Here at Digital Trends, we’ve spent lots of time testing security cameras. In fact, we’ve spent at least 5,000 hours testing more than 50 smart home security devices like outdoor security cameras. Based on our testing and research, we think that the Arlo Pro 2 is the best outdoor security camera currently on the market. The wire-free device features 1080p video quality, a 110-degree field of view, and high-quality night vision.
In addition to the Arlo Pro 2, there are other great outdoor cameras on the market. We’ve included our picks for best budget model, best outdoor camera without a subscription, best camera for night vision, and best camera for cold weather.
Best Outdoor Security Cameras at a glance
- Best Outdoor Security Camera: Arlo Pro 2
- Best Budget Camera: Kasa Cam Outdoor by TP-Link
- Best Without a Subscription: Blink XT One Camera System
- Best For Night Vision: Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera
- Best For Cold Weather: Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera
- Best Wireless Camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
Why we picked the Arlo Pro 2: This security camera can be wired or wire free, depending on your preferences, and it’s easy to place it anywhere around the house. Each one provides a 110-degree field of view, so stick a few around the perimeter of your home to cover every inch of your property. With 1080p video quality and incredible night vision, these cameras get clear footage just as well at night as they do during the day. They also come equipped with motion activation, so whenever the camera detects movement on your property, you’ll receive an app notification or email in real time.
The camera will alert you only when motion is detected to ensure the camera isn’t wasting its battery and you’re not getting bombarded with alerts all the time. It also features excellent geofencing and scheduling capabilities. The camera system features a base station that provides a stronger connection to your router and prolongs battery life. The base station features a siren and two USB ports that allow you to connect an external hard drive. You can also communicate via the two-way audio feature.
Got an Alexa-enabled Amazon device with a screen such as the Echo Show? With a simple voice command, Alexa can show you live video from the ARLO camera instantaneously. While the Arlo Pro 2 is expensive, the bells and whistles offered with this camera system make it well worth the price.
Read our full Arlo Pro 2 review
Why we picked the Kasa Cam Outdoor by TP-Link: There’s a lot to like about TP-Link’s Kasa Cam Outdoor, but the price (well under $150) is something to celebrate. The wired outdoor camera can often be found on sale for just over $100, making it a good buy if you’re looking to get started with home security. Other features include 1080p streaming videos, an 80dB siren, and two days of free HD video recording.
Looking for a device that is Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant compatible? You’ll get both with the Kasa Cam Outdoor. In terms of installation, there’s a strong magnetic mount that allows for easy installation, and an IP65 rating makes it fully waterproof. It features a generous 130-degree field-of-view with decent night imagery. Motion alerts hit your app pretty quickly, and the overall video quality is very good, especially for a camera under the $150 mark.
Read our full Kasa Cam Outdoor review.
Why we picked the Blink XT Home Security Camera System: Don’t want to rely on your home electricity to power the security camera system because you’re wary of a power outage? These cameras from Blink are totally wire-free and run on 2 AA Lithium batteries, which promise to last for about two years without needing to be replaced. The camera also comes equipped with motion detection, so when the unit senses motion, the WiFi-enabled device will send a real-time alert to your smartphone and a short recorded clip.
One of the most unique things about the Blink XT is that it comes with a local storage hub, so there’s no security concerns with cloud storage or subscription fees. Want to expand your camera system into the house? These weatherproof models can be used indoors or outdoors, and you can connect up to ten devices on one Blink Sync Module.
Read our full Blink XT review.
Why we picked the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: One of the most popular outdoor security cameras on the market for good reason, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor lets you keep an eye on your property at all times. It plugs directly into power, so you’ll never have to worry about replacing any dead batteries. The camera also sends live alerts directly to your smartphone if it hears any loud sounds, like a window smashing. The model comes equipped with excellent two-way communication, letting you ask the FedEx person to leave the package on the porch or help you scare away any would-be thieves.
What’s most impressive about the IQ Outdoor is the superior night image quality. At maximum strength, images at night time are extremely crisp, even from long distances away. The camera also features an Enhance mode, where you can zoom in on various locations and get a clear image of what you’ve zoomed in on. You can also focus and zoom in on people in the camera’s field of view.
Read our full Nest Cam IQ review
Why we picked the Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera: This affordable wireless camera could have easily fit in the best budget or best wireless categories, but what’s most impressive about this device is its weather rating. The Amcrest has an IP67 weatherproof rating, which is one of the highest ratings out there. That means it can withstand extremely cold temperatures, is air and dust tight, and can withstand being dipped in a meter of water for up to a half an hour. Regardless of your environment, this camera will do the job nicely.
Other impressive features of the camera includes 2K HD video quality, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, a 100-degree field-of-view, night visibility of close to 100 feet, and a cost of under $100. It also comes with four hours of free cloud storage, and the ability to download videos to your phone or a laptop.
Why we picked the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery: While there are plenty of wireless outdoor cameras on the market (including two on this list — the Blink XT and the Arlo Pro 2), we like Ring’s Stick Up Cam Battery because of how versatile it is. It comes with a base that can be bent in multiple direction 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 and allows you to snooze motion alerts or decrease motion sensitivity as needed. Night vision is decent. Although this camera doesn’t feature a siren, it is durable and should last you awhile. Owned by Amazon, all Ring products 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 Battery review
Research and buying tips
- Do all outdoor security cameras have two-way audio?
- How well does night vision work on an outdoor security camera?
- How well do outdoor security cameras detect motion?
- How much bandwidth do outdoor security cameras use?
- Can outdoor security cameras survive severe weather?
The short answer is no. Many wired outdoor cameras like the Arlo Pro 2 and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor feature two-way audio that allow you to talk to someone standing in front of the camera via an app on your phone, but other models on this list, like the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery and the Blink XT, do not.
If two-way audio is something you’re interested in, consider doing research on which cameras have it, and of the ones that do, and 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.
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, consider either the Nest camera listed above, or do research on night vision quality before making a purchase.
Motion sensitivity in outdoor security cameras vary 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, 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.
It depends. There are four main things than affect camera bandwidth usage: resolution of the camera, frame rate per second, video compression, and the number of cameras on your system. The higher the resolution of the camera, the more bandwidth you’ll use. As for frame rate per second, or FPS, the higher it is on a device, the more bandwidth you need.
For video compression, there are two types of formats: H.264 and MJPEG.H.264 HD. The better the compression, the lower the speed and bandwidth requirements for transmitting videos. Lastly, and this should go without saying, but the number of video cameras you use can affect the bandwidth you use. Generally speaking, an IP security system might use between 500 Kbps and 10 Mbps per camera, but that can vary widely depending on the factors mentioned above. If you’re concerned about bandwidth, you’ll need to do some calculations before buying.
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.