Outdoor security cameras are a beneficial addition to almost any home security system. Top-rated equipment provides 24/7 video surveillance of your yard and entryways. Whether you want to install the camera system yourself or have a professional do it, there are several options to consider.
What are the best outdoor security cameras?
We considered more than 20 popular home security camera options. To find our top picks, we compared verified customer reviews on our site plus ratings from across the internet. The ConsumerAffairs research team also compared the different outdoor cameras’ video quality specs, automation integrations and storage capabilities, among other features.
Our pick for full-color night vision Arlo Pro 3 Spotlight Camera
Arlo Pro 3 is a wireless outdoor camera with a six-month battery life. It has a spotlight that can be activated manually or when motion is detected. Other features include full-color night vision, 160-degree viewing field and compatibility with Google, Alexa, Apple HomeKit and SmartThings. As of publishing, prices start under $200 per camera. You can get a three-pack for $449.
Our pick for no subscription ieGeek Outdoor Security Camera
ieGeek Outdoor Security Cameras are waterproof, wireless cameras with a rechargeable battery. Cameras operate off wireless connectivity. Features include two-way audio, motion detection, SD card storage, cloud storage and 65-foot night vision range. It comes with rechargeable batteries, so it’s best to place it somewhere with easy access. As of publishing, cameras start at $89.99 (not including SD card).
The Wyze Outdoor Starter Bundle is a wireless, battery-operated camera and base station. Installation is easy because it can be mounted anywhere, but it will need to be easily accessible to swap out batteries. Wyze cameras are built to withstand extreme weather and temperatures. Other features include a three- to six-month battery life, high-definition video and a base station for up to four cameras. Pricing starts at $58.55 plus shipping for one camera and base station, as of publishing. Additional cameras are $46.98 each. Be aware that the base station only supports up to four cameras, and you need a micro SD card for storage.
Our pick for plug-in outdoor camera Google Nest Cam Outdoor
The Google Nest Cam Outdoor is an outdoor camera that's wired for power. Other features include a weatherproof build, two-way audio, an operating temperature range from minus 4 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a 130-degree field of view and a one-year limited warranty. As of publishing, cameras start at $199 each.
Our pick for smart home technology Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro
The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro has technology that can tell the difference between people, pets, cars and objects. Other features include night vision, a 140-degree field of view, wireless connectivity and mounting capabilities. Additional monitoring from Vivint professionals is available. Contact Vivint for the most accurate pricing in your area.
Our pick for high-definition video Vector Security Outdoor Camera
Vector Security’s Outdoor Camera can withstand temperatures ranging from minus 4 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. It's accessible through a mobile application and starts recording when motion is detected. Some camera packages from Vector Security have professional installation and monitoring options; costs vary by location, so it’s best to contact the company for an estimate.
Our pick for automatic recording Guardian Protection Outdoor Camera
Guardian Protection Outdoor Camera is an automatic recording camera that can be used outdoors or indoors. Additional features include high-quality video, 40-foot night vision and wired power. Since the camera is hard-wired, Guardian requires professional installation services. Multiple packages are available, though prices vary by location.
What to look for when buying outdoor security cameras
When buying an outdoor security camera or a system, there are several things to consider. One of the first considerations is if it transmits footage wirelessly or not. Most wireless cameras transmit off Wi-Fi, so you need a good internet connection. Some hard-wired cameras work without Wi-Fi, though options are more limited. Hard-wired surveillance without Wi-Fi connectivity is also generally more difficult to install and offers fewer video monitoring and storage options. Other outdoor security camera considerations include:
Power source: Outdoor cameras can be wired into a power source or operate by batteries. Battery-operated systems are easier to install, but the cameras need to be in an accessible place for recharging the battery or installing new ones. Wired cameras need to be close to an outlet but don't require that you change the batteries.
Video recording and storage: Some outdoor cameras have motion alerts and will start recording when motion is sensed. Others have an option to push a button from a mobile app to start recording. An important piece of recording is the storage, which keeps your recorded video for a specific time.
Two-way voice: Two-way voice audio means that not only can you hear audio, but you can also talk through the camera. This is another deterrent for burglars or unwanted visitors. It can also be safer if you’re home and someone unexpectedly shows up, because you can talk without opening the door.
Smart integrations: Many outdoor security camera companies are compatible with other home devices. For example, you can add indoor cameras, smart doorbells, floodlights and other monitoring smart devices. Many cameras are also compatible with Alexa and Google devices.
Mobile app: Most outdoor camera companies have a mobile app that lets you view camera footage. The app also sends alerts when there's motion detection and provides 24/7 video access wherever you are.
Privacy features: Privacy is a major concern when it comes to outdoor security cameras. Companies work to encrypt outdoor cameras so they aren't accessible to hackers. Be sure to inquire about privacy features when looking into buying outdoor cameras.
Outdoor security camera FAQ
How much do outdoor security cameras cost?
Outdoor security cameras range from $39.99 for individual cameras to $299.99 for kits. Several factors affect the cost — the most significant being the number of cameras you buy. Many companies offer discounts for bundling cameras into a more comprehensive home security system.
How do outdoor security camera systems work?
Outdoor security cameras can be installed wirelessly or can be hard-wired into a power source. After the system is connected to a mobile app or to professional monitoring, it sends alerts when it detects motion. If the camera is connected through a mobile application, you have 24/7 access to live video from anywhere.
Do doorbell cameras record all the time?
The recording feature is dependent on the doorbell camera type. Some doorbell cameras will start recording as soon as motion is detected. Others will only record when a button is pushed on the mobile app.
Where do you place outdoor security cameras?
Placement depends on what you want the scope of view to be. Some cameras have a panning feature, which provides a 360-degree horizontal view. You may also be able to swap out lens types for a wider view. Many outdoor cameras are placed so the user can see backyards, side yards, gates, back doors and side doors.
Can outdoor security cameras survive severe weather?
Most outdoor cameras are built to withstand extreme temperatures, rain and storms. However, in certain severe weather conditions, an outdoor security camera may get damaged.
Bottom line: Are outdoor security cameras worth it?
Outdoor cameras can provide a significant feeling of security. There's value in protecting your home and loved ones and in the sense of safety a security system offers. If you can afford the upfront equipment costs and any ongoing monitoring or storage fees, outdoor security cameras are a great option. Fortunately, there are many product options and price points. For more, learn about ways to prevent break-ins next.