Best Outdoor Wireless Security Cameras 2020
Welcome to T3’s guide to the best wireless outdoor security cameras. Home security is a big deal; a good security camera can help you keep an eye on your garden, your porch, your path, and beyond. A camera can automatically capture video when it notices something moving – sometimes even picking out people specifically, so it doesn’t activate for your cat – and store that footage somewhere safe. If you ever need to call on one, you’ll be glad you installed a wireless camera.
Hooking up security cameras can be a big expense, and it can be a big pain in the rear, too. Wireless cameras at least alleviate part of the latter aspect, because they can be installed without you needing to run any cables through your walls or window frames. If your Wi-Fi stretches, you can also install them in unusual places, like on a tree or at the end of your garden looking towards the house.
There is, of course, a negative to be aware of when choosing a wireless outdoor security camera over a wired one: batteries don’t last forever. The best wireless security cameras are those which manage to combine a great image quality and coverage with long battery lives.
How to choose a wireless outdoor security camera
Look first to that battery, and take any stated durations with a pinch of salt. They’re usually theoretical maximums. To save power, wireless cams tend to stay static for the most part, only really firing up when they detect motion or you opt to use live view; the more they’re active, the shorter that battery life will be.
By the same count, you’ll want to point them somewhere they’re not likely to capture false positives too often. Pointing one directly at your front door might seem like a good idea, but if there’s a lot of regular foot traffic, or if the camera can spy you through the windows, you’ll get a lot of activations and a lot of unnecessary alerts.
Of course, pointing them somewhere nobody goes is a bit pointless, so find the right balance for you. Motion zones, which can block off detection in certain areas of the picture, aren’t common in wireless cameras because such processing is battery-intensive, so careful placement is more important than it might otherwise be.
We’d also suggest choosing a wireless security camera on the basis of convenience. How easy is it to juice back up? Some require the unit itself to be plugged in to recharge, some have bespoke replaceable batteries, some take off-the-shelf cells. A quick-swap battery is a must if you’re installing on your eaves, so you don’t need to make two trips up a ladder to keep it running.
And don’t forget the sensor. The ideal is something which is equally good in bright light and low light, something that can cope with the occasional reflection, and which has a wide angle on it to cover the most ground. Too wide and you might find recorded footage gets somewhat distorted, but this isn’t about movie-quality imagery: it’s about capturing what’s happened efficiently.
Best wireless outdoor security cameras: Best camera for most people
To be the best, a camera needs a combination of all those critical factors – great battery, a superior sensor, the whole lot – but it needs more besides. A great camera needs to hit the sweet spot of design and usability.
It needs to tick every security box it possibly can, and it needs to give up the goods fast: if you need to look at what’s happening on your security camera, you’re probably not planning to look at what’s happening in ten seconds’ time.
And the best wireless camera needs quality. Quality in design, quality in its app, quality in weatherproofing and construction. Our pick has all that and more besides.
T3’s best wireless outdoor security camera pick
• Read our full Arlo Pro 3 review
The T3 Award-winning Arlo Pro 3 tops our overall list of best security cameras, and it fully deserves its place at the top here. The only real downside is its price, which is certainly on the steep end; individual cameras are quite pricey in themselves, and you’ll need to spend extra on a pack including the central hub to get going in the first place.
Outside of the expense, though, it’s just about ideal. The sensor captures QHD HDR video with a rather useful 160-degree viewing angle, and its night vision capabilities are tremendous, with colour night vision adding a splash of chromatic brilliance to what would otherwise be black and white footage.
Each camera gets its own surprisingly bright spotlight and a siren, likely enough deterrent in itself to spook intruders, and if you catch someone in the act (or just want to greet someone at your front door) two-way talk is included too. There’s great motion detection which can distinguish between humans, animals, and vehicles – it’s a feature bonanza.
Bonus points to the design, too: the app, the cameras, and even the hub are brilliantly constructed, befitting the slightly premium price.
Best wireless outdoor security cameras: best 4K wireless outdoor security camera
As you up the resolution of a sensor, you up the potential of your security camera. The more pixels that the camera can capture, the more detail will be included in the final footage; that could be the difference between filming a blurry blob and being able to positively identify a face.
Not all high-res cameras are created equal. Many cameras lean heavily on interpolation, where they blend side-by-side pixels together, to be able to falsely claim a resolution far higher than their sensor can actually manage. It might look great from afar, but zoom in and you’ll see a smeary mess. If you’re really looking for resolution it’s out there – our pick being the shining example of the best you can get – just be careful not to always trust the numbers.
T3’s best 4K wireless outdoor security camera pick
The Arlo Ultra 4K does look a whole lot like the Pro 3, but it hits your wallet a whole lot harder, particularly given that you’ll need to opt for Arlo’s higher-tier subscription if you want to keep 4K recordings in the cloud. Unless you’re prepared to make a big investment in your security system, you’re likely to skip over it.
But that money gets you something special. When you come to use it, the difference between this and its 2K cousin is obvious: it’s super fast, both in pulling up a live view and in starting up two-way talk, and yes, there’s a big resolution bump.
You won’t necessarily get movie-quality 4K (we absolutely suspect there’s interpolation in action because things get smeary up close) but this is just about the best picture you can get from a security camera today. It’s colorful and sensitive, keeping daylight vision going far beyond many other cameras and doing a great job with its color night vision facility too.
It’s also highly configurable, with Arlo’s app giving you access to angle control on the lens right up to a full 180-degree fish eye, and offering up sensible alerts – the Arlo Ultra 4K can distinguish humans from animals, and even pick out packages if it’s pointed at your doorstep.
Best wireless outdoor security cameras: best budget wireless outdoor security camera
Cutting corners on price doesn’t necessarily mean cutting corners on your security. Invest in a set of cheaper cameras and you’re likely to be able to get many more for your money, increasing the amount of your home’s perimeter you can cover even if they do have a narrower field of vision or, as generally seems to be the case, lower-end sensors.
There are a lot (and we mean a lot) of budget cameras weaselling their way into stores like Amazon, but going with a no-name brand means putting a lot of trust into something that, well, we wouldn’t trust as far as we could throw it. If you’re picking something on the low end, make sure it’s something you’re confident in – and consider whether a wired cam might actually be a better option, given they can often be a bit cheaper than those with batteries.
T3’s best budget outdoor security camera pick
Blink is a brand recently acquired by Amazon, operating independently from its Ring security line, and the cameras couldn’t be more different; where Ring’s cameras tend to be on the more chunky end, Blink goes for a thinner, boxier approach.
The XT2 is super convenient, pulling a stated two years from a single pair of AA batteries, and with a camera-and-hub set starting at a fraction of the price of much of the competition, it’s cheap enough to consider a large network of coverage – particularly given that Blink’s indoor cameras can be found under £40/$40, and the Sync Module can cope with up to 10 cameras at once.
This doesn’t skimp on the features, either. Although the sensor only gives a 110-degree view, it’s a 1080p number with surprising quality to it, and there’s an infrared sensor built in for instant motion detection. Cloud storage is free, too – a very nice extra if you’re concerned about running costs.
You can do two-way talk, pull up a live view via Alexa, and even set up motion zones in the app – all very useful, and impressive given the price.
Best wireless outdoor security cameras: best outdoor camera for Alexa devices
Fumbling with an app when you want to see what’s happening outside is not something many of us would consider to be a pleasurable experience. But as our smart homes grow, we’ve got better ways to o things: namely, pulling up security camera footage on the screen of an Echo Show, or piping it straight to our TVs via a Fire TV device.
It’s like being a combination of super villain and night watchman. You can sit in your lair (or dank control room) and call up your camera whenever you desire, keeping tabs on all of your outdoor happenings without leaving your chair. Whether you cackle maniacally as you do so is entirely up to you, though we do recommend it.
T3’s best outdoor wireless security camera for Alexa devices pick
Ring is best known for its video doorbells, but the Amazon subsidiary has spun that expertise into making a mean security camera too. The wireless version of the Spotlight Cam doesn’t miss any crucial features; it can see in the dark just fine (particularly if you’re blazing that spotlight) it has motion detection and two-way talk, and its 1080p sensor is very decent if not world-beating in terms of resolution.
You might not be able to get away with just one Spotlight Cam patrolling your perimeter, although its 140-degree range of vision is pretty decent, and it’s not the absolute cheapest device in the world. But if you’re all bought into the Alexa ecosystem there’s a lot of convenience in its ability to show you what’s happening on a Fire TV device or Echo Show with one Alexa voice command. There’s also adjustable motion zones to cut down on false positives, and it takes battery packs for quick replacement.
One slight downside is that this isn’t waterproof, so you’ll need to fit it in your eaves or under a porch if you want it to last.
Best wireless outdoor security cameras: most weatherproof outdoor camera
The last thing you want is your security cameras going down in heavy weather. Realistically, if the spot you want to mount your camera gets battered by the elements often, something like the Ring Spotlight Cam above is not going to do you a lot of good.
You need something able to take a beating, and cheap enough to replace should the worst happen. Obviously we don’t recommend buying a camera that you expect to break, but it’s going to sting a lot less if you don’t have to shell out too much.
T3’s weatherproof wireless outdoor camera pick
Fully waterproof, with a solid sensor and quality night vision, the Kami Outdoor Camera is a decent option as long as you’re not looking for something inconspicuous: it’s certainly a chunky boy.
Much of that size is due to the fact that Kami’s camera takes swappable off-the-shelf 18650 batteries – the kind used in power tools and vape pens – though that means it’s quick to recharge, and finding replacement cells is easy enough.
In our full Kami Wire-Free Outdoor Camera review, we did notice a few issues with false positives and even the occasional false negative, and it can be a bit tight-fisted with the cloud storage if you don’t opt for a subscription, but you won’t be disappointed with the footage in general.