Outdoor Security Cameras- so many choices

Outdoor cam-sm

I wrote a post recently and found that I was not alone in needing outside security cameras so to help me make sense of the choices I’ll share what I’m looking at. I’ve been compiling this post since then but finally made the time to look up the last of the ones on my list. Maybe you can benefit from my hours and hours of reading and research— we shouldn’t ALL have to go through that! Check marks by the ones I’ve narrowed down to.

If you are not interested in security cameras you can skip this post.

There is lots of copy and pasting of info in this post so I could compile the info in one place to compare. It is a little like a non-fiction book in a way…. all the info is available for everyone, but it is all in one place with my thoughts added here.

I have some places I’d like a camera that would require batteries, so probably with a solar charging panel for ease. I think almost all my prime locations would require outdoor receptacles to be added. I see Logitech makes a mount that suctions or magnet to your window, but all of our windows are double pane windows and I already know from using inside netcams faced to the outside, that I get notification every time the sun changes, plus there is a reflection of the camera in the glass at certain times during the day that seriously hinders the view.

What I’m looking for:

Goes outside.
Does not need to be hooked up to ethernet (after setup or power outage).
Does not require a monthly subscription for most features.
That emails you video and or still photos when motion is detected.
That lets you set motion areas so wind blowing trees doesn’t trigger alerts.
Set sensitivity
Night vision or at least a motion light that comes on so you can clearly see.
Heat/people detection for humans and animals, like smart AI would be a plus
Does not need batteries changed more than at most 4x per year.
I prefer wired but a battery back up would be nice during outages.
Cameras that are easy to set up and work with my wireless router and wifi.
The timelapse end of day brief to view just movement is neat. recapping the most important moments of your day

What I don’t want:

The need to physically reset something on the camera after a power failure.
A camera that sends lots of false positives because it’s not smart enough or that misses small animals.
Too short of a save time of the videos on the free no subscription plan. Some had a 2 hour save time. If there is damage, I want to be able to go back and look for at least 24 hours.
Spotty wifi coverage.
Too narrow a field of view.
Phone notifications every time the sun changes or the wind blows.

I have indoor D-Link netcams that I like. They could have a wider FOV than the 54.9° and they are standard 640×480 def instead of HD but they work. When I went to look up the FOV I saw others had attached a cell phone clip on a wide angle lens to increase the view so I may try that. I can view live with sound. I get emails with 6 snapshots or video when (any) motion is detected. They work in the day or night with 16′ IR. You can set detection areas. There is no subscription for all the features. I can view on my phone or computer and get alerts. The D-link uses my computer, my email etc and there are no ongoing charges. Problem is the D-Link outdoor netcams had really poor ratings and people like me that were happy with the indoor netcams were not pleased with the performance of the outdoor security cameras.

I wanted the same features or better, for outside so I could turn all my indoor cameras back into a kittycams, which is what I bought them for. I had 9 Linksys cameras when I still had my furniture store to watch Skeamer and I could set the screen to see all 9 at one time. Unfortunately, they became impossible for me to configure and I switched to D-Link.

We have floodlights already mounted that do not have a PAR base and they’re on a  switch. We don’t want the lights on all the time and opted to put them on a switch and not go with motion lights. With our scaredy cat if we ever accidentally hit that alarm we’d have to peel him off the ceiling or drag him out from under the bed and get him therapy or Prozac.


FLOODLAMP (lightbulb)

Starting with the easiest, we have the floodlight bulbs by Sengled Gen G2/S2 floodlamps with cameras that sound the simplest to install. $140 or 2 for $250. I would only consider the second generation. Unscrew your floodlight, screw in one of these to any PAR fixture. They work through wi-fi and use the power from the lightbox. The problem was our lights are switched so there is the potential to anciently turn them off. We could however just replace the floodlight base. Some reviews said it was motion, some said the light was always on. Some said the light would turn back off, some said they had issues and the light stayed on. Subscriptions have person detection, motion zones and cloud storage for 30 days. I am not seeing the field of view listed. 1080p HD Video With Live View, Two-Way Audio, Unlimited Video Streaming, Basic Motion Detection, mobile alerts, 2.4GHz only 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHzWEP, WPA, WPA2 , 1 year warranty, 3000 K temp, 850 lumens 60 w equiv. 36 degree beam angle,140degree FOV, -4 F to 104 F. Since we’d have to buy a new fixture base anyway, I skipped past these.

Pros: Easy. No power cord or batteries needed. If you don’t want people to see you a have a security camera these are probably the least obvious.
Cons: No Dimmers, Power Always On, No Weak Wi-Fi, No Motion Sensors, Not true night vision as it the light comes on when it detects movement.  Subscription charge per snap is a whopping $14.99 per month, if I read it correctly for full service.  They are made of plastic. Reviews said you occasionally had to take them down to get to the reset button. I don’t know about your house, but at ours, that would mean dragging a tall ladder out each time. You can not block out areas to not detect motion like trees blowing in the wind.


 

FLOODLIGHTS Power to the lightbox must remain on.

√ Ring Floodlight 4 star rating $250 for a 2 light on 1 base/camera. They also have packs 2/$460, 3/$670, 4/$850. Has logo clearly on it. It looks to be the most obvious security floodlight to me. Can’t decide if that is a good or bad thing. I think Ring offers about the least free services without a subscription. They do offer a bundled subscription so instead of $30 each per year, you can have a subscription at one address for all your Ring products for $100 per year but I don’t like ongoing fees.  11×8.25×7 4.75 mounting base, 1080P HD, Live View, Night vision (in color), 270° 30′ custom motion zones adjustable mount, FOV 140 degrees, siren, two-way audio, 2-3000K floodlights, zoom and pan, alarm, requires min upload speed of 1Mbps, but 2 Mbps is recommended, 802.11 b/g/n wifi connection at 2.4 GHz only, -22F to 120F weather resistant, can mount to wall or ceiling, 1 year on parts, theft protection. Read it can be set to dusk to dawn. Pros: Highly rated. Wide angle of view. No power cord or batteries needed. Cons: NO SAVED VIDEO WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION (not even a few hours) Price, subscription fees, minimum/recommended upload speed. See the Ring Spot Light Cams below.

√ RCA floodlight  3.25 stars $180 for a 2 light on 1 base floodlight. If you lose power you lose network and have to reset manually. Your wifi must support 2.4 Ghz. Several reviews said the wifi was hard to set up. 1080p HD, Free recording on the included 16gb micro SD card, 3MP res, 3000K 2500LM motion and remote-activated LED lights and 110-decibel alarm, mobile viewing, free video recording, two-way talk, 180° vertical FOV / 140° camera view, 60’ night vision and smart motion detection, all-weather design 
Pro: No power cord or batteries needed. Infrared night vision. No monthly fees. They allow notifications. You can block out areas to not detect motion. Con: NO SAVED VIDEO WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION (not even a few hours) Night vision distance is less than daytime. Manual reset on light.

Maximus floodlight  3.25/4 stars $200 for a 2 light on 1 base floodlight. Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. 8.9×8.8×12.1 5000Kelvin 1080p HD camera, 155° diagonal field of view, light beam angle 150, adjustable lens 40°,  2-way talk, React directly in the App, see exactly what happened and respond, call 911, or sound 100dB siren alarm, light controls, motion activated, dusk-to-dawn, turn on/off using kuna app, full-color video capture at night. Weatherproof, Quick connect installation plate no additional wiring needed,  Dual wifi frequency 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Con: and it’s a biggie… without a monthly subscription, you only have 2 hours to view the video and can only download 3 per month. So if you’re sleeping and your property is damaged at 2am when you get up in the morning you couldn’t see the video.  Not true night vision as it the light comes on when it detects movement.  Subscription is $5 per month per fixture if I read it right.  They are made of plastic. Reviews said you occasionally had to take them down to get to the reset button.

Freecam L810 $90 3 star rating with more 1 star than 5 star!  Suspicious object analysis algorithm. On board micro SD listed but some said it didn’t have it,  Reviewers said app crashed often, directions were poor. 10.4×7.3×6.9 1080HD Video With Live View, 180°Wide-angle PIR infrared body sensor can detect body within 12 Meters and have the light turns on automatically; L/M/H 3 level motion detection sensibility with 64 Motion detection zones can be set thru the app for further reduction of false alert, 2.4 GHz. Customizes motion zones, says no subscription in one place and another says subscription through Lifestyle app CAMB. I’m skipping this one because of the reviews.


Outdoor security cameras (not floodlights)

Swann was recommended by a friend because that is what they use. They were also the first I saw with solar panels. When I filled out their form, which doesn’t ask you enough to really narrow it down, it recommended an 8 channel 4 camera with DVR. I only wanted to see the powered wireless. It looks like they were more into wired CCTV. I don’t like that I had to look up each of the darn 13 cameras just to see if it did what I needed.

SWVID-OBC140 Battery 50′ trail cam had 1 star rating for $70.

√ SWWHD-OUTCAM $160 for 2. 1080p Wi-Fi Outdoor Security Camera 1080p HD, day & night, Weatherproof, 100′ Night Vision, Audio Capture, True Detect 32′ Heat & Motion Sensing Connect in minutes to your existing Wi-Fi network or use the Ethernet port for a wired connection. No need for a hub or DVR. Receive push notifications if activity is detected & playback video clips with audio, all on your smartphone. See everything thanks to a wide 110° viewing angle & 100ft/30m night vision. Free Local Storage. Save up to 7 days (hundreds) of short video clips to the camera’s built-in memory. Enjoy 2 days of free storage to secure cloud with the ability to expand that to 30 days^ & many more clips.

SWNVK-490SD2  $250 for 2, 4 Channel 1080p Wireless Security System NVR NVW-490, 16GB Micro SD Card, 2 x Wi-Fi Thermal Sensing Cameras Wireless Video Signal. The cameras plug into power while their video signal back to the NVR is wireless, making installation easy, See & Hear Everything with 1080p Full HD. With a built-in microphone & speaker, you can listen, talk back & record audio. Night vision up to 115ft / 35m & the ability to see color video at night.  Swann’s True Detect™ heat & motion detection records & sends push notifications when it detects heat from warm objects, like people & cars. See live or playback video on the AlwaysSafe app. Local recording for up to 30 days+ onto the included 16GB Micro SD card, with no fees ever. As True Detect only records motion with heat, storage need is drastically reduced. The 16GB Micro SD card lowers the kit’s cost to you. Upgrade to any Micro SD card up to 128GB or an external HDD up to 4TB if you need more storage.  Add 2 more NVW-490 cameras for full 4 channel monitoring at $100 ea.

√ SWNVK-490KH2 $270 for 2.  Same as 490SD2 above except it’s a 1TB HD for just $20 more, and you have local recording for up to 365 days+ onto the pre-installed 1TB hard drive with no fees ever. The massive 1TB HDD can store months of recordings before it starts saving over older footage. Easily transfer videos to a USB stick or download via network with no ongoing fees ever. Add 2 more NVW-490 cameras for full 4 channel monitoring at $100 ea. You can even add the indoor Wi-Fi Pan & Tilt Security Camera and see all cameras under the same AlwaysSafe app.

SWNVK-490KH4 $480.00 same as 490KH2 above but w. 4 cameras for $210 more

SWWHD-INTCAM $100 1080p Wire-Free ie:battery. Swann does offer solar panels

If we ever build again the next house is getting more ethernet and more plugs while under construction!

√ Logitech Circle 2 $162+ for one.  This is the camera that can come with a (one-time adhesive) window attachment. $350+ *$60=$410 for 2 wired (10′ cord) and 1 widow. Indoor/Outdoor camera may require accessories to use outside. The camera is described as weatherproof, yet the USB port is exposed unless you buy the optional, 25-foot, weatherproof extension for $30ea* which includes a protective case.  Push notifications only for iOS!! Nothing via text or email with a thumbnail image of the motion detected. Full HD, free 24 hour AES 256 Bit Dual Layer Encryption secure cloud storage stores the footage in private cloud and works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and The Google Assistant, time-lapse day brief (30 second timelapse of your footage from the day), smart alerts (push notifications), talk and listen, motion filtering.  180° wide angle w. night vision up to 15′.  Every Circle 2 security camera is digitally signed. Key features include: 1080p full HD video, 180-degree wide-angle view, Night vision up to 15-feet, Free 24-hour secure cloud storage, Free smart alerts with snapshots, Two-way talk speaker and microphone. I read it should reconnect after a power outage on its own. ADVANCED PAID FEATURES include Person Detection, Motion Zones, custom Time-lapse Day Briefs and additional days of storage

Ring products provide their standard features (instant alerts, live view, two way talk, and so on) without any subscription. Ring Protect Plans offer additional features. Ring plans are $10@month for all Ring at one address or $3@month for one camera. The free plan lacks video recording…NO SAVED VIDEO WITHOUT SUBSCRIPTION (not even a few hours), alarm, and a few things that don’t matter to me.  Not sure if it’s push notifications on your cell only or if you get an email or text? Ring floodlight is written about up top in “floodlights.” I found Ring gutter mounts and silicone colored covers too. Both Stick Up Cam Battery and Spotlight Cam Battery are powered by a quick-release battery pack, and they’re also compatible with Ring Solar Panel. Both Stick Up Cam Solar and Spotlight Cam Solar come with Ring Solar Panel and a battery pack. However, Stick Up Cam Wired and Spotlight Cam Wired differ slightly in how they receive power. Both Stick Up Cam Wired and Spotlight Cam Wired can connect to standard power outlets, but Stick Up Cam Wired also has an option for power over Ethernet sold separately. Ring Chime Pro, Indoor Chime and Wi-Fi Extender ONLY for Ring Network Devices Chime Pro extends your Ring network and amplifies alerts.
Boosts Wi-Fi for all Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras.
Plugs into any standard power outlet.

√ Ring Stick Up Cam $180 for one (2/$330, 3/$480, 4/$609) wired/plug-in, they also offer battery $200ea and solar panel $230ea) 1080p HD video, 2-way talk, indoor/outdoor power supply included, customizable motion detection (on wired version only) micro USBmotion activated notifications, night vision. 150° horizontal, 85° vertical, -5° – 120°, Stick Up Cam Wired can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and can be powered via plug-in or Power over Ethernet (Poe Adapter sold separately). Stick Up Cam has an adjustable mounting bracket lets you place your device on any flat surface so you can move it when you need to, or you can mount it on a wall or ceiling when you need more permanent placement. No lights on this one, but there is the Spotlight cams and floodlight cam.

Ring Spotlight Cam$200 is a motion activated security light, so I guess it technically could’ve went up top with the floodlights. It has 140° FOV camera 270° motion detection with smart alerts to your phone. With built-in spotlights and night vision. Live View on-demand video and audio.  802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connection @ 2.4GHz. -22°F to 120°F. 1 year warranty. Spotlight Cam is an outdoor security camera with LED light strips that give you a clear image of your property at any time of day. It features a secure mounting bracket that allows you to set up your device on any wall, ceiling, eave, etc. 

Ring Spotlight Cam Mount $250.ea, 2pk for $459. Spotlight Cam Mount in black or white, is hardwired.  With three secure mounting options, it connects to any outdoor electrical box for non-stop power. Replaces hardwired security lights Comes with 3 flush-mounted brackets. siren, lights, 140° FOV, 4.96 in. x 2.72 in. x 2.99, -20°F to 120°F, in 1080p HD, Live View, Night Vision, Custom Motion Zones, 2-way audio, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connection @ 2.4GHz, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connection @ 2.4GHz, 1 yr warranty, not seeing night vision FOV. I read a review of someone who had this and the Ring floodlights (same price) and they said the light (375 lumens vs/ 1800 on floodlight) and coverage is less (specs say both are140° horizontal, 78° vertical), and this one has reduced night vision capability. The floodlight offers video zoom and panning. I guess this is available for people that need it to be smaller than the floodlight.

√ Canary Flex. $305 for two. The coloring on these is odd unless you want all black because on the white housing they have a big black face. 116° FOV They are wire-free or plugged in w. an 8′ outdoor power cable. Started out with no subscription fee with all the features then changed it to $10@month for full features. Lots of unhappy customers!  4° to 113° Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) HD Video, Day & Night – Wide-angle lens, auto night vision with image pan and zoom AI-powered Intelligence- Person detection & zone masking (is better on subscription) / smart alerts included free (up to 4 cameras), No Hubs, WiFi-Enabled – All Canary devices integrate in the Canary app, 360 Magnetic Base mounts on wall, stands upright or you can buy the $30 Canary Secure Mount with screws,  Built-in rechargeable battery with optional power cable included two-way Canary talk (with subscription) capable for real-time conversations. When motion is detected, Canary records HD video/audio and sends a 30-second clip to your phone (clips are free, full video is subscription). All video is securely stored with AES 256-bit encryption and accessible for 24 hours w/o subscription.

Nest Cam IQ outdoors $350 is highly rated.  Talk and listen HD, up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) at 30 frames/sec, H.264 encoding, HDR with intelligent imaging “super sight”  12x digital zoom and enhance. Activity zones 130° diagonal FOV,  Night Vision, High-power 850nm infrared LEDs, 40° to 113°F. 128-bit AES with TLS/SSL 802.11b/g/n/ac @ 2.4GHz, 5GHz (WEP, WPA, WPA2), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 802.15.4 @ 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz or 5GHz (WEP, WPA, WPA2 encryption supported). Working broadband internet connection with at least 2 Mbps upload speed PER camera recommended. Cameras will use more bandwidth to stream video when there is more motion in the scene. If you subscribe to Nest Aware ($5 to $30 @month), your camera streams all video to the cloud for secure offsite storage and has familiar face alerts, 24/7 cloud recording for 30 days.  You can adjust your camera’s video quality to use less bandwidth and monthly data. If you miss an alert, you can always see activity from the last three hours in the Nest app. 2 yr warranty.

Nest Cam (not IQ) $180 
Person alerts only with Nest aware, standard talk and listen, no supersight.

I think both Nest cams are phone alerts only, not email or text. Nest has some unusual installation instructions and even though it is an outdoor camera you still have to buy stuff to use it outside. They suggest: Open a window, route the (25′) power cord through, then close it. Drill through your exterior wall and plug it into an indoor outlet. Plug it into an outdoor outlet with the Weatherproof Power Adapter for Nest Cam IQ outdoor. Sold separately $50.

ArloPro2 by Netgear $380 for 2 plus outdoor cords and mounts +$75.00= $455. 4 star rating. Outdoor camera that does not come with an outdoor power plug or mount. It has a required base station that requires a direct wired ethernet connection to your home’s router but recommends it is not kept in the same room as the router. -4° to 113°, 130° viewing angle, alarm. Use it wire-free with the rechargeable battery, or solar panel but the features are reduced when not wired. Wired- plug it into an indoor power outlet. 1080p HD, activity zones, Sound and Advanced Motion Detection, 3-second Look Back, IR night vision, Arlo Pro 2 comes with the Arlo Basic plan and lets you keep the past 7 days of motion- and sound-triggered recordings storing them in your cloud library, for up to 5 cameras per account. Connect a USB drive to the Arlo Pro 2 base station for optional local backup storage- security plans with more features start at $3@month, Works with Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, IFTTT & Stringify. Receive instant notifications, view past recordings.  Expand your security system up to 20 cameras per account. Smart scheduling sets Arlo’s work schedule to fit yours with geo-fencing, & custom modes. Share access to Arlo. Requires high-speed Internet connection – minimum 1Mbps upstream recommended, and an available port on your router. Con. Some say ArloPro2 goes offline often and needs resetting and that the night vision is not as good (at25′)  as in the ArloPro which does not have activity zones.

Ezvizlife has 3 outdoor cams. C3W ezGuard wifi $100ea, C3S Husky not wifi $80ea and C4S $130 Husky Dome according to their website but there isn’t a compare feature and they were not readily available on Amazon so I passed on these after reading on TheWireCutter.com that the motion detector was touchy and delivered a barrage of alerts. You can use the SD card for free or subscribe to cloud service for this camera. Cloud subscription for 7 day playback starts at $6@month. I read “you have to pay for a subscription to use all the features. can’t seem to get the motion the camera records to playback on my iPhone. You can see a still capture, but not the video. I believe the playback is only available when you pay the subscription” C3W ezGuard with wifi is the only one I looked at. -22°F ~ 140°F 2.8mm@ F2.2, Horizontal angle: 103° Diagonal angle: 118° 4mm@ F2.0, Horizontal angle: 87° Diagonal angle: 104° 6mm@ F2.0, Horizontal angle: 54° Diagonal angle: 62° 1920×1080, 1080p Video, ICR infrared filter enables excellent night vision up to 30 meters, 2.4 GHz, supports micro SD, recommend that you reserve 1Mbps upload speed per EZVIZ device on your network. All say power cord is short at 3′ to 4’6″. Some complaints about motion detection areas not working and getting tons of alerts.


There are a ton of outdoor security cameras. I saw lots from Blink and YI and other top brands, but I’ve hit my spreadsheet geekiness and just wanted to pick one and be done. You can get ones that require a DVR type device (DVR Vs. NVR) that I don’t think require a subscription but I think most of those are all wired PoE, not wifi. You can get completely wireless ones that require batteries and work over wifi. Some of those come with solar panels.

I don’t want to change batteries but I also don’t really want to run power cords or ethernet cords. I don’t like the idea of having to drag out a ladder to reset them either.

I took my laptop and old S4 cellphone outside to see how far I could get on wifi without the signal dropping. At the far edge of the house, the signal dropped to “fair”. BTW the 2.4 GHz seems to be a common requirement. Thankfully my router is dual bands.

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