ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
An outdoor security camera system is an excellent investment if you want to have peace of mind while you are far from home or simply go to sleep without worrying about troublemakers. Not only does it provide a level of protection, but it even adds value to your property.
Finding the best outdoor security cameras requires thoughtful research evaluating criteria such as pricing, resolution and high tech features. We evaluated popular self-monitored outdoor cameras that do not require a professional security system to protect your belongings.
If you prefer consumer-level smart home technology for your home surveillance system, here is our selection of the best outdoor security cameras in the market.
Smart Device Compatibility
Up to 1080p
$3/camera/mo. for cloud or USB-based free storage
Alexa, Echo, Echo Dot
Arlo Pro 3
$499 (two cameras)
Up to 2K
A 3-month trial then $2.99/camera/mo. cloud storage
Google Home Hub, Alexa, Apple Home Kit, SmartThings
Up to 1080p
280GB Micro SD or cloud
Wyze Cam Outdoor
Up to 1080p
14-day free footage history
Google Assistant, Alexa
Up to 1080p
1-day free footage history, 30 days with the subscription
Starting price: $99.99 | Resolution: 1080p | Field of view: 110 degrees |
Blink Home app
2-year battery life
Free cloud storage
30 frames per second
-4° to 113° Fahrenheit operating range
Our best overall outdoor security camera system has motion detection, free storage; it's weather-resistant, works as an outdoor and indoor camera, and is enabled for two-way communication. The only catch is that you will need to buy the mount base separately for outdoor installation.
Starting price: $499.99 | Resolution: 2K | Field of view: 160 degrees |
Color night vision
-20° to 45° Celsius operating range
Arlo Pro 3 is our best high-end option for outdoor security cameras. It offers a starting package for $499.99, which can easily read as expensive but comes with two cameras, so if you are willing to pay more, this is a great option.
High video quality
12x digital zoom
More expensive than competitors
Premiums features require a subscription
Storage requires subscription
2 cameras: $499.99
4 cameras: $799.99
Add-on camera: $199.99
$2.99 - $19.99/month storage subscription
$9.99 - $19.99 continuous video recording per month
Starting price: $49.99 | Resolution: 1080p | Field of view: 110 degrees |
The Wyze Cam Outdoor cameras are easy to set up and start at a price lower than other competitors. Customers simply set up the base station, connect to the app and use magnetic mounts to install their cameras.
25-foot night vision distance
IP-65 water-resistant rating
Internal microSD storage is available
Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility
14 days of free storage
-4° to 120° Fahrenheit operating range
Two weeks of free storage
Local storage available
Less expensive than competitors
The app is not user-friendly
Short-range night vision
Starter bundle (1 camera and base station): $49.99
Starting price: $281.39 | Resolution: 1080p | Field of view: 116 degrees |
The Canary Flex is compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, making it easy to ensure your camera is always up and running. So if you leave for the weekend and forget to arm the security system, you can ask Google or Alexa to activate the camera while you're away.
When looking for an outdoor security camera system, check for convenient features with advanced technology before choosing the one that suits your needs best. Features such as night vision, ample field of view, motion detection and real-time notifications to your phone, high-quality image and weather-resistance are essential for this type of camera.
Checklist for choosing an outdoor security camera
Here is a list of elements that you need to cross out before buying your next outdoor security camera system:
Night vision: Night vision allows you to see what's happening even with low light. This technology usually works using infrared led lights, allowing cameras to capture good-quality video even at night.
Motion detection: Motion detection technology finds real threats and alerts you to have a glimpse of what is happening and decide if you need to take action. The ideal features should include people and animal detection, so you don't receive false alarms every time the neighbor's cat hangs out at your porch. If you are buying an outdoor security camera on a budget, at least make sure you get a camera with motion detection technology.
Ease of installation: A camera with an easy installation process is better when you are not too handy and don't want to spend extra money on getting professional help. It is better to check what other customers write about the installation process; this way, you won't waste time or money.
Cost: When you buy home surveillance systems, you should consider more than just the camera price. You might need to consider additional expenses like accessories, cloud storage monthly fees, mount bases, and even professional installation, if necessary.
Audio: Many cameras have settings such as two-way audio to talk with visitors or even whoever delivers your packages. Be aware that although some cameras allow you to record audio, it may violate federal wiretapping laws unless proper signage is posted -- depending on your state.
Field of view: The field of view refers to how much area the camera can cover from a single angle: the narrower the field, the better view angle and focal distance you will have. For outdoor cameras, we prefer a field of view without at least 110 degrees or higher.
Resolution: The higher the resolution of the outdoor camera, the more internet bandwidth and space on the cloud or internal storage it will require. A higher resolution will allow you to see much more details in the video, but you should consider if your internet service supports it and if you are willing to pay for a more expensive cloud storage service. We recommend going after a camera that offers at least 1080p in resolution.
Power source: If the outdoor camera you choose is wired, installing it could present challenges that may require professional help to handle it. Battery-powered systems are usually easier to install and charge, but you will need to make sure to check the charge level periodically, so it doesn't stop working. Some cameras come with an app that allows you to monitor the battery for easier maintenance.
Outdoor camera accessories
Here are some accessories that your outdoor cameras will need to work in optimal conditions:
Camera base or mount: When you buy an outdoor camera, you must check if the package includes the camera base or mount -- a must-have place to keep your camera on the best angle to capture your home surroundings.
Solar panel charger: A solar panel charger will keep your camera's battery charged without needing to worry about running out of battery. If you are forgetful or want to make an eco-friendly decision, make sure you get one.
Subscriptions to cloud storage: Cloud storage exists to keep your security videos and clips digitally safe. Some camera manufacturers offer limited to no cloud storage for free, so you will probably need a subscription to store and access your video feed remotely and use premium features.
Storage card: If you choose a camera that allows you to add an internal storage card, remember to get the compatible card that supports it. Usually, when you get a reading card for your home surveillance system, you won't need to worry about extra cloud storage, although some features might still require you to get a subscription.
Camera cover: If the camera you choose is not waterproof or water-resistant, you will need to get a camera cover. Another plus, if you get one, is that it will protect the equipment from hard weather conditions like sunlight and rain, giving it a longer life.
Strong internet connection: We added a stable internet connection as an accessory since, if your camera equipment is going to be installed outside, you will need it to enjoy most of your camera's features. Without a stable internet connection, you will have delays on your two-way conversation and lags on your live streamings and motion detection notifications.
What is the best outdoor security camera?
The best outdoor security camera is the Blink Outdoor because of its resolution, compatibility, and price.
Are outdoor security cameras worth it?
Outdoor home security cameras serve as an extra layer of protection for your home. Whether you are at your property or not, a camera allows you to monitor your home's surroundings from your smartphone or computer. If any unusual activity occurs, a home surveillance camera helps gather evidence, and even the sight of them can keep burglars away. Having this peace of mind makes outdoor cameras worth it.
What do I need to know before buying an outdoor security camera?
As with most things that we buy for our home, it is essential to know what you need and expect from this camera, as there are plenty of options available. For example, the weather conditions in your area can be a determining factor to choose an outdoor security camera.
Other criteria to keep in mind include price, compatibility with your smart home system, camera range, motion detection technology, night vision and remote access
Where should I install outdoor security cameras?
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the ideal areas to install outdoor security cameras are first-floor windows, front, back and side doors. Other crucial areas to have cameras are the garage or driveway.
Which one is best, outdoor or indoor security cameras?
If you are trying to keep burglars away, it's better to have an outdoor camera. But bear in mind that indoor and outdoor security cameras are pretty different. Outdoor cameras alert you when a new package arrives, allow you to know who's near or entering your house, and notify you if there are any sudden and unexpected moves in the surroundings.
Indoor cameras are useful for monitoring what's inside your house, checking the kids in other rooms, and even having conversations with them while you are away from home. Try to identify what your needs are and choose wisely, depending on that.
What should I look out for when buying an outdoor security camera?
If you are looking for a camera that does a great job, look for value, storage location (local or cloud), and how easy the installation process is. You should also consider the power source, if it has smart home functionalities, and what the monitoring options are. For example, if it has access to an app and also has web-based access.
Every camera offers different things; make sure that you are receiving what you need when making a decision.