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What is the best outdoor security camera (and which is easiest to install)?

Whether you're looking for the cheapest outdoor security cameras or the best wireless ones, ZDNET has gathered the best outdoor security cameras available right now.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Emery Wright

Effective home security starts outside your home. Whether you need to keep tabs on visitors, check on your kids while they play outside, or figure out who's eating your fresh garden vegetables, a good outdoor security camera is a must.

As the basis of your home's entire security system, an outdoor security camera can keep you aware of your home's surroundings. Plus, it sends you alerts when motion is detected. 

Also: Best video doorbells

You need a reliable device that your family can count on. Unreliable cameras may quit on you at the most inopportune time -- a no-go when you're talking about security. We tried and tested different outdoor security cameras to determine the top picks available on the market right now. 

Also: Best security systems

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Completely wireless
  • No monthly fees
  • 4K video resolution
cons
  • Tilting/positioning can be tricky
  • Requires solar energy
  • Expensive
  • HomeBase needed
More Details

Tech specs: 4K Resolution | IR and Color Night Vision | Solar Power | Expandable 16GB Local Storage | IP67 Weatherproof | Two-Way Audio 

Eufy Security is known for selling full security systems with no monthly fees. The company recently launched its EufyCam 3 with the HomeBase 3 hub

The EufyCam 3 is the overall best outdoor security camera because it combines wire-free technology, solar power, 4K resolution video, and wide-angle viewing. 

The cameras also employ BionicMind AI technology, which intelligently differentiates motion from humans, animals, and vehicles, as well as face recognition to inform you who is approaching your home. Plus, the cameras only need a couple hours of sunlight a day for solar power, so you'll never need to manually charge them or change the batteries.

Read the review:Eufy's new smart security cameras do things that Amazon's can't

The cameras pair with the HomeBase 3 for local storage of footage, and there aren't any subscription fees to access your feed. It's saved right in the hub, no strings attached.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Compact
  • Waterproof
  • Clear night vision
cons
  • Subscription required to unlock all features
  • Wired
More Details

Tech specs: 1080p Video | Color Night Vision | Wired | Optional subscription | IP65 | Two-Way Audio

This compact security camera is both inexpensive and highly versatile. At only $35, the Wyze Cam v3 is small and waterproof, making it an easy addition to a side yard or porch. These cameras are even popularly used as baby monitors. 

We've gotten several Wyze Cams over the years and love that we can switch them around for both indoor and outdoor placement, depending on where we need coverage. For years now, our Wyze Cams have continued to work effectively by reliably alerting us of any motion detection.

Without the monthly subscription, the camera will only record 12-second clips every five minutes. However, you can subscribe to Cam Plus to unlock cloud recording of full motion and to add person detection. Plus, the Wyze Cam can record onto a microSD card, if you choose to add one. 

Don't let the Wyze Cam's size fool you. The camera's IP65 rating for dust and moisture-proof enables it to withstand rain or shine and, in our case, quite a few storms. 

Also read: The best baby monitors of 2022

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Battery-powered
  • Can be installed anywhere
  • 2-year battery life
cons
  • Subscription or hub required to access all features
  • Delay between live event and camera feed
More Details

Tech specs: 1080p Resolution | IR Night Vision | Battery-Powered | Optional Subscription | Two-Way Audio 

Blink's Outdoor camera is a weatherproof, battery-powered security camera that seamlessly fits in with other Blink Home devices. Plus, it's compatible with Alexa. 

The camera runs on two AA batteries that last up to two years, making it flexible enough for placement anywhere you need it, regardless of solar energy or wiring. If you need a camera along a fence line, deep in your backyard, or even by your mailbox, this camera is versatile enough for the job.

You can get a Blink subscription to unlock saving motion events and storing clips and photos in the cloud. Or, you can also purchase the Blink Sync Module 2 and add a USB flash drive to it to store your videos locally. 

Read the review: This $50 camera proves you're probably overspending in your smart home

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Dual-band (2.4GHz or 5.0GHz) wifi connectivity
  • Bird's-eye view
  • Audible alarm
cons
  • Subscription required to unlock all features
More Details

Tech specs: 1080p Resolution | IR and Color Night Vision | Wired | 3D Motion detection | IP67 Weatherproof | Two-Way Audio | 110dB Security Siren | 2000 Lumen floodlights

The Ring Floodlight Cam Pro is one way to increase your home security with 2000-lumen floodlights and a built-in 110 dB alarm. You can count on this camera to alert you of motion detection and to even deter unwanted visitors all on its own.

Ring's Floodlight Cam Pro features advanced motion detection that you can also choose to set to person-only mode. That way you can avoid floodlighting cars, animals, and falling leaves. 

If you're a fan of Ring products, this is the best outdoor camera for you. The live feed and notifications are available for free through the Ring app. However, video recording is only available with a subscription to a Ring Protect Plan. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Great IR night vision
  • Smart people and vehicle detection
  • 2TB local storage
cons
  • Only one-way audio
  • No color night vision
More Details

Tech specs: 2K Resolution | IR Night Vision | Wired | Expandable 2TB Local Storage | IP66 Weatherproof

If network video recorder (NVR) camera systems are your thing, Reolink's highly rated 5MP 8-channel full home security camera system may be the one you've been looking for. This set comes with four cameras and the network video recorder.

The cameras work together as a system with the included NVR, but you can also control them remotely from your phone by using the Reolink App. The NVR has a local storage memory of 2TB, which you can upgrade to 4TB using a hard drive disk.

Though the cameras don't support colorized night vision, the devices each feature 18 infrared LEDs, which enables clear IR night vision up to 100ft away.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 160-degree wide-angle picture
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, SmartThings, and HomeKit
cons
  • Hub required for local storage
  • Subscription required for cloud storage
  • Slightly delayed motion alerts
More Details

Tech specs: 2K Resolution | IR & Color Night Vision | Removable Rechargeable Battery | Hub or Subscription for Storage | IP64 Weatherproof | Two-Way Audio

The Arlo 4 Pro Spotlight Camera is a wide-angle, 2K resolution outdoor security camera that gives you the option to store video recordings in the cloud via subscription or in a separate hub for local storage.

What really makes this camera stand out from competitors is the high-quality IR and color night vision. The camera has a bright, motion-activated spotlight that provides enough lighting for a clear color night vision picture -- so you can see clearly see details in visitors' faces.

This camera comes with a rechargeable battery that'll last between 3 and 6 months on a single charge. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Solar-powered
  • Only 1080p video
  • Includes alarm and flashing lights
cons
  • Not compatible with smart voice assistants
  • Separate solar panel installation
  • SD Card not included
More Details

Tech specs: 1080p Resolution | IR & Color Night Vision | Separate Solar Panel Included | Cloud or SD Card | IP66 Weatherproof | Two-Way Audio

The Foaood Outdoor Camera comes with a separate solar panel that provides constant power. You won't have to worry about batteries or charging it, as long as you carefully place the panel where it can receive enough sunlight.

The included solar panel is easy to set up and the camera offers great picture quality. Plus, this security camera is one of the most affordable solar-powered cameras on the market.

You can also add an SD card for extra storage to avoid subscription fees for cloud storage. 

What is the best outdoor security camera?

The best outdoor security camera on the market right now is the new EufyCam 3. Though pricier than other systems, the EufyCam 3 and HomeBase 3 are the basis for an excellent home security system that you can continue to build with more Eufy Security products in the future.

With 16GB of included storage that is expandable to up to 16TB, you never have to worry about monthly fees or subscriptions. You can relax knowing you're protected and that your videos are saved in your home. Plus, the two solar cameras don't need separate batteries or charging. 

Outdoor security camerasBest usePricePower sourceResolutionVideo storage
EufyCam 3Best overall$549 (2 Cams + Hub)Solar power4K16 GB Local (Expandable)
Wyze Cam v3Best for a budget$35Plugin1080pSD Card (not included)
Blink OutdoorBest wireless option$99AA batteries1080pSubscription or Sync Module 2 w/flash drive
Ring Floodlight ProBest with floodlights$249Wired1080pSubscription required
Reolink Smart SystemBest PoE system$419Plugin2K2 TB Local (Expandable)
Arlo 4 Pro SpotlightBest for night vision$199Rechargeable battery2KHub or Subscription
Foaood Outdoor CameraBest with separate solar panel$69
External solar panel1080pSD Card (not included)

Which is the right outdoor security camera for you?

An outdoor camera is the foundation for a great security system and can make a significant difference in your and your family's safety. Because of this, choosing the best option for you is crucial.

Our best pick overall is great if you want to avoid monthly fees and enjoy great video quality, but different priorities can lead you to another option. If you're looking to put a camera on a tree to cover an area in your yard, for example, a Blink Outdoor camera is probably best, since it doesn't require direct sunlight for power.

Here's a guide to help you choose the right outdoor security camera for your situation:

Choose this outdoor security camera....If you want...
EufyCam 3A set-it-and-forget-it camera with 4K video and no monthly subscription
Wyze Cam v3An inexpensive option that you can move anywhere in and around your home
Blink OutdoorTo place a camera somewhere with no outlets/wiring/sunlight
Ring Floodlight ProTo expand your Ring system with a camera and floodlights
Reolink Smart SystemSeveral cameras around your property with local storage and no monthly fee
Arlo Pro 4 SpotlightClear wide-angle images, especially at night
Foaood Outdoor CameraAn inexpensive solar camera that doesn't require charging


Also: What's on your network? These are the devices most at risk of getting hacked

How did we choose these outdoor security cameras?

To choose the best security cameras, we considered different needs, price points, and features. Many companies will try to sell you smart products that you don't always need. We're committed to showing you our top picks based on quality, video resolution, device reliability, safety, and, of course, getting the most bang for your buck.

We've researched and tested many security cameras on the market -- enough to know which are top-performing. We combine our experience and research to recommend the best outdoor security cameras you can rely on.

How do you power an outdoor security camera?

Outdoor cameras can have different power sources: Wired, battery-powered, or solar-powered. 

  • Wired cameras include plugin options, like the Wyze Cam v3. Others may require wiring either with existing home wiring or new wiring, like the Ring Floodlight Cam Pro and Reolink System.
  • Battery-powered cameras may include a rechargeable battery that you only have to charge every few months, like the Arlo Pro 4. Or, they may use replaceable batteries, as is the case of the Blink Outdoor using AAs. 
  • Solar-powered cameras need a solar panel to work. The panel may be built-in along the top edge of the camera like the EufyCam 3, or exist as a separate panel, like the Foaood Camera has. Separate panels won't blend into your home as easily, but strategically-placed solar-powered cameras mean you never have to worry about charging them or replacing batteries.

What to consider when choosing a security camera?

Here is a list of elements you should consider before buying your next outdoor security camera system:

  • Night vision: Night vision allows you to see what's happening at night, even in low-light conditions. This technology usually uses infrared LED lights to capture images. Color night vision can work with small motion-activated lights built into the camera, capturing high-quality video even at night. 
  • Motion detection: Motion detection technology recognizes visitors approaching your property, and the camera alerts you of these events via a mobile app or smart device. Ideally, these features include people and animal detection, so you don't receive false alarms every time the neighbor's cat hangs out at your porch. Package detection is also helpful if you've ever lost a delivery to porch piracy. If you are buying an outdoor security camera on a budget, I would at least make sure you get a camera with motion detection technology. 
  • Ease of installation: A camera that's easy to install is better when you're not particularly handy and don't want to spend extra money on professional help. Consider the differences in installing wireless, wired, or plugin cameras as well as where you want to place the cameras. It's a good idea to check for customer reviews to see how other real-world users fare with installation.
  • Cost: When you buy home surveillance systems, consider more than the price of the camera. You might need to consider additional expenses like professional installation, mount bases, cloud storage and premium service monthly fees.
  • Audio: Many cameras have two-way audio, so you can talk with visitors or delivery drivers. Keep in mind that although some cameras allow you to record audio, this may violate federal wiretapping laws unless proper signage is posted -- it depends on the state.
  • Field of view: The field of view refers to how much area the camera can cover from a single angle. For outdoor cameras, we prefer a field of view of at least 110 degrees or higher.  
  • Resolution: The higher the resolution of the outdoor camera, the more network bandwidth and space on the cloud or internal storage it will require.  A higher resolution allows you to see much more detail, but do consider if your home network and broadband speed can support it, and if you are willing to pay for a more expensive cloud storage service. We recommend choosing a camera that offers at least 1080p in resolution. 

What is the easiest outdoor security camera to install?

Personally, I find that the easiest security camera to install is a wireless option. Though I have used them in the past, I don't like routing wires along my door frames. Trying to figure out the best ways to hide them is a pain, so I prefer the truly wire-free options. 

The top two wireless security camaras are the EufyCam 3 and Blink Outdoor, because these options only need to be mounted. No need to worry about wiring or where you're going to plug them in. 

How do you find security cameras with no subscriptions?

The key to finding security cameras that don't require a subscription or extra fees lies in the storage. A security camera that allows for local storage without restrictions, like an SD Card or hard drive slot, then lets you bypass  monthly fees, even if they offer optional subscriptions for calling emergency services.

Subscriptions are typically required to pay for cloud services to keep your video recordings. Some cameras only store videos in the cloud, while others have options for both cloud and local, so keep an eye out for that.

You may choose a camera and lack a way to store videos without a subscription. In that case, you'll probably only receive motion notifications on your phone and have access to viewing the live feed -- the camera won't record events.

Are there alternative outdoor security cameras worth considering?

Like many products, security cameras are not one-size-fits all. Because of this, we've also gathered some alternative options worth considering:

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