A good home security system offers peace of mind due to real home security plus a ton of convenience in everyday life. With the astronomical rise in smart home technology, building your own is as easy and affordable as it's ever been. Most of the top home security cameras support all major smart technology ecosystems, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and they're easy enough for even smart home beginners to figure out without difficulty.
Outdoor security cameras to meet your needs and budget
A value that's hard to beat
Kasa is known for a wide-ranging selection of easy-to-use smart devices, and the KC420WS is no exception. Its 2K resolution, two-way audio, and optional cloud and SD card storage make it one of the most versatile options available. To top it off, it's not even very expensive.
- Above-average resolution
- User-friendly setup
- Impressive night vision
- No battery-powered version
Like Kasa's popular smart plugs, the KC420WS makes effective smart home technology available at a surprisingly low cost. It boasts nearly every feature you could need from a capable smart security camera, including dependable motion detection, consistent notifications, and two-way audio with a built-in siren. The company's advanced Starlight sensor provides some of the best night vision on the market, thanks in part two dual integrated spotlights that help colors pop even when it's dark out.
You're also afforded the choice of reasonably priced cloud storage or local microSD card recording, which isn't the case with many competitors. The only nitpicks you could possibly have are its lack of a floodlight and wired power requirement. Otherwise, it's hard to top this one as the best for most people.
As affordable as they get
A minor upgrade over its predecessor, the Wyze Cam v3 remains the top low-cost choice for smart home enthusiasts. It supports the top two voice assistant ecosystems and, unlike some, can continuously record for 24 hours per day. Although it lacks a few premium features, it's still a great buy.
- Convenient user experience
- Reliable motion detection zones
- Full HD color night vision
- Annoying microSD recording "cooldown" requirement
We loved the Wyze Cam v2 in our hands-on review, and the v3 is every bit as good, though it is more of an iterative refresh than a major update. But that's not a huge concern, as the original was fantastic, and the new model is just as affordable. The 1080p picture is remarkably clear whether it's night or day, and it's easy to set up motion detection zones and alerts.
Our only gripe with the Wyze Cam v3 is its microSD card storage. If you set it to start recording when it detects motion, or if you periodically tell it to record manually, it needs a 5-minute cooldown period before it can start again. To work around this, you can set it to record continuously, but you will then have to search out specific time stamps to pull up relevant video clips. The other option is to use Wyze's refined cloud storage, with is both secure and moderately priced.
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera
Full feature set and great video quality
Consider the Arlo Pro 4 if you're looking for pristine video quality but don't want to shell out several hundred dollars for a complex system with a wireless base station. Its high resolution and HDR capabilities make the recordings easy to see in any lighting conditions, and it takes just minutes to set up and program.
- Compact design
- Conveniently battery powered
- Distinguishes between humans, animals, and vehicles well
- Not quite as premium as the newer 5S
- Requires a subscription to access all features
The Arlo Pro 4 fits the bill of a high-end security camera well. Its 12X digital zoom and 160-degree field of view are among the best on the market, and it's one of the rare options with dual-band Wi-Fi support. Also, the built-in spotlight is an effective deterrent for would-be bad actors, and it's relatively easy to set detection zones and sensitivity.
Just be aware of the Arlo subscription model. While you technically don't need a subscription to use the camera's basic features, the more advanced functions are locked behind the paywall. Luckily, though, it only costs about $3 per month. And, for what it's worth, the Pro 4 has been superseded by the Arlo Pro 5S, but the upgrades aren't quite enough to justify the significant price increase.
Blink Outdoor 3rd Gen + Floodlight
Bright, dependable, and battery-powered
Adding a floodlight to the basic yet effective Blink Outdoor, this one's as bright as most people need to illuminate a driveway, alley, or side yard. Powered entirely by batteries, the floodlight can be installed wherever you need it without much hassle. And while it's not cheap, it's still a good deal on a floodlight camera.
- Supports USB storage
- IP65 weather resistance
- Runs on two AA batteries
- Less-than-ideal field of view
- Below-average app experience
Simply put, this is the latest Blink Outdoor smart camera bundled with the company's floodlight attachment. It comes with the batteries, mounting hardware, and cable you need for installation and setup, in addition to the Blink Sync Module 2, which is required for operation. And the Sync Module isn't just a needless complication; it actually lets you combine up to 10 cameras on the same network and manage them from a central hub instead of independently.
It's great for a basic smart camera and security light, partly because the 700-lumen floodlight makes up for Blink's subpar night vision. However, there are some minor issues, such as an app that could definitely be a little snappier and a mere 100-degree field of view. Those are relatively easy to overlook for most home setups, though.
Ring Spotlight Cam Pro
High-end image quality and convenience
Straightforward setup and operation are calling cards of Ring's video doorbell and smart camera offerings. The Spotlight Cam Pro, in particular, sports some premium features that others don't, including comprehensive and easily managed cloud storage. The only drawback is that it's so costly.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity
- High-contrast HDR video
- Advanced motion detection
- Not cheap by any means
- Limited Google smart home functionality
As long as yours is an Alexa-based smart home, you can't do much better than the Ring Spotlight Cam Pro. One of its big selling points is how easy it is to integrate with existing Ring setups, particularly the Ring Video Doorbell, which is among the best.
The app interface and powerful cloud storage utility make it easy to manage and customize, although some users may not like the lack of onboard storage options. The other big thing to remember is that it doesn't support Google smart homes outside of very basic functionality.
Google Nest Cam (2nd Generation)
A premium price and a refined experience
Google's smart home devices are known for being straightforward to use while offering a good amount of useful features. If you're mainly using the Google Assistant ecosystem, the battery-powered, outdoor-safe Google Nest Cam is a no-brainer in terms of streamlined setup and use. That is, if you can afford the upfront cost and subscription.
- Easy to install
- A streamlined Google interface
- Excellent microphone configuration
- Doesn't work great without a subscription
- Poor human/animal detection range
- Proprietary charging cable
The 2nd-gen Nest Cam Outdoor looks every bit the part of a Google device, with a compact build and clean lines that won't stand out under your home's eaves. It's also equipped with the easy user experience we've come to expect from the Big G. It's easy to combine with multiple cameras over various interfaces, and it picks up audio significantly better than most of the competition. Take note, though, that you need a Nest Aware subscription to get anywhere near the most out of this cam. But if you love Google smart home devices (and many people do), it's a solid choice.
Arlo Ultra 2
One of the best and most expensive
The Arlo Ultra 2 kit delivers top-of-the-line performance thanks, in part, to its standalone base station that provides robust wireless connectivity. That same base also makes it perfect for expansion with additional Arlo cameras. It's far from cheap, but it's great if you can afford the investment.
- The clearest image available
- Long-range wireless capability
- Base station offers onboard recording
- No free cloud storage
- Overkill for many users
If you demand the best, look no further than the Arlo Ultra 2. Its 4K resolution beats the rest of the pack, along with 12X digital zoom that ensures you won't miss the details of anything that's happening. Its use of a base station makes the cameras respond almost instantly, without the lag that some standalone cameras introduce.
You can also use the base to record directly to a microSD card if you want to avoid subscribing to online storage. Of course, the elephant in the room is that the Ultra 2 setup costs an arm and a leg. But, as with most things, you usually have to pay the price to get the absolute winner in performance and clarity.
Ring Stick Up Cam
They don't get much easier to use than this
Fans of the Ring ecosystem will have a hard time overlooking this ultra-simple security solution. It works perfectly in tandem with the rest of the Ring lineup, and it's as easy to install as they get. Its battery lasts reasonably long, it's easy to recharge and replace, and there's also a wired version available.
- Long-lasting battery
- 130-degree field of view
- Unflinching Alexa support
- Lacking some Google Assistant compatibility
- High battery drain with color night vision
If you're already the proud owner of any Ring cameras or video doorbells, the Stick Up Cam is a worthwhile choice whether you want a removable, rechargeable battery or are OK with wired power.
Granted, you'll want to get the subscription to unlock the most useful features, but that's why this is such a great choice for existing Ring users. Those useful features include 180 days of retrievable video history, plus active capture and sharing of pictures and videos. Of particular use is the person detection, which is especially reliable, and the "persistent visitors" feature that draws extra attention to anyone lingering nearby your camera.
Choosing the most effective smart home security camera
Most people don't need a 4K camera with a standalone base unit and top-of-the-line specs, but getting something versatile and powerful is important. That's why the Kasa KC420WS got our top recommendation. You can't find any better specs or a nicer interface for the price point.
If you want to save even more, the Wyze Cam v3 is an excellent option, though existing Wyze Cam v2 owners don't have much reason to upgrade. The Ring Stick Up Cam is another great midrange option, and the Arlo Pro 4 is widely considered the best premium model in the $200 range or below.
Why you shouldn't buy an Anker Eufy camera right now
Several months ago, a security researcher was able to gain access to a supposedly encrypted video file hosted on Eufy's servers, using a third-party video player (the renowned VLC media player, in this case). The immediate uproar was well-deserved, as Eufy had long claimed that end-to-end encryption applied to all its security cameras.
In the wake of the controversy, Eufy changed some privacy wording on its website (without notice, no less) and didn't initially offer the public a suitable response. Since then, respected publications such as The Verge have reached out to Anker for clarification on the problems.
There's a lot of verbosity and question avoidance to wade through here, but it doesn't seem like Anker has fully addressed community concerns. We're holding out for a clearer explanation of what went wrong and how it will be definitively fixed moving forward. According to Anker, its latest camera releases both adhere strictly to the WebRTC protocol, which uses end-to-end encryption by default. And, supposedly, it will eventually roll out WebRTC encryption to the rest of its active lineup. However, until that happens and we see a significant shift in confidence, we recommend that privacy- and security-minded smart home users avoid Eufy cameras.
Lots of features in an affordable package
A near-perfect balance of performance considerations, novel features, and a streamlined experience make this the best outdoor security camera for most users, no matter what smart ecosystem they use.