Looking for the best outdoor security camera for your home or business? This guide will take you through the top systems, and discuss the different features, so you can decide on the best outdoor security system for your budget – and buy it at the best price.
Since the internet provides a direct link to your pocket, and AI can tell packages from intruders, installing smart cameras can do a lot. You can check you closed the garage door from an app, tell the kids to come in for dinner via a built-in speaker, and, of course, receive alerts if something happens in time to do something about it.
The market has seen a lot of innovation from big players as Google and Amazon have developed the brands Nest, Ring and Blink, and it’ll be no surprise to learn the brands integrate thoroughly with Google Assistant and Alexa respectively. Other competitors are staying neutral and supporting both, and sometimes Apple’s HomeKit (Apple provides the software and cloud underpinnings to support networked cameras without offering products themselves).
Most brands here also offer cameras designed to live indoors; rather than miss good choices, we’ve created a separate list for indoor security cameras, but don’t forget you can often mix and match to create your own complete system with eyes wherever you need them.
You can build a system around a recording device (NVR) on-site, or the increasingly common cloud storage. The latter is preferred by Google, Ring and other Silicon Valley brands, though almost invariably comes with a subscription fee for storage (and, by extension, the option to review video). This list covers both options, but don’t forget that cloud storage also depends on a reliable internet connection.
The best outdoor security cameras in 2023
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In terms of simplicity, the “Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery)” – yes, that’s its full name – is fantastic. Once charged, it can be mounted magnetically to your home and sends a live view to the Google Home (not Nest) app. The newer Google app allows monitoring of multiple live cameras, among other features. Smart features like person, animal, package or vehicle recognition all take place onboard the device, so you can choose which you’re notified about and don’t have to pay for a subscription for this. It also speeds things up compared to those services which rely on footage being sent to and processed on cloud servers.
Why’s the video ‘only’ 1080P? Because good HDR 1080P can be more useful than bad 4K (and uses far less battery to send via wi-fi); this is excellent quality within the limits of 1080P. There are some quirks to the design, like only being IP54 weatherproof (keep it under the eves) and the weird way the power cable looks plugged in. That said, the system seems designed to be used in battery mode. There is built-in storage to cope with internet outages, while features like two-way voice (typical of app-controlled cameras) are there.
The Arlo system, from Netgear, stands out amongst security cameras thanks to the system’s dedication to supporting all the major smart home systems – including Apple HomeKit. For that, though, it works via the Arlo Smart Hub, so is best bought in a package; for video clips only the cameras can be picked up alone. Given Arlo’s pricing, it’s worth asking if 4K is necessary to you (Arlo also offer lower resolution options at lower cost), but the brand’s AI is a great feature – detecting the difference between delivery man, person, pet or vehicle, which means your phone alerts are much less likely to cry wolf.
External installation is a breeze thanks to the magnetic mounts (do put them out of reach though). The camera works well near the front door thanks to the dual noise-cancelling microphones which reduce street or weather noise in a two-way chat. There is also a siren and a bright LED. Apple-enthusiasts won’t just appreciate HomeKit support; the charging cables are reminiscent of Apple’s MagSafe, so while the promised 6 months battery life seems optimistic; you can easily just take the camera down, or reach up and connect the cable in situ. Arlo’s software, too, makes reviewing clips on your phone or via a browser (with dual verification) painless and – like Ring – there is a range, including a doorbell, to build a complete system with.
If you want a compact indoor camera which might occasionally need to be positioned outside (or under a leaky roof) then look no further than the updated Wyze Cam’s v3, which is one of the best cheap security cameras around. This is a compact 1080P cube camera which is IP65-rated for weatherproofing and able to capture color even in the dark thanks to what Wyze calls a Starlight CMOS sensor, and its f/1.6 maximum aperture. An optional Outdoor Power Adapter is needed for external use, or perhaps this value-for-money choice would be top of the list. There are two switchable infrared wavelengths built-in, for near and far illumination, so re-positioning the camera in and out poses no risk. The ‘near’ one makes things hard to see, so perhaps better for baby monitoring. Mounting is straightforward too; there is a magnetic mount or screw mount. The two-way talk system makes use of a simultaneous speaker/mic system rather than push-to-talk. All these are great features, well realized, but the choice of inserting a microSD or using the subscription service is really appreciated. In most respects it beats the fairly recent Wyze Cam Outdoor, too, unless you need a battery-powered system.
The Arlo Go 2 is the firm’s second iteration in the relatively niche category of smart security camera with cellular reception, and it has made great progress over its predecessor. For a start, this version boasts wi-fi and cellular, so can be placed somewhere on your grounds where coverage is uncertain and it can safely opt for that which is available at the least battery cost. An IR motion sensor assists the camera’s own detection, meaning movement within 300ft (100m) will trigger the camera, while the 1080P is enough to see what is happening if the high quality mode is selected (though this does come at the cost of battery life). Arlo’s built-in LED floodlight means color night vision is an option, though this can be disabled for discretion or to save battery. As ever with Arlo, the Arlo Secure cloud service is what enables people/animal/vehicle detection so you should budget for a plan for the full feature set, but you don’t need to. Cellular coverage, on the other hand, will require a SIM and there is no escaping that cost.
The eufyCam system represents a different approach to many on this list – one which side-steps the subscription by providing an in-home base station. As well as the 16GB card included, it also has space for a 2.5-inch hard drive so you can add terabytes of storage. The unit needs to live near your router, and it links to the cameras via wi-fi.
The new eufyCam 3 features 4K battery-powered cameras with integrated solar panels to keep the charge topped up indefinitely. This will mean positioning to maximize time in the sun – Eufy says two hours a day should do the trick (but not every day is sunny). The 4K (3840x2160) resolution tops many.
Since you own the base and the camera, the AI can feature facial recognition as well simply distinguishing between humans, vehicles and pets as most non-subscription cameras do. It’s still possible to access the video via an app as you need, and the base station can also befriend other Eufy cameras and doorbells.
Blink’s compact cameras are designed to capture short video clips when activated by motion, but avoid being hard-wired thanks to the power from two disposable AA lithium batteries. These can keep the device going for up to 2 years, communicating via a mini hub called the Sync Module 2 (ensure you buy the ‘kit’ if you need one of these; if buying extra cameras you can save around $10 / £10 by buying without the module).
The Sync Module also has a USB socket for a simple USB stick (up to 256GB) which you can use to record clips without subscription; a significant benefit compared to other cameras, and you only need one module for multiple Blink devices.
Non cloud-subscribers still miss a few features, though, like thumbnails when reviewing clips and hourly photos assembled into timelapse so you can review what happened as you slept. The Blink system’s friction installation is simple because the device is light, but you’d want to be sure to mount it out of reach for thieves (but somewhere not too hard to reach every 2 years!) . Clearly, the default settings are designed to preserve battery life, but the app offers (and explains) choices like ‘early motion’ so you can choose your own priorities.
• Read full Blink Outdoor review
The Nest Cam with Floodlight is a powerful and excellent quality garden floodlight which will also look great on a stylish home so, thankfully, can be dimmed to your chosen brightness and just be used as a light. At maximum, it’ll pour 2,400 lumens over the space before it. That’s enough to ensure everything you’re looking at through that 1080P 30fps camera is in its natural colors.
Obviously that much energy needs to be hardwired, but taking a leaf from the more recent Nest camera (which also impressed us a great deal), this version has three hours battery backup to maintain the recording even where the internet fails it. Person detection and motion zones are also available without subscription, which is a classy touch, and though the lowest Nest Aware monthly fee (at $6 / £5) is higher than, say, Blink’s, it covers multiple devices so – as soon as you add a second Nest device – it can prove cost effective. On the same subject, it is also a good choice for Google Assistant fans, but offers no support for the Amazon/Alexa smart assistant.
See our guide to the best floodlight cameras
Overall this is a great choice. It is bright, with a good quality of light resulting in sharp video. Installation is swift and painless. The app also offers a good range of options, and Arlo’s design is appealing (though we’d like to see a variant with the 4K Ultra 2 camera).
The amount of light from the battery is striking, but this is a great choice with a power supply cable or solar panel (both optional extras). Admittedly we don’t really understand why there is no power cable with Arlo’s magnetic connector in the box: Arlo’s magnetic connector is a great feature, and it’s a shame you need to pay more to access it, but at least you can. (With it you can charge a camera in situ with a power bank or extension cord.)
We also love Arlo’s app and its commitment to compatibility with not just Alexa and Google Assistant, but IFTTT and – if you’re using a hub – the oft-ignored Apple HomeKit. Overall this comes highly recommended.
The Ring Stick-Up camera – now on its third generation – is a great move for the popular Ring smart doorbell brand. If you’d like a broader view of your property all coordinated in a mature app, look no further. The stick-up cam uses a rechargeable battery which will last about 1,000 activations (potentially as low as two months, or up to 12). The rear has a rubber-covered barrel socket for an optional solar panel which – given the right conditions – will keep it topped up longer.
To avoid the downtime of around 6 hours charging you could also buy a spare battery. The Ring Battery Pack is the same across many Ring products.
The camera is also flexible when it comes to installation; with the foot – initially attached to the base. It can be placed anywhere, or it can be re-positioned to act as a wall mount. The battery is easily accessed by a twist off base, but a screw can make it tamper proof.
The cloud service is pricey, but the camera is good and the software is feature-rich, with nice touches like Snapshot capture for swipe-back time-lapse review.
• See our full Ring Stick-up Battery Cam review • See also Best Ring cameras
The Alptop camera might have a distinctly arachnid look, but that smattering of ‘eyes’ serves to provide illumination for both infrared and visible light night vision. This camera is also not priced at a point where excessive investment in industrial design is to be expected; instead this is a great way to get 1080P HD footage from locations important to you or your business. The lens itself has a fairly narrow 70˚ field of view, but this extends to 320˚ horizontal and 90˚ vertically with the pan-and-tilt. The app, camHI, could certainly be better styled, but allows pan, tilt and zooming, too, and provides motion alerts. The camera records to an on-board MicroSD card if you choose. One thing it can’t do, despite suggesting it could, is connect to a web browser; it seems it needs the now-retired Flash player. There is still software for Windows, and an RJ45 connector; a nice extra option.
While there is a smaller choice of HomeKit compatible cameras than for, say, Alexa-friendly devices, the EVE Outdoor Cam is a great choice for those looking for something which puts lighting and design first; the camera is almost an afterthought.
Mounted in place of a traditional outdoor porch or garden light, the Eve can be fitted (so long as you’re able to cut power to the wiring). The cunning design allows for positioning at an angle to suit your property, while concealed within is a decent loudspeaker/microphone for two-way talk. The camera offers a wide field of view and, optionally, an extra light boost from its not-unimpressive standard.
Using the EVE app, and automations, the boosted (over 100%) light for up to 30 seconds is an option, but the standard level is hood to act as a simple home light which you can switch via the Eve app. See our full Eve Outdoor Cam review.
The Nest Doorbell (battery) shares some styling traits, and – significantly – the Nest Aware subscription scheme with other Google cameras. That makes it something you can safely fit by your door and take advantage of the many software features that Google offer, not least of which is AI facial recognition as well as animal, vehicle and package detection. There is even three hours of free event clip storage before you have to fork out the not insignificant micropayment subscription. Despite the price, we like the look of the doorbell. If you’re lucky enough to have traditional doorbell wiring it will take advantage of that for permanent power, and ring the old chime, but the battery provides an (initially) easier solution for many. We would caution, of course, that you’ll need to charge it (and likely more often than the 10 weeks Google say it is good for).
With a low asking price and nothing to worry about when it comes to looks, you might expect that Nooie are looking to make their money back with an outrageous subscription scheme, but in reality this camera offers the choice. There is cloud storage, signed up for via the app, and the opportunity to record locally. Sometimes getting a cheap product means sacrificing the opportunity to be part of a useful ecosystem, but Nooie offer doorbells and baby monitors too. Outdoor fitting does involve running a power lead – a battery option would be nice – but given the entry price it’s hard to complain. It is true that 1080P isn’t the highest resolution out there, but it’s worth remembering that it’s good enough for Google’s Nest too; where things do fall down a little is the frame rate, which is only 15fps – enough to see what’s happening, but not TV-like.
The C3X uses a dual-lens set up to offer color video at night even without supplemental lights. In addition building AI into the system means the camera can spot human and vehicle shapes even in difficult lighting. The system works by combining data from the infrared camera (lit using two invisible-to-human-eyes lights) with the ambient brightness with a proprietary algorithm. The resulting H.265 video is then sent on via wi-fi, ethernet or recorded locally. The system still has a bright strobe (and siren) which it can use to deter intruders; people, vehicles, or both, and in what region is up to you. The MicroSD and reset button are tucked under a screw-sealed plate, which should make it harder to interfere with as well as earn the IP67 rating. It’s handy that a cable waterproofing clip is included too. The design is also kind to those installing a long way from wi-fi bases; the dual antenna are effective.
A PTZ camera (pan, tilt and zoom) can act like a sentry, looking around and examining anything suspicious more closely. The huge 25x optical zoom means you can see a lot further and check anything suspicious, which in the CZ500’s case is bolstered by AI. The camera can separate humans from animals and other objects, as well as be set up for line-crossing, intrusion, unattended baggage, and object removal. It is also listening out for unusual sounds, all of which can reduce false alarms by up to 90% while giving a lot of choice as to what does cause alerts. The sensor works right down to 0.005 lux in color with night vision extending to 50m (164ft), and the camera has EIS to reduce jolts of when moved. The CZ500 is designed to be connected via PoE (Power over Ethernet) cables, but it does offer the option of local storage (to a Micro SD) as well as to an NVR, though the robust metal vandal-proof housing (rated IP67 and IK10) means changing it is somewhat fiddly. See also Best PoE cameras.
What to look for in an outdoor security camera?
Top tips for picking the best outdoor security camera system:
- Ecosystem Does the camera use wi-fi or its own base station, and if the later do you have to pay extra for the base station? Are you willing to? Is the ecosystem wide enough for all your needs? Smart doorbells, for example, have quite a crossover with outdoor cameras.
- Subscription Is there a subscription (or multiple subscription options), and do they charge per camera or per home? Are you willing to pay?
- Local recording? Is there the option to record locally, and is it in the camera or a base station? If you’re recording into the camera, can you be confident the recording is secure?
- Power supply Many outdoor cameras are battery powered, which makes for an easier install but more maintenance. Some offer solar panel accessories, like the Blink Outdoor Solar Mount, to save on battery swapping, charging or replacement.
- Lighting Floodlighting, or more subtle options like bright LEDs on the Google Nest IQ or Ring Spotlight Cam can both offer color when you’re seeing in the dark and surprise trespassers.
- Sirens Can deter those you don’t want on your property. High decibel counts can be most effective, but may be more than your neighbors need!
- Two-way-talk Can let you check in with the kids in the garden, or let you talk to a trespasser.
- Camera quality Resolution is important, but certainly isn’t the only factor; outdoor cameras are often used mainly at night, so low-light imagery matters and that depends as much on infrared lighting as pixel count. It's also sometimes true that you need to dial down image resolution to save on bandwidth usage and battery consumption.
- Live View Live view refers to the live video you can see from the camera on your app. It’s also worth looking for latency – the delay between real life and what you see on your phone.
- Event The cameras have sensors of one kind or another to detect humans, animals or vehicles before activating the camera, alert, lights or siren, and each occasion is referred to as an ‘event’ in the jargon. Some cameras or subscriptions only record video in clips after an event, while others offer 24/7 options.
- Connection loss If your outdoor camera uses wi-fi you need to factor in the quality of the connection available at your install site. Wireless signals and brick walls aren’t friends. On-board storage like a MicroSD can provide a backup.
- DFG Drop Free Glass is a technology based on electrowetting-on-dielectric microfluids; in layman’s terms, energy can be passed through parts of the glass to guide water droplets away more quickly (and using less power) than a wiper (so the lens is free of water drops).
- Person detection Not the same thing as individual recognition, at best you’ll receive notifications in genres like ‘Person,’ ‘Animal’ and ‘Vehicle.’ Whether you want an alert when there is an animal in your garden depends on how much your rose bushes matter to you, for example.
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