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Best Outdoor Security Cameras of 2021

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How to choose an outdoor security camera

How many cameras do I need, and what’s the optimal placement?

The number of cameras you need depends on what you want to monitor. An Arlo representative told us that the top five most common locations for outdoor security cameras are as follows:

1). Front Door: The front door is the main point of entry to a home. Placing a camera near the front door is great for monitoring package deliveries, visitors, and guests. Unfortunately, crimes like package theft frequently occur. By placing a camera in this area, homeowners have full visibility into who visits their home, night or day. Having a security device visible may deter would-be package thieves.

2). Near the driveway: Some people like to monitor this area of their property. To ensure more details are seen and able to be captured at night, homeowners can consider selecting a camera with an integrated spotlight.  

3). In the backyard: Placing a camera in the backyard will give homeowners the ability to monitor the perimeter of their home. A backyard camera will help alert users if someone is trespassing onto your property, trying to jump the fence, or looking for another way to break and enter.

4). Side yard or near an outdoor fuse box: Angling a camera to capture the side yard or the area near an outdoor power fuse box can help alert homeowners if someone attempts to cut their power.

5). Aimed at the home – Aiming a camera at the home can provide a critical vantage point. Leveraging a tree or fence location to place a camera and point towards the home increases a homeowner’s chances of capturing a clear image of trespassers.

In terms of optimal camera placement, it’s important for homeowners to make sure their camera is within the range of their Wi-Fi router and spaced out from additional monitoring devices. Homeowners will also want to make sure their home security camera:

  • Isn’t looking through glass or other transparent objects.
  • Is positioned so the space they wish to monitor is within the camera’s field of view.
  • Is mounted approximately seven feet above the ground and angled slightly downward.
  • Is mounted so the motion-detection area is approximately five to 20 feet from the camera’s position.

What can I do about the risk of camera theft?

If you’re concerned about camera theft or vandalism, then you should also consider placing the camera out of reach of an intruder or buying a security camera cage to make it harder to access. Magnetic mounts may be convenient, but threaded mounts make it harder to remove security cameras.

Security camera manufacturers have various policies on camera theft and replacements, so look into them before you buy. Some subscription services include extra protections, but make sure you read the conditions. You will likely have to file a police report before you can claim on a camera theft. 

One last thing to consider if you’re concerned about camera theft is to make sure you don’t pick a camera that records on the device itself. If videos are recorded on a hub in the home or in the cloud, you will at least have some footage of the thief. 


Should I choose wired or wireless cameras?

Wireless solutions are ideal for simple installation. They provide added flexibility, allowing a camera to be placed anywhere around the property where the homeowner needs protection, and with no need to worry about a power source. Wired solutions are great for continuous power and may be ideal for locations that may be hard to reach when it comes time to replace/recharge the battery.


What kind of internet connection do I need?

For most security cameras, an internet connection on the 2.4Ghz frequency is a necessity for direct-to-Wi-Fi home router connectivity. Some systems come with their own hubs that typically plug into the back of your router with an ethernet cable. We are starting to see a few manufacturers add Wi-Fi connectivity on the 5Ghz frequency. While 5Ghz Wi-Fi is generally faster than 2.4Ghz, it’s not always ideal for security cameras because it has a shorter range.


Do I need a subscription?

While many outdoor security cameras offer local storage, either via a MicroSD card in the camera itself or in a hub in your home, some require a monthly subscription for cloud storage and smart features. Always check what you get without a subscription before you buy and factor in the ongoing cost if you decide it’s worth springing for.


What detection and notification features do I need?

Most camera systems offer some form of recognition, so they can tell the difference between a cat or a person, for example. This is vital if you don’t want to waste time reviewing videos of passing animals. Make sure that notifications can be configured, so you can dictate when alerts should come through to your phone. Notification systems that include a screenshot of the video are very useful in helping you decide quickly whether you need to open the app and check the live feed or review the video.


What about the risk of someone accessing my camera?

To reduce the risk of anyone hacking into your camera, look for two-factor authentication (2FA). Without 2FA, anyone with your username and password can log into your camera. It’s worth noting that you have to activate 2FA in your account with some camera systems.


What about privacy?

Sometimes an outdoor camera will overlook a neighbor’s property or another area that you’d prefer it didn’t monitor, so look for a system that allows you to set the area you want to record (this should be separate from the motion detection area). You should also read the manufacturer’s privacy policy, especially if you use its cloud storage.

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