If you’re heading out of town this summer, investing in one of the best outdoor security cameras could give you a little peace of mind while you’re on the road. That’s because you can use them to keep tabs on what’s going on around your house, and get alerts when they detect something.
The best outdoor security cameras not only have to be tough enough to survive the elements, but they also have to deliver video that’s clear enough for you to see what’s going on outside your house, day or night.
Some outdoor security cameras need to be plugged in to get power, but many can also run on battery power alone. This makes them easier to install, but you’ll have to remember to charge them up. Still others have spotlights or floodlights built in, so you can more easily see what’s going on in the dark.
What are the best outdoor security cameras?
Other smart home security picks
After testing more than a dozen models, we feel the best outdoor security camera for most people is the Nest Cam (battery), which offers a great balance of features for the price. It has a resolution of 1080p, is easy to install, and gives you three hours of video storage, as well as person, animal, and vehicle detection without requiring a subscription. It can also run on battery power, or be plugged in.
The best outdoor security camera for those on a budget is the Wyze Cam v3. It costs just $20, yet delivers pretty great video — both day and night — for the price. Wyze’s app is also fully featured, you can store video locally, and Wyze’s cloud storage subscription is also very affordable. The only downside is that the Wyze Cam v3 needs to be plugged into an outlet. Wyze also offers Wyze Cam Plus Pro, a professional monitoring service for $3.99/month, which will alert you if a person is detected, and will offer to contact emergency services.
If you want something that’s fully wireless, we recommend the Blink Outdoor. Its batteries aren’t rechargeable, but can last up to two years before you need to replace them. Blink does sell a solar panel accessory, but you can only buy it with a new camera.
If you want the absolute best in terms of image quality, go with the Arlo Ultra 2. It has 4K resolution, and can digitally pan and zoom to better track individuals who enter your yard. The Arlo Ultra 2 is also battery-powered and has a built-in LED spotlight to help you see better in the dark, There’s even an optional solar panel for recharging. However, the camera is pricey, and you’ll want an Arlo subscription (starting at $6/month) to make full use of the camera.
We’ve divided this guide into two sections: Outdoor cameras without built-in lights, and outdoor cameras with floodlights or spotlights. The former tend to be more compact, while the latter are ideal if you want to replace an existing floodlight or spotlight.
The best outdoor security cameras you can buy today
Outdoor security cameras
The well-designed Nest Cam (battery) has a simple shape and is one of the easiest home security cameras to install, thanks to its magnetic base. It’s weatherproof, so it can be mounted just about anywhere outside. Its 1080p camera captures sharp images day and night, and its microphone and speaker made conversations a breeze.
The Nest Cam (battery) also offers three hours of rolling video storage for free, as well as person, vehicle, and animal detection. If you sign up for a Nest Aware subscription (starting at $6/month), you also get familiar face detection as well as the ability to store up to a month’s worth of video. However, while it has good battery life, Nest does not make any accessories to extend it, such as a removable battery or a solar panel.
Read our full Nest Cam (battery) review.
Don’t let the low price fool you; the Wyze Cam v3 is the best home security camera for those on a budget. As its name suggests, it can record video at a resolution of 1080p, and while the quality isn’t up to the same par as the 4K Arlo Ultra, it’s still sharp enough to see who’s there. Its color night vision is especially impressive.
The Wyze Cam v3 comes with two weeks of free cloud storage — though clips are limited to 12 seconds — but it also has a microSD card slot which you can use to enable continuous recording and create time-lapse videos. You can get unlimited-length videos and no cool-down periods if you subscribe to Wyze Cam Plus ($1.25/month per camera). That’s cheap but good. And, since Wyze is currently limiting shipments to Cam Plus subscribers, you’ll probably get the camera faster.
Perhaps the only downside to the Wyze Cam v3 is that it needs to be plugged in; Wyze sells a $4 mounting kit with a 5-foot USB extension cord, so you can mount it up to 11 feet from a power source.
Read our full Wyze Cam v3 review
The Blink Outdoor is the best outdoor security camera for those who want a truly wireless option for less than $100. The camera runs off two AA batteries (which should last up to two years), and communicates wirelessly with a small base station that’s connected to your Wi-Fi network. Unlike Arlo’s cameras, though, there’s no solar panel option for keeping the Blink’s batteries topped off. (Although This solar panel accessory is a game changer for security cameras like the Blink Outdoor camera).
The Blink Outdoor is weatherproof, and comes with a convenient mounting bracket. While not tops, the 1080p video it records is good for the price. While it lacks free cloud storage like the older Blink XT2, you can save videos locally to a USB drive. Cloud storage starts at $3/month or $30/year. Blink’s app is fairly robust, and while it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Arlo’s cameras, this sub-$100 has plenty of features for the price.
Read our full Blink Outdoor review.
As far as the best outdoor security cameras go, the EufyCam 2 is a more affordable alternative to Arlo’s cameras. Like the Arlo cameras, Eufy’s cameras also connect to a base station, where you can locally store your video if you’d rather not subscribe to a cloud storage plan, which starts at $3/month.
The EufyCam delivered very good 1080p video during the daytime, but nighttime videos were less sharp, making it hard to see facial details. These cameras are battery-powered, making them easy to place just about anywhere. And, Eufy’s cameras work with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, including HomeKit Secure Video, should you want to use Apple’s cloud storage.
Read our full EufyCam 2 review.
While not the best outdoor camera overall, the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery is the best option for those invested in Ring’s ecosystem. It’s easy to install, has good battery life, and can be connected to a solar panel so you don’t have to recharge its battery manually as often.
Video quality from the Stick Up cam was better than average both day and night, and Ring’s app is one of the most comprehensive around. However, like Ring’s other security cameras, the Stickup Cam lacks local storage, so you’re stuck if your internet goes down. And, you’ll need a Ring subscription if you want to save videos or use some of the camera’s advanced features.
Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam Battery review.
Wyze’s fully wireless outdoor camera is another good option for those who are looking for an outdoor security camera for less than $100. Similar to the Blink Outdoor, the Wyze Cam Outdoor consists of a base station that connects to your router and a weather-resistant wireless camera.
For a $50 camera, the Wyze Cam Outdoor works well, but we found its video quality to be lower than that of the Blink Outdoor camera. And, because the Wyze Cam Outdoor’s battery is built in, you must remove the camera entirely to recharge it, rather than replacing batteries. (Wyze does not sell a solar panel for its cameras). However, the Wyze Cam does have a very inexpensive cloud storage subscription, and you can take this camera on vacation, as it will work independently of its base station, and has a clever time-lapse mode.
Read our full Wyze Cam Outdoor review
Outdoor security cameras with lighting
The Arlo Ultra is the best outdoor security camera if price is no object. Not only does it deliver the best video quality, but it also uses that extra resolution to enable digital track and zoom, which makes it easier to follow and ID a person as they move across the frame. A built-in spotlight also enables color recording at night, and it has dual microphones for better audio.
The Arlo Ultra run on battery power alone, but it can be wired if there’s an outlet nearby. Arlo also sells a solar panel for $80, which should help to keep the battery charged longer.
All of this will cost you, though: A single camera (with the hub) is $399, and extra cameras are $299 each. The Arlo Ultra doesn’t come with a free tier of cloud storage, so you have to spend at least $3 per month if you want to save any videos. And if you want to save 4K videos, it’s an extra $1.99 per camera per month, on top of the monthly plan, the latter of which is waived for the first year. But if you want the absolute best when it comes to video quality, the Arlo Ultra is it.
Arlo has come out with the Arlo Ultra 2, which has better Wi-Fi, so you should be able to place the cameras further from the base station. Stay tuned for our review.
Read our full Arlo Ultra review
Take the excellent Nest Cam (wired) and add two powerful floodlights, and you get the appropriately named Nest Cam with Floodlight (wired). The camera itself records great high-definition video, and has a three-hour local backup in case your Internet connection goes down. On either side are two dimmable LEDS that can crank out 2400 lumens, more than enough to illuminate anything around.
Like the Ring Floodlight, the Nest camera needs to he hardwired to work, so it’s less mobile than the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, which runs on battery power alone. Still, you get a few niceties for free, including person detection, customizable motion zones, and (limited) local storage. Unless you need a camera that works with Alexa, this is definitely a floodlight camera to consider.
Read our full Nest Cam with Floodlight (wired) review.
Like much of its competition, Wyze took its excellent Wyze Cam v3, added a few LEDs, and called it the Wyze Cam Floodlight. And, because the Wyze Cam is so inexpensive, so too is the Wyze Cam Floodlight, which costs less than $100 — a bargain compared to other security camera floodlights.
Despite its low price, we were generally pleased with the quality of video, though the floodlights tended to wash out people’s faces if they got too close. If you have a second Wyze Cam, you can also connect it to the floodlight to increase your surveillance coverage. The cameras also have local storage, handy if your internet goes down. Like most other security cameras, you’ll need to pay for Wyze Cam Plus if you want person and package detection, but at $1.99/month, it’s far cheaper than others.
Read our full Wyze Cam Floodlight review.
The Ring Floodlight Camera combines two essential devices in one: A home security camera and a motion-activated floodlight. When the Floodlight camera detects movement, it turns on its two powerful LED beams as well as its sharp 1080p camera, and starts recording. The Floodlight Cam also has a loud speaker, so you can talk to whoever’s in front of the camera, and hear their responses.
The Ring Floodlight Camera has to be wired to your home’s power to work; if you’re looking for a more versatile option, the Arlo Floodlight Camera (opens in new tab) ($249) can run on battery power.
Ring’s app offers a variety of settings, such as custom motion zones, scheduling and more. Unfortunately, to record and share video, you’ll need to subscribe to Ring’s cloud storage plans, which start at $3 per month.
A newer model, the Ring Floodlight Camera Wired Pro (opens in new tab) ($249), has an improved design, brighter LEDs, and more advanced person-tracking technology.
Read our full Ring Floodlight Camera review
For those who don’t have an outdoor light fixture, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight camera is the best option for adding an outdoor security camera with a floodlight. This battery-powered camera is simple to install, has a bright 2000-lumen light, and has a 2K camera that can digitally pan and zoom, so you can get a better look at who’s outside.
However, you may also want to invest in a solar recharging panel, as we found that the camera’s battery drains quickly, especially when using the floodlight. And, like many security cameras, you’ll need to subscribe to Arlo (starting at $2.99/month) if you want to use all the camera’s features.
Read our full Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera review
The Arlo Pro 4 boasts 2K video resolution, a built-in LED spotlight and color night vision, making it a very good home security camera — it has above-average video quality, too. It can run off rechargeable batteries (which should last up to six months) or can be plugged in. You can also purchase a solar panel to keep the battery charged for longer.
The Arlo Pro 4 is essentially the same camera as the Arlo Pro 3, with one key difference: The Pro 4 can connect directly to your Wi-Fi, so you don’t need a base station if you don’t need or want local storage. However, in order to use many of the Arlo Pro 4’s features, such as saving video and person, vehicle, and package detection, you’ll have to subscribe to a plan, which starts at $2.99/month.
Read our full Arlo Pro 4 review.
Outdoor security cameras with professional monitoring
The Deep Sentinel is more like a mini professionally monitored security system than a standalone security camera. That’s because when the camera spot an intruder, it sends a live feed to a monitoring station. From there, a professional can sound an alarm on the camera, shout a warning, and if necessary, contact the police.
This isn’t cheap: In addition to the cost of the cameras ($499 for three cameras), you also have to pay a monthly fee of $50. And, the resolution of the video tops out at 480p, as it prioritizes the smoothness of the video stream over its definition.
You could spend a similar amount for the best home security system, but they don’t monitor your cameras as proactively as Deep Sentinel. But, they’re the best home security cameras if you’re looking for active monitoring.
Read our full Deep Sentinel review.
What to look for when buying an outdoor security camera
Aside from price, there are a few things you’ll want to consider when shopping for an outdoor security camera.
Weatherproofing: Any outdoor security camera should be protected against the elements. While they probably won’t take to being dunked underwater, they should have some resistance to rain, sleet, and snow.
Battery powered: Many outdoor security cameras, such as the Arlo and Blink cameras, can run off battery power alone. That makes them easier to install, as you don’t have to worry about running a power cord to the camera. However, this also means you’ll have to either recharge or replace the batteries on a regular basis. Increasingly, companies are offering solar panels as optional accessories so you don’t have to recharge the batteries as often.
Night vision: Almost all outdoor security cameras record good video during the daytime; it’s nighttime video that really separates the haves from the have-nots. Most cameras use infrared lights to illuminate their subjects; better cameras will light the scene without blowing out the subject, so you’ll be able to see details more clearly.
Extra lighting: Some outdoor security cameras, such as those from Ring and Arlo, have LED lights built in, so that at night time, you’ll not only be able to see subjects more clearly, but you’ll also be able to see better yourself if you’re outside. Some have spotlights, which are good for a small area, while others have floodlights, which helps illuminate a yard.
Storage and storage fees: Most security cameras now require a subscription to either use all their features or to store video in the cloud. You’ll want to refer to our best security camera storage plans for more detail, but before choosing a security camera, think about how many other cameras (including the best video doorbells) you’re planning to install. The company that offers the best value depends upon how many cameras you want to use on your property.
How we test the best outdoor security cameras
As with the best home security cameras, we test outdoor security cameras outside our homes. We see how well they record video during daylight hours and at nighttime, and look at the detail of the recorded video, as well as the accompanying audio.
We also evaluate the security cameras’ apps and features; you should be able to easily schedule when the cameras turn on and off, as well as set things such as custom motion zones and sensitivity, so that a tree branch or passing car doesn’t set it off.
Better cameras will also let you filter for people, animals, vehicles, and packages, so that you only get the alerts you want.