The best outdoor home security cameras for 2021
Keep your home and property safe by monitoring what’s going on outside with a connected camera. These smart outdoor security cameras can withstand the elements to keep your home protected from the inside out.
What is the best outdoor security camera?
If a package was ever stolen from your porch or a car was stolen while it was parked on your driveway, there is a good chance that the perpetrator is gone long before you even discovered that you had been a victim. There is an even greater chance that you will never know who committed the act. If this sounds familiar to you, it might be time to invest in an outdoor security camera.
Designed to withstand rain, snow and extreme temperatures, these smart , rugged home devices generally connect to your home Wi-Fi network and allow you to view live video footage of activities occurring outside your home . They will also send an alert to your phone when someone or something is out there, record a video of the event and, depending on the features, allow you to speak to whoever is on your property, all without having to open the door (or even be inside your home, for that matter).
Read on to find out what features to look for when choosing an outdoor security camera and to see our best options. Please note that some of the cameras on this list are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. If you want a model specifically designed to monitor what’s going on inside your home, head over to our list of the best indoor security cameras .
How do outdoor security cameras work?
Most smart outdoor security cameras use a Wi-Fi radio to connect to your home network, allowing you to access them from anywhere using a mobile app. But there are also models that can use wired Ethernet, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or proprietary wireless technology to connect to a mobile app or dedicated hub .
Wi-Fi cameras are easier to install than their wired counterparts because they do not have to be located near an Ethernet port and do not require wiring. Battery-powered Wi-Fi cameras are the easiest to install because you can put them almost anywhere (as long as they can be connected to your router) without having to plug in a power cord in your home to plug it into an electrical outlet . These types of cameras typically use rechargeable batteries that can be easily removed and brought indoors for charging with a USB cable, but they tend to drain quickly in colder climates. Bluetooth cameras are also easy to install, but you must stay within 40 feet to connect to them with your phone.
Look for an outdoor Wi-Fi camera that can connect to the 2.4GHz or 5GHz radio band to ease network congestion. If you’re having trouble getting a good signal outdoors, try pumping it with a wireless range extender .
What kind of weather can outdoor security cameras handle?
Any worthwhile outdoor camera must be able to resist exposure to the elements and must have an IP (ingress protection) rating . IP ratings contain two digits that tell you how well the camera will hold up in most weather conditions. The first digit following the IP prefix tells you how resistant the camera is to the entry of solid objects such as windblown dust and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (full protection against dust and dirt). The second number tells you how resistant the chamber is to moisture and ranges from 0 (unprotected) to 9 (protected against short range, high pressure sprays from all angles).
Most outdoor security cameras are IP66 rated, which means they offer complete protection from ingress of dust and can handle jets of water from any direction, but should not be submerged in water. They are generally safe from rain, snow, heat and cold.
What resolution do you want?
There is no point in having an outdoor security camera if you cannot recognize who or what the camera is looking at. A camera that captures 720p video will generally deliver a fairly sharp image, but 1080p video offers more detail and is the most popular resolution for these devices; It does not require much storage capacity and can be seen on almost all phones, tablets and PCs.
Cameras that capture 4K (Ultra HD) video are also available, but you will need a very strong network connection to stream it without experiencing interruptions or delays, and you will need a lot of space to store recorded video, which can be costly cloud storage fees. .
No matter the resolution, try choosing a camera with a relatively wide field of view (angle of view) and make sure it can capture clear night vision videos. Most cameras use IR (infrared) LEDs to deliver black and white night video, but there are some that use white light to deliver full color night video. Look for a camera with a night vision range of at least 30 feet.
Do you need motion and sound detection?
Almost all outdoor security cameras are equipped with a motion sensor that will activate the camera to record video when motion is detected. The sensor can also initiate a push alert on your phone when activity occurs, and some will also generate an email alert. For an added layer of security, look for a camera with sound detection that lets you know if someone is out there, even if they are out of range of the camera lens and motion sensor. Fair warning: You’ll probably have to tweak the sound sensitivity settings to avoid alerts for barking dogs, loud cars, and other random noises.
If your camera has a microphone for sound detection, it probably has a speaker, too, and offers two-way audio communication that lets you speak (and listen) to whoever is outside. This comes in handy when it comes to pesky attorneys and can be used to scare away hackers from the front porch and other unwanted visitors. For more ways to see and communicate directly with whoever is at your door, check out our list of the best video doorbells .
How do security cameras store video?
Recorded video can be stored in various ways. Many cameras offer free cloud storage for a limited number of days (usually seven) before it is overwritten or removed, while others are strictly subscription-based. If you need more than a week of video storage, you can subscribe to a 30-day plan and not have to worry about missing important material before you have a chance to review and download it.
If you are concerned about privacy and prefer not to store your video in the cloud, look for a camera equipped with a microSD card slot so you can store it locally. Some cameras will even allow you to save videos to a portable USB or NAS drive, but these devices are few and far between.
And if you want the chance to go back and see everything that has been going on outside your home, look for a camera that offers a CVR (Continuous Video Recording) plan where the camera is always recording and storing up to 30 days of video 24 / 7 in the cloud.
What else do outdoor security cameras work with?
For an outdoor camera that does more than record video and send alerts, make sure it works with other smart devices. Many recent outdoor Wi-Fi cameras offer support for IFTTT (If This Then That) , an Internet service that uses mini programs (applets) that it creates so that the camera interacts with other IFTTT-enabled devices. For example, you can have a smart plug turn on a lamp indoors or trigger an external siren when the camera detects motion.
Voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are also coming to many of the newest cameras, and they allow you to do things like show camera videos on a compatible smart screen . If you have a home automation center, find a camera that you can integrate into your smart home to work with other smart devices like door locks .
How much should you spend on an outdoor security camera?
Outdoor security cameras are generally more expensive than their indoor counterparts. They can range in price from around $ 100 to $ 400 depending on features. There are plenty of affordable cameras available that offer good video performance, but as with almost any smart device, you’ll pay more for features like motion tracking, face recognition, cellular connectivity, time-lapse recording, on-board and on-board storage. cloud options and rechargeable battery.