The best outdoor security cameras for 2019

The best outdoor security cameras to make burglars think twice

If you’re concerned about the risk of porch pirates pilfering parcels from your doorstep, if you want to keep a lookout for prowlers, or you simply want to do your bit for neighborhood watch, an outdoor security camera is the way to go. Over the last few years, a torrent of worthy contenders has flooded the market at a range of price points. So, how can you possibly pick the best of the bunch?

Don’t despair, we’ve done the hard work for you. After more than 5,000 hours of testing, our pick for the best outdoor security camera is the Arlo Pro 3. The weatherproof and wire-free device features 2K video quality, a generous 160-degree field of view, and high-quality sound and night vision.

In addition to the Arlo Pro 3, there are other top-notch 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, best camera for cold weather, and best wireless camera.

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 predecesor. 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: Kasa Cam Outdoor by TP-Link

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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 is something to celebrate. You can often find the wired outdoor camera 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 video, an 80-decibel 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.

Best Outdoor Camera Without a Subscription: Blink XT Home Security Camera System

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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 Wi-Fi-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 are 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.

Best Outdoor Camera for Night Vision: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

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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: Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera

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Why we picked the Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera: This 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 higher 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 include 2K HD video quality, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, a 100-degree field-of-view, night visibility of close to 100 feet, and an affordable price point. It also comes with four hours of free cloud storage, and the ability to download videos to your phone or a laptop.

Best Outdoor Wireless Camera: Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

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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.

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, consider either the Nest or Arlo Pro cameras listed above, or do research on 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.

How much bandwidth do outdoor security cameras use?

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.

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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