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 spot- or floodlights built in, so you can more easily see in the dark.
What are the best outdoor security cameras?
The best outdoor security camera overall is the Arlo Ultra, which is also on our best home security camera list overall. It offers 4K resolution, and you can use it to digitally pan and zoom to better track individuals who enter your yard. The Arlo Ultra 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. Arlo has also released the Arlo Ultra 2, which has the same resolution, but better Wi-Fi. Stay tuned for our review.
If you're on a budget, the Wyze Cam v3 is the way to go. It costs just $20 at Wyze.com, yet delivers impressive 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.
Read on for all of our best outdoor security camera picks.
The best outdoor security cameras you can buy today
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
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.
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.
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 ($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 ($249), has an improved design, brighter LEDs, and more advanced person-tracking technology. It's available for preorder, and will ship in May.
Read our full Ring Floodlight Camera review
The Arlo Pro 3 boasts 2K video resolution, a built-in LED spotlight and color night vision, making it a very good home security camera. 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.
Like most of Arlo's other outdoor cameras, the Pro 3 connects to a base station, which can support up to 20 cameras, and can also be used for local storage. In order to use many of the Arlo Pro 3'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. A newer model, the Arlo Pro 4, has the same camera, but can also connect directly to Wi-Fi, rather than requiring a base station like the Arlo Pro 3.
Read our full Arlo Pro 3 review.
While it's not fully wireless — you need to plug it in to an outlet — the Nest Cam Outdoor provides excellent video and audio, as well as 24/7 live streaming, if you so choose. It comes with a 25-foot power cord that plugs into a USB port at the bottom of the unit; longer extension cords are also available.
Nest has a very comprehensive app, and the camera can be paired to work in conjunction with a number of other smart home products, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Protect smoke alarm, and the Nest Secure home security system.
Unfortunately, most of the Nest Cam Outdoor's best features won't work unless you pay for the Nest Aware cloud-storage plan. For $6 per month (or $60 annually), you can store 30 days of event history from an unlimited number of cameras at one location; if you upgrade to Nest Aware Plus ($12/month, $120 annually), you get 60 days of rolling cloud storage, plus 10 days of 24/7 video history.
Read our full Nest Cam Outdoor review.
While older, the Arlo Pro 2 is still a very capable outdoor security camera. This weatherproof, fully wireless camera can be mounted anywhere, and delivers high-quality 1080p video to your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Better yet, the Arlo Pro 2 also comes with 7 days of rolling cloud storage for free — a feature that Arlo doesn't include on its more recent cameras.
However, you will want a subscription (which starts at $3/month for a single camera and $10/month for up to five cameras) if you want to save video over longer durations, and get specific alerts for packages, people, and vehicles. The Arlo Pro 3 (2K video) and the Arlo Pro 4 (which has enhanced night vision and a built-in spotlight) are also available, but the Arlo Pro 2 makes for a good budget option.
As with its other outdoor cameras, the Arlo Pro 2 can run off battery power alone; the company also sells a solar panel, so you don't have to recharge the battery yourself. This camera has also been discontinued by Arlo, so supplies are limited.
Read our full Arlo Pro 2 review
The Arlo Pro was the company's first wireless home security camera, and though it's been eclipsed in features and resolutions by newer models, it still holds up well. It's easy use and is very customizable. The Arlo Pro runs on a rechargeable battery, and has a weatherproof case that protects it from the elements. And it too can be connected to a solar panel (sold separately), to keep you from having to recharge it manually.
The Arlo Pro's resolution is 720p, much lower than the 1080p or even 4K cameras that Arlo now offers. But, the Arlo Pro's feed is still sharp enough to make out visitors or anything that wanders in front of the camera. Also, it only has half-duplex audio, which means you have to wait for the other person to stop speaking before you can say anything.
As with the Arlo Pro 2, the Arlo Pro comes with seven days of cloud storage for free, but if you want anything more — as well as features such as customizable motion zones — you'll need to cough up at least $3 per month, the price of the company's starting subscription. Keep in mind that Arlo no longer sells the Arlo Pro directly, so supplies may be limited as inventory clears out.
Read our full Arlo Pro 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
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.
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.
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.