the other hand, the screw fitting is easy to twist on and off from your chosen location, which balances out pretty well.
From the criminal's perspective, it looks convincing, though sadly you cannot angle the fake camera lens down: it points at 45˚ and that’s that. Given that it will be positioned to emulate wide-angled real equivalents, though, that shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing which might give away its inauthenticity is the LED which, if seen in the first couple of weeks of its battery cycle, blinks so brightly (every five seconds) the reflection would spoil the video... if there were any!
There are many prospective criminals who decide to look elsewhere on seeing a blinking light – why take the risk? – but for many fake cameras this is a powered feature which nudges them one step closer to the effort and cost of maintenance associated with a real CCTV camera. The AlfaView has a better solution, with no apparent compromise: a solar panel which can top up the charge of AA batteries, which keep the red LED blinking every three seconds.
You will need to supply your own Ni-Cad rechargeable, but at least this will be less frequent than with other light-blinking options. In terms of putting off unwelcome visitors, once again the blinking light is behind the main glass – weirder here than with a dome – but the presence of fake infra-red lights and lens shielding looks convincing.
The bracket and adjustable position make it easy to place on the corner of a structure, so it won’t be missed and still appear to be monitoring your chosen spot. Even at close examination, the fake cable run and shielding are convincing. Perhaps the only aspect which would make me ponder its reality is the label ‘Security Camera’, where one might expect a real brand.(opens in new tab)
When it comes to visible deterrence, this design – with its array of 30 red LEDs – is very effective. See it at night and it feels like someone is using night vision to monitor you... and not at all discretely!
The top cover slides back to reveal the battery compartment. This in turn is covered by an extra piece of plastic which is flimsy but serves only to prevent any moisture draining the wrong way.
Standard AAs will likely only last a month, though, because of the extra lights. And like so many other cameras in this category, the branding is somewhat suspect. Having said that, who’s really going to examine the side close-up, given the light’s deterrent effect is visible from some distance?(opens in new tab)
In recent years, the smart-home indoor security camera (opens in new tab) has become a commonplace sight around many homes, and they have a distinctly different look to the average security camera. They are sold to look at home as baby camera monitors (opens in new tab), while still having screw mount options.
That’s exactly what is on offer here with the kitty-like ears in the “camera” recess and addition of red LED to give the impression, for example, to your babysitter that you’re checking in via a phone app.
This is a very realistic instance of LEDs, similar to that of my Nest Cam Indoor (opens in new tab), albeit in red not green. And I can’t imagine the lack of cabling being interpreted as anything other than Wi-Fi connectivity. In short, there's nothing obvious here that will tip intruders off that it's not the real deal.
Worried about fake branding giving away your fake camera? Then here's a pretty effective solution. This one is housed in the same design as the company's real working security cameras, making it near-impossible to tell the difference. Furthermore, the Swann Dummy Security Camera can be used both inside and out, is nicely priced, and is nicely adjustable (both up and down, and side to side). Note, however, that there's no LED, so unless the area you're installing it is already lit up at night, they might not been seen.
Alternatives to fake security cameras
An alternative to buying a dummy camera is to buy a modestly-priced camera and then simply not connect it to anything. A real camera which isn’t powered up is just an effective deterrent to most who see it, and it still leaves you the option of connecting it later. Or go for a camera which isn’t recording to a pricey recorder all the time, but gives you the option of doing a little surveillance via a device you already have and a phone app. This, in turn, brings the option of immediately responding to any intruders via two-way audio (or asking your partner to get the milk as you see them going to the garage).
We've covered the best outdoor security cameras (opens in new tab) and best indoor security cameras (opens in new tab) elsewhere in Digital Camera World, but below you'll find a couple which fulfil the primary requirement of this list: accessible pricing.(opens in new tab)
Although it’s not the most aggressive looking of designs, there is no mistaking that this is a security camera – with a real wire – so if you just used it as a fake it’d be a good one. The fact it is real is evident in the build quality which can survive -10 to 40˚C (14-104F), and though if you’re reading this list you might not be too worried about image quality it’s good to know that night vision is provided and – while some pricey cameras offer 4K and more, 1080P (2 megapixels) is more than good enough to check in on occasionally via your phone.
You can also use the camera as a recording point, putting in an SD Card so you do have recorded footage even if you don’t have a recorder or paid-for storage service. Setup is also pleasingly easy (point a QR code on your phone screen at the camera). Given this is only a little more expensive than the fakes on this list, it’s worthy of consideration.(opens in new tab)
This camera brings many of the same obvious advantages that the SmartEye above offers. Furthermore, you have the option of connecting to a full ONVIF protocol system later, if you choose.
From the perspective of the unwelcome visitor, there is a green LED and a flood of bright light. On the downside, the siren could be louder. But as a homeowner, if you enjoy beeping at or talking to trespassers, this is still a great choice as you’ll get alerts to your phone immediately. It's also, of course, a handy option for discussing packages with delivery agents and monitoring them.
Guides to other security products:
Best indoor security cameras
Best dash cam (opens in new tab)
The best pet cameras (opens in new tab)
The best video doorbell cameras (opens in new tab)
The best body cameras (opens in new tab) for personal security
Best camera phones (opens in new tab)
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