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The best outdoor home security cameras of 2019

CNET logo CNET 11/14/2019 Megan Wollerton
an old stone building © Chris Monroe/CNET

Outdoor home security cameras rely on the same tech as their indoor counterparts, but make everything work despite shifting temperatures, rain, wind and snow. We've tested a lot of weatherproof cameras and they come in a lot of different styles. 

For the purposes of this post, we're defining outdoor security cameras as any weatherproof livestreaming cam, from traditional cameras to smart doorbells -- and even smart light fixtures with built-in HD cameras

Read more: Best home security systems of 2019 (plus DIY kits, video doorbells and more)

Best overall outdoor security camera

Arlo Pro 3

© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The $500 Arlo Pro 3 (two-camera pack, plus hub) is an excellent camera. It has 2,560x2,560-pixel streaming, color night vision, 12x zoom, a built-in siren and a built-in spotlight. Out of the box, you get motion and sound alerts and access to the live feed.

Otherwise you do need to pay an optional monthly fee, starting at $3 a month for the Arlo Smart subscription service. Arlo Smart adds a bunch of additional features, including detection zones and advanced notifications (people, animal, vehicle and package). The $10 price tier adds in E911, a feature that lets you contact local law enforcement from the Arlo app, no matter where you are. 

The Arlo Pro 3 isn't cheap, but it's an excellent home security camera if you have the money to spend.

$500.00 AT BEST BUY

Best doorbell camera

Nest Hello

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Google's $229 Nest Hello smart video doorbell is the smartest buzzer we've tested. Complete with HD live streaming, night vision, a motion sensor -- and motion alerts and person alerts, it has a lot of smart capabilities even without paying for the Nest Aware cloud service.

With Nest Aware, you get to review saved video clips starting at $5 a month ($6 a month beginning next year). Nest Aware also unlocks access to the Hello's facial recognition feature. Add friends, family members and anyone else who regularly visits your home to your database in the app. Then, you'll get custom alerts whenever "Chris" or "Molly" shows up at your door.

Best outdoor light fixture/security camera

Ring Spotlight Cam

© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Chris Monroe/CNET

The Ring Spotlight Cam costs $199 and comes in both battery-powered and wired versions. I tested the wired version that plugs into a nearby outlet for a steady stream of continuous power. It comes with mounting hardware that's easy to install (note: the wired Spotlight Cam is wired, but not hardwired, meaning it doesn't replace an existing hardwired light fixture).  

The built-in spotlight adds in reliable security lighting for your yard that you can control on demand, schedule or set to turn on automatically when motion is detected. 

Ring motion zones and motion alerts are free, but you have to pay $3 a month to view saved clips in the app.

In summary

We've tested too many outdoor security cameras to list here, so be sure to check out my gallery below for an overview of all the models. It's worth noting that whatever Wi-Fi security camera you end up buying will only be as good as your home's network connection. If the connection is spotty, you might see pixelation in the feed, lag times and other related issues, so check your Wi-Fi speed before you start drilling holes in your walls. 

Read more: Best home security cameras of 2019

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How to buy the right security camera for you

50 outdoor cameras that take home security seriously

Ring has a new Stick Up Cam, the $180 Stick Up Cam Wired. This model has to be connected to its power adapter to work, but there's also a battery-powered version of this camera available for $180. The camera was easy to install and the app is simple to navigate, but Ring still charges an optional, but arguably necessary, monthly fee for access to a database of saved motion-related video clips.

Ring has a new Stick Up Cam, the $180 Stick Up Cam Wired. This model has to be connected to its power adapter to work, but there's also a battery-powered version of this camera available for $180. The camera was easy to install and the app is simple to navigate, but Ring still charges an optional, but arguably necessary, monthly fee for access to a database of saved motion-related video clips.
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