Best Outdoor Security Systems of 2020
The best outdoor security systems discourage criminals before they reach doors and windows. In days of yore, a moat loaded with eels did the trick! Today a Wi-Fi network loaded with outdoor security cameras is more practical. Wi-Fi cameras are easy to monitor with your smartphone, and with paid service they can send alerts to emergency dispatchers. Built-in speakers on the cameras let you tell trespassers that they’re being recorded.
Types of Outdoor Security Cameras
Main types of outdoor security cameras are doorbell cameras and standard weatherproof video cameras.
- Doorbell video cameras – For easy installation a doorbell camera uses battery power or an older doorbell’s wiring. With motion detection and night vision, it lets you keep an eye on your homefront via your smartphone or desktop computer. Most doorbell cameras have two-way audio for talking with visitors.
- Standard outdoor security cameras – With plug-in and cordless styles, these outdoor security cameras can guard the full perimeter of your property. Common features are infrared night vision, motion detection, and two-way audio.
Each company below has both types of cameras, plus they sell indoor cameras and full home security systems with entry sensors, indoor motion sensors, and advanced features. Each system has a Z-Wave radio chip, giving you countless add-on possibilities such as remote control door locks, remote control lights, and wireless smoke alarms. Systems also have cellular chips, which you can activate as back-up to your home Wi-Fi network. All the companies support voice commands too; with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can gain hands-free control over your wireless cameras and other smart home equipment.
Two security companies here, ADT and Vivint, always send a professional to handle camera installation. The others – Frontpoint, Ring, and Nest Secure – generally leave setup to the customer.
Best Outdoor Security Systems in 2020
- ADT – Best Outdoor Security System Overall
- Vivint – Best Outdoor Security with Automation
- Frontpoint – Best DIY Outdoor Security
- Ring – Best Alexa Compatible Outdoor Security
- Nest – Best Google Compatible Outdoor Security
ADT – Best Outdoor Security System Overall
ADT is America’s longest-running security company, and they install some of the best outdoor security systems overall. Each new ADT Pulse system includes 24/7 professional monitoring of alerts, which ensures that someone will police, firefighters, and paramedics if you’re unable. You can even get help away from home if an ADT medical alert device is added to the plan.
Besides that, you can personally monitor and control your ADT camera system with a highly rated smartphone app or desktop app. And for the ultimate in convenient DIY monitoring, just tell Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to stream footage. For example, “Alexa, ask ADT to show my back porch camera.” Your virtual personal assistant can also open/close your garage door, adjust lights, and otherwise control equipment connected to the ADT Pulse base station.
ADT Outdoor Security Cameras
ADT Pulse has two equipment choices for 2019: the ADT Outdoor Camera and the ADT Video Doorbell Camera with 720p. These store 30-second video clips to the cloud when triggered by motion. With a smartphone or desktop app, you can view recordings or live footage anytime.
The ADT Outdoor Camera is wonderfully weatherproof. A heater activates when temperatures dip below 42° F and helps keep the camera operational down to -40°. Other special features are infrared night vision, which helps capture crisp footage up to 18 feet away, and a heat sensor for prowlers.
ADT Outdoor Cameras are wall mounted. An ADT Pulse expert will determine the best places for outdoor camera setup, taking into account the lens angle (95 degrees) and your home’s power outlet locations. The cameras run primarily off mains power and have battery backup.
Also available are ADT Video Doorbell Cameras. Like the ADT Outdoor Camera, these are motion-triggered and also let you check in anytime. Special features are night vision, two-way talk, and an ultra-wide 180° lens with minimal fisheye effect. ADT makes their doorbell camera compatible with a wide range of door frames for quick installation by a pro.
- Same-day professional installation
- Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Intrusion protection, environmental safety, and home automation
- Hub supports Z-Wave devices
- 720p resolution (Crisp, but higher resolution is available)
- Continuous video recording not included (Motion-triggered only)
ADT cameras let you view live footage anytime, but they cannot record continuously. If continuous video is a priority for you, see Vivint’s cameras below.
ADT Security & Smart Home Equipment
Choosing ADT for outdoor video surveillance, you can easily have a full security system installed at the same time. Installation typically costs $99 when cameras are included. A single ADT Pulse hub can monitor and control entry sensors, pet-friendly motion sensors, your garage door, smoke alarms, smart lights, thermostats, and countless other products for your safety and convenience.
In sum, ADT Pulse can be your best outdoor security system with professional setup and 24/7 monitoring. Along with outdoor cameras, they can install indoor cameras and a complete smart home system to guard against intruders, reduce energy costs, guard against environmental threats, and automate appliances. Prices for customized systems vary from home to home.
Vivint – Best Outdoor Security with Automation
Vivint is much younger than ADT and has quickly become a top competitor. They offer an exceptional array of features for home safety and security, automation, energy savings, and even automobile security. Overall Vivint is a top choice for those seeking outdoor security with automation. Vivint cameras can record continuously or just when motion-triggered, and video is saved for up to 45 days.
Vivint has a professional install your cameras and other equipment, and then paid monitoring keeps the system operational. Monthly payment of $39.99 also lets you use a smartphone or Google Assistant voice commands for hands-free control over your smart home.
Vivint Outdoor Security Cameras
Vivint features a standard outdoor cam and a doorbell video camera, both with night vision and two-way talk. The Vivint Outdoor Camera has 1080p resolution, and the doorbell camera records up to 720p.
Continuous video recording (CVR) is an option with each, and Vivint will store your video to the cloud for up to 45 days. Without CVR, Vivint will still store video triggered by motion alerts. These may be up to 90 seconds each for the standard outdoor camera, and up to 30 seconds each for the doorbell. Also stored to the cloud are color photographs from the same events.
The Vivint Outdoor Camera automatically starts recording when triggered by motion, plus you can view live footage anytime with Vivint apps for smartphones and desktop computers. Infrared ensures crisp video surveillance regardless of ambient light. The maximum night vision range is an impressive 55’. Other highlights of the Vivint Outdoor Camera are:
- Custom Surveillance Zones: The Vivint cam has a wide angle (140 degrees), so it can detect lots of motion. The surveillance zones feature lets you deactivate motion alerts for portions of the viewing area, which is divided into a grid in the Vivint app. Just tap a rectangle to enable/disable motion alerts.
- Two-Way Talk: Two-way audio lets you alert trespassers that they’re on camera. The 85db speaker can also be useful for communicating with pets and other family members.
- Hybrid Wired and Wi-Fi: Vivint Outdoor Cameras are installed to work with mains electricity or Wi-Fi; they automatically move from one system to another depending on which system is working best. This means that compared with systems that use one source only, the Vivint outdoor security system may provide smoother video with less buffering.
The Vivint Doorbell Camera can also alert you to someone’s presence, regardless of whether they ring, knock, or keep quiet. Two-way audio lets you talk with expected and unexpected visitors.
This gadget is motion-activated by default, plus you can set up continuous video recording. LED lights help capture video at night.
- Pro installation
- Seamless integration of all home systems
- Works with Google Assistant
- Supports Z-Wave for endless home automation options
- Pro monitoring can send police, firefighters, and paramedics
- Monthly payment required
- Proprietary equipment
Other Vivint Equipment for Safety & Automation
Vivint is a top-notch brand for all-in-one smart home systems. With a mobile or desktop app you can monitor your whole castle: the indoor and outdoor cameras, motion sensors, smart locks, your garage door, lighting, heating/cooling, and so forth. Professional installation helps ensure that the system is indeed set up “smartly.”
As mentioned above, Vivint also offers automobile security and is an energy savings expert. Besides using smart thermostats, you can get Vivint solar panels to reduce costs.
The main drawback? Vivint video security and home automation only work with monthly payment for professional monitoring. If you’d prefer a security system with totally DIY options, jump ahead to Ring Alarm or Nest Secure.
Frontpoint – Best DIY Outdoor Security
Frontpoint has some of the best DIY outdoor security systems with pro monitoring. In other words, you set up Frontpoint wireless cameras yourself and get a 24/7 connection to emergency operators. In partnership with Rapid Response, Frontpoint is known for speedy emergency service and also for great customer service in non-emergencies.
Everything can be set up without drilling or otherwise altering property, so Frontpoint works well for long-term renters as well as homeowners. Each customer choosing video security starts with 12 months of professional monitoring at $49.99/month.
Like ADT and Vivint above, Frontpoint has one standard outdoor camera and one doorbell camera. Both are friendly with Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also set up Frontpoint indoor cameras, motion sensors, glass break sensors, remote-controlled door locks, and countless other devices for safety and home automation.
Frontpoint Outdoor Security Cameras
Frontpoint’s outdoor camera and doorbell are motion-activated. Each can record 40-second video clips and store them to the cloud, giving you access from your smartphone.
The Frontpoint Outdoor Camera simply plugs in for easy setup. If someone tries to tamper with the camera, notice is sent to Rapid Response. The camera also records when triggered by motion. With infrared, even at night it can capture clear images of action up to 40’ away with its 117-degree lens.
Video with 720p resolution is saved to the cloud. It’s encrypted but you can give access to up to 10 people. In case you ever want privacy, you can engage the camera shutter.
This weatherproof camera works in temperatures from -13° to 133° F.
Next, the Frontpoint Slimline Doorbell Camera is ultra-slim yet has a 180-degree lens angle. With night vision it lets you see who’s at the door or up to eight feet away. This smart camera is designed for compatibility with most door frames, and with battery power it needs no hardwiring. Resolution is 780p.
- DIY installation
- Great customer service
- Mobile access
- Complete systems for safety & home automation
- Alexa & Google Assistant
- Supports Z-Wave
- Requires paid service
- No CVR (continuous video recording)
- Cameras aren’t 1080p
Frontpoint Home Security Equipment
Frontpoint is a favorite choice for wireless home security and home automation. Their friendliness won us over years ago, and Frontpoint is still known for great customer service. You can choose from various starter kits and add extra equipment anytime; the Frontpoint security hub can support indoor and outdoor cameras, motion sensors, entry sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, smart plugs, garage door sensors and controllers, and countless other devices. Everything is under warranty and has a money-back guarantee.
Ring – Best Alexa Compatible Outdoor Security
“Alexa, show the latest activity from the back yard!” Many brands are friendly with Amazon Alexa, the virtual assistant who can arm homes, give traffic reports, play trivia games and more. Of all home security brands, Ring offers the best Alexa compatible outdoor security. Ring has an inside edge, after all: Ring and Alexa are sister companies, both developed by Amazon. Installation is do-it-yourself, and pro monitoring is available but not required.
Ring first became famous with doorbell cameras. Now they also feature outdoor security cameras, indoor cams, and full security systems with home automation. You can self-monitor cameras for $2.99 each including cloud storage. Optionally with a $9.99 monthly payment you can self-monitor all your Ring cameras and also get a professional emergency connection.
Ring Outdoor Security Cameras
Compared with the companies above, Ring has wider selections of doorbell cameras and standard outdoor security cameras. Some cameras are more advanced too; only Ring has floodlight cameras, for instance. Average installation time ranges from five to 20 minutes.
Ring has a wide lineup of doorbell video cameras, giving you a choice of hardwired, Ethernet, or battery-powered models. Recently they introduced a door camera that fits over peepholes too. These smart cameras detect human motion. Two-way talk lets you talk with visitors, and you can remotely check the camera view anytime. With night vision and lens angles up to 160 degrees, Ring door cameras can catch action anytime… and with custom motion zones, you can focus just on areas that matter.
The Ring outdoor security camera lineup includes battery powered, solar powered, and hardwired models. All the cameras have 1080p resolution, night vision, and two-way talk. Most intimidating to would-be intruders are Ring Spotlight Cams, which furthermore have powerful LED lights and 100-decibel sirens. Sirens can be triggered by criminal activity or by a button in your mobile app.
- DIY installation
- Professional monitoring optional
- Low price for DIY monitoring
- Supports Z-Wave
- Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri
- Ring Alarm only has emergency response for Ring brand devices
Ring Alarm Security & Smart Home Equipment
Along with offering the best Alexa compatible outdoor security, Ring has Alexa-friendly indoor equipment to safeguard and automate your home.
The Ring website shows security kits and sells parts separately. Each system starts with a Ring base station, which can monitor up to 100 devices. Like the base stations for companies above, it’s Z-Wave compatible so you can integrate products from multiple brands. The Ring website shows compatible products in categories such as cameras, lights, locks, smart plugs, and thermostats. Equipment is under warranty and has a money-back guarantee.
Nest – Best Google Compatible Outdoor Security
While Ring Alarm has a tight relationship with Alexa, Nest Secure is close pals with Google Assistant. With voice commands or a Nest smartphone app you can monitor security cameras and other equipment for a safe and “connected” home. Most Nest Secure customers set up the systems themselves, although Nest can schedule professional installation for $79.
Professional monitoring is required for seeing and saving camera footage with your smartphone or desktop computer. Service costs $39 month-to-month and provides an emergency connection to Brinks emergency dispatchers.
Nest Outdoor Security Cameras
Nest Secure features two outdoor security cameras and one smart doorbell for 2019.
The outdoor security cameras are called Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest IQ Outdoor. Nest Cam Outdoor is easier to install, and Nest IQ Outdoor is more secure and even more powerful. Both cameras have 1080p resolution and night vision. Each can record continuously or only when triggered by motion or your direction.
Some differences between the two outdoor Nest cams:
- Nest IQ Outdoor has high “IQ” in terms of facial recognition. You can teach it to recognize familiar faces, such as those of family members and babysitters. This can save you the hassle of getting alerts about non-threatening people entering the property.
- Nest Cam Outdoor allows up to 8x digital zoom, and Nest IQ Outdoor allows up to 12x zoom.
- With Nest Cam Outdoor, a power cable is visible outside of your home. With the IQ version, the cord can be hidden for extra security.
- Nest IQ Outdoor has a stronger weatherproof rating. It can withstand more water exposure, and it stays operational for a wider temperature span: from -40 to 113 degrees F. Nest Cam Outdoor can withstand light sprinkles and is guaranteed to work from -4 to 104 degrees F.
Finally, the Nest Hello Video Doorbell with motion-activated light uses hardwiring to replace a traditional doorbell. It can connect to a Nest Secure hub or be monitored solely with the Nest mobile app. This unit shares many features with the Nest IQ Outdoor described above, such as night vision, familiar face recognition, two-way voice, motion detection, and the option to record continuously. It also lets you leave customized messages for people in your database of familiar faces.
The Hello doorbell has a 160-degree lens angle and can see about six feet away in the dark. It’s under warranty for 5° to 104° F.
- DIY or professional setup
- Paid or free DIY monitoring
- Z-Wave compatible
- Supports Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri
- $399 to start (MSRP)
- Nest Protect is for DIY monitoring only
Nest Home Security Equipment
Nest Secure cameras and other equipment can be monitored by a hub called Nest Guard. The Guard can work with Google Assistant and other voice assistants, and it’s compatible with equipment from third parties as well as Nest. For indoor security the simplest option is adding Nest indoor cameras, which are available with and without familiar face recognition. A top option is integrating TVs and other devices with the Google Chromecast app, as these can work with voice commands to stream saved and live security footage. Chromecast also lets you stream entertainment from Netflix, Pandora, and other platforms with the ease of voice commands.
Some examples of other possible add-ons are Nest Protect smoke and CO sensors, Nest thermostats, and Nest-Yale locks. These and countless other Z-Wave devices can guard your safety, help conserve household energy, and add lots of everyday conveniences. A possible drawback is that Nest Secure can only send police, not firefighters. The Nest smoke detector/CO sensor can send alerts to your smartphone.
Overall Nest Secure is the leading option for a Google-friendly smart home. A starter set isn’t cheap, but you can keep the system running without a contract. For video storage you’ll need to pay $3/month per camera. It’s also advisable to pay at least the $5/month fee for cellular backup. This lets you get security alerts even if Wi-Fi becomes unstable. Optionally you can sign up with Brinks for professional monitoring. The rate for Nest Secure systems is $29/month without a long-term agreement.