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Best outdoor security camera 2020

Want to stop thieves before they can get into your house, one of our best outdoor security cameras will help you do exactly that and catch people before they get inside.

Putting a security camera on the outside of your house has two major advantages: first, thieves can see that your home is protected and may move onto the next house; second, you can get spot people up to no good before they have chance to move into your house. As a minor aside, outdoor security cameras also feel less intrusive, too, as they don’t capture you going about your daily business. Here, we’ll help you choose the best outdoor security camera.

We’ve compiled the best list based on all of the reviews that we’ve done. Each entry has a detailed description of the product, but you can also click through to the full reviews to get the full lowdown on your product of choice. For convenience, we’ve listed our choices here, too. There’s a full buying guide at the bottom of this article that can help you make the right choices, too.

  • Best overall outdoor security camera Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
  • Best battery-powered security camera system Arlo
  • Best outdoor security camera for flexibility Ring Stick Up Cam
  • Best budget outdoor security camera Nest Cam Outdoor
  • Best smart security camera and doorbell Nest Hello

Before we get into the main list of cameras, it’s worth saying that if you plan to buy multiple security cameras, you should buy them from the same manufacturer, as you’ll get a better deal on the cloud storage that way. Take into account other devices that you already have, too. For example, if you have a Ring Doorbell and Ring Alarm, it makes more sense to buy additional Ring cameras.

1. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

The most powerful outdoor security camera even has facial recognition

 

Nest’s high-end outdoor camera is the pinnacle of security. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a little trickier to install than the previous model, but since the power cable is kept inside the house and the camera is screwed to its mount, it’s also more secure. Just be aware that you may need to have it professionally installed.

Once in place, the camera provides the best-quality footage we’ve seen, thanks to the 4K image sensor. Video footage is downsampled to 1080p, but the quality is superior to any 1080p camera. The added advantage is that you can use the high-resolution sensor and get up to a 4x zoom, letting you really see what’s going on.

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is best when paired with a Nest Aware subscription. With this, you can set motion activity zones, and set smart notifications to only be warned about people. Nest Aware has been upgraded recently, and you can see the changes in the article new Nest Aware vs old. Nest’s app makes it easy to find an event and scroll back in time – it really is the best cloud service you can buy. Neatly, this camera has facial recognition, so it can tell you who’s been hovering around your home.

With few false positives, excellent image quality at night and during the day, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the best outdoor security camera you can buy. It’s expensive, though.

<Camera type: Outdoor security camera, Size: 128 x 93 x 93mm, Resolution: 1080p (4K sensor), Field of view: 130-degrees, Recording option: Cloud, Night vision: Yes, Power source: Mains powered, Smart assistants: Google Assistant

Read our full Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

2. Arlo Pro 3 and Ultra

A versatile and powerful battery-powered indoor and outdoor camera system

Arlo Pro 3 on wall

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

The Arlo system is one of the most powerful, using a range of wireless cameras that talk to a base station plugged into your home network. These cameras can be used inside or out, giving you whole-home coverage, which is why we’ve listed them under their own special section. The two best models at the moment are the Arlo Pro 3, which has a 2K resolution, and the Arlo Ultra, which has a 4K resolution (although, this model needs a special cloud subscription to let you store Ultra HD footage). Once you’ve bought a starter kit of either of these two models, you can add in older cameras, too, such as the Full HD Arlo Pro 2.

This makes the Arlo system one of the best and most convenient to use. All cameras are controlled by the same excellent software, which lets you set cloud activity zones so that you only get notified about movement in areas you’re interested in. You can further enhance this with smart notifications, letting you choose to get notified about your choice of people, animals or vehicles.

One of the best things about the Arlo system are its modes. These let you choose how you want your cameras to work. Geolocation is the easiest to set up, letting your cameras turn on when you go out, and move to a schedule when you get home. With a schedule, you can set which cameras record when, saying turning on all downstairs cameras at night when you’re in bed, but turning them off during the day. It’s a hugely powerful system that’s far better than anything the competition has.

Arlo is relatively expensive to buy into but additional cameras work out at better value. If you want an easy-to-install wireless system to cover inside and out, there’s nothing better.

Camera type: Indoor and outdoor security camera, Size: 89mm x 52mm x 78mm, Resolution: 4K (Ultra), 2K (Pro 3), Field of view: 160-degree, Recording option: Cloud, USB, Night vision: Yes, Power source: Battery Powered, Smart assistants: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa

Read our full Arlo Pro 3 and Arlo Ultra reviews

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Buy Now from QVC for $259
Also available at EBay ($329.98), Walmart ($369.91), and Amazon ($399.00)

3. Ring Stick Up Cam

A powerful indoor/outdoor camera that can be powered via Ethernet

Ring Stick Up Cam hero

 

There’s a lot to like about Ring’s Stick Up Cam. This model is designed to be used inside or out and has a clever trick: it can use Power over Ethernet (PoE). Using the adaptor in the box, you can power the camera via an Ethernet cable, which also provides a rock-solid internet connection. If you’ve got poor Wi-Fi outside or just need to place the camera a long way from your home, this solution is ideal, giving you around 85m of range.

Beyond that, the camera is excellent. Thanks to Ring’s powerful software, you can set up motion zones to monitor, and you can now tune the system so that you only get notifications when a person is spotted. All footage is saved to the cloud alongside any footage from other Ring cameras or doorbells.

More recently, Ring has introduced modes, which lets you control the camera’s operation: armed the camera records disarmed it turns off. Even better, modes can be tied into the Ring Alarm system, so when you disarm your alarm system you can choose to have the Stick Up cam turn off so that you don’t record yourself at home.

Image quality is excellent from this camera, producing sharp, Full HD images. If you’re looking for an extremely flexible camera that doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi, this is the model for you.

Camera type: Indoor and outdoor security camera, Size: 60 x 60 x 97mm, Resolution: 1080p, Field of view: 150-degrees, Recording option: Cloud, Night vision: Yes, Power source: Mains powered (cable or power over Ethernet), Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa

Read our full Ring Stick Up Cam review

4. Nest Cam Outdoor

A simple-to-install outdoor camera with plenty of features

Nest Cam Outdoor

 

 

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the pinnacle of camera technology, but the older Nest Cam Outdoor makes for a good alternative if your budget won’t stretch to the former. This model is also easier to install: screw the magnetic mount into place, run the power cable to an outdoor socket, and you’re done. The downside of this installation method is that the camera is easier to steal, although you’re likely to catch the person in the act.

Video is recorded at 1080p, with high-quality night and day footage; only the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor captures better footage. Add in Nest Aware and you get motion detection zones to reduce false positives, plus 24-hour recording, so you capture everything that goes on. We’ve said it before, but the Nest app and Nest Aware are the best in business, making it easy to scroll through footage and find a specific event.

You lose out on the Nest Cam IQ’s facial recognition, but otherwise, the Nest Cam Outdoor is an excellent choice.

Camera type: Indoor and outdoor security camera, Size: 72 x 72 x 89mm, Resolution: 1080p, Field of view: 130-degrees, Recording option: Cloud, Night vision: Yes, Power source: Mains powered, Smart assistants: Google Assistant

Read our full Nest Cam IQ review

5. Nest Hello

A smart doorbell that acts like a security camera

Nest Hello doorbell

 

What’s a smart doorbell doing in this list, you may well ask? Well, in short, it’s because the Nest Hello is also one of the best outdoor security cameras. This model has all of the quality features of the other Nest cameras.

With a Nest Aware subscription you can set activity zones to reduce false positives, and there’s facial recognition, so you can see who’s hovering around outside of your home, too. Subscriptions are available for continuous recording and to just store events only. Video quality is excellent, with the doorbell recording in portrait mode to capture all of a person walking up to your door.

And, of course, you can use it as a doorbell, answering a call from anywhere in the world – decent phone reception allowing. You’ll get better coverage with a different security camera, as you have more installation flexibility, but the Nest Hello is a great way to boost security around your front door.

Camera type: Indoor and outdoor security camera, Size: 117 x 43 x 26mm, Resolution: 1600 x 1200, Field of view: 160-degrees, Recording option: Cloud, Night vision: Yes, Power source: Mains powered, Smart assistants: Google Assistant

Read our full Nest Hello review

Best outdoor security camera buying guide

Should I get a battery-powered model or mains powered? Battery-powered outdoor security cameras are the most flexible, as you can place them pretty much where you want them without having to drill any holes in your walls. The downsides are that these models tend to use PIR motion sensors, so you may get more notifications and, if you point them somewhere busy, you can run the battery down quickly. Mains-powered security cameras tend to have activity zones to cut down how many notifications that you get and don’t need to be charged, but installation tends to be a little more complex.

Do I need cloud storage? Pretty much every outdoor camera that we’ve tested requires a subscription to a cloud storage service. These make a lot of sense, as you get secure online storage for your footage, so even if your camera is stolen, you can still get the footage.

How important is the viewing angle? Viewing angles are described in degrees, with higher numbers taking in a wider field of view. In other words, if you’ve got bigger viewing angles, then your camera will capture more. This is quite important outside, as a camera with a wide viewing angle will see more of what’s going on. Typically speaking, look for a camera with 150-degree or wider field of view, although doorbells tend to be slightly narrower and more focusses to make it easier to talk to someone at your front door.

Can an outdoor security camera be stolen? As cameras are placed outside, then they can more easily be stolen. There are cameras that have magnetic mounts that are relatively easy to knock out of alignment or to the floor. However, there are ways around the problem. Careful positioning of a camera so that anyone fiddling with it will be spotted is a good idea, and you can often buy or upgrade to a more secure outdoor mount that makes theft harder.

Best security camera – What else should I look for? Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support is handy if you want to stream footage to your TV or screen-enabled smart speaker. IFTTT can be useful, too, letting you control other devices when motion is detected, such as turning on a light automatically. Nest cameras have Works With Nest automatic rules, so they can be turned on automatically when a smoke alarm goes off, for instance, or they can turn on your Hue lights automatically if suspicious activity is detected.

Should I tun an outdoor security camera on and off? For the most part, outdoor security cameras should be left on recording all of the time. The exception is that if you have a camera in your back garden, you may want to use the app to disable it when you’re outside.

How important is resolution? The higher the resolution, the more detailed the video, in general. That said, 1080p footage is generally good enough to find a frame in a video where it’s easy to spot a person’s facial details; go higher, if you want more detailed footage.

Are there any other features I should look out for? Some outdoor cameras have spotlights on them, which can be a useful way of advertising their presence to scare of thieves, and to improve the quality of the footage at night. All cameras have IR night vision, but you get a softer image when using this.

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