Outdoor security cameras provide a quick way to get some peace of mind when it comes to home security. Over the years, security cameras have improved considerably, from better image quality to the ability to distinguish a stranger from the neighbor kid selling raffle tickets. After testing the best outdoor security cameras, we recommend the Nest Cam (battery)(available at Best Buy for $179.99) as our top pick for its fantastic spread of free smart features and multiple installation options.
Looking for something cheaper? The Wyze Cam Outdoor (available at Amazon) is a value-packed security camera that works great for outdoor use. But there are plenty of other choices available, each with its own specialties. To make sure you find the right pick for you, we installed the most popular home security cameras on the market and put them through our tests.
These are the best smart outdoor security cameras we tested:
Nest Cam (battery)
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera
Wyze Cam Outdoor
Arlo Essential XL Spotlight Cam
Ring Stick Up Camera (Battery)
Logitech Circle View
Eufy Solo Cam E40
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
Blink all-new Outdoor Cam
Lorex Indoor/Outdoor Wi-Fi Camera
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Nest Cam (battery)
Wyze Cam Outdoor
How We Tested Outdoor Security Cameras
What You Should Know About Smart Outdoor Security Cameras
The indoor/outdoor wireless Nest Cam (battery) is the first battery-operated home security camera from Google. If you prefer continuous power, this camera can do that, too, with the help of a weatherproof power cable (available for purchase separately). Dual-power isn’t something you’ll find on most home security cameras, making the Nest Cam one of the most flexible options for any homeowner—inside or out. The camera's accuracy is also impressive, as it never missed a beat during our tests.
The Nest Cam (battery) is also more affordable than the previous line of Nest’s IQ Cams. Additionally, it includes features you’d previously have to pay for, like intelligent alerts and a three-hour video history, for free. The rich smart notifications include alerts that can detect people, motion, vehicles, and animals. Arlo is one of the only other home security brands that offer detailed intelligent alerts like Nest, but you have to pay for them.
The Nest Cam (battery) runs through the Google Home app, not the Nest app as previous Google cameras did. The app is where you can view your event history, filter by event type, and create custom motion zones. You can view the camera’s 1080p live stream in the app, too, and pull it up on any Nest smart display. Two-way talk is only offered in the app and not via any of Nest's smart displays.
There are a few downsides. The battery isn't removable, so you’ll need to pull down the entire camera to recharge it. The battery life can last up to seven months, which is about on par with other battery-operated cameras, but that hinges on the number of motion events it captures. Additionally, despite its sturdy magnetic base, it’s easy to reach up and pull the camera down, so make sure to mount it up high. In the rare event, your camera is stolen, Google will replace it for free.
Though the camera only works with Google Assistant (not Alexa or Siri), it’s reliable, accurate, versatile, and secure. It offers a fantastic spread of smart features for free, multiple options for installation, and a competitive price tag that makes it our No. 1 pick for outdoor security cameras.
Wyze is known for its affordable smart home gadgets and the Wyze Cam Outdoor is a fantastic example, taking the cake as our new best value outdoor smart security camera. It works well, sends timely alerts, and offers many of the same features as more expensive cameras, but at a fraction of the cost.
Running on two 2,600 mAh integrated rechargeable batteries, Wyze's Outdoor Cam is completely wireless and claims a battery life of three to six months for normal use (about 10-20 events per day). The outdoor camera is smart enough to differentiate between people and general motion, with package, vehicle, face, and animal detection with a Cam Plus subscription.
On occasion, the app took longer to load than other cameras, but overall we didn’t have many issues accessing the live stream, and the alerts were sent within seconds of detecting motion. Wyze delivers 1080p video that’s easy on the eyes and has two-way-talk functionality, like many more expensive cameras offer.
A base station is required to use the camera, but it’s included with your purchase, so there are no additional products to buy. Wyze's outdoor camera also supports offline video recording using a MicroSD card if your internet is out or the base station becomes disconnected, which really enhances this camera’s value (especially if you travel with any regularity).
Up to three additional cameras can be added to the base station, allowing you to outfit the exterior of your home with a total of four smart security cameras—at less than the cost of one Arlo Pro 4.
In short, Wyze’s Outdoor Cam is a reliable security camera that shows clear video (including night vision), puts out good audio quality, and is overall easy to use. While it doesn’t offer as many features as some of the others we’ve tested, the camera offers a lot of value given the price and doesn’t require a subscription to access up to 14 days of rolling cloud storage.
To find the top smart outdoor security cameras, we originally researched the market and purchased and tested cameras from the top brands. After a few new options emerged on the market and some older models were discontinued, we retested our winners and pitted them against four new cameras to see if any new contenders could oust the current winners.
I installed each around my house, making notes about the installation procedures, in-app setup process, and reliability. Testing included several weeks of regular use, evaluating video quality, audio quality, responsiveness, and network reliability, and app usability on a numerical scale.
A big trick with security cameras is getting the notifications dialed in, so you're alerted to the things you want to know about without being bombarded with notifications every time a bird flies by. So I tested the sensitivity controls for each product, if they support motion zones, and how quickly they alerted me to people and noise.
I also installed the mobile apps on both an iPhone and a Samsung Tab S6 to determine if the app experience was identical across platforms, and I tested how quickly each app began the live stream.
What You Should Know About Smart Outdoor Security Cameras
Even your security camera needs security. So, what should you look for? Features like two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and the option for local storage are all things to consider before investing in an outdoor security camera setup.
Two-factor authentication, which sends a code to your mobile device to verify it’s really you, is available on many home security cameras and absolutely something to seek out and activate. That way, if someone tries to hack into your account, you will receive an alert and can quickly take care of the problem.
Another thing to consider is how your videos are used and stored. Most outdoor security cameras allow you to turn them on and off from the app to control when they're recording and uploading video to the cloud. Look for end-to-end encryption for storing videos. The encryption offers a layer of protection that can help prevent unwanted eyeballs from viewing your saved and stored videos.
Make sure you create a strong password that’s unique to your camera’s app. Data breaches feel like the norm as of late, making it all the more important not to reuse passwords across multiple websites and apps.
A paid subscription plan is fairly common with almost any smart home security gadget like a smart doorbell, and a smart outdoor security camera is no different. Think of home security as a continual investment rather than a one-time deal. If you want access to the best features like continuous surveillance and special detection alerts for people, cars, animals, and packages, then subscribing to a paid plan is the way to go.
As an alternative, some cameras offer built-in storage or the option to add a microSD card to record events without uploading to a cloud. But most of the time, a paid plan enhances what the camera can do, like differentiating between people and other general motion, the ability to share videos, and is worth paying for.
Installing Outdoor Security Cameras
When considering which smart security camera to buy, consider your current setup. A wireless outdoor camera with a rechargeable battery is a convenient way to go, as most cameras should only need to be recharged once or twice a year.
However, not all cameras have a removable battery. That means you’ll have to take the entire camera down to charge it. It’s not a make or break, but it’s something to be aware if you like the appearance of having security cameras up at all times.
Another option is a wired camera. With this setup, we recommend having electrical outlets in the soffits of your roofline for an easy connection so you can avoid running cords all along the outside of your home.
Other Smart Outdoor Security Cameras We Tested
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight
Touting a 160-degree viewing angle and 2K video resolution, Arlo’s Pro 4 offers a wider range of view and excellent video quality, which is just as clear at night as it is during the day thanks to the camera’s color night vision output. It also has a built-in spotlight that illuminates when motion is detected and a smart siren that can be triggered remotely or automatically.
The installation process is relatively simple, though a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection is required for setup. There are no wires to fiddle with, as this camera includes a mount that can easily be screwed in on the exterior of your home. Arlo says the removable battery can last up to six months on a single charge, which is typical of outdoor battery cameras.
The camera easily connects to smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can be used with IFTTT. Previous Arlo outdoor cameras required a base station, but the Pro 4 doesn’t need a hub or any extras to get going.
A subscription to Arlo’s Smart Plan (starting at $2.99/month) is the best way to get the most out of the Arlo Pro 4. Included in Arlo’s paid plans are 30-day video history; 2K cloud recording; activity zones; advanced and accurate object detection for people, cars, and packages; and other useful features you’ll want access to.
One of the only gripes we have with the Pro 4 camera is the two-way talk audio isn’t as loud as it could be. If you’re within three to five feet, you can hear it well, but any farther away and it’s hard to make out what the other person is saying. But that’s a minor grumble about the Pro 4, which offers just about everything a reliable home security camera should.
The Arlo Essential XL Spotlight tested almost just as well as our best overall pick, but there are a few minor differences between the two that make the Pro 4 a more attractive choice.
The Arlo Essential camera offers 1080p video, which looks great both day and night, but the Pro 4 touts a bit higher resolution at 2K. The Pro 4 also features a larger field of view (160 degrees vs 130 degrees). We also like that the Pro 4 is shorter and more petite than the Arlo Essential XL camera, making it easier to work with and place. The differences are minor but if you want the very best, the Pro 4 is your best bet.
Both cameras come with a built-in siren, adjustable spotlight, and the setup was very easy. The Essential XL camera claims to have a one-year battery life but, unlike the Pro 4, the battery isn’t removable, so you have to take the entire camera down to charge it.
If you’re on the fence between the Essential XL and the Pro 4, we say go for the Pro 4. While Arlo’s Essential XL Spotlight performed just fine in our tests, the Pro 4 offers more bang for your buck.
Ring's Stick Up Cam Battery can be used indoors and outside, making it a versatile option for your home security setup. While just about all of the cameras offered an easy setup, Ring’s was among the simplest and automatically added itself to my Amazon Alexa speaker once it joined the same Wi-Fi network.
This camera runs on batteries and is completely wire-free. (There's also a solar panel and plug-in model). It didn't give us any troubles and provided us with timely notifications over both Wi-Fi and cellular, and the audio quality was fairly loud and responsive, too. One cool thing about this camera is that it can be added to any Ring security system.
Most security cameras offer a paid subscription to access the best features and Ring is no different. Ring Protect offers two plans: Basic ($3/month or $30/year for 60-day video history, sharing, and more) or Plus ($10/month or $100/year all of the same features as Basic plus extended warranties, discounts on Ring products, and more).
Ring’s Stick Up Cam Battery is a great option for anyone who exclusively uses Amazon Alexa, as this camera doesn’t integrate with Google Assistant, or other Ring security products like Ring doorbells.
Logitech’s Circle View camera is the only one of the bunch that exclusively works with Apple HomeKit and can only be used with iOS operating systems. We set this camera up on iPhone XR and were quickly able to add it to Apple’s Home app. Most security cameras are wire-free these days, but the Circle View camera comes with a cord and needs to be plugged into a nearby outlet to use.
Logitech’s Circle View camera offers a larger field of view than our best overall pick, and at 1080p resolution (the gold standard anymore), the view looks good. Since it’s Apple-only, the camera doesn’t integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, which is a bummer. But you can ask Siri things like “show me the Circle View camera” and the stream appears almost immediately, which is a nice touch if you’re all in on HomeKit-compatible products.
A Home Hub, like a fourth-gen Apple TV or HomePod, is needed to record and save video, which is an extra cost to consider unless you already gave one of these at home.
This camera isn’t for everybody since it can only be paired with HomeKit. However, if Siri is your preferred smart assistant, then Logitech’s Circle View security camera will fit right into any Apple ecosystem.
The wireless Eufy SoloCam E40 is a subscription-free outdoor security camera that, unlike previous Eufy security cameras, does not require a HomeBase for operation. It also offers free local storage (up to 8GB). The camera defaults to recording video in crisp 2K resolution that looks fantastic and the two-way audio sounds great. But it struggles to accurately detect motion events—in our testing it mistook several small lizards for humans—and it’s not as smart as other cameras that can detect package deliveries, animals, and vehicles.
Eufy estimates the battery lasts about four months (based on 30 events per day), though several Amazon reviews have noted the battery life drains quicker than expected. During our two weeks of testing, the battery decreased by 20% on Eufy's optimal battery life setting (about 10 events per day), which uses the least amount of power. An optional Eufy solar panel can be added to the camera for additional power.
With smart assistants Alexa and Google Assistant, you can pull up the camera’s live stream on an Amazon Echo or Google Nest smart display but you can’t do anything else. While Eufy does make outdoor security cameras for Apple HomeKit, the SoloCam E40 does not work with Siri.
The live view is quick to stream in the eufy Security app, where you’ll also find security features like two-factor authentication. The camera has a dust- and water-resistance rating of IP65 for outdoor use and withstood several Florida rain showers during our tests without issue.
The biggest selling point of the camera is the built-in 8GB storage (no microSD card needed) so you can access recorded events and smart features. But the smart features aren’t as robust as other outdoor security cameras and we wish the AI could more accurately differentiate between motion events.
Ring's Spotlight Cam is for people who want their outdoor camera to put the emphasis on security and want to integrate with other Ring products. It's got a motion-sensitive light that can let passersby know they're being watched, as well as help you find your way from the car to the front door at night. The built-in siren is plenty loud, and the two-way audio was the loudest and clearest of any camera we tested.
Ring's app requires two taps to get to the live view, and the settings are disorganized, requiring a little too much tapping around to find all the features. Still, the video quality is great, especially at night thanks to the built-in light, and Ring's community features can tip you off to problems like a rash of car break-ins or package thefts in your area before they affect you. While it doesn't offer free cloud storage, Ring's fees are very reasonable at $3/month or $30/year.
The Lorex Indoor/Outdoor WiFi Security Camera has useful features like color night vision, smart motion detection, and smart deterrence capabilities like a remote-triggered siren and a motion-activated LED light. It captures easy-to-see 1080p video both day and night, quickly sends accurate smart alerts, and has it stronger weather ratings for extreme heat and freezing cold temperatures than other outdoor security cameras we’ve tested.
The camera is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can also be managed using the Lorex Home app. Continuous recording is available on the camera when using the included 256GB microSD card, and recording schedules can be set up within the app.
The camera isn’t as smart as Nest and Arlo outdoor cameras, which can alert you to animals and packages, in addition to people and cars.
Lorex’s camera is rated for indoor and outdoor use, and one of its strongest features is its IP65 weather-resistant rating. The camera can withstand temperatures as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as -22 degrees.
It has a siren that can be triggered remotely from the Lorex Home app or automatically when motion is detected, but the siren is too soft to deter unwanted guests. It also lacks two-factor authentication and requires a nearby outlet as a power source.
Amazon's Blink Outdoor camera didn't wow us, but we didn't hate it either. Released in Sept. 2020, the Blink Camera captures events in 1080p HD video and relies on infrared night vision to detect motion once it's dark outside. While we thought the daytime video looked great, the nighttime view appeared a bit washed out.
The wire-free camera runs on two AA lithium batteries, which last up to two years with normal usage. Blink was the most sensitive camera we tested, picking up on movements that not even I could find when reviewing alerts. However, it’s easy to tailor the motion settings to your liking, and users can create custom motion zones to help avoid false notifications within the Blink app.
And while it does excel at sending punctual smart alerts, we don’t like that you can’t preview a video or image on the notification like you can with Wyze, Nest, and Arlo. It’s a small but handy feature that makes a big difference when you’re quickly trying to find out what’s going on without unlocking your phone and opening the app.
In addition to the app, you can control Blink’s all-new outdoor camera using Amazon Alexa, but not Google Assistant . We were easily able to connect the camera with Alexa and view a live stream by saying, "Alexa, show me my Blink Outdoor Camera.”
Cloud and local storage options are available when using Blink Outdoor. A Sync Module 2 hub (included with the Blink Outdoor) and a USB flash drive can be used to store clips locally. Starting in 2021, users will have access to a $3/monthly subscription fee for one camera (or $10 a month for unlimited cameras).
Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for several major outlets and as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America.
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