The 3 Best Outdoor Security Cameras of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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Ring has removed a function from its Neighbors service that allowed law enforcement to directly solicit videos from Ring users. We've added details in the review below. Mini Wireless Camera

The 3 Best Outdoor Security Cameras of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

We no longer recommend the Eufy S330 Floodlight Cam as our test model failed after just 20 months, and the company won’t offer a replacement or refund.

We are investigating an issue with Google Home integration and security cameras. We will update this guide as more information becomes available.

Arlo has recently updated its app for a better user experience. We are currently running tests and will update this guide with our findings soon.

An outdoor security camera can keep tabs on welcome (and unwelcome) visitors, package deliveries, and furry creatures helping themselves to a midnight snack in your garden. They can also be a powerful deterrent to prospective mischief-makers.

However, after reviewing dozens of cameras over the past seven years, we’ve yet to find a perfect model. Some are hard to place, some need to be charged frequently, and others require a subscription fee to be most effective.

If you want a completely cord-free option, we recommend the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera.

If you want something a little cheaper (and have an outdoor outlet nearby), we recommend the Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In.

This battery-powered camera captures clear 2K video. The video storage subscription adds the ability to detect people, animals, vehicles, packages, and general motion.

A plug-in 1080p model, it comes with a weather-resistant cord or add-on battery, and can distinguish between people and other moving objects.

This camera offers long battery life, a clear 2K image, HomeKit support, and three options for storing video.

Being able to store recordings in the camera is common, however we recommend saving video to the cloud so it can be accessed if power goes down.

Wi-Fi cameras can catch action close to your house, but faces and license plates may be unclear—even great cameras may be fuzzy around 20 feet away.

Most companies will share your recordings if they receive a court order or determine it’s an emergency. Check your privacy policy and/or opt for devices with end-to-end encryption.

All smart cameras can detect motion, but some can also tell the difference between a person, pet, car, or package, and record or send notifications on which of those matter to you.

This battery-powered camera captures clear 2K video. The video storage subscription adds the ability to detect people, animals, vehicles, packages, and general motion.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit (with a compatible base station), Google Home, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

The Arlo Pro 4 delivers the best combination of detailed video performance, specialized alerts, and easy installation. It does require a subscription to Arlo Secure (starting at $5 per month) in order to record clips and distinguish between people, pets, packages, and vehicles. However, it delivers clear 2K video day and night—including color video even in the dark. The Pro 4 can record up to five minutes of continuous motion, though if the camera runs often, it can quickly drain the battery—we found it needs to be charged about once a month. The Arlo Pro 4 also offers a 24/7 recording option, but enabling it has a higher subscription fee, requires an extra $150 to $200 in equipment, and is separate from Arlo Secure.

A plug-in 1080p model, it comes with a weather-resistant cord or add-on battery, and can distinguish between people and other moving objects.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works With Ring

The Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In Wi-Fi camera comes with a lengthy, weather-resistant power cord, but it can also be powered by battery or a solar panel. It delivers crisp, 1080p video with an expansive 130-degree view and clear two-way audio. By signing up for a Ring Protect Basic plan ($4 per month or $40 per year), you can store recordings for up to 60 days, and it also enables features like person alerts, the option to save videos, and thumbnail-enhanced smartphone notifications. Also, despite some previous issues, Ring now provides more privacy and security measures than any other camera manufacturer we tested.

This camera offers long battery life, a clear 2K image, HomeKit support, and three options for storing video.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home

Although it’s not quite as smart as the Arlo Pro 4, the Eufy S221 EufyCam has the best rechargeable battery we’ve seen on a cordless outdoor security camera. (The company claims the battery can last a year; we experienced usage between four to 12 months, so it will depend on where your cameras are placed and how often they’re triggered.) Free perks include the ability to record 2K video to storage in the included base station, as well as the ability to differentiate between humans and other moving things. To have your video sent to and stored in the cloud, you can opt for a paid subscription to either Eufy Cloud Storage ($3/month) or Apple HomeKit Secure Video (free with iCloud plans that start at $1/month); note that both services reduce video resolution from the original 2K to 1080p quality.

I first started testing smart-home devices more than 20 years ago, when the only smart-home devices were X10. I’ve been covering smart-home gear for Wirecutter since 2016, and I’ve had my hands on everything from in-wall light switches, LED bulbs, and water-leak detectors to video doorbells, indoor security cameras, and security systems. I’ve also written tech articles for The New York Times, Wired, and Men’s Health, among others.

Having problems with someone stealing packages off your porch, or a family of trash pandas enjoying your garbage cans? A Wi-Fi surveillance camera by your front door, over your garage, or attached to your back deck allows you to see what’s really going on outdoors. A camera not only alerts you to dangers and guests, but also creates a record of the events that happen all around the outside of your home—be it falling trees, floodwaters, or a neighbor’s unkind dog.

While outdoor cameras can do a good job as a sentry, they do have limitations.We found that most outdoor Wi-Fi cameras can detect movement as far as 30 to 40 feet away. But faces and license plates may start to get fuzzy around 20 feet away—and that number could drop substantially depending on lighting conditions.

If that’s not enough peace of mind, and you want to step it up to 24/7, all-bases-covered security, you should go with something that’s connected to a monitoring service. For more information on what’s out there, see our guide to the best home security system.

A good home security system should make it easy to find peace of mind. It can alert you to an open door or window, frighten away prowlers, and call for help.

We’ve been reviewing outdoor cameras for more than seven years and have tested many dozens of them. Here are the most important features to consider.

For testing, we connect all cameras to our Verizon Fios network via a Wi-Fi router indoors (approximately 40 feet from the cameras) and our upgrade-pick mesh-networking kit, the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8). We used an iPhone 12, a Google Pixel 7 Pro, and an iPad to review the cameras and their companion apps. And we used an Echo Show 5, a Google Nest Hub, and an Apple TV to see how each camera can be controlled via third-party apps and viewed on smart screens.

Mesh networks can give your home’s Wi-Fi a much needed boost—but can sometimes create problems for some smart-home devices, too.

Worry that your smart-home devices may be acting sneaky? So do we. Our reviews dig into privacy and security so you can feel better about our recommendations.

This battery-powered camera captures clear 2K video. The video storage subscription adds the ability to detect people, animals, vehicles, packages, and general motion.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit (with a compatible base station), Google Home, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

The battery-powered Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera can be placed anywhere you like, so long as it’s within reach of your Wi-Fi signal. It records clear 2K video and has a rechargeable battery, which lasts one to two months, depending on usage. The Arlo Pro 4 also includes features such as color night vision and Auto Zoom and Tracking (which can digitally zoom in on moving objects and follow them while in view).

The Arlo doesn’t include free video storage, so count on adding a subscription to Arlo Secure, the company’s cloud-storage service. In addition to keeping video for up to 30 days, Arlo Secure enables features like the ability to distinguish between people, pets, packages, and vehicles.

Audio and video please the eye and ear. The Arlo Pro 4 produced some of the best images of any outdoor camera we tested. It records 2K video and has a wide, 160-degree viewing angle. The two-way audio was easy to understand on both ends.

Arlo’s video recording options are the best we’ve seen. Users can set recording length from 10 to 120 seconds long, but we prefer the “Record until activity stops” option, which records up to five minutes of continuous motion. If action goes beyond that, a new clip will be recorded after a 1- or 2-second reset period. (According to Arlo, this reset is to keep the camera from creating lengthy clips where nothing happens and to conserve battery life.)

Alerts tell you more about what’s going on than just motion. To record video, you’ll need an Arlo Secure subscription, which starts at $5 per month for a single camera. Arlo Secure also enables Activity Zones and the ability to distinguish between a person, animal, vehicle, or package delivery and sends a specific alert when one of those is detected—a nice perk that we found worked pretty reliably.

Installation and maintenance are hassle-free. Sleek, smart design and a removable battery make the Arlo Pro 4 easy to install anywhere outside—so long as it’s in range of a Wi-Fi signal. Arlo claims the camera battery can last six months on a full charge, based on the assumption of 4,000 seconds of use per month, 30 seconds per stream, and day/night events split 2:1. Based on our testing, those numbers seem to be accurate, though if you’re planning to put the camera in a high-traffic area or in super-cold temperatures (which can drain the battery), you may want to buy an extra battery or the Arlo Solar Panel Charger (which we have not tested). If you have a nearby outlet, you can opt to hardwire it with the 25-foot Arlo Outdoor Magnetic Charging Cable.

Advanced camera features work well, but at a cost. The Arlo Pro 4 has a bright, motion-activated spotlight for color night vision, which makes images slightly more vivid than simply using the two infrared LEDs for black-and-white night vision. There’s also an Auto Zoom and Tracking feature, which digitally zooms in on a moving object in the camera’s field of view and follows it around. This is an interesting and sometimes useful feature, though we wish it were slightly more fluid. Also, enabling this feature shortens battery life and lowers the resolution of recordings to 720p or less.

Senior staff writer Lauren Dragan said that while testing the Arlo Pro, she found the low-battery alert tended to trigger when there was still about 20% left—which for her translates to a few more weeks of battery life. And she came up with a good solution to alleviate the hassle of waiting around for the battery to recharge: “We bought a backup battery and so swap it with the old one when we get a low battery alert, which works well.”

A plug-in 1080p model, it comes with a weather-resistant cord or add-on battery, and can distinguish between people and other moving objects.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works With Ring

The Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In can be plugged in, powered by a battery, or get charged by a solar panel. This model comes with a thick AC cord for indoor use and a weather-resistant adapter for outside, which also enables more reliable alerts and recordings. The Stick Up Cam accurately identifies people and general motion, has clear audio, records 1080p video that surveys a 130-degree field of view, and includes color night vision. Ring has also halted a controversial program that allowed law enforcement and emergency officials to directly request access to Ring owner videos. Those officials will still be able to view publicly posted video, and also may potentially gain access to user videos through Ring directly via a warrant, or in situations where Ring determines there is a serious, time-sensitive event.

There’s an installation option for everyone. Ring sells three versions of the Stick Up Cam: a corded model, a battery-operated model, and one that comes with a solar panel. It’s nice to have options, but we found the corded model to be a better, more reliable camera that can record longer clips without worries about draining the battery. You can also buy the corded version and add a battery or the solar panel later.

An included weatherproof cord is best-of-breed. This model comes with an 8-foot cord for indoor use and a 14½-foot extender for outdoor use that’s IPX5-rated (so it can withstand a low-pressure water-jet spray from any direction). When combined, the entire package is very sturdy, especially when compared with other corded cameras. Most outdoor cameras we tested have cords that are either too short, not very weather resistant, or both.

Alerts are accurate and quick, though currently limited. To record video, you’ll need a Ring Protect plan, which starts at $4 per month (or $40 per year). This subscription also adds in person detection, Rich Notifications to show you a preview of event video, and video storage for 180 days. Without a paid plan, you can get live viewing and smartphone notifications when action happens (though by the time you get to your phone and open the app, you may end up missing the moment). Although we found notifications to be quick and accurate, we would love to see Ring add the ability to tag animals and vehicles.

Ring has doubled down on security. Ring now allows users to enable end-to-end video encryption, manage users, and deauthorize connected phones, tablets, and computers. Ring also includes mandatory two-factor authentication to keep your account secure and options for Privacy Zones to block out areas not on your property, and it allows you to choose whether you want to receive text messages or use a third-party authenticator app.

I’ve had the Ring Stick Up Cam since 2021. Even though I’m an atypical user—I like to move my cameras around way more than the average person—the camera has held up well. Though I recommend plugging the camera into a power outlet to get better, more accurate recordings, I have found being able to use a battery pack especially useful and convenient. I like that I can just throw in a battery and place it somewhere new for a few days to capture critters in my backyard.

This camera offers long battery life, a clear 2K image, HomeKit support, and three options for storing video.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home

The Eufy S221 EufyCam, a kit with two identical EufyCam pro cameras, has the best battery life of any rechargeable camera we tested. The cameras capture excellent 2K images and offer more recording options than our other picks, including free local storage, as well as paid cloud subscriptions via Eufy’s cloud plan or Apple HomeKit Secure Video. However, this system is the only one of our picks that also requires that you use a base station. We also discovered that the system automatically downgrades video resolution to 1080p if you opt to use cloud storage.

Battery life is phenomenal. Eufy claims its cameras can last 365 days on a full charge, which means you can truly set it and mostly forget it. In our original testing, we estimated the battery could last anywhere between four to 12 months, depending on alert frequency. Since 2021, our long-term tester says he has charged the unit only three times, which is impressive. However, the battery isn’t removable, so it can’t be replaced.

There’s free storage or paid—which we recommend. Users can set clips to record in 20- or 60-second increments, or customize them for any length up to two minutes. (We preferred the latter, since the system often left gaps in between clips of around 10 seconds.) Footage is then stored for free in the included 16 GB base station, which Eufy says should hold about two to three months of 2K footage (or four to five months of 1080p video). We recommend cloud storage, however, which is available through the Eufy cloud plan; it starts at $3 per month per camera. Alternatively, if you have an Apple iCloud plan of 50 GB or more (starting at 99¢), you can use HomeKit Secure Video—although both cloud plans store video at only a 1080p resolution, we found the video to be clear and vibrant.

Both audio and video recording are great—object detection less so. Recordings were always sharp (both in 2K and 1080p), audio was clear, and smartphone alerts often arrived within 3 seconds of motion. However, it can only distinguish between people and general motion—and occasionally got that wrong. (A few times, it tagged a tire as a person.)

Senior staff writer Joel Santo Domingo has been using the S221 EufyCam since 2021 and says he has charged the cameras only three times during that period. “My only complaint is that over long range (about 25 feet), the garage camera has trouble capturing people’s faces. It’ll report human motion, but many times it can’t resolve a face. I chalk it up to a quirk in my driveway’s layout.”

We tested a number of outdoor security cameras that we didn’t prefer as much as our current top picks but that are still good choices. Note that we do not long-term test these models (which we do with our top picks).

For 24/7 cloud recording: We like the Google Nest Cam (battery) when it’s plugged into an outlet—and if you plan to do that, spring for the optional weatherproof cable or get the Google Nest Cam with Floodlight. The 1080p floodlight has a modern design, a brightness of 2,400 lumens, and a 4,000 K color temperature. If you opt for just the camera, the included cord isn’t weatherproof and is a short 3 feet, which may limit where you can install it. When it’s corded or installed with the floodlight, you can record 24/7 (with a Nest Aware plan), and we thought the camera delivered better, more-reliable alerts overall when plugged in.

If you’re all in with Tapo: The TP-Link Tapo C325WB ColorPro Outdoor Security Wi-Fi Camera delivers great images and accurate alerts. However, we don’t love the design, which doesn’t have a weatherproof cord. We also liked the Tapo C420S2, which includes two battery-operated 2K cameras and the Tapo H200 Hub for about $150. It's a cheap, easy solution, although we wished nighttime images and audio were better.

If you have poor outdoor Wi-Fi range: The Arlo Go 2 works with both Wi-Fi and also add-on 4G LTE plans—although those will cost more and are only available via T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon. This 1080p model has a smaller viewing angle than our top cord-free pick (130 degrees versus 160). And it adds in the option to record free to a microSD card, but at the expense of losing Arlo Secure features which require a subscription.

If you don’t have an existing outdoor light: The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera uses a removable, rechargeable battery to blast a bright 2,000 lumens of light—and up to 3,000 if you hardwire it. In our tests, its daytime 2K video was very good. Nighttime images weren’t as reliable, unless the subject was standing directly in front of the camera (which is fine since this model is best for focusing on a specific area, like a front porch or near trash cans). After months of testing it, we expect the battery to last about three months, depending on usage.

We have pulled our recommendation of the Eufy S330 Floodlight Cam. After 20 months of periodic use, the cam suffered a water leak and no longer functions. We contacted customer service, who determined the unit was defective but would not replace it since it was outside of a one-year warranty period.

We have paused all testing and recommendations of Wyze cameras due to security concerns. For a full explanation, see this post.

The Logitech Circle View and Eve Outdoor Cam both work with Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video, a service that has a lot to offer but in our testing missed a lot of action—sometimes for even hours or days at a time.

Our current picks are better value than the Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera, the Arlo Pro 3, the Arlo Pro 5S 2K Spotlight Camera, the Eufy SoloCam S230, the Noorio Spotlight Cam B211, and the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro due to features and/or performance.

A number of cameras we have tested were plagued by false alerts, including the Tapo C310 Smart Outdoor Home Security WiFi 2K Camera and the Tapo C320WS Smart Outdoor Home Security WiFi 2K QHD 4MP Camera.

We dismissed the Cync Outdoor Wired Smart Camera, the EZVIZ C3X, the Netatmo Presence, the Nooie Pro Cam, and the Swann CoreCam Pro due to poor audio and/or video performance. And the Abode Cam 2, the Blink Wired Floodlight Camera, the Blink Outdoor, the Swann Wireless 1080p Security Camera, and the Ring Spotlight Cam Pro Battery missed a lot of events and/or left lengthy gaps in between motion recordings. We also dismissed the Reolink Argus 3 Pro because it’s not rated to operate in temperatures of less than 14 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it isn’t useful for a large swath of the country. We also cut the Canary Flex due to its poor battery power and connection issues.

We’re retesting the Eufy S330, a $550 package that combines the HomeBase S380 Hub and two 4K solar-powered cameras. Initially we were impressed but have since detected a few issues of concern, such as delayed recordings, incorrect facial recognition, and app lag. We’re hoping an update may fix those issues.

Other models we’re testing or plan to test include:

This article was edited by Jon Chase and Grant Clauser.

David Anders and Ry Crist, Best Outdoor Home Security Cameras, CNET, February 16, 2023

John Carlsen, Best Home Security Cameras for 2023, SafeWise, June 28, 2023

John R. Delaney, The Best Outdoor Home Security Cameras for 2023, PCMag, June 29, 2023

Rachel Cericola is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter who has been covering smart-home technology since the days of X10. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Men’s Health, USA Today, and others. She hopes her neighbors read this bio because it would explain why she always has four video doorbells running simultaneously outside her home. 

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The 3 Best Outdoor Security Cameras of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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