We’ve all been warned about the unsettling tales of discovering concealed cameras in various accommodations such as hotels, vacation rentals, or even public restrooms. Typically, the thought of encountering a hidden camera is the furthest from our minds when we’re settling into a new space. Instead, our focus tends to be on cleanliness, enjoying the amenities, or simply unwinding. Regrettably, in today’s world, there exists a lucrative market for clandestine camera footage, and becoming another unsuspecting victim is something we all wish to avoid.
Certainly, one could attempt to visually scour the surroundings in search of a hidden camera without the aid of a detector. But would you really know what to look for or where to look? The obvious spots like smoke detectors, power outlets, and light fixtures may come to mind. Yet, it’s astonishing how inventive individuals can be when it comes to concealing these devices. We don’t like taking the risk of hoping we’re not being recorded, which is why we always travel with a hidden camera detector.
Typically, we stay in at least 50 accommodations per year so we’ve got the process pretty darn pat. First off, in high-risk areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms, we look up down, and all around—paying special attention to anything that looks out of the ordinary.
Next, if something continues to look or feel uncomfortable we’ll take our trusty hidden camera detector and use it to scan for radio frequencies and camera lenses.
Tip: When looking for a hidden camera always remember to search high AND low.
Battery-Powered Hidden Cameras
When it comes to hidden cameras, they can be wireless, hardwired cameras, battery-powered, or a combination of these features. Typically, batteries are used as a backup because as a permanent source, the battery would most likely quickly drain.
Amateurs will usually use battery-powered hidden cameras bought on Amazon that are complete products such as photo frames, sunglasses, smoke detectors, and car alarm key fobs. These do not send a signal and the only way to detect them is by scanning for camera lenses. Finally, fraudsters will need to wait for you to leave to download the video and recharge the battery.
Wireless Hidden Cameras
Using either Wi-Fi, radio frequencies (RF), or Bluetooth to transmit footage, a wireless hidden camera operates at various ranges, and because of the abundance of Wi-Fi signals, they can encounter false positives, making them challenging to operate at first.
Degenerates prefer wireless cameras because they can easily be plugged into an inconspicuous location, with an unlimited power source. These types of products typically consist of smoke detectors, LED lightbulbs, USB wall chargers, and alarm clocks. Also, they may run on an RF or simply store the footage on a mini SD card.
Tip: If you have access to your router, you can see all of the devices connected to your network. Typically, you can open any browser page, and type “192.168.1.1” to access your router login page.
Hardwired Hidden Cameras
Like wireless hidden cameras, hardwired hidden cameras may run on an RF or store the footage on an SD card. However, hardwired hidden cameras are typically more elaborate and harder to detect. In short, someone probably took a lot of time to plan and build the device. Nevertheless, they too can be spotted quite easily using one of the three best-hidden camera detectors listed below.
Scanning For Radio Frequencies (RF)
Many miniature battery-operated cameras will use Wi-Fi to transmit video. Hidden camera detectors can detect various from about 1 MHz to 10+ GHz. Typically, the more expensive the equipment, the higher the range.
RF detectors also have to ability to recognize microphones that use GSM (Global System for Mobile). Just like in the movies, you use it by “sweeping” the room; the closer you get to the hidden object the higher the intensity of the warning from the scanner. For example, in “Breaking Bad” Saul Goodman uses an RF scanner to sweep his office for “bugs.”
When it comes to GPS trackers, two of the devices below (the mid-range and most expensive) can detect magnetic fields. In a real-life scenario, someone may be going through a nasty divorce and their significant other is attempting to track their whereabouts.
Scanning For Camera Lenses
Scanning for camera lenses is something that you probably haven’t seen in the movies. Essentially, you’re looking for the reflection of the miniature camera lens.
You can do this with the naked eye or to make it easier, some scanners use special lights. These lights may flash or be constant and will alert you to the hidden camera.
Typically, users will look through a reddish-orange viewfinder and the hidden camera will reflect back to you as a bright light. Finally, some hidden camera detectors will only scan for RF, or only scan for camera lenses, while the best ones will do both.
Best Cheap Hidden Camera Detectors
Along with scanning hotel rooms and accommodations, hidden camera detectors can be used to alert you of tracking devices on your vehicles, in your home or office, wiretappings, examination rooms, or in public spaces such as washrooms and fitting rooms.
Professional-grade hidden camera detectors can easily cost thousands of dollars. Below are the three best cheap hidden camera detectors currently on the market. All three models scan for both RF and camera lenses. Of course, the more expensive models will do a more thorough sweep than cheaper models.
1. Bulon Hidden Camera Detector – $20
Bolun’s compact and convenient hidden camera finder uses infrared scanning technology in its circular viewfinder to spot hidden camera lenses. Also, it can detect RFs. Finally, one of the additional features we like is that it can also be used as a personal security alarm by attaching it to anything (perhaps a bag on a beach) and if it detects vibration it will flash and make a loud noise.
2. GooSpy Hidden Camera Detector – $50
Using advanced AI chips, GooSpy’s hidden camera detector can detect RFs from 1 MHz to 6.5 GHz, easily identifying hidden signals. Using a popup viewfinder and LED light the detector can quickly spot hidden camera lenses. We like that it can alert the user with both sound and vibration and that you can adjust the threshold to eliminate false positives. Finally, it does come with magnetic field detection allowing users to locate GPS trackers.
3. Knight Premium Hidden Devices Detector – $129
The Knight KT9000 is about as close as you can get to a professional-grad hidden camera detector without spending a thousand dollars. Firstly, it uses high-sensitivity smart detection to eliminate false positives, can detect GPS trackers, and has super long battery life. If you can afford it, this is the most superior model of the three best cheap hidden camera detectors. Finally, it’s made of aluminum alloy instead of plastic like the other two, adding durability.