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Best outdoor security cameras in 2021

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Best outdoor security cameras
(Image credit: Arlo)

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 Nest Cam (battery), which for $179, is a great balance of features and price. It has a resolution of 1080p, is easy to install, and gives you three hours of video storage and person, animal, and vehicle detection without requiring a subscription. 

If you wan the absolute best and price is no object, the Arlo Ultra 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

Best outdoor security cameras: Nest Cam (battery)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Nest Cam (battery)

The best outdoor security camera overall

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 130 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Google Assistant
Cloud Storage: Starting at $6/month
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Very sharp video quality+Free person, animal, vehicle detection+3 hours of video storage free
Reasons to avoid
-Few accessories

The well-designed Nest Cam (battery) has a simple shape and is one of the easiest home security cameras to install, thanks to its magnetic base. It's weatherproof, so it can be mounted just about anywhere outside. Its 1080p camera captures sharp images day and night, and its microphone and speaker made conversations a breeze. 

The Nest Cam (battery) also offers three hours of rolling video storage for free, as well as person, vehicle, and animal detection. If you sign up for a Nest Aware subscription (starting at $6/month), you also get familiar face detection as well as the ability to store up to a month's worth of video. However, while it has good battery life, Nest does not make any accessories to extend it, such as a removable battery or a solar panel.

Read our full Nest Cam (battery) review.

best outdoor security cameras: Arlo Ultra

(Image credit: Arlo)

2. Arlo Ultra

Best outdoor security camera for video quality

Specifications
Video resolution: 4K
Field of view: 180 degrees
Night vision: 25 feet
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: Yes (in base station)
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Cloud Storage: 30-day rolling-cloud service (1080p) for up to 10 cameras free for one year;$9.99/month afterwards. Upgrade to 4K recording for $1.99/month per camera.
Reasons to buy
+Excellent video+Digital pan and zoom+Intuitive software
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

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

best outdoor security cameras: Wyze Cam v3

(Image credit: Future)

3. Wyze Cam v3

Best budget wired outdoor security camera

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 110 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: Yes
Battery Powered: No
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant
Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for 14 days (rolling, in perpetuity)
Reasons to buy
+Dirt cheap+Great video for price+Local storage
Reasons to avoid
-Needs to be plugged in

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

best outdoor security cameras: Blink Outdoor

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Best budget fully wireless outdoor camera

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 110 degrees
Night vision: 25 feet
Audio: half-duplex
Local Storage: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes, two AA
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa
Cloud Storage: starts at $30/year
Reasons to buy
+Records good quality audio and video+Can store video locally+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No person detection

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.

best outdoor security cameras: Eufycam 2

(Image credit: Eufy)

5. EufyCam 2

A versatile wireless camera that works with HomeKit

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 120 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit
Cloud Storage: 30-day rolling storage for $2.99/month
Reasons to buy
+Local storage+All features enabled with or without a cloud plan+Nice daylight video+Responsive, intelligent app
Reasons to avoid
-Blurry, pixelated night videos-No free cloud plan

As far as the best outdoor security cameras go, the EufyCam 2 is a more affordable alternative to Arlo's cameras. Like the Arlo cameras, Eufy's cameras also connect to a base station, where you can locally store your video if you'd rather not subscribe to a cloud storage plan, which starts at $3/month.

The EufyCam delivered very good 1080p video during the daytime, but nighttime videos were less sharp, making it hard to see facial details. These cameras are battery-powered, making them easy to place just about anywhere. And, Eufy's cameras work with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, including HomeKit Secure Video, should you want to use Apple's cloud storage.

Read our full EufyCam 2 review.

best outdoor security cameras: Ring floodlight camera

(Image credit: Future)

6. Ring Floodlight Camera

An outdoor camera and floodlight in one

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 140 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: half-duplex
Local Storage: No
Battery Powered: No
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Cloud Storage: $3/month ($30/year) for 60 days of video
Reasons to buy
+Wide field of view+Comprehensive app+Affordable subscription program
Reasons to avoid
-Must be wired

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

best outdoor security cameras: Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera

(Image credit: Arlo)

7. Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera

Battery-powered floodlight cam

Specifications
Video resolution: 2K
Field of view: 160 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: full duplex
Local Storage: No
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Cloud Storage: $3/month ($30/year) for 60 days of video
Reasons to buy
+Good video+Built-in floodlight+Digital subject tracking
Reasons to avoid
-Requires subscription for many features-Short battery life

For those who don't have an outdoor light fixture, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight camera is the best option for adding an outdoor security camera with a floodlight. This battery-powered camera is simple to install, has a bright 2000-lumen light, and has a 2K camera that can digitally pan and zoom, so you can get a better look at who's outside.

However, you may also want to invest in a solar recharging panel, as we found that the camera's battery drains quickly, especially when using the floodlight. And, like many security cameras, you'll need to subscribe to Arlo (starting at $2.99/month) if you want to use all the camera's features. 

Read our full Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera review

Arlo Pro 4 camera mounted to wall

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

8. Arlo Pro 4

A very good Arlo outdoor security cam for less

Specifications
Video resolution: 2K
Field of view: 160 degrees
Night vision: 25 feet
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: Yes (in base station)
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Cloud Storage: $3/month for 30-day rolling-cloud service (2K) for up to 10 cameras
Reasons to buy
+Clean, user-friendly app+Slick camera design+Removable Battery+Good video quality
Reasons to avoid
-Requires subscription for many features

The Arlo Pro 4 boasts 2K video resolution, a built-in LED spotlight and color night vision, making it a very good home security camera — it has above-average video quality, too. 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. 

The Arlo Pro 4 is essentially the same camera as the Arlo Pro 3, with one key difference: The Pro 4 can connect directly to your Wi-Fi, so you don't need a base station if you don't need or want local storage. However, in order to use many of the Arlo Pro 4'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. 

Read our full Arlo Pro 4 review.

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9. Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

A capable outdoor security camera for Ring owners

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 130° Diagonal, 110° Horizontal, 57° Vertical
Night vision: 25 feet
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: No
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa
Cloud Storage: $3/month ($30/year) for 60 days of video
Reasons to buy
+Slick app+Ring ecosystem and Alexa Integration+Good battery life+Weather resistant
Reasons to avoid
-No local storage-Useless without subscription-No Google Home or Apple HomeKit Integration

While not the best outdoor camera overall, the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery is the best option for those invested in Ring's ecosystem. It's easy to install, has good battery life, and can be connected to a solar panel so you don't have to recharge its battery manually as often. 

Video quality from the Stick Up cam was better than average both day and night, and Ring's app is one of the most comprehensive around. However, like Ring's other security cameras, the Stickup Cam lacks local storage, so you're stuck if your internet goes down. And, you'll need a Ring subscription if you want to save videos or use some of the camera's advanced features. 

Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam Battery review.

best outdoor security cameras: Wyze Cam Outdoor

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

10. Wyze Cam Outdoor

A cheap, wired outdoor camera

Specifications
Video resolution: 1080p/20 fps (day), 10 fps (night)
Field of view: 110 degrees
Night vision: Yes
Audio: Full duplex
Local Storage: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Cloud Storage: $14.99/year
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Travel mode lets you bring the camera with you+Local storage
Reasons to avoid
-Bulkier than other budget security cameras-Low quality nighttime video

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 

best outdoor security cameras: Deep Sentinel

(Image credit: Deep Sentinel)

11. Deep Sentinel

The best outdoor security camera with professional monitoring

Specifications
Video resolution: 480p
Field of view: 130 degrees
Night vision: 25 feet
Audio: full-duplex
Local Storage: No
Battery Powered: Yes
Weather Resistant: Yes
Smart Home Compatibility: None
Cloud Storage: $50/month
Reasons to buy
+Professional monitoring+Quick response+Loud, clear audio
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Low-resolution

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.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.