Best Outdoor Security Cameras of 2021
With weather-resistant design, these are the best outdoor cameras on the market as tested by our experts.
Our hands-on experience with scores of outdoor security cameras taught us that these devices were not only valuable for recording crime. They also prevented it! With built-in features such as motion-activated floodlights and sirens, these cameras easily scared trespassers away. Furthermore, the best security cameras made crisp recordings in any light; most had infrared night vision. Below we reviewed five top-rated brands. Which one stood out as the outdoor security champion of 2020? Keep reading to find out!
5 Best Outdoor Security Cameras
|Camera||Price||Resolution||Field of View||Monthly Plan|
|Ring Cameras||$99.99+||Up to 1080p||Max of 140°||$3.00+|
|Nest Cam||$199.99+||Up to 1080p||Max of 130°||$5.00+|
|Arlo Security Cameras||$179.99+||Up to 2160p||Max of 180°||$2.99+|
|Blink XT Outdoor Camera||$99.99+||Up to 1080p||Max of 110°||$4.99+|
|Lorex Security Cameras||$99.99+||Up to 2160p||Max of 160°||N/A|
List of the Best Outdoor Cameras of 2021
- Ring – Best Outdoor Security Cameras Overall
- Nest – Best DIY Install Outdoor Camera
- Arlo – Best Wireless Outdoor Security Cameras
- Blink XT – Most Affordable Outdoor Cameras
- Lorex – Best Selection of Outdoor Cameras
Ring – Best Outdoor Security Cameras Overall
Ring first made it big with rather small cameras: doorbell video cameras about 2.5 inches wide and five inches tall. At the time of our review, Ring provided video security for entire properties, from the foot of our driveway to inside our home. As camera owners, we handled video security 100 percent independently instead of paying Ring for professional backup.
Great Selection of Outdoor Cams
The outdoor security camera selection from Ring was impressive. While other companies had just one or two models, Ring had multiple options. For power, we were offered our choice of batteries, solar energy, or plug-in equipment. The cameras were priced fairly and had the best outdoor security features overall. Before discounts, Ring outdoor cameras started at $99 and up. Examples of special features on Ring’s weatherproof cameras included sirens, two-way talk, LED floodlights, and infrared night vision. The 100-decibel sirens on Ring’s outdoor cameras were activated via the motion of a trespasser or when we pressed a button in our Ring mobile app.
The hub used for Ring security cameras also let us automate our home. It had a Z-Wave radio chip and connected wirelessly with smart lights, keyless door locks, and other smart home equipment for safety and convenience. We used Amazon Alexa to command our cameras and other equipment connected to the Ring hub. For example, “Alexa, show us the most recent event from the camera behind the garage” and “Alexa, turn off the bedroom light.” We also tried out Siri and Google Home speakers with our Ring camera system.
These features were included with some or all weatherproof Ring camera models:
- 1080p resolution
- Custom motion zones
- Infrared night vision
- Two-way talk
Typical setup time took five to 20 minutes per security camera, depending on its design, and no hardwiring was required.
Affordable DIY and Pro Monitoring
DIY monitoring of Ring cameras with cloud video storage started at $3 per month, which was a best-in-industry deal. Ring securely stored all motion-triggered clips for our review, and we could keep the clips for up to 60 days each. For comparison, the cheapest Nest camera plan was $5 per month and included only five days of storage. Unfortunately, Ring did not let us record continuously, so only motion-triggered clips were saved. For continuous recording, check out the following review of Nest outdoor security cameras.
Nest – Best DIY Install Outdoor Camera
Nest, a Google-owned security brand, was a leading competitor with Amazon’s Ring. Google featured the Nest Hello video doorbell, two outdoor security cameras, and complete home security systems. The selection was small compared with Ring, but Nest offered the best DIY install camera choices for people who want continuous video recording (CVR).
Nest outdoor security cameras were best for easy DIY setup. For example, the Nest Cam Outdoor ($149) and Nest Cam Outdoor IQ ($159) simply plugged into an outlet. Compared with the Nest Cam Outdoor, the Nest Cam Outdoor IQ had been upgraded in weather resistance, vandal resistance, and facial recognition. Nest Hello, a doorbell camera, was also easy to install and ran off a long-lasting lithium battery.
About CVR, Do-It-Yourself Monitoring, & Pro Monitoring
To avoid too many alerts, we used activity zones, which excluded sections of the viewing field from motion detection. For example, we got notifications when there was motion at the perimeter of our property, but not because our kids were running back and forth in the yard. Payment was required for us to see and save security video with Nest Aware. Three plans were offered: $5 per month with five days of storage, $10 with 10 days of storage, or $30 for 30 days.
We also chose professional home security monitoring from Nest-Brinks, which cost us $29 per month. Professional monitoring ensured that, if we were unavailable, someone with the security agency called police, firefighters, and/or paramedics in response to automated alerts. Paid professional monitoring also provided the perks of DIY Nest monitoring, such as text alerts and access to live streaming video anytime.
Nest security cameras had best-in-industry compatibility with Google Assistant. By incorporating a Google Home speaker, we controlled our security cameras and video with phrases like “Hey Google, show the garage camera.” We live-streamed, saved video to our tablet, used Chromecast TV, and more.
We also used voice to control other equipment monitored by the Nest hub. For example, we got a child’s room ready for bed by saying, “Okay, Google. Dim the lights in the baby’s room.”
Overall, Nest was the best option for DIY security cameras with continuous recording. They even offered professional installation for $79. Long-term video storage was expensive, at $30 per month, but Nest Aware’s $5 per month deal was competitive.
A possible downside of Nest’s outdoor cameras was that they plugged into main power. Both Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest Cam Outdoor IQ had cords. The IQ version had a protected cord to guard against tampering. If we preferred cordless options, we may have selected Arlo as our security camera system.
Arlo – Best Wireless Outdoor Security Cameras
For people seeking totally DIY home security, Arlo offered the best selection of outdoor wireless security cameras for $189 and up. Color night vision, floodlights, and facial recognition were among their special features. We chose from four cameras that worked indoors or out. The main difference among these was the resolution: choices included 720p, 1080p, 2K, and 4K. They also featured a video doorbell with up to a 300-foot range.
The Arlo brand was also a great option for indoor video security. The Arlo Baby camera was enormously popular, as it was portable and had special functions ranging from air quality testing to lullaby mode.
Monitoring Arlo Cameras
Arlo did not offer professional monitoring of alerts. We had the option to work the cameras into other security systems, but ultimately, ended up self-monitoring an Arlo camera for only $2.99 per month. Continuous recording was included with storage for up to five days. Optionally, we could monitor up to 10 cameras for $9.99 or up to 20 for $14.99. With premium service, videos were stored for up to 60 days.
Some special features of Arlo Pro outdoor security cams include:
- Wire-free installation
- Color night vision
- Motion-activated spotlights
- Facial recognition
- White, black, and camouflage print
- Arlo Pro 3 and Arlo Ultra support Apple HomeKit.
Arlo’s main products were indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, and security floodlights. All in all, Arlo has the best deals on high-end home security cameras that we monitored ourselves. Their four weatherproof options covered the spectrum from 720p to 4K, with infrared or color night vision. Discounts were given on two or more, and Arlo cloud storage for continuous video recordings was low-priced.
Blink XT – Most Affordable Outdoor Cameras
Blink XT sold dependable outdoor security cameras for only $69 and up. Mobile alerts and a bit of cloud storage were free, helping the brand take credit for “Most Affordable Outdoor Cameras” overall. The weatherproof Blink XT2 Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera ($99) was easy to install and maintain. It was powered by batteries that lasted up to two years per charge, and the resolution was the industry-standard 1080p.
Cameras by Blink weren’t feature-rich but were good value for DIY video security. They were easy to install, had motion detection with customizable zones, and recorded with infrared vision at night.
How much storage did Blink provide for free? Each user account held up to two hours of footage, and each clip lasted up to 60 seconds long. Blink deleted videos automatically as new clips arrived, so it was important to check our mobile alerts as soon as we received them. Overall, Blink XT was the best option for low-budget DIY security. Free storage had limited value, as we had only two free hours and important footage could get overwritten.
Lorex – Best Selection of Outdoor Cameras
Lorex Technology had the best selection of industrial-quality outdoor security cameras. Compared with leading home security cams, Lorex Wi-Fi and IP cameras were even more durable and high-performing. They were virtually vandal proof and had long depths of field with color night vision. For instance, the 1080 HP Outdoor Wireless Security Camera ($149) had a 115-foot range in the dark. Resolution on some Lorex camera models was“ultra-high” at 4K, whereas resolution on others was merely “high” at 1080p. Weatherproof Lorex cameras with 4K resolution started at just $159.
Various Lorex models had two-way voice systems, geofencing, and other special features. A feature we hadn’t seen elsewhere was sensitivity to off-screen audio. Noise from off-screen activity triggered alerts. With Lorex we recorded continuously or chose audio-triggered and motion-triggered alerts only.
DIY Monitoring and Installation
Monitoring Lorex camera activity was also DIY. We accessed video on our regular computer or smartphone, connected to a DVR, and/or used a widescreen LCD monitor from Lorex.
Lorex cameras used mains power or battery power. Generally, the battery needed to be changed every four months. For durable cameras with high performance, Lorex Technology was a top-rated brand. Their website had the best selection of outdoor security cameras including single cameras, cameras sets, and bundles with high-resolution monitors.
Features to Look For
As you compare outdoor security cameras, keep these important factors in mind:
- Power Source: Outdoor security cameras varied in terms of power sources. The main choices were plug-in power, battery power, and solar power. Each of our top choice brands had models we could set up wire-free. Cordless outdoor cameras were generally powered by long-lasting rechargeable batteries. One company we mentioned, Arlo, offered solar-powered cameras. If a camera used mains power, it also likely had a cord. The best outdoor cams with cords had protected cords to help defeat vandals plus they had battery backup.
- Continuous Video Recording: Some outdoor security cameras only recorded audio and video when triggered by trespassers. Others could record continuously. Continuous video recording was sometimes advertised as CVR.
- Resolution: Resolution on leading cameras ranged from 720p to 4K. The most common was 1080p, which meant video that was 1080 pixels tall and 1920 pixels wide.
- Recording Cost: Each brand below had smartphone or desktop apps. Apps let us view live camera footage for free. However, generally, a paid plan was needed in order to save video clips or record continuously. One exception was Blink XT, a budget security camera brand. Blink gave us very minimal cloud storage for free. Many paid plans for home security combined video storage with professional monitoring of our system. Professional monitoring alerted emergency dispatchers of potential trouble. This way, they could send police even when we couldn’t call 911. Most alarm monitoring companies could also dispatch firefighters and paramedics.
- Two-Way Voice: Our selections for best outdoor security cameras captured exceptionally clear audio. Ideally, they’d have all had echo cancellation and other advanced audio features. Some also had two-way voice, which let us holler at potential criminals or stay in touch with family members around our property.
- Doorbell Video Camera: A wide-angle doorbell camera guarded our doorstep and provided us with a long-range view. A smart-motion detector ignored running squirrels and swaying trees and alerted us of a person’s presence, even if they didn’t ring the bell. A smartphone app let us use two-way talk and gave the impression that we were at home, no matter where we were. Additionally, some doorbell security cameras, such as Nest Hello, recognized familiar faces and played pre-recorded messages for expected visitors.
There were always many factors to consider when choosing any type of security camera, but with outdoor security cameras, the factors only increased. To create our Best Outdoor Camera list for 2021, we started with our necessary features test. All of these cameras were weather-resistant and worked throughout the seasons for a variety of climates. Whether we were looking for wired or wireless, we were sure we didn’t want a camera that would hurt our wallets too much. Read on to learn more about our selections for 2021’s Best Outdoor Camera list, their costs, why we chose them, and more.
Note: We had a lot of people asking for a wireless outdoor security camera with DVR. We weren’t able to find one, but if anyone has a suggestion, please leave a comment below and we’ll consider it!
|Nest Cam IQ Outdoor||$399|
|Arlo Pro 3||$199.99|
|Ring Spotlight Cam Battery||$199|
Clearly, there was a huge variation when it came to the pricing of outdoor security cameras, with the most expensive device listed at well over $200 and the most affordable coming in at just under $50. Of course, generally speaking, we got what we paid for, so we recommended buying a higher quality camera for a bit more money rather than a cheaper camera that had fewer necessary features. Regardless, we knew to be prepared to spend roughly $200 purchasing an outdoor security camera and additional funds on monthly or yearly storage plans.
Outdoor Security Camera Methodology
So just how did we pick out the outdoor security cameras on our list? In this section, we discuss the methodology that led to our selections in detail.
Aside from simple aesthetics, we considered whether we wanted our camera to be wired or wireless. While having a camera wired to our home definitely made installation harder, we liked the idea that we wouldn’t have to worry about changing a battery. However, we also wondered how far many of the outdoor cameras would reach from outdoor outlets. Additionally, some cameras required hubs, bridges, or DVRs, so we also took those costs into account before we made our purchases.
The main thing we looked for design-wise was durability. That came in the form of a temperature range and an IP rating, which measured how susceptible an object was to both solids and liquids.
|1||A large body surface like the back of a hand, but no intentional contact with a body part||Dripping water falling vertically|
|2||Fingers of similar objects||Dripping water falling from 15-degree tilt|
|3||Tools, thick wires, etc.||Spraying water|
|4||Most wires, screws, etc||Splashing water|
|5||Dust protected||Water jets 6.3mm and below|
|6||Dust tight||Powerful water jets 12.5mm and below|
|7||N/A||Immersion up to 1m|
|8||N/A||Immersion over 1m|
Make sure wherever you live and its weather conditions are compatible with your outdoor security camera before purchasing— you’ll thank me later.
Of course, like with any security camera, we applied our necessary features test to all of our outdoor cameras. Dive in with us as we review our thought process behind each type of feature we sought during the selection of 2021’s best outdoor security cameras.
Display-wise, we looked for a camera that had at least 1080p HD video display, the current industry standard. We also preferred cameras that zoomed-in optically and that had fields of view that were 120 degrees or greater. That gave us the widest, clearest, and most detailed view possible.
We looked for cameras that had both speakers and microphones built-in, as that enabled two-way audio and let us speak to whoever the camera was focused on. This proved quite useful not only for telling our kids to come in for dinner but also for scaring away luckers or potential intruders remotely. This was a security camera, after all!
We specifically selected cameras that included infrared night vision rather than color night vision via a bright white light. Infrared was much more inconspicuous, which was definitely a quality we looked for in a smart security camera. Additionally, we always tested out the camera’s night vision before making a purchase.
We were also big on ensuring that our cameras came with enough storage to make owning an outdoor security camera worthwhile. We preferred cameras that offered both cloud and local storage, whether that was through a Dropbox, micro-SD card, hard drive, or what have you.
Smart Platform Integrations
Since smart security was pretty much the standard, we searched for cameras that fit perfectly into our smart home, whether it was through Amazon, Google, or Apple.
Another thing we preferred in outdoor security cameras was person detection, which helped us differentiate between people and other moving objects like animals, cars, etc. A. It made our notifications smarter and more specific, so it was easier to monitor our home with minimal effort.
We considered it extra points if the camera had facial recognition, which, after a period of time, learned specific familiar faces and identified unfamiliar ones.
The convenience of easy installation was a big deal for us, as most of the cameras we selected were DIY. While we knew we could always hire a professional if we weren’t confident, the majority of these cameras were designed to be installed by non-professionals in less than 20 minutes.
As we witnessed in the pricing rundown, the tags on these cameras varied. Nevertheless, when we decided to buy something, we always double-checked to ensure the price coordinates logically matched with the number of necessary features met.
Apps were our mobile command center for our outdoor security cameras. With each camera’s respective app, we live-streamed footage, viewed storage, received notifications, had conversations with visitors via two-way audio, and more. One mobile app element we searched for was a good rating on either the Apple or Google Play store, depending on the type of mobile device we owned. To meet our app standards, apps needed ratings of at least three-stars or higher. Of course, a lack of high ratings did not necessarily mean a deal-breaker since apps could always be updated.
Outdoor Security Camera FAQs
What are the best outdoor security cameras?
The best outdoor security cameras are the Swann 4K camera, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, the Blink XT2, the Canary Flex, the Swann Dome Camera, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery and the Arlo Pro 3.
What is the best wireless outdoor security camera?
The best wireless outdoor security camera is the Arlo Pro 3.
How much is an outdoor security camera?
Outdoor security cameras can range anywhere from $50 all the way up to $400, with the majority falling around $150 to $250.