If you’re in the market for an outdoor wireless security camera, our buying guide will set you on the right path. We’ve also reviewed, rated and compared 3 of the top wireless outdoor security camera available today.
If you are looking to protect your property from intruders then an outdoor wireless security camera is one of the smartest purchases you could make. But, picking the right one for your needs and price range can be tricky when there are so many different makes and models available.
Having plenty of choice is a good thing, so long as you’re armed with the knowledge to make smart shopping decisions.
This buying guide will tell you everything you need to consider when choosing an outdoor wifi security camera.
We’ve also done the hard work for you by sifting through hundreds of models to find what we consider to be the top 3 available today.
4 key shopping essentials before we head out:
Before we dive into the features of outdoor wireless security cameras please bear these 4 essentials in mind.
1. Ensure your wireless network is up to scratch
Your wireless security camera needs to be connected to a wifi router to work. The router is responsible for sending the footage the camera captures to the cloud or to an app.
Without getting too technical – you need to make sure your wireless security camera is going to work well with your wireless router.
Wireless technology today is going to use one of three standards:
The g standard transmits data at a maximum rate of 54 megabytes per second. N transmits data up to a maximum of 600 megabytes per second. The most recent standard, ac will transmit data around 1300 megabytes per second.
Most wireless cameras today will transmit via n or ac.
The standards are compatible with each other, however the data transmission speed will be limited by the lowest standard.
This is important to consider as in most cases you are going to connect your security camera to a router that has multiple devices attached to it. More devices attached to your router will mean less bandwidth for each devices to transmit data. If your camera is going to stream in HD quality then it will require a lot of bandwidth.
Before purchasing a camera, check your router wifi standard. It will be printed somewhere on the router or the box. If not, a quick google search will tell you the wifi standard your router uses.
If you find your router is using the old g standard then you may want to consider upgrading to an n or ac router so that your home network will be able to cope with the increased data throughput.
Finally, older routers may not have a strong signal. If you plan on putting your camera outdoors then you will definitely want a modern router so that the transmission is strong enough to go through walls and objects.
2. Know your security objectives
Before you start comparing cameras, you need to have a clear idea as to what you need your wireless security camera to do.
What are your security objectives?
Where do you plan to place it? Do you need it for a holiday home? Is it going to be used to monitor a car on driveway?… How far away is the car? Is it to monitor the front door? Knowing your security objectives will help you choose the right camera, with the right features, to meet your needs.
You also need to decide how many cameras you need. If it’s just one or two then standalone cameras will work great for you.
However as soon as you start thinking about getting 4+ cameras then you may want to consider an outdoor wireless security camera system instead.
Wireless camera systems come with an NVR (network video recorder). The NVR holds the footage for every camera which enables you greater control and ease of viewing footage when running multiple camera systems.
3. Don’t look for the cheapest
When it comes to security, you need to best you can afford. There’s no point buying a wireless outdoor security camera if it’s going to break after 6 months. Or, if the picture quality is substandard.
You need a decent camera that’s going to work well and act as a potent deterrent to any would-be intruders. You also need to be able to rely on the footage the camera captures should you need it as video evidence.
4. Understand which features you need
Security cameras are a minefield of options and features. By knowing what you need, you’ll save yourself from paying for expensive features that you won’t use. There’s no point paying extra for internal storage if you plan on using cloud storage.
Don’t worry, we’ll show you what to look when reviewing wireless security cameras features.
Outdoor wireless security camera features explained – Everything you need to know
In this section – you will learn what the features do, how they benefit you and whether you need them.
Field of View
Every security camera has a field of view – this is expressed in degrees. A wide angled camera will enable you to see more either side of the camera than a short angled camera.
Most cameras will come with a field of view of at least 90 degrees. This will allow you to see 45 degrees to the left of the camera and 45 degrees to the right of the camera.
The field of view of the camera is determined by the length of the camera’s focal lense. This is specified in millimeters.
A long focal length will result in a narrow field of view and a high level of magnification. A short focal length will give you a wide field of view but low magnification.
How wide a viewing angle does your camera need? Do you need record a narrow drive way (in which case, a narrow field of view will be fine) or do you need to see as much of the back garden as possible? In which case you will want a wide field of view.
Security camera resolution
The higher the resolution, the better the picture. wireless security cameras are capable of capturing images in full HD. If you want the best picture possible then you will want to purchase a 1080p HD camera. However, you need to bear in mind that the higher the resolution – the more bandwidth you need on your wireless network and you will need more storage space.
Opting for a 720p HD camera is absolutely fine as you will still be capturing video in high definition.
If you are using your camera outdoors then chances are that you will want night vision. After all, the night is when most thefts happen.
The night vision range of the camera is important. Night vision ranges are usually expressed in feet. Make sure the range fits in with your requirements. If you need to be able to see far into the distance then make sure you pick a camera with a night vision range to match.
The best outdoor wireless security cameras are truly weatherproof. They are built to withstand wind, humidity, rain, direct sunlight, and will function in a wide range of temperatures.
There’s two things to look for when determining whether the camera will work in your environment.
Firstly you will want to look at the camera’s IP rating. IP stands for “ingress protection”
IP is expressed in two digits.
The first digit tells you how protected the camera is from foreign bodies like dust. The first digit runs on a scale of 0 – 6. The second digit will tell you how protected the camera is from moisture. The second digit runs on a scales of 0-8.
For most outdoor scenarios an IP rating of 66 and above is preferable.
Secondly, you need to check the operating temperatures of the camera. This will be expressed as a range – the coldest and warmest temperatures the camera can withstand. Whilst this won’t be an issue for most people (cameras these days are pretty good at functioning in cold/warm weather) If you live in a particularly cold or warm climate you will definitely want to factor this in.
Motion activation is an essential feature. Without it, your camera will always be recording. This will use up electricity and storage space. Motion activation will trigger your camera to you only start recording when it detects motion in its field of view.
Motion detection can work in a number of ways depending on the technology used. Some common ways a security camera can detect motion are:
The camera’s infrared detects a change in the temperature in the field of view
The camera detects a change in the frame by frame footage
Motion detection is limited by a range, expressed in feet. A good range is around 20 feet and above.
More advanced cameras will give you the option of setting up motion activation ranges and windows. This enables you to pick out specific parts in the camera’s field of view it should monitor for motion. An example of when this could be useful is if you want your camera to only start recording when it detects motion on your drive way (e.g. a car approaching your house) but not the rest of the front garden.
Outdoor wireless security cameras have a number of storage options:
- On board USB card
- Stream and save to your computer
- Upload to a server
- Upload to the cloud
- Upload to dropbox
One factor you need to consider is the length of time you plan on keeping recordings for. You don’t want to keep them for an unlimited amount of time otherwise you’ll end up with gigabytes of data.
Many people like the comfort of knowing they have a hard copy of their recordings on an SD card. But then again, if the card becomes corrupted for any reason then you lose your footage.
Having online storage is a safe bet.
Remote access and control via an app
Smartphone apps enable you to stream your camera’s footage and view recordings from your phone. This is great for when you are out and about and want to check in.
Some cameras will come with custom made apps for your specific camera, others will use more generic software such as the Anyscene app.
You may also be able to use the app to set recording times and motion alerts.
Push notifications are incredibly useful. For example, if the camera detects motion, it will send a notification or email to your smartphone. You will also be able to view the footage from your phone.
This enables you to respond quickly to any threats to your property. As soon as there’s an intruder, you could be phoning the authorities for assistance.
Outdoor wifi security camera power options
Whilst wifi cameras mean you don’t need to install cabling you still need to consider how you are going to power the unit.
You can either opt for a camera that plugs into an electrical socket or a camera that will run on batteries.
Battery powered Wi-Fi surveillance cameras have the benefit of not needing any wiring at all. However you need to ensure you have a stack of batteries on hand so you can refill without bringing your security camera offline for a significant period of time.
OK, so now that you have a better idea of what to look for when buying an outdoor wireless security camera, let’s take a quick look at three of the best.
Trivision NC-335PW HD 1080P
This system has only been available since mid-2015. Looking at several review websites, this camera is a bestseller. It has an average rating of just over four out of five stars
It comes with everything you could want out of an outdoor wireless security camera:
- 1080p HD resolution
- 90 degree field of view
- SD internal storage option as well as the ability to record to the cloud
- Push notifications
- Remote access via an app
- Motion activation
- Night vision
Not bad, but it is clear from the reviews that they are still debugging this relatively new surveillance camera. Several users found the software clunky and tricky to use. In addition, a few users had problems with the quality of the support offered. If you are a non-technical person then you may find it difficult to set it up.
Each camera is sold individually. Unfortunately, there is no discount offered for those who want to buy several cameras at once.
On the plus side, Trivision offers this camera in two configurations. With either a 4mm or a 6mm, focus length lens. The quality of the video is good – HD 1080P. Night vision is included, with a range of 30ft, and the camera can pick out a number plate at 30ft, in dark conditions.
The Phylink Bullet 1080P
This HD 1080P wifi outdoor security camera is simple to use. You just need the Anyscene App, which is free and works
The Phylink Bullet is a true night and day camera, which switches seamlessly between the two depending on the amount of light that is available. Unfortunately, at night, it only records footage up to 30ft away.
You can save the recordings in various ways, but there is no supported cloud storage available for this system. However, footage can be saved to a Dropbox account. These cameras can be set up to record continuously or only when the motion sensor is triggered.
At first glance, this camera appears to offer everything you want. However, there are limited reviews for this camera, so it is hard to get a proper understanding of just how good it is.
However, the fact that quite a few users struggled to set up the system and get support means it is not a camera we want to recommend.
The Arlo Smart Home system
Finally, we look at the Arlo Smart Home HD security camera, which is our current favourite. This system offers you a
You can buy a kit with between one and five cameras as well as add-on cameras. The more units you buy the less you pay for each one.
Included in the price is free cloud storage to store up to 7 days of footage.
Whilst the Arlo is not full HD (it is only 720p) the images still come out crystal clear.
The Arlo system comes with its own smartphone app – which enables you to not only view the camera but to also control them.
Set up is very easy and takes under 2 minutes (this is great if your non-technical)
They also come with magnetic mounts so positioning your cameras is a breeze.
What are the best wireless outdoor security cameras?
We believe these three outdoor wireless home security cameras are the best available right now. They all work, but the Arlo Smart Security Camera is just that bit better than the other two due to its ease of setup and it’s great smartphone app.
In addition, the Arlo system is constantly being updated and improved. There is the option to buy several wifi outdoor security cameras in a kit, which means each camera costs less. Therefore, currently, we feel that this is the best outdoor wireless security camera for home users.
You can read our full Arlo Wi-Fi security camera review here, and learn more about its capabilities.