Night Owl Security Cameras Reviewed

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced DIY security camera system, you might consider Night Owl Security. Night Owl is fairly new on the security scene, but it has grown quickly in recent years. The company creates good quality security cameras that are designed to be self-monitored. Since Night Owl carries a ton of different types of cameras, it’s known for its flexibility. Customers find that they are generally able to select the right camera equipment for their needs and wants. However, note that it’s just a camera system and doesn’t offer door and window sensors or the option to have professional monitoring like more traditional security systems do.

One of the biggest considerations in choosing a Night Owl Security camera system is whether or not you prefer an NVR or DVR. NVRs and DVRs are used to connect a system of video cameras, record the footage and allow you to play it back. If you’re not familiar with the terms, it can be a bit confusing, so let’s break them down.

NVR stands for network video recorder; an NVR connects wirelessly to an IP (internet protocol) camera or cameras. DVR stands for digital video recorder; a DVR connects through wires to analog (wired) cameras. A wireless system tends to be easier to set up, since there are no wires to connect to the unit. However, a wired system usually has a more reliable connection.

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Nerd Rating: 3 / 5

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Night Owl provides decent quality equipment for customers who want to install and monitor their own security system and who don’t want to pay monthly fees for video storage. But customer complaints about problems with app functionality and longevity of the system are big downers.

Here’s how we graded Night Owl Security:

  • Hardware: 3 out of 5. Night Owl cameras have good picture quality and desirable features such as night vision and two-way talk. However, some users have complained that the night vision range isn’t high enough and that the cameras don’t have much longevity, breaking or stopping working long before expected.
  • Customer Service: 3.5 out of 5. Night Owl equipment is meant to be DIY installed. The company offers 24/7 phone assistance, in case you need help along the way. It also offers a simple return process with free shipping if you find your equipment is defective within the warranty period.
  • Pricing: 3.5 out of 5. Night Owl cameras themselves aren’t cheap. You’ll likely spend several hundred dollars (or more) upfront for equipment, depending on which system you choose. However, because it’s a self-monitored system, and video footage can be stored locally on a MicroSD card or a hard drive, so you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee. However, you can pay $4 to $10 per month for cloud storage if you do want it.
  • The Mobile App: 2 out of 5. The Night Owl Connect app really doesn’t get great reviews. Users have complained that it doesn’t always work properly and isn’t intuitive to use. If being able to see your info easily on your phone is important to you, this is a real issue.
  • Smart Home Capabilities: 2 out of 5. Other than cameras, Night Owl really only offers two other smart home products, a smart doorbell, and a Wifi-enabled smart safe.

Night Owl NVR Systems

4 Channel NVR8 Channel NVR
Cameras Included48
Resolution1080p HD1080p HD
Two-Way AudioYesYes
WirelessYesYes
Built-In Storage1 TB1 TB

Nerd Pros

Easy install

Night Owl’s NVR systems connect wirelessly, so setup should be a breeze, since you won’t have to hardwire anything.

300-foot range

The cameras communicate with the system if placed within a range up to 300 feet. This means you may be able to cover more area with an NVR (wireless) system than you might with a DVR (wired) system.

Nerd Cons

Not totally wireless

The connection is wireless, but the cameras aren’t battery powered, so you’ll still need to use power adapters to plug them in.

Not as good picture

Night Owl’s NVR cameras have 1080p picture, which is great, but not as good as the 5 MP (megapixel) you can get with some DVR systems.

Potential connection issues

Wireless signals can sometimes be disrupted. For example, certain wall materials could block a wireless connection.

Night Owl DVR Systems

4 Channel DVR8 Channel DVR
Cameras Included48
Resolution5 MP5 MP
Two-Way AudioYesYes
WirelessNoNo
Built-In Storage1 TB2 TB

Nerd Pros

Good picture

Most of Night Owl’s DVR options tend to have 5 MP cameras, which is pretty high resolution for security cameras, which tend to be around 1080p.

Reliable connection

Since the DVR systems are wired, they have a direct, and therefore pretty reliable, connection. Wireless systems could experience interference.

Nerd Cons

May be more challenging to install

Because the DVR systems require hardwiring with 60-foot cables, it could be a bit more complicated setup.

Limited cable reach

Most of the Night Owl DVRs come with 60-foot cables to connect the cameras to the base unit. You may be limited if you want to set them up farther than 60 feet away.

Equipment available from Night Owl

Night Owl offers a ton of different security camera equipment options. These are some of the more popular systems:

4 Channel 1080p Wireless Smart Security Hub

This is a moderately priced Night Owl security camera package, but it really has everything you need if you want to get started with a four-camera, wireless system. Cameras capture 1080p resolution picture, have 100 feet of night vision range, and the NVR stores 1 TB of video. The wireless system covers a 300-foot distance. Plus, no internet connection is necessary, and video is saved locally and isn’t transmitted to any outside server. Perfect if you’re concerned about privacy.

Sale
Night Owl Camera System 4 Channel 1080p Wireless Smart Security Hub, White (WNVR201-44P-B)
  • 1 x 4 Channel 1080p HD NVR with pre-installed 1 TB Hard Drive.
  • 4 x 1080p Indoor/Outdoor Wireless Infrared IP Cameras.
  • Cameras equipped with 2-way audio. 300 ft. Wireless Signal ensures maximum coverage.
  • No Internet required and no monthly fees! Free Night Owl X app with easy setup in less than 2 minutes. Reduces false alerts by up to 90%.
  • 100 ft. of Night Vision, 100 Degree Wide Angle Viewing and 24/7 Technical Phone Support.Maximum hard drive capacity:4 TB.Wireless range:Max...

8 Channel 1080p Wireless Smart Security Hub

A pricier option, this system is for the homeowner that wants to dial up their camera game, specifically by having eight cameras. Note, though, that this system also has a wireless range of 300 feet, so it isn’t for a larger home, just for someone who wants more cameras within that area. Cameras are 1080p, have 100 feet of night vision range, and the NVR stores 1 TB of video.

Sale
Night Owl WNVR201-88P-B 8 Channel 1080p Wireless Smart Security Hub with 8 x 1080p Wireless Infrared IP Cameras and 1 TB HDD, White
  • 1 x 8 Channel 1080p HD NVR with pre-installed 1 TB Hard Drive.
  • 8 x 1080p Indoor/Outdoor Wireless Infrared IP Cameras;All recordings will be stored to pre-installed hard drive thereby avoiding costly...
  • Cameras equipped with 2-way audio. 300 ft. Wireless Signal ensures maximum coverage. Secure wireless network with uninterrupted video...
  • No Internet required and no monthly fees! Free Night Owl X app with easy setup in less than 2 minutes. Reduces false alerts by up to 90%.
  • 100 ft. of Night Vision, 100 Degree Wide Angle Viewing and 24/7 Technical Phone Support.

4 Channel 5MP Extreme HD Video Security DVR

Another moderately priced package, this 4-camera CCT system is built to be wired into your home using 60-foot cables. The trade-off to going wired is that you get better camera resolution, specifically 5 MP (megapixels), which is 150% more pixels than standard 1080p cameras. No internet is required for this system, and because it’s hardwired, you won’t need to worry about Wifi interference. These cameras have 100 feet of night vision range, and the DVR stores 1 TB of video.

Night Owl XHD501-44P-B 4 Channel 5MP Extreme HD Video Security DVR & Wired Infrared Cameras with 1 TB HDD, White
  • 1 x 4 Channel 5MP DVR with pre-installed 1 TB Hard Drive.
  • 4 x Indoor/Outdoor 5MP Wired Infrared Cameras.
  • View & Playback footage directly from your Smart Device. Free Night Owl X app with easy setup in less than 2 minutes.
  • Reduces false alerts by up to 90%, 100 ft. of Night Visionand 88 Degree Wide Angle Viewing.
  • Includes 60 ft. of upgraded 24AWG UL Approved cable per camera. 24/7 Technical Phone Support.

8 Channel 5MP Extreme HD Video Security DVR

Looking for an 8-camera wired system? This one is priced like a 4-camera system (possibly for a limited time—it’s usually $649.99). It’s also a hardwired system with 60-foot cables. Cameras capture 5 MP picture, have 100 feet of night vision range, and the DVR stores 2 TB of video.

Sale
Night Owl XHD502-88P-B 8 Channel 5MP Extreme HD Video Security DVR & Wired Infrared Cameras with 2 TB HDD, White
  • 1 x 8 Channel 5MP DVR with pre-installed 2 TB Hard Drive.
  • 8 x Indoor/Outdoor 5MP Wired Infrared Cameras.
  • View & Playback footage directly from your Smart Device. Free Night Owl X app with easy setup in less than 2 minutes.
  • Reduces false alerts by up to 90%, 100 ft. of Night Vision and 88 Degree Wide Angle Viewing.
  • Includes 60 ft. of upgraded 24AWG UL Approved cable per camera. 24/7 Technical Phone Support.

The Night Owl Connect Mobile App

The Night Owl Connect app has a:

  • 2.0 rating in the Google Play Store
  • 1.8 rating in the Apple App Store

Security system apps can be really useful, allowing users to check their security systems remotely from anywhere in the world. But the Night Owl Connect app isn’t rated well and is one of the system’s biggest flaws.

The app is meant to give users the ability to:

  • See and hear live video and audio from your camera(s).
  • Save recordings and images to your smart device.
  • Receive push notifications about activity picked up by the camera.
  • Play back video.
  • Create log-ins for different users.
  • Use face detection and receive alerts when unfamiliar faces are detected with the camera.
  • Speak to people near your camera with two-way talk.

However, in the app-store reviews, users have several common complaints. Some say the app is not intuitive to use. Others say they have trouble with connectivity. Still more say the two-way talk isn’t loud enough and complain that there’s no rewind or fast forward function in the app. Overall, we were quite troubled by the reviews and the amount of issues that customers have with the Night Owl mobile app.

Home Automation Options

While some other security system companies offer a slew of smart home capabilities that easily integrate, Night Owl really only offers two features besides security cameras:

Smart Doorbell: The 1080p doorbell camera allows you to answer the doorbell with your smart device, no matter where you are. See who’s at the door and use two-way talk to tell a delivery person to leave a package or a friend you’ll be home later.
Smart Safe: This is a unique security feature that can give you peace of mind that your valuables are safe at home even when you’re away. The smart safe communicates with your smart device via Wifi, allowing you to check on its status and receive notifications any time the keypad is touched, the safe has been opened or closed or it gets moved.

Night Owl is compatible with Google Home, so if you have a Google Home device, you can use voice commands to control your camera system. This also allows you to create your own smart home system a la carte with other Google Home-compatible devices, if you’d like.

Night Owl Customer Service

Night Owl offers 24/7 technical support for its customers, answering questions about installation and setup. Pre-sales support is available on weekdays during east coast business hours.

Our SecurityNerd called customer service and quickly reached a friendly representative. They answered our questions about equipment without pushy sales tactics.

The Bottom Line

Night Owl may be worth considering it you really want to make a one-time camera purchase and then do everything else yourself: installation, setup and monitoring. It has both wired (DVR) and wireless (NVR) systems to meet different needs, wants and home size.

If you’re really techy and want a reliable app and a bunch of smart home options, though, Night Owl probably isn’t your best choice. You might want to consider a company such as SimpliSafe, Nest or Scout, all of which offer DIY-installed equipment for reasonable prices, better rated apps and the ability to add on other security and smart home features.

Plus, you should always proceed with caution with self-monitoring. If you don’t have professional monitoring, you’ll have to call emergency services yourself in there’s ever a problem. Professional monitoring can’t be added onto a Night Owl camera, so you won’t be able to change your might later and still use the equipment.

If you’ve considered all this and still want to DIY it all, then you’ll be happy with the picture and the night vision offered by Night Owl cameras.

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About the Author

Elena Donovan MauerElena Donovan Mauer
Elena Donovan Mauer has written for Real Simple, Self, Good Housekeeping, Parents, The Knot, The Bump, and other publications. Elena is also a soccer mom, adjunct professor and taco enthusiast, who can be found antique shopping and singing in her kitchen. She lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her husband and two sons.