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An outdoor security camera lets you keep an eye on your home and acts as a deterrent to would-be burglars. We researched and tested dozens of outdoor security cameras, judging them on their cost, range, video quality, storage, installation, and ease of use.
Our best overall pick is the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera because it has the right combination of high-quality features, including smart assistant compatibility and a standard siren and spotlight.
Here are the best outdoor security cameras.
Best Overall: Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera
Built-in Wi-Fi; no need for separate hub
2K HDR camera with 160-degree view
Instant notifications via the Arlo app
Support for many smart assistants
App is buggy and confusing
No physical manual (digital only)
The wireless, weather-resistant Arlo Pro 4 doesn’t have the highest resolution on this list, nor does it have the most intuitive app. However, it takes our best outdoor security camera title because it hits the sweet spot of features, quality, and cost.
By connecting directly to Wi-Fi, rather than having to run its smart capabilities via a separate hub, the Arlo 4 is a breeze to set up. It took us no more than five minutes from unboxing to being able to view our yard on our phone. Built-in Wi-Fi also means you can control the camera via any smart assistant connected to the same network with minimal effort. This list includes Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, Apple’s HomeKit (Siri) with the addition of a hub.
The reason why many cameras connect to a smart hub is to preserve the battery; having Wi-Fi integrated within the device, especially one with video capabilities, can make a dent. However, Arlo appears to have made moves to prevent this. During our testing, the battery only dropped by around 4 percent per week, meaning it should last for around six months between charges. This performance aligns with the company’s promises and is what we’d expect for cameras of this type, price, and quality.
The color HDR camera on the Arlo Pro 4 records and streams in 2K resolution, more than enough to make out details like facial features and license plates. Plus, with a 160-degree diagonal view, spotlight, and siren, the Arlo Pro 4 provides good coverage and peace of mind—even at night.
Best Budget: Wyze Cam v3 with Color Night Vision
Good value for money
Requires light source to work most effectively at night
Outdoor power adapter sold separately
The Wyze Cam v3 is your best bet if you’re on a budget. Thanks to its multi-purpose, weather-resistant design, this wired camera can be used indoors, straight out of the box, or outdoors by purchasing a separate power adapter. Installation is simple, and you can use either the magnet base or screws to connect to a wall or surface. And because the Wyze Cam v3 connects directly to Wi-Fi, setup is just as simple and fast. Notifications and recordings can go directly to the Wyze app, which doubles as a remote viewer and control when you’re out of the house. You can control the Wyze Cam v3 using your voice via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant when you get home.
Camera-wise, the 110-degree field of view and 1080p Full High Definition resolution is clear enough to see faces and license plates in daylight. It’s a little harder to make out such features at night, especially if your yard or driveway is pitch black, but thanks to Wyze’s Starlight Sensor, it’s noticeably easier than on cheaper cameras we’ve used. If you want automatic detection of faces, packages, and pets and unlimited recording, you’ll need to subscribe to Wyze Cam Plus. On the plus side, all recordings on both free and paid plans can be saved locally on the camera via a 32GB microSD card (sold separately).
Best Splurge: Ubiquiti UniFi Protect G4 PTZ
High-resolution video with 22x optical zoom
360-degree pan and tilt with 330-foot range
Easy to use despite its advanced features
No subscription fees
Narrow field of view
Price will put it out of reach of many
The Ubiquiti UniFi Protect outdoor camera takes traditional home security to a professional level. Its 4K sensor comes with a feature known as multi-exposure high dynamic range (HDR) to capture clearer, brighter footage, even at night. It does this by taking multiple shots of the same scene at different exposures before combining them for the optimal view. Built-in adaptive infrared LEDs can capture objects and movement from up to 330 feet (100 meters) away. At the same time, its 22x optical zoom allows you to zoom into these high-resolution images to capture even more specific details via the Unifi Protect app.
Despite the wide range of advanced features, the Unifi Protect app is intuitive and easy to use. You can also access your camera from a browser and PC. Although the field of view appears narrow—up to 64 degrees—this camera comes with tamper-resistant, 360-degree pan-and-tilt features, which you can control in real-time via the app. It's easy to jump straight into the app via an alert and track visitors or intruders in real-time. This camera is pricey, but it’s a common choice for businesses and public spaces, such as train stations and shopping centers, meaning it should offer more than enough to protect your home.
Best Smart Security Camera: Google Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera
Intuitive, easy-to-use app
Wide field of view
Best features only available via subscription
Low video quality and field of view for its high price
Doesn’t offer much more than cheaper models
The best smart security cameras are those with a vast range of features, and our favorite of the bunch is the Google Nest. Not only is it easy to install despite its wired nature, thanks to its magnetic base and the fact it plugs straight into the main without the need for a hub, but its app is also one of the most intuitive and useful we've used. The 130-degree camera streams in 1080p Full HD and records directly to the cloud, where three-hour snapshot recordings, triggered by motion, are encrypted and stored. It's worth noting this camera's field of view and resolution match the Wyze Cam v3, despite being almost six times the price.
The Google Nest works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa via an Alexa Skill, and HomeKit via a hub. On the free Google Nest plan, you get a limited choice of standard motion alerts. However, if you pay for a Nest Aware subscription, you can customize these alerts by zones, types of movement, and the faces of specific people caught on camera. These alerts come through your phone or email instantly, and you can talk via the camera to delivery drivers or warn off intruders. You can view up to 60 days of 24/7 recording with a Nest subscription and share this footage with police, loved ones, neighbors, or whomever you choose.
Best Doorbell: Eufy Video Doorbell 2K (Wired)
No subscription fees
2K resolution with large field of view
Alerts sent even if a visitor/intruder doesn't ring the bell
Echo devices can be used as doorbell chimes
No cloud storage options
On-device storage is limited and can’t be expanded
Eufy cameras stand out for transparent prices and a focus on privacy, but the standout is the Eufy Video Doorbell 2K. It streams and records in 2K with HDR support in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which offers a large viewable area from top to bottom compared to typically wide-angle cameras. When combined with the Eufy smart algorithm, this setup allows the camera to easily differentiate between people, packages, pets, friends, and strangers, and it sends alerts before a visitor even rings the bell. These alerts contain facial snapshots, too, and you can speak to visitors in real-time. You get all of this without paying extra for a subscription.
The wired version of this smart doorbell works with your existing doorbell wiring, which is more complex to install than the battery-powered version. Regardless of which model you buy, syncing it with the Eufy mobile app is easy. The doorbell range is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and you can use Alexa instead of a doorbell chime if you want to hear the chime upstairs or elsewhere in your home. Instead of storing footage in the cloud, you can store up to 4GB of video locally on the doorbell. The local storage isn't expandable, but it's easy to access the footage securely via the Eufy app.
Best Floodlight: Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Plus
Easy to install
Floodlights are more than twice as bright as the industry average
Wide field of view
Delay in notifications
Best features only available via subscription
We’ve had a mixed experience with Ring Security Cameras in the past, with notification delays and intermittent connections, yet this appears fixed with the 2021 release of the Ring Floodlight Cam Plus. Despite being a wired camera, it’s surprisingly easy to install and connect to your Wi-Fi network. The floodlights are some of the brightest we’ve seen on such a camera setup, at 2000 lumens versus the more standard 700 lumens. When coupled with the 140-degree wide-angle camera, you get a great view of your yard. You also have the option to set specific motion zones to view via the Ring app.
This app allows you to manage who can access your cameras, link to other Ring devices, view and communicate via the camera from anywhere in the world, and remotely enable and disable the built-in lights and siren. Notifications can go to any approved phone and Amazon Echo devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. They're a tad slower (a second or less) than seen on other apps, but they’re significantly closer to real-time than on previous Ring cameras we’ve used. All of these features are available without the need for a Ring Protect subscription, which offers advanced features such as Person Alerts, 60-day cloud video storage and sharing options, and 24/7 professional monitoring.
Best Motion Detector: Swann Wired PIR Bullet Security Camera
Thermal heat-sensing technology
Accurate motion detection/fewer false alerts
Advanced perimeter and line controls and detection
Difficult to install
Swann has been a security stalwart for decades, and it’s renowned for its True Detect Thermal Sensing technology. Rather than just detecting movement, Swann uses passive infrared (PIR) tracking to detect changes in heat associated with movement. PIR tracking helps the camera cover blind spots by extending how far it can see in the dark—up to 150 feet (45 meters). It also allows the camera’s 4K sensor to more accurately track motion to help eliminate false triggers. Rather than being notified every time a tree sways in the wind or a ball is kicked into your yard, you’ll only be alerted to events with “security relevance.”
Swann’s 4K Bullet Camera uses facial recognition for accuracy and its line-crossing software to draw lines in and around your property that will trigger auto-recording and alerts. These boundaries could be a fence line, the perimeter of your yard, or a threshold within the property. Other benefits include a two-way talk function, audio recording, a siren, and seven days of rolling cloud video storage. The only real downside is that Swann cameras can be tricky to install and set up if you want to take full advantage of these features. You can buy a Swann Secure+ Plan and get up to 60 days of cloud storage plus package, pet, and vehicle detection if you want added security.
Best Wired: REOLINK 4K PTZ Outdoor Camera
Multiple local storage options
Pan, tilt, and 5x optical zoom functionality
Camera can be set to run regular “patrols” of the area
App is difficult to use
No cloud storage
The REOLINK 4K PTZ Outdoor Camera goes a step beyond many wired cameras to offer increased functionality. First, its 4K camera comes with 5x optical zoom, allowing you to enhance facial features, license plates, or focus on suspicious movements. You can use the camera to film timelapse videos, record footage up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, schedule recordings for specific times, or have them activated by motion. You can save this footage locally, but you'll need to purchase a memory card or Reolink network video recorder (sold separately) or set up a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server.
Once the camera detects people or vehicles, it will send a notification before tracking them through its built-in 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt feature. This range allows you to keep an eye on the visitor, even if they go outside of the initial field of view. Once alerted, the camera can also automatically activate the built-in siren and spotlights, while a two-way talk function allows you to speak directly to the visitor in real-time. Another beauty of these pan-and-tilt functions is that you can set the camera to “patrol” the property at set times during the day, highlighting any changes and saving them to the REOLINK app. Given the many customization options, the app is a little difficult to navigate and master, but it’s worth the effort.
Best Wireless: Blink Outdoor Wireless Camera
Multiple local and cloud storage options
Two-year battery life
Lower-than-average field of view
The Blink Outdoor Wireless camera took us less than three minutes to install and connect to its corresponding hub, the Blink Sync Module 2, to our Wi-Fi network—and we could instantly access the HD live stream. Although the addition of the Sync Module causes a slight delay in notifications, as they need to travel to the hub first before reaching your phone, this hub also doubles up as a form of network video recorder (NVR). Built-in USB ports allow you to add a USB flash drive (sold separately) and capture your Blink photos and videos locally. This feature also helps boost the wireless camera’s battery life (estimated at an astonishing two years) by removing the need for a card reader on the camera itself.
On the free Blink plan, you can live stream for up to five minutes at a time. You can increase this up to 90 minutes via a Blink subscription, which also gives you 60-days’ worth of cloud storage and video sharing. Alerts on all plans can be set to detect motion automatically in the full field of view, or you have the option to customize motion zones. The catch is that this camera comes with a lower-than-average, 110-degree field of view and a lack of a siren. However, its two-way audio feature allows you to hear and speak to visitors in real-time as an alternative deterrent.
Best System: Eufy Security eufyCam 2 Wireless Home Security Camera System
Each camera comes with a one-year battery life
Homebase hub doubles as Wi-Fi repeater
No subscription fees
If you’re looking to cover large areas of your home and yard, the eufyCam 2 Wireless Home system comes with a Homebase that you can use to control as many eufyCam 2 cameras as you want and need. This Homebase also doubles up as a Wi-Fi repeater allowing you to extend the reach of your Wi-Fi network to any dead spots you have around your house. Since eufyCam 2’s are wireless, they take minutes to install—it took us just 12 minutes to install a system of five—and these cameras can be moved and repositioned at will. You also get a year’s worth of battery life for each one.
Each camera streams in full HD with a 135–degree field of view and will alert you when a human or face is detected inside this full view or in predetermined Activity Zones. You can manage Activity Zones and the system’s two-way audio features and alert settings via the Eufy app or Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. However, as with the Blink Wireless Outdoor camera, these alerts are slightly delayed because they pass through the hub first. While you can’t zoom in using the cameras, the software does come with Smart Image Enhancement to make facial features and license plates clearer. You also never need to pay for a subscription with this system, including 16GB of on-device storage.
The best outdoor security camera is the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera. It’s simple enough for beginners with a range of advanced features for more seasoned pros, including 2K video, a built-in spotlight, and a siren. If you prefer an option with a higher-quality, more accurate sensor that gives you greater control of your detection areas, we recommend the Swann Wired PIR Bullet Security Camera.
What to Look for in Outdoor Security Cameras
The best outdoor security cameras offer a range of video storage options: local storage, either via a secure digital memory (SD) card or flash drive, basic, free cloud storage, or more robust cloud storage via subscription. When choosing which storage option suits you best, you’ll need to determine how you plan to use the camera. Local storage provides the most control and access to the footage, but your SD card or flash drive size limits how much you can store. Cloud storage offers more capacity but won’t work without an internet connection, and there are also privacy issues since your files are in the cloud. All cloud-supported cameras in our list offer encryption as standard to mitigate this risk, but it’s worth noting.
Security cameras typically use either an outlet (wired) or batteries (wireless) for their power source. “Battery power is the simplest power option,” advises Ring Chief Technical Officer Joshua Roth. “Many battery-powered video doorbells and security cameras can be set up in a matter of minutes, and their batteries will last several months with normal use before needing to be recharged.” Outlet-powered models offer peace of mind because they won’t run out of battery, but you should weigh this assurance against their more complex installation options. Wired cameras are best suited to heavy usage, allowing for 24/7 recording, but they will fail in the event of a power cut.
Installation options typically go hand-in-hand with the camera’s power source type. Battery-powered cameras are usually easier and faster to install, and they can be repositioned or removed with ease. This flexibility makes them more suitable for renters who can’t make modifications to the home. Meanwhile, the installation of wired cameras ranges in terms of difficulty. Some wired cameras can be run into the house and connected directly to an outlet. Others require hardwiring to the mains.
“Installing battery-powered products is predominantly about installing the mount,” adds Roth. “Whereas hardwired products, which need to be wired to a standard junction box, may require professional support to give you peace of mind that everything has been installed safely.”
The higher the video quality, the clearer the view of your home and yard, but you don’t automatically need to default to 4K resolution (3840x2160 pixels). If you want the camera to act as a simple deterrent or alert you to visitors or intruders without recordings, you can get away with a lower-quality camera.
If you’re buying a camera with a built-in light, or your yard is well-lit, then a high-definition (HD) camera and above should suffice. Some cameras combine a high resolution with infrared sensors to improve motion detection and range. Others may have a lower resolution but come with optical zoom or image enhancement software. As a rule, we recommend you buy the best quality to match your budget.
How do you install an outdoor security camera?
Installation of an outdoor security camera depends on its power source and type. Mounts for both wireless and wired cameras typically use screws and a baseplate to secure in place, meaning you'll need a drill as a minimum. Some offer magnetic connectors, while other cameras clip into place. If you're installing a camera within easy reach, look for those that aren't easily removable and can be locked into the base plate and secured in position.
If you're installing a wired doorbell camera, you will need to connect to your existing doorbell wiring. Alternatively, some doorbell cameras offer both outlet and battery power options, allowing you to choose how it's installed and used. Elsewhere, you can buy some wired cameras with an additional plug-in adapter, meaning you get the speed of wireless installation with an outlet. This setup just requires the waterproof cable to be run through your house and secured in place.
How do you hide an outdoor security camera?
According to Roth, it’s best to make sure your home security devices are clear and visible “so guests know they are being captured on video and anyone visiting your home knows it is protected.” Making outdoor security cameras visible can also act as a deterrent to would-be intruders. However, if you need to hide your outdoor security camera, you can do so in several ways.
Mount the camera inside a box that blends in with the rest of your home’s exterior with a hole cut out for the camera sensor. This method won’t work for cameras that pan or tilt but is suitable for static cameras. Buying a camera in black rather than white can also help make it more inconspicuous, particularly at night.
Can you use an outdoor security camera indoors?
It's possible to use outdoor security cameras indoors because the fundamentals of protecting your home and your yard are the same. However, due to the durable, weather-resistant design, size, weight, and increased field of view and range, outdoor models typically cost more than indoor cameras. If you're only planning to use a camera indoors, you may find yourself paying for features on an outdoor camera that you don't want or need.
“Many outdoor security cameras need to be wired into your home’s junction box and, as such, are specifically designed for outdoor use,” says Roth. In this instance, installation may require running cables outside to bring them back indoors, adding unnecessary complications and costs. If you want a multi-purpose camera or a network of the same cameras inside and out, opt for models with explicit indoor/outdoor compatibility (and labeling).
Why Trust The Spruce
Victoria Woollaston is a freelance science, technology, and lifestyle editor with more than a decade’s experience testing and reviewing consumer products. She’s had first-hand experience using myriad security and smart home cameras, including the majority of options on this list.
To learn more about the different types of security cameras and which specifications are most important, Woollaston spoke with Joshua Roth, Chief Technology Officer at Ring. Using these expert insights, she looked for outdoor security cameras that offered features to suit a range of installation types, budgets, quality, and range. She prioritized cameras with smart features that offer at least HD video quality. All the cameras in this selection are additionally durable, weather-resistant, and designed to withstand a range of temperatures.