The Best Outdoor Security Camera

An outdoor security camera can be a powerful deterrent to mischief-makers. It will allow you to know instantly whether that bump in the night comes from a friend, foe, or furry creature.

However, after reviewing dozens of cameras over the past five years, we’ve yet to find a perfect model. Some are hard to place, some need to be changed regularly, 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. Both require a paid subscription to record any action, but those fees enable additional features, including the ability to distinguish among general motion, people, and other types of activity.

Things to consider

  • Storage options

    Although being able to store video in the camera is a nice option, we prefer cameras that save it to the cloud, which is more secure.

  • Video quality

    Look for cameras with at least a 1080p resolution, but 2K offers an even better, more-detailed image.

  • Easy installation

    Plug-in cameras require an outdoor outlet and a lengthy, weatherproof cord. If an outlet isn’t available, you can opt for battery power.

  • Specific alerts

    All cameras respond to movement, but some can distinguish among people, pets, cars, and packages.

Our pick

Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera

The best cordless outdoor Wi-Fi camera

This battery-operated outdoor Wi-Fi camera provides clear 2K images. With the storage plan, it can also distinguish among people, animals, vehicles, packages, and general motion.

$180 from Amazon
$180 from Walmart
$180 from Best Buy

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit (with a compatible base station), Google Assistant, IFTTT (If This Then That), SmartThings

The Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera delivers the best image and most specialized alerts of any cordless camera we tested. Like the Ring camera, the Arlo Pro 4 requires a subscription—Arlo Secure—to record clips and distinguish among people, pets, packages, and vehicles. This cordless camera delivers clear images day and night, thanks to a 2K resolution and color night vision. It can record up to five minutes of continuous motion, but this drains the battery (which needs to be charged about once a month, depending on use). It also offers a 24/7 recording option, but you’ll pay more per month, lose Arlo Secure features, and need an extra $200 in equipment.


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