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The best outdoor security cameras for 2020

This article was last updated by Digital Trends editor John Velasco on 6/24/2020.

Don’t give a stranger any reason to snoop around your home. You can easily stop them from potentially committing a crime, such as a burglary, by having eyes around your property with a handy outdoor security camera. When it comes to protecting your home, cameras positioned outdoors offer homeowners and apartment dwellers peace of mind when they’re not there. They’re even more useful when they’re strategically positioned around the home for better vantage points.

We’ve reviewed dozens of outdoor cameras, from affordable models to highly secure ones, and even nighttime and weatherproof cameras. Here’s our list of the top models.

Best outdoor security cameras at a glance

Best outdoor security camera: Arlo Pro 3

Netgear Arlo Pro 3
Terry Walsh / Digital Trends

Why we picked the Arlo Pro 3:

The Arlo Pro 2 was our pick for the best outdoor security camera for some time, but after testing the Arlo Pro 3, we feel it edges out its predecessor. It boasts 2K video resolution, and a wider (160-degree) viewing angle. Each weatherproof camera also has color night vision, with a built-in LED spotlight you can manually activate or trigger in response to motion. There’s also a built-in siren that can alert you to danger, and you can set the siren to trigger remotely.

The Arlo Pro 3’s audio quality is excellent, and conversation flows naturally through the two-way audio system. The Arlo Pro 3 camera system comes with two cameras, but you can add on additional cameras. The system is compatible with smart home systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Plus, it’s wire-free so you won’t have to deal with any pesky wires. The Pro 3 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 full Arlo Pro 3 review

Best budget outdoor camera: Kami Smart Outdoor Security Camera

Why we picked the Kami Smart Outdoor Security Camera: Frankly, it’s because of its extremely low cost. This outdoor camera has everything you need to peek around corners, check up on the kids in the backyard, and even deter would-be thieves. Boasting an IP-65 construction, the Kami Smart Outdoor Security Camera will be able to withstand a variety of inclement weather — ensuring that it’ll keep on working for you.

Rounding out its features, they include advanced color night vision, smart human detection, two-way audio, smart activity zones, and motion detection. Worth pointing out is the smart human detection, which minimizes false positives because it will discern a real person from, say, a picture. However, the most attractive thing about the Kami Smart Outdoor Security Camera is its $60 cost. That’s some serious value when you consider that many outdoor cameras sell for easily $100.

Best outdoor camera without a subscription: Blink XT2

Why we picked the Blink XT2: Don’t want to rely on your home’s 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 Wi-Fi-enabled device will send a real-time alert to your smartphone and a short recorded clip.

The Blink XT2 comes with free cloud storage and a variety of features, including two-way audio, infrared night vision, and customizable motion zones. It has a clear 1080p picture, and it is weather-resistant (IP-65 rating), so you use it indoors or outdoors, and you can connect up to 10 devices on one Blink Sync Module.

Best outdoor camera for night vision: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

nest cam iq outdoor angle cement wall

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 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

Best outdoor camera for cold weather: Lorex Smart Outdoor Security Camera

Why we picked the Lorex Smart Outdoor Security Camera: When you live in an area with harsh winters, it’s especially important to find a camera that can withstand the frigid temperatures. That’s why the Lorex Smart Outdoor Security Camera earns our pick, thanks in part to its construction. In fact, it’s been designed to work in cold temperatures as low as -22° F.

In addition to its solid protection for winter, the Lorex Smart Outdoor Security Camera actually offers a well-rounded package at a price that’s reasonable. As an outdoor camera, it hits the mark by featuring an integrated siren, spotlight, and 2-way audio. If that’s not enough, it even has some handy features to reduce redundant notifications — like detection zones and people detection.

Best outdoor wireless camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

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. 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.

Ring has faced a bit of scrutiny lately over the level of security and privacy their 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.

Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam review

Best value security camera kit: EufyCam 2

eufyCam 2 at night

Why we picked the eufyCam 2: Anker’s smart home brand, Eufy, has made great strides in the last couple of years. The eufyCam 2 is particularly noteworthy because of its value, a combination between stellar features at a value price for a 2-piece camera kit.

At $350, you get an outdoor camera built to withstand the weather with its IP67 rating, 1080p video resolution, night vision, Alexa compatibility, 365-day battery life, and no monthly fee thanks to its secure local storage option. The entire package is made better knowing that it performs solidly as a security camera, offering excellent video footage and clear night vision. Add to that, it can scare off unwanted intruders with its built-in 100 dB siren.

Considering that you’re getting two cameras for the price, it’s a value that’s hard to overlook.

Read our full eufyCam 2 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, 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.

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