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The best outdoor security cameras for 2021

Don’t give a stranger any reason to snoop around your home. Crimes such as burglary or porch pirating can easily be deterred by the presence of a reliable outdoor security camera that captures events whether you’re there or not. They’re even more useful when they’re strategically positioned around the home from better vantage points. There are even outdoor cameras that are ideal for backyard outings, as well as ones that can still watch over your home when the power goes out.

We’ve reviewed dozens of home security cameras, from affordable models to highly secure ones, and even nighttime and weatherproof cameras, including the Arlo Pro 4, which is the best outdoor home security camera in our opinion. Here’s our list of the top models.

Best outdoor security cameras at a glance

Best outdoor security camera: Arlo Pro 4

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera outside mounted to wall.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Why we picked the Arlo Pro 4:

The Arlo Pro 3 was our pick for the best outdoor security camera for some time, but after testing the Arlo Pro 4, it brings a couple of new additions that help it earn our top pick. Just like its predecessor, it packs 2K video resolution and a wide 160-degree viewing angle. Also included are a weatherproof camera with color night vision, a built-in LED spotlight, and a built-in siren that can alert you to danger.

What makes this latest model superior is the fact that it no longer is tethered to a hub in order to talk with your home’s Wi-Fi network. You won’t need it this time, which certainly streamlines the setup process. And best of all, not only does it perform as exquisitely as the Arlo Pro 3 when it comes to safeguarding your home, but it now boasts a lower starting cost of $200 for a single camera, whereas the Arlo Pro 3 started at $500 for a 2K camera system.

The Arlo Pro 4 includes a three-month free trial of Arlo Smart, which gives you access to advanced features like 30 days of recording history, activity zones, enhanced 911 calling, and advanced detection features.

Read our in-depth Arlo Pro 4 review

Best budget outdoor camera: Wyze Cam Outdoor

Wyze Cam Outdoor outside resting on bricks.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Why we picked the Wyze Cam Outdoor:

Wyze had a home run with its indoor wireless security camera and replicated the success with its first outdoor camera, the aptly named Wyze Cam Outdoor. The IP65 rating ensures that the cam can weather even blizzards and summer heatwaves, making it a great option for many different climates.

Specs on this surveillance camera also impress. The Wyze Cam Outdoor covers all the basics with an outdoor camera, featuring 1080p recording, night vision, two-way audio, and a handy time-lapse mode. What makes it incredibly versatile is that it can be used indoors, or even on the go when you’re on vacation. Voice compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant is included.

When you factor in all of these features with the Wyze Cam Outdoor‘s low cost, it’s an easy choice for an affordable security camera system. Note that this particular bundle also includes a base station you will need to mount to receive the video data from the cam. An SD card slot is part of the device if you want to record on local storage.

Read our in-depth Wyze Cam Outdoor review

Best outdoor camera without a subscription: Eufy SoloCam L40

Eufy SoloCam L40 camera.

Why we picked the Eufy SoloCam L40:

Eufy’s reliable cams make excellent outdoor picks, and this latest wireless model has plenty of strong features to make it a contender. However, what makes Eufy attractive to many buyers is that there’s no extra monthly fee for storage. No video is uploaded to the cloud. Instead, storage is handled via an 8GB onboard storage component that’s automatically encrypted for safety. There’s also a card slot for expanding storage if you don’t want to retrieve footage as often.

The SoloCam L40 also impresses with its detail-oriented 2K resolution, the built-in spotlight, and color night vision. It operates via a motion sensor, which can also trigger the 600-lumen spotlight (you can adjust the brightness and color temperature, too). Two-way audio can be enabled upon triggering. A.I. tech helps keep the camera from triggering on things like swaying branches or animals, too. The device is also compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa.

Best outdoor camera for night vision: Wyze Cam v3

The Wyze Cam v3 security camera embraces the elements.

Why we picked the Wyze Cam v3:

Night vision is a vital feature for every outdoor security cam — you don’t want the darkness to hide any detail, especially if something like a break-in happens. While our top cam picks include various kinds of night vision, Wyze’s indoor/outdoor cam is particularly notable thanks to its Starlight Sensor, which can record night-time video in full color for users.

This wired cam includes all the other smart features that make Wyze’s cams a great pick, including a motion and sound sensor for alerts, detection zones, and sensitivity settings that you can tweak for best results, and two-way audio for communication. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant and is friendly with IFTTT if you’d like to set up complex routines based on the alerts the cam gives you.

The Wyze Cam v3Wyze Cam v3 also has one of the best free video storage options around, with a 14-day cloud storage option for video clips at zero cost. There’s also an SD card slot for local storage if you prefer that method. While it’s an indoor/outdoor cam, you don’t need to worry: All the outdoor IP65 resistances are included for all types of weather.

Read our full review of the Wyze Cam v3

Best outdoor camera for cold weather: Lorex Dual-Floodlight V261LCD-E

Lorex Dual-Floodlight V261LCD-E outdoor security cam.

Why we picked the Lorex V261LCD-E:

You don’t need to worry about winter temperatures with this model, thanks to its IP65 rating that can endure -40 degrees Fahrenheit, suitable for even the coldest winters in the country. It also has particularly bright, 2,000-lumen, dual LED floodlights (excellent for illuminating a large area at night) that can be triggered by motion cams. App controls also allow you to set manual start times and schedules for the lights.

That’s just the start of what this winter-ready Lorex cam can do: It also includes a two-way audio option, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant devices, and the expect motion alerts for your phone. There’s no subscription plan or cloud sharing for this cam. Instead, it comes with a 32GB microSD card and port for free native storage. You can upgrade the model up to a 256GB card for extra space, which may be a good idea if you put the camera in a place that’s difficult to reach without a ladder, such as above a garage.

Best outdoor wireless camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery placed on table.

Why we picked the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery: While there are plenty of wireless outdoor cameras on the market, we like Ring’s Stick Up Cam Battery because of how versatile and affordable it is. It comes with a base that can be bent in multiple directions and allow for mounting on a ceiling, wall, fence post, or wherever you want to stick it. Setup of the device takes just a few minutes via Ring’s fantastic app.

The Stick Up Cam Battery features 1080p video quality, adjustable motion detection, and two-way audio with noise cancellation. Night vision is decent too.

Ring has faced a bit of scrutiny over the level of security and privacy its devices provide. Some users have reported their Ring cameras being hacked, and a handful of Ring employees have reportedly been fired for accessing customer video feeds. Ring announced it will be adding a privacy dashboard as well as additional privacy and security features.

Owned by Amazon, all Ring products (including the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery) are compatible with Alexa, so if you have an Echo Show or Echo Spot device, you’ll be able to view video footage from the camera on those devices.

Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam review

Best value security camera kit: Google Nest Cam (battery)

Google Nest Cam (battery) mounted to the side of a home.

Why we picked the Google Nest Cam (battery): Google’s no stranger in the security camera space, but its latest model is its best one yet. The Google Nest Doorbell (battery) makes the grade because it can act both as an indoor and outdoor camera. With its magnetic plate, the camera holds on firmly to the base — allowing it to endure tough weather conditions. Inside the home, you can choose to mount it on the wall or just lay it on a flat surface. Either way, it offers a lot more versatility than other cameras.

Another unique thing about this camera is that it doesn’t require users to subscribe to a plan in order to gain advanced features or receive video history events. Not only does its onboard machine learning detect pets, people, and vehicles, but you get free 3 hours of event video history. Even though it may not have the most intimidating specs in a camera, you’re still getting HDR video, crisp night-vision footage, intelligent alerts, and the ability to set up a geofence to make the camera turn off when you’re home.

Best of all, the Google Nest Cam (battery) can still work in the event of a power outage or if the internet goes down at home. That’s because it’s battery-powered and it’ll continue to operate normally by saving clips locally. Once the network is established, users will have the ability to preview any of the event history footage. There’s no denying you get a ton of value here.

Read our full Google Nest Cam (battery) review

Research and buying tips

Where do I place outdoor security cameras?

FBI crime data indicates that most (around 55%) home intruders try to get into homes through either the front or back door. So, you may want to have your security camera scoping out your doors. It’s also a good idea to cover other entry points, like back windows, that are hidden away where someone could break in without being seen.

Where exactly to mount your outdoor cameras, however, depends on your property and your individual needs. You may have a shed in the back that contains expensive lawn equipment, for instance, and you might want to place more focus on that area. Perhaps your neighborhood has experienced a few break-ins recently, and the intruders typically enter through the garage, so you want to cover your garage area.

How many security cameras do I need?

Typically, having at least two outdoor cameras is ideal, not including your video doorbell. If you have a video doorbell to watch your porch, combined with an outdoor security camera covering the front and back areas of your home, this should be sufficient. However, if you have a large property, if you live in an area where there’s a lot of property crime, or if you have vehicles or valuables stored on your property, you may want to add in an extra camera or two.

Can you use an indoor security camera outdoors?

No. An indoor camera does not have the necessary protection from the elements, so it won’t hold up outside. Some cameras are rated for indoor or outdoor use, and you can use those cameras outside. If you want to point your indoor camera out a window to watch the outdoors, you technically can do so. However, the camera’s features probably won’t work as well, and you’re better off just buying a cheap outdoor camera.

Can outdoor security cameras be used indoors?

Yes, although it’s not usually recommended because the cameras designed for outdoor use may not work optimally indoors. Again, you can opt for a camera that’s rated for both the indoors and outdoors, like a dome camera.

Do all outdoor security cameras have two-way audio?

The short answer is no. Many wired outdoor cameras feature two-way audio, which allows you to speak back and forth with someone through the camera via an app on your phone, but not all outdoor cameras have this feature.

If two-way audio is something you’re interested in, consider doing research on which cameras have it, and of the ones that do, read up on which are better. Not all two-way audio is created equal — some companies do it well, while others do not. Keep in mind that cameras with two-way audio might cost a bit more than those that don’t feature the technology.

How well does night vision work on an outdoor security camera?

Night vision on cameras typically uses infrared light to illuminate dark images at night. Essentially, cameras with night vision use this technology to backlight images to help you see what’s happening in the field of view. Most outdoor security cameras feature night vision, but the quality varies from model to model.

If you’re looking for superior night vision, go for the Arlo camera listed above, or research night vision quality before making a purchase.

How well do outdoor security cameras detect motion?

Motion sensitivity in outdoor security cameras varies widely, but generally, the technology works well regardless of the model you choose. Most cameras, even inexpensive ones, do an excellent job of detecting motion, and, if the camera is connected to an app, it will send a motion alert to your phone. Most people find that motion settings on cameras are too sensitive, meaning that things like rain, bugs, or even bright sunlight can trigger an alert.

If you’re concerned about motion alerts, consider buying a camera that not only sends you motion alerts so you can monitor what’s happening on your property but also allows you to adjust the motion sensitivity so that small things aren’t triggering it all the time.

Can outdoor security cameras survive severe weather?

Most outdoor cameras have a rating of IP65 or higher, which means they are waterproof and can withstand someone spraying a hose on them. That usually (but not always) means that a camera with that rating can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -40 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or similar.

Cameras vary slightly in terms of survival in extreme weather, but anything with a rating of IP65 or higher will be fine for most climates. If you live in an extremely hot or extremely cold climate, you might want to consider a camera with a rating of IP66 or higher.

Do I have to pay for storage for an outdoor camera?

This depends a lot on the brand and the model. Generally, if a security cam has a memory card slot, you can use native storage without paying anything — it’s just a little trickier to manage. If you want video footage to be uploaded to the cloud for easier viewing and saving, you’ll often have to pay for it. Brands like Arlo and Ring only allow for free livestreaming video and require a plan if you want to save video for any length of time. Google is one of the best options here because its Nest cam offers a certain amount of free online storage without needing a subscription.

Is an outdoor security camera ever illegal?

It can be, although privacy laws haven’t entirely caught up with home security cams yet. Generally speaking, you can’t point a camera where people have the expectation of privacy. Pointing a cam at your porch and the street in front? Totally fine, it’s considered a public area. Pointing a camera so that it captures footage of your neighbor’s backyard or looks into their windows? Illegal, and you could get successfully sued for it.

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