Porch pirates and burglars got you down? A Wi-Fi-connected outdoor camera can deter crime and give you a live view outside your door. Here are our favorite outdoor cameras, from premium models to budget-basics.
What to Look for In an Outdoor Security Camera
A good outdoor security camera can stand up to dark nights, heavy weather, and the sneakiest of snoops. The smart cameras in this article tick those boxes perfectly, but they have some unique features and perks that may work better for your home than mine (or vice versa).
So before we start looking at security cameras, let’s review some important features, like resolution and two-way audio. It’s better to read about this stuff now than to figure it out after dropping hundreds on a camera setup:
- Resolution: Resolution may not seem important, but those extra pixels give you leeway to zoom in on faces or objects without any blurring. An HD camera might get the job done, but high-res options are always worth the extra money.
- Night Vision: Smart security cameras have built-in night vision modes. And while night vision works a lot better than you’d expect, you should consider buying a security camera with a built-in floodlight if you’re especially concerned about nighttime pests and snoops.
- Two-Way Audio: A two-way audio system allows you to talk to people through your camera. It’s kinda terrifying, but two-way audio is excellent for scaring off the neighbor’s cat or a Peeping Tom. All of the security cameras in this article feature two-way audio systems, although the more expensive options have better microphones and speakers.
- Power Source: Battery-powered security cameras are easy to install, but they need to be charged once or twice a year. If you’re willing to drill holes through your home, a wired security camera can save you from recharging batteries (or replacing cameras with worn-out batteries).
- Subscription Fees: Most (but not all) smart security cameras require a monthly fee for additional video storage and expanded features. If you hate the idea of monthly fees, skip the others, and grab a eufy camera. The eufy smart camera line stores video locally, eliminating the need for monthly subscriptions.
The smart cameras in this article work with Google Assistant and Alexa smart home systems. Of course, you don’t need a smart home to use any of these products. You just need a smartphone and a surface to mount your camera.
Let’s get into it! Here are the best outdoor security cameras for 2020.
Best Overall: Wyze Cam Outdoor
An unbelievable product with an unbeatable price tag, the Wyze Cam Outdoor is the best security camera for the average person. It features 1080p recording, night vision, two-way audio, a time-lapse mode, and an easy-to-use app. Oh, and a $50 price tag.
The Wyze Outdoor Cam is battery-powered and runs for 3-6 months on a charge. It has a MicroSD slot for video backups or optional offline recording, and it connects to your Wi-Fi network over a proprietary receiver, which is good news for people with weak Wi-Fi signals or large homes. And for a few bucks a month, you can subscribe to Wyze Cam Plus to unlock motion capture, person-detection, and 14-day cloud storage for your camera.
With all this goodness, it’s no wonder why we scored the Wyze Outdoor Cam a 9/10 in our detailed review. But the camera lacks some features that security-freaks crave, like 2K or 4K recording, a built-in spotlight, or automated person tracking. You gotta pay a lot more to get that CSI-type stuff!
A quick note: the Wyze Outdoor Cam immediately sold out at launch and won’t be back in stock until October. You can pre-order it through Wyze’s website today.
Best Premium: Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Calling all smart home nerds and security freaks! The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor features 130-degree 4K video, advanced tracking technology, an impressive night mode, and an AI-powered zoom mode that lets you magically enhance tiny details in an image.
Of all the security cameras available today, Nest-branded cameras offer the best smart home experience. They’re highly programmable with Google Assistant or Alexa setups, and they pair beautifully with smart displays like the Google Nest Hub.
Still, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is expensive as all hell, and its most important features (like advanced motion detection, automated tracking, and “person seen” phone notifications) hide behind a monthly Nest Aware or Nest Aware Plus subscription. Nest Aware subscriptions also increase the recording capacity of your Nest security camera, which doesn’t have an SD card slot for offline recording.
I should also mention that Nest Outdoor cameras are wired, not battery-powered. You don’t have to worry about recharging the battery (or replacing it if it wears out), but you may need to drill through your home to install the camera’s power cable.
Best Without a Monthly Fee: eufycam 2C
Anker really stepped up to the plate with this year’s fantastic eufycam 2C. It’s a stellar 2-camera kit with a 1080p 135-degree video resolution, two-way speakers, and facial recognition software. Each camera has a built-in spotlight, a 100-decibel siren, and a 180-day battery life.
But the best thing about the eufycam 2C is that none of its features hide behind a monthly fee. What you see is what you get. And because the eufycam 2C stores all of your footage locally, you don’t have to fight with finicky or insecure cloud storage platforms. (I wish all smart cameras did this.)
We gave the eufycam 2C a 9/10 in our review earlier this year, praising the system for its lack of monthly fees, its multiple mounting options, and its highly customizable software. It’s an incredible camera system, especially when it’s paired with eufy’s catalog of smart home products.
eufy Security, eufyCam 2C 2-Cam Kit, Security Camera Outdoor, Wireless Home Security System with 180-Day Battery Life, HomeKit Compatibility, 1080p HD, IP67, Night Vision, No Monthly Fee
The advanced eufycam 2C system features 1080p video, two-way audio, and a built-in spotlight. It stores all your footage locally, so you don't have to worry about monthly fees.
Best Floodlight Camera: Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight
Let’s take a trip to the future with the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight camera. It’s a 2K-capable camera with color night vision and a bright, beautiful motion-activated floodlight that’ll scare away pests and perps. It also has a built-in siren and an impressive 160-degree viewing angle that’s perfect for driveways, back yards, or narrow walkways.
The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight has a 6-month battery and easily mounts to the outside of your home. It’s an incredible security camera for day or night use, although you have to subscribe to an Arlo Smart Plan to view recordings. Otherwise, it’s just a live streaming camera with a built-in floodlight.
Best Doorbell Camera: The eufy Doorbell
Sometimes it’s best to stick with an affordable, straightforward home security solution. If you aren’t a fan of wacky cameras and floodlights, then replace your old-fashioned doorbell with a smart, camera-equipped eufy Doorbell.
The eufy Doorbell has an impressive 2K resolution with night vision and 2-way audio. When someone comes to your door, the eufy Doorbell sends you a notification with a picture of your guest. And like the eufycam 2C, the eufy Doorbell stores all your video locally, so you don’t have to fight with cloud storage or pay annoying monthly fees.
We gave the eufy Doorbell an 8/10 in our review, and it would’ve scored higher if we had the option for wireless installation. Still, wired smart doorbells are easy to install, especially when compared to smart cameras!
eufy Security, Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, 2K Resolution, No Monthly Fees, Local Storage, Human Detection, with Wireless Chime–Requires Existing Doorbell Wires and Installation Experience, 16-24 VAC, 30 VA
Keep security simple with the eufy smart Doorbell. With 2K video, face detection, and no monthly fees, it's an amazing piece of security equipment.