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Best outdoor security camera: keeping your back yard safer this winter

gardening etc. logo gardening etc. 12/16/2021 Caroline Preece
best outdoor security camera: Ring Spotlight Cam © Provided by gardening etc. best outdoor security camera: Ring Spotlight Cam

Even though most of us can only dream of going on a long vacation away right now, it's still vital to make sure our home security is the best it can be. Keeping safe is as important now as it ever has been, and you can give yourself that extra peace of mind with the best outdoor security camera for your home.

As well as acting as a deterrent to criminals who might otherwise target your home, these cameras will also allow you to view the action from outside should something happen. 

Many will offer cloud storage so you can keep footage for longer, and outdoor cameras also boast weatherproof designs that ensure it will keep working through rain, snow, a heatwave, or high winds.

Choosing a security camera for your home can be a challenge, so we have assembled some of the leading products and looked closely at their offerings from wired and wireless installation, picture quality, and reliability.

Scroll down to see what we thought and, if you're looking for more top picks for your backyard or outdoor space, take a look at our roundup of the best outdoor projectors.

The best outdoor security cameras 2022

Awarded the top spot in our guide, and the best option for garages, the Ring Spotlight Cam combines a security camera with a light, plus deterrent functionalities to boot. It's (now) pretty reasonably priced, too.

How it performs

The Spotlight Camera will shoot and record footage from the entrance to the garage in brilliant 1080p HD video. This is further supported by a 140-degree wide-angle camera lens which will cover the ground at the front and sides. As day turns to night, 1080p infrared night vision sets in which will ensure you're covered even with the lights off.

The integrated motion-activated spotlight works in harmony with the infrared night vision to give you that crisp video around the clock. Motion sensors are adjustable and you can even set an alert for each time motion is detected, so you're always in the know.

Anything else?

For added security, there's a security siren alarm to scare off intruders and two-way audio so you can communicate with anyone on your property all through the very impressive app. Available in wired or wireless options, you can opt for the best solution for you.

Gardeningetc rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight builds on Arlo's reputation for creating some of the best security cameras with a floodlight option, which adds an entirely new level of safety to your outdoor system. It's also wireless, which means you can pretty much place it anywhere without worrying about connecting it to the mains power.

How it performs

The bright and generously sized floodlight surrounding the Pro 3's camera allows it to record clear, full-color video even in the pitch black of night, meaning you won't miss any of the action. It can also differentiate between cars, people, and any animals that may be about, so it won't be set off by a stray fox or wandering cat.

The 2K video gives you a crystal clear view of whatever is going on and, unlike the Netatmo Presence floodlight camera below, night vision captures color footage. The big downside is storage, which requires you to subscribe for cloud access or purchase an Arlo base station and microSD card.

The clarity does mean zooming is a little more user-friendly, giving the camera an ability to 'auto zoom' into zones of activity it detects. You can customize these motion zones so as not to wear out the batteries looking at your neighbor's driveway, and the app also gives you the ability to change what types of notifications you receive. 

You can even change how bright the floodlight is which, at 2000-3000 lumens, is incredibly bright by default. Left alone, the light will sit at 70% brightness, but you can shift this down as far as 5%.

Subscription

A subscription won't just get you cloud uploads for 30-days, but also the ability to integrate the camera with your Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, or Samsung SmartThings home set-up. Then there are smart notifications and live streaming. Basically, Arlo makes it worth your while to sign up.

Anything else?

Arlo claims that the battery in the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight will last six months, but this is probably a stretch if it gets frequent use. Because constantly removing and charging the interior battery could get tedious, you might want to look into purchasing a solar charger to make things a little easier.

Gardeningetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Next up on our list for the best outdoor security cameras is the Ezviz C3N. It's a great choice of camera which shoots and records in color, and is ideal if you're on a tight budget.

How it performs

Equipped with two built-in spotlights, two infrared (IR) lights, and optical lenses, the C3N displays an incredibly sharp 1080p image, even on the darkest of nights. So that you can see in color the lights stay on unless you opt to have the lights come on when motion is detected or black-and-white footage which will turn off the spotlights.

To add to the accuracy of the night vision, the embedded AI algorithm will detect the option of human shapes in real-time so you can easily determine who (or what) has come onto the driveway.

Anything else?

The spotlights, two-way audio, and siren can all be controlled through the intuitive Ezviz app. Available as a wired option, only. During the registration process, you are prompted to subscribe to CloudPlay storage (free for the first 23 days, then a fee from £2.99 will be incurred depending on your choice of plan), which will give you more options.

Gardeningetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you want an outdoor security camera with compatibility with your existing smart home, then the Swann Xtreem wireless camera is a safe bet. Working with both Alexa and Google Home, it's also completely wireless with up to six months of battery life before needing a recharge.

The camera is compact and simple to set up and even offers free recordings without the added cost of a subscription. You can use it either indoors or outdoors, but the heat and motion detection features are obviously best utilized in the backyard or front porch area.

Smart security

When the camera needs to be charged, you can simply remove it from the mount (to which is attached via a strong magnet) and plug it in. All other settings can be found in the Swann app, though when testing we found that the live view was very slow to respond and a little unreliable as a result. 

One big selling point of the Swann Xtreem is the built-in siren, which can be set to be triggered by motion or manually activated via the app, and the voice control element. If you already have a smart speaker at home, you can ask the assistant to do everything from activate live view on a screen, or take a recording.

Gardeningetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Our second favorite outdoor security camera with its own floodlight, this wired option from Netatmo comes complete with a 1000 lumen floodlight and 105dB siren to help deter unwanted visitors and protect your property whether you're home or away.

Setting it up

Installing the camera is relatively simple providing you have an existing outdoor light that can be replaced. If so, the Netatmo Presence can be hooked up to the same wiring, ensuring that it is close enough to your internet hub to pick up a strong signal. If this isn't an option, our advice would be to hire a professional to install everything (assuming you're not a dab hand at electronics!).

How it performs

The floodlight is the unique selling point here, adding additional security that will really boost the use cases for your camera. You can also get a model of the camera with a loud siren that can be manually operated if you see something you don't like happening outside.

The security camera has a 100-degree field of view with a detection distance of 20m during the day. Infrared helps it see at night, picking up on motion and filming as needed. It can differentiate between things like vehicles, animals, and people, and you can set custom motion zones – sparing you of any notifications about your neighbors or a wayward fox passing through. 

The lack of a subscription is a real boon here, meaning you won't need to fork out additional costs for video storage. Instead, the Netatmo camera has a MicroSD slot for a card up to 32GB, or you can hook your account up to a Dropbox account or other FTP server for storage in the cloud.

How it's designed

You shouldn't expect the Netatmo Outdoor Security Camera to blend into the outside of your home, as it's designed as much as a deterrent as anything else. The sturdy casing does mean it will withstand harsh weather, however, with IPX7 standard protection and the ability to cope with temperatures between -20°C and 50°C.

How to choose the best outdoor security camera

How do outdoor security cameras work?

A camera of this nature will operate via your home Wi-Fi or its own hub to live-stream footage of any outdoor activities. The majority of the cameras are available in at least a standard definition and go up to 4K ultra high definition – the higher the definition the clearer the image quality will be. The camera will work the same way during the day as it does at night time (if the camera offers nighttime vision).

You can then view the live footage using an app on your smartphone or tablet, or revisit recordings either saved in dedicated storage clouds or short clips which are triggered by motion detection.

What makes a security camera suitable for outdoor use?

All security cameras which claim to be suitable for outdoor use, including those which feature in this guide, are weatherproof and can be installed on a building's exterior. This does often mean that some handy DIY is required by either you or an electrician, depending on whether you opt for a mains-powered or battery-powered camera. They should also be placed high up the wall so they can't be stolen. 

The best outdoor security cameras offer a great way to keep an eye on all your outbuildings (sheds, garages, etc) or the driveway, especially when you're not at home so the footage can be used as evidence should the worse happen.

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