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Using a Security Camera as a WebCam: Can It Be Done?

If you already have a security camera, you may be wondering if it’s necessary to purchase a webcam, because the two devices are ultimately quite similar to each other. While the two camera types are used for entirely different purposes, with the proper applications, it is possible for one to be converted into the other.

It is possible to turn a security camera into a webcam. Doing this usually requires using software tools developed for the specific camera. And there may be issues with audio quality because most security cameras aren’t built for recording sound but are more for capturing hours and hours of footage while using minimal data.

It seems like you can use some security cameras as a webcam but how do you know if it applies to yours? What about audio? You probably also want to know why you would do this when it’s easier to just purchase an inexpensive webcam. This article will explain when it’s best to turn a security camera into a webcam and more.

Different Types of Security Cameras

Wired and Wireless Security Cameras - Smaller

There are two main types of security cameras, wired and wireless. While wired cameras are ideal if you want to monitor large areas, you won’t be able to turn it into a webcam. Since it’s a stationary camera the only view others will see is the area the camera is pointed at. You will need to have a wireless security camera, and there are several top-rated models to choose from at varying price points.

Along with the possibility of using it as a webcam, there are other advantages to wireless cameras. Wireless security cameras are easy to install and can be moved around. The only thing you need is an outlet to power the camera. As long as you have a Wi-Fi signal at the location you’d like to place the camera, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

It is Possible to Use a Security Camera as a Webcam

Security Camera as a Webcam - Smaller

If you desperately need a webcam and don’t have the time or money to get one, it is possible to use some security cameras instead. One is the Wyze Cam v2 (on Amazon). The small indoor/outdoor security cameras have been on the market for a while but now people are starting to realize they could be used for other purposes, like as a webcam.

The weatherproof wall-mounted camera comes with two-way audio, motion tracking, free cloud storage, an SD card, as well as for instructions on how to convert it into a webcam and turn it back when needed. The firmware for the change is included on the SD card.

It is an extremely affordable security camera and you don’t need to purchase anything else to convert it into a webcam, just make sure you have everything set up for it to work with WiFi because, as we suggested in our guide, an internet connection is crucial 

It won’t be perfect because you’ll quickly notice that the audio quality isn’t the best (more on footage quality in our other tutorial). You might also have problems with compatibility. It does work with Mac OS 10.13, along with Windows 7 and 10, but you could run into issues with other operating systems. And these issues aren’t unique to the Wyze unit. Most security cameras are going to just not have some of the bells and whistles included that a webcam has by default.

The Microphone Problem

Most newly manufactured security cameras do come with microphones, but don’t expect great sound quality if yours has a microphone. Put simply, security cameras aren’t designed for audio. The fundamental purpose of the device is to monitor visuals rather than produce exceptional quality sound.

The lack of quality audio can be an issue when using it during conference calls because not only will it be difficult to hear others, but it will also be a challenge for them to understand you. You will also need the security camera to come with a two-way microphone, and this isn’t always easily available. 

There is another solution if you don’t want to add a webcam to your set up: you can add a microphone to your PC directly. It’s not uncommon for inexpensive mics to be compatible with other cameras on the market, but it still makes more sense to use a dedicated webcam for a couple of reasons, notably, because webcams are more conducive to the addition of a microphone.

Why Would You Want to Do This?

It’s not a simple two-step process to turn a security camera into a webcam. You need the software that is compatible with your virtual camera device to transmit the signal from the camera to your PC and vice-versa. You also have to move the camera, unless you want viewers to see the area you’re monitoring with the security camera for some reason, which wouldn’t be an issue if you planned to use your security camera as a baby monitor (our guide). You may also need to add an external mic.

There are some situations when it’s best to use a security camera, and it all depends on how you need to use the device. How many times do you plan on using it? Do you already have a better webcam option? There are times when using a security camera this way really is your best or only option. Some examples can include:

Only need to Use a Webcam Once or Twice

Not everyone uses a webcam daily because some people only need to use one a couple of times. In this case, it might be more cost-effective to bring your wireless security camera inside for a short time, or you could just use a fake one, an idea we explored in another article. If it comes with a microphone and audio quality isn’t a concern, similar to setting it up with your Roku which we’ve explained before, all you need to do is install the software and plug the camera into a nearby outlet. 

Limited Supply of Webcams

There are times when there’s a limited supply of webcams. The ones available might be out of your price-range or come with too few features. If you don’t have the time to wait for the webcams to be restocked, your wireless security camera will work for a little bit. When the model you want is back in stock, you can switch your security camera back to the job is was designed for. 

Consider Using a Dedicated Webcam Instead

Similar to setting up in your car (our guide), if you do want to turn a security camera into a webcam, you’ll likely need to purchase some camera-specific software that converts the camera into a webcam. And by the way, that won’t fix any issues with the audio, which are there because of hardware limitations, not software. Many consumers find it’s easier to purchase a dedicated webcam, especially if they need to use it on a regular basis.

Some webcams to consider are:

1. NexiGo 2020 Streaming Webcam (on Amazon)

With 1080p and autofocus, you’ll always look professional during conference calls. In addition to coming with a built-in microphone with noise-canceling capability, the NexiGo is compatible with most operating systems and only takes one minute to warm up.

2. Avater HD Webcam (also on Amazon)

Whether you’re on a video or conference call, recording, or gaming, you’ll love the wide lens that covers a larger area. It’s ideal for use during whiteboard presentations or when you want to show off more of your background. The HD resolution ensures images are clear, and it also comes with a microphone. 

3. Papalook PA452 Webcam (also on Amazon)

Along with 1080p resolution, Windows compatibility, and a plug and play USB port, this webcam also comes with a microphone for recording and video calling. It’s also ideal for conference calls due to its fast refresh rate which means you won’t have to worry about it being out of sync with the audio recording.

Conclusion

It’s always best to use a device for the purpose it was created for. You purchased a security camera to keep an eye on your property, and that what it is designed to do. The same concept applies to a webcam. However, sometimes you need a webcam and there isn’t one readily available. When you’re faced with this scenario, your wireless security camera might be able to take on another role. 

It won’t be easy turning your security camera into a webcam like it is to hook one up to an NVR system –  which we have a guide on by the way – but if you have patience it can be accomplished. If you are already using the Wyze Cam v2 for security, you’re already a step ahead. It comes with the firmware needed to make switching it back and forth relatively easy. You still need to remember that even if you get your security camera working as a Webcam, visuals and audio will never look or sound as good as they can on a dedicated webcam.