Lorex vs. Swann vs. Q-See vs. Night Owl 2

If you are shopping for a security camera system kit, you probably came across one of the following popular retail brands Lorex, Swann, Q-See and Night Owl. Those brands focus on the consumer market, for homes, small mom and pop shops, or very small business offices. Those brands can be found available at Fry’s Electronics, Sam’s Club or Costco.

Many might ask, how good are those security camera kits? Do they work? Why are they so cheap? What problems might I face?

To start off answering those questions, first you have to keep in mind that those camera kits were intended for the consumer market not professional market. So our opinion might be biased towards the professional market, not as consumer products.

Consumer security camera kits, work and might be a descent solution for a small office, personal home or such. However, I would say that quality of those products are the bottom of the barrel in the cctv market. Security camera manufacturers vary in quality from a cheap Kia that will run with problems, within a year to a Rolls Royce that you would hardly face any problems for the next 20 years. For instance, we did an project using Bosch security cameras 15 years ago, and are still running smoothly, with a resolution quality equal to current resolution used by consumer products. So you can imagine how big of a gap there is between professional products and consumer products.

The main advantage of consumer security camera kits is their price tags, are at 50% to 80% lower than professional security products. So the initial impression perceived by buyers, they are saving money. However in the long run that is not the case. Among the most common issues faced with buying security camera consumer kits, is that you buy the complete kit or return the complete kit. That rule becomes very costly, when after  you have installed the cameras and one of the cameras goes out. Your only option at that point would be to send it back for repair, which would take anywhere between 30-60 days. However, if its pass the one year warranty period, you would need to buy a camera, most likely same brand, and the prices on those cameras per unit are almost same price as the complete kit, that is how they get you.

Between the four brands mentioned, Lorex was acquired by Flir, a professional thermal camera manufacturer. Flir wanted to gain some market share in the cctv consumer industry by acquiring Lorex.

Q-See is worse brand among the four, poor quality dvr/nvrs, poor quality cameras from China that cost them $5 to make. In second to worse Swann would be the brand, if not equal to Q-See. Both Swan and Q-see purchase from the same sources in china. The coloring on their cameras will fade away within a year. Lorex two years ago was as horrible of a quality as Q-See or Swann, recently their quality went a notch up in comparison to Q-See and Swann. However same image resolution deterioration will occur. Night owl brand uses extremely cheap components for the cameras they built. The LEDs on the cameras are pretty bad quality, eventhough they pride themselves as night owls!

In conclusion, it is hard to compare bad apples to bad apples, while one apple might have more discoloring in it than the other, at the end they are all bad apples that would eventually  be trashed.

Our suggestion is to buy a security camera system from a trustworthy company who provide professional products, provide the support you would need and longevity of the system. We have bundled together camera kits for an easy to buy online option. But we always highly suggest to call us, talk to a sales rep and explain your project so that you would get the right products and accessories with it.

Also Read: Find Professional Zoom Lens for Monitoring and Buy Bullet Security Camera for Outdoor!


  1. Please recommend some entry level professional camera systems. Are there any available with ~6-8 cameras for $1200-$1400???

  2. Q.see 8816 bought Oct. 2015 (they are out of business). Now receiver went dead. I bought reoplacement used receiver/record from eBay. Cameras works but I can only see at monitor. l can not put in email address and password when ask to logged in. Any receiver compatable. All 8 cameras are wired (not easy to route wires, etc). Not happy customer. what is your opinion. Thanks.

    Danny Galindez

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