Best outdoor security camera system

Safety & Security

A video camera with high resolution will allow you to identify essential details, such as faces and license plate numbers.

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Which outdoor security camera system is best?

Outdoor security camera systems are essential for monitoring your outdoor space and protecting against intruders. They’re also useful for detecting the arrival of packages and capturing images of wildlife activity in your yard. 

With a number of outdoor security camera systems on the market, you’ll find a range of features, video resolution qualities and home system compatibility to choose from. Rather than splurging on the most expensive model, select a security camera system that has what you specifically need. The Google Nest Cam is a top choice for HD resolution, versatility and excellent compatibility with a range of smart home systems. 

What to know before you buy an outdoor security camera system 

Video quality 

The standard resolution for many home security cameras is 1080p. This definition is high enough to capture video of details like license plate numbers or the faces of intruders. Security cameras at this resolution yield approximately 2 million pixels per frame, so they require higher additional internal bandwidth than lower-resolution models.  

A 720p HD camera requires less storage space and bandwidth, making it the cheaper option. Expect to be able to identify only a low level of detail at this resolution, if lighting is adequate. 

Outdoor vs. indoor rating

If you intend to place your security camera system outside, it’s essential that you select one rated for outdoor use. Outdoor cameras are weatherproof, which keeps them sealed and safe from the elements. They also typically feature night vision. 

Wi-Fi connectivity 

Most modern security camera systems include Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows you to view video captured by the camera via an app on your smartphone, as well as record and store video on a local hard drive or in cloud storage. 

Smart home compatibility

Google Nest Protect

An outdoor security camera system with smart home system compatibility allows you to automate and command your security system using a smart home system such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 

Compatibility is especially desirable if you’re designing an entire smart network in your home, with devices such as Google Nest Protect or Ring Doorbell integrated into the same system. 

What to look for in a quality outdoor security camera system 

Motion detection and alerts

With motion detection and event-based recording, you have the option to customize your camera to only capture video and alert you where it detects motion or sound, rather than 24/7.

Movable 

A security system with movable control allows you to remotely pan your camera up, down and from side to side via an app. This allows you to capture a field of vision too wide for a fixed camera to cover. 

Fixed cameras tend to be less expensive than those that move, so you should generally only opt for this feature if you feel it will improve your security system. 

Night vision 

Clear night-vision recording is non-negotiable for an outdoor security camera system. You need to be able to clearly identify intruders or events happening in darkness. Outdoor security camera systems use LEDs to illuminate and record video when lighting is low. 

Outdoor security camera system tips 

  • Note that while you can use outdoor cameras indoors, it isn’t safe to use an indoor security camera system outside, as it will be exposed to elements it isn’t designed to withstand. 
  • Consider your power source when shopping for an outdoor security camera system. Some models require an outlet for energy, while others run on battery. 
  • Many outdoor security camera kits can be integrated with additional compatible cameras, allowing you to expand your home security system to capture wider areas in your yard and home.

How much you can expect to spend on an outdoor security camera system 

Outdoor security camera systems are generally a substantial investment in your home’s long-term safety. While there are budget-friendly single outdoor security cameras for as low as $40, expect to pay $100-$200 per camera in a system. For $250-$500, you’ll find kits with multiple cameras, a range of features and high-definition video. 

Outdoor security camera system FAQ

Can you install an outdoor security camera by yourself? 

A. Outdoor security camera systems are typically designed for fast and easy installation. The mounting process itself is typically straightforward, especially for battery-operated cameras. Wired solutions sometimes require running wires through walls, which may require the help of a professional.

How do you view your security camera video remotely? 

A. Outdoor security camera systems with Wi-Fi connectivity provide notifications and remote monitoring directly from an app on your smartphone or tablet. Most modern cameras include this feature. 

What’s the best outdoor security camera system to buy?

Top outdoor security camera system

Google Nest Cam

Google Nest Cam 

What you need to know: A highly compatible and easy to use outdoor system, it has 1080p HD video and a wide field of view. 

What you’ll love: This outdoor security camera system is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It has a weatherproof energy source, is easy to install and has a versatile mounting system. Two-way audio, clear video, optional event-based recording and person detection make this system an obvious choice. 

What you should consider: This outdoor security system requires an electrical outlet for power. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top outdoor security camera system for the money

WYZE Cam v3

WYZE Cam v3

What you need to know: This is a budget-friendly device with good compatibility and decent video quality. 

What you’ll love: This is one of the cheapest options on the market. Easy to install and use, it is capable of event-based or 24/7 recording. You can use it with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With a subscription, you can access features such as person detection and cloud storage. 

What you should consider: Detection isn’t as accurate as high-end models. Some users experienced serious disruptions of functionality after a month of use. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera

What you need to know: This is a highly compatible and customizable Wi-Fi home security camera that requires no cord to use. 

What you’ll love: A 160-degree diagonal viewing lens allows a wide field of view. It is easy to install. Both cloud and local storage are available. Monitor it from the app and take advantage of smart alert notifications. Very clear resolution and color night vision allow for clear identification of faces and license plates at any time of day or in any weather conditions.

What you should consider: Some users struggled with this system’s software and found customer service lacking. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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