When you’re out of town on an important business trip or just sleeping in the next room over, your chief concern is probably the welfare of your child, who currently isn’t being observed directly. Any old nanny cam will do for the time it takes to be done with a date, but what about longer periods like spanning a whole night, or even multiple days?
A nanny camera needs to be able to keep up with such demands, so you’ll naturally want to pick one out that won’t leave you hanging, potentially in the middle of a developing situation. How long a nanny cam can record is therefore a question whose answer you need to be sure of before you commit to buying, and it isn’t as straightforward as you may believe.
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How Long Can a Nanny Cam Record: Self-Contained vs. Connected Nanny Cams
There are a couple of factors that limit your nanny cam’s ability to record for longer periods of time. Understanding those and buying one which offers a good balance, in that regard, will ensure that it will record as long as you need to.
Self-contained cameras rely on physical internal storage and can’t stream what they capture to other devices. Their biggest limitations are the size of the memory card inside and the camera’s battery life, provided it isn’t plugged into a charger 24/7. Regardless of how much you expand this memory, the length of footage that can be saved to this type of cam is finite.
Connected cameras don’t even need to have internal storage as their feed is streamed live to your computer or phone through Wi-Fi. Keep in mind, though, that nothing is actually recorded until you tell your phone or computer to start. The same power consumption still applies to these types of nanny cams, but if they’re only drawing power from your outlet, they can work continuously, indefinitely!
Bitrates and Memory Cards and Batteries, Oh my!
Bitrate – This is the quality of your video recording. The higher a video’s bitrate, the more space it will take up. While a smaller resolution doesn’t automatically guarantee that the amount of space required for the recording will be smaller, it generally does help. Even though this isn’t as crucial an issue for connected cameras, lowering the bitrate and/or the video resolution will help with reducing the lag on low-quality Wi-Fi connections.
Memory Card Capacity – Most modern nanny cams work well with small storage devices like SD cards, and usually support 32 GB of storage or less. As mentioned above, the bitrate of the recording plays a major part in determining its usefulness. Lower quality outputs can take up as little as 20 MB/minute, while a high-end cam’s footage can be 140 MB/minute or higher. The end result is highly dependent on the camera’s mode of recording and the file format the recordings are stored in.
Battery Life – Battery-powered cameras are more convenient because you can place them anywhere, but the battery puts severe limitations on the amount of time the nanny cam can record continuously before it needs to be recharged. A battery’s capacity is measured in mAh or milliamp hours. 350 mAh is a ballpark estimate for an hour’s worth of continuous footage. Multiply that by the desired number of hours and you’ll get the ideal capacity.
Keep in mind, though, that a battery’s usefulness increases dramatically if the camera has a motion sensor. When in motion-detection mode, nanny cams record 1-5 minutes when the sensor is triggered, allowing even a small 350mAh battery to record actual events 60-12 times before it’s drained.
As you’ve gathered by now, answering the question posed in the title isn’t as easy as throwing out a random number in hopes for the best. How long a nanny cam will record is subjected to a number of factors. Luckily, you have a say when it comes to the end result, even if you’ve already bought a nanny cam.
Upgrading your SD card to a bigger one, going for a camera that doesn’t rely on a battery (or one whose battery holds a considerable charge), and lowering the recording settings all lead to more video being recorded. It’s up to you to figure out how long is long enough, and adjust the rest of the parameters from there.