An outdoor surveillance camera can be a practical and economical way to protect and secure your home. There are several factors to consider when looking for a model that is best for your needs, with the most important aspect for having your camera outdoors being it has been rated as either weatherproof or waterproof. Beyond that, here’s what you need to think about:

Coverage Desired

How much space outside your home you want covered by the viewing angle of the camera is one of the primary concerns when shopping for an outdoor surveillance camera. Wider angled lenses will help cut down on the number of cameras required for overall coverage of your property. Another way to increase your coverage area is to purchase multiple cameras or multipacks that can provide a more complete monitoring solution for your home.

Resolution

Another factor to consider when outdoor surveillance camera shopping is the camera’s resolution. The higher the camera resolution, the clearer and easier the images will be to see. Ideally, you’ll want 1080p or higher resolution for the clearest images. Keep in mind that if you connect your camera into a DVR or other recording device, it will also need to be HD compatible in order to keep the image at a high quality.

Night Vision

Monitoring at night is one of the most common uses for outdoor surveillance cameras, and in order to get a high quality image, you’ll want to purchase a camera with infrared (IR) technology. Many models have a built-in IR cut-switch that automatically enables and disables the infrared technology depending on the lighting conditions, so you get the clearest image possible no matter what time of day. The number of infrared LEDs used in a camera will help determine how far of a night vision range a camera has.

Style

There are two main styles of outdoor security cameras — dome or bullet. Both camera styles are fairly obvious to potential intruders, however, it is more difficult to determine which direction a dome-style camera is pointing, which may help deter a potential intruder. Another thing to keep in mind regarding camera style is whether you want to mount it on the ceiling or wall and ensuring that whatever camera you choose has enough clearance to mount in the desired location.

Recording Capacity

If you want to watch playback of the goings-on around your home, you’ll need a camera with onboard storage capacity or cloud recording capabilities (unless you’re also purchasing a DVR system.) Most cameras with recording capabilities have an onboard SD or microSD slot that allows for sufficient recording space.

Mobile Compatible

Many outdoor surveillance cameras available today are able to live stream a feed directly to your mobile device. If you want to be able to check in during the day or while away for extended periods, this is a valuable feature to have. You’ll also want to ensure the camera you choose is compatible with your device.

Wired/Wireless

Wireless cameras are easy to install and reposition, but you’ll want to check the battery levels periodically to ensure you’re fully protected. Wired units usually require professional installation and access to a power outlet, but tend to provide clearer images than their wireless counterparts.

Pan/Tilt/Zoom

Cameras with remote controlled pan, tilt and zoom are ideal for providing coverage to larger areas and allow the user to get the best viewing angle possible without having to physically reposition the camera.

Energy Saving

Surveillance cameras can eat up a lot of energy, but if you find a model that only records when motion is detected, it can help to cut down on operating costs. Many models will even send you push or email notifications when something out of the ordinary is detected, so you don’t need to be continually monitoring yourself.

With the above tips in mind, in no particular order, here are 35 of the outdoor surveillance cameras that we consider to be the best for 2017:

1. Lorex LBC7032F 700TVL 960H Weatherproof Night Vision Security Bullet Camera

This bullet-style outdoor security camera boasts a weatherproof housing that makes it ideal for use in all sorts of climates and weather conditions. It features industry-leaving 960H resolution that provides a high quality picture.

Key features:

  • Built-in ProLux IR LEDs
  • Up to 185 ft night vision range
  • Vandal-resistant

Cost: *Est. $129.95

2. Hikvision DS-2CD3132 2.8mm Lens 3MP Mini Dome Camera 1080P POE IP CCTV Camera

Available in a choice of lenses, this dome-style camera features a compact design that makes it ideal for mounting in a variety of places and provides a full 1080p HD video feed.

Key features:

  • Vandal-resistant
  • 3MP, 2.8mm lens
  • Up to 90 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $99

3. Amcrest 720P HD Over Analog (HDCVI) 8CH Video Security Systems

Available in a choice of configurations, this video security system features a plug-and-play setup that allows you to begin monitoring your home in less time. Thanks to a 2TB hard drive, you can record up to 360 hours of monitoring on all eight channels.

Key features:

  • USB backup
  • Real-time feed
  • 3.6mm lens with 75-degree viewing angle

Cost: *Est. $599.99

4. Swann – SWPRO-760CAM – PRO-760 – Super Wide-Angle Security Camera

This bullet-style security camera features a professional-grade wide-angle lens that is suitable for capturing images in both day and night settings. It features a durable weatherproof casing and power cord, RCA connector, user guide, and deterrent stickers.

Key features:

  • Up to 98 ft night vision range
  • 75-degree viewing angle
  • 1-year warranty

Cost: *Est. $234.07

5. NETGEAR VueZone Add-on Motion Detection Day/Night Camera (VZCN2060)

Available in a choice of two models for your home monitoring needs, this add-on camera features built-in motion detection up to 15 feet and a built-in lamp that lights up to 25 feet when activated.

Key features:

  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Wire-free installation
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone

Cost: *Est. $85

6. Uniden APPCAM23 IP Indoor/Outdoor Video Surveillance Camera

This surveillance camera can be used indoors or outdoors to help keep your home secure and features plug-and-play installation for quick and easy setup. The onboard microSD card slot allows you to record up to 32GB worth of footage and can be remotely monitored from your smart phone.

Key features:

  • Email notifications
  • Auto record motion sensor
  • Up to 25 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $115.99

7. Arlo Smart Home Security Camera System

Available in single or multipacks for all your home monitoring needs, this wireless security camera provides crystal clear HD video live or recorded to your smart phone, PC, or other device. Mounting hardware and batteries are included.

Key features:

  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • Weatherproof housing
  • Includes 1GB secure cloud storage

Cost: *Est. $324.99

8. TriVision NC-336PW HD 1080P Wireless Outdoor Home Security Camera System

Available in a choice of two different lens sizes, this bullet-style surveillance camera provides high definition 1080P video to your Android, iOS, or PC device. It can be used wirelessly or hardwired and features a microSD slot for onboard recording.

Key features:

  • Up to 50 ft night vision range
  • Email notifications
  • 3MP, 4mm lens

Cost: *Est. $300

9. VideoSecu Outdoor Day Night Vision Infrared IR Bullet Security Camera

This bullet-style outdoor surveillance system boasts an adjustable 4-9mm lens and 48 infrared LEDs for superior night vision. It provides superior color images in all lighting conditions and anti-noise technology to help cut down on data volume.

Key features:

  • Vandal-proof
  • Power supply included
  • NTSC video format

Cost: *Est. $84.99

10. Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I Outdoor HD 3MP IP Bullet Security Camera

Available in a choice of configurations for your home security needs, this bullet-style security camera boasts a 3MP, 4mm lens that provides stunning HD images. It features built-in digital noise reduction and adjustable frame rates.

Key features:

  • Up to 90 ft night vision range
  • 75.8-degree viewing angle
  • Built-in motion and tamper alarms

Cost: *Est. $82.99

11. Q-See QT5682-8E3-1 8 Channel 960H/720p DVR with 900TVL High Resolution Cameras and Pre-installed 1 TB HDD

This home surveillance system comes complete with eight high resolution weatherproof cameras to help capture every angle of your home and provides remote monitoring to up to 10 users at once, as well as a DVR with 1TB of storage.

Key features:

  • Easy setup wizard
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • Customizable recording modes

Cost: *Est. $499.99

12. Amcrest Qcam 3-Megapixel POE Weatherproof IP66 Bullet IP Camera

This bullet-style surveillance camera allows you to view high definition images in real time and features quick and easy setup thanks to plug-and-play installation. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices to allow for remote monitoring no matter where you are in the world.

Key features:

  • 70-degree viewing angle
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range
  • 1-year warranty and lifetime support

Cost: *Est. $89.99

13. Dahua IPC-HFW4300S 3MP Eco-Savvy Weatherproof Hi Def IP Security Camera

This surveillance camera features a durable, weatherproof housing, making it ideal for outdoor use and a wide, 97.6-degree viewing angle. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices for remote monitoring by up to 20 users.

Key features:

  • 3MP, 3.6 mm lens
  • Up to 100 ft night vision range
  • Power supply not included

Cost: *Est. $86.70

14. Sharx Security SCNC3905 High Definition 1080P Wired PoE and Wireless b/g/n Weatherproof Outdoor H.264/MPEG4 IP Network Camera

This bullet-style security camera is completely weatherproof and provides full high definition 1080P video. It also boasts a built-in microphone so you can hear what’s happening around your home.

Key features:

  • Includes 16GB microSD card
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • PC or iOS compatible

Cost: *Est. $311.99

15. Annke® 1000GB HDD 8CH 960H CCTV DVR Surveillance Video Recorder Indoor/Outdoor Weatherproof Surveillance Cameras System

This home surveillance system comes complete with eight cameras (four bullet and four dome) in order to provide your home with complete monitoring coverage. It boasts 960H high definition video recording and streaming directly to your smart phone.

Key features:

  • Built-in USB port
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • 2-year warranty

Cost: *Est. $319.99

16. Foscam FI9805P 960P Outdoor HD Wireless IP Camera

This bullet-style outdoor surveillance system provides quick and easy setup in just minutes and boasts a 1.3MP, 4mm lens for full HD video resolution. Images can be recorded to the Foscam cloud (free trial included) or directly to your computer.

Key features:

  • Up to 100 ft night vision range
  • 70-degree viewing angle
  • iOS and Android compatible

Cost: *Est. $139.99

17. Funlux® 8 CH Full 960H Security DVR System with 8 High-Resolution IR-Cut Day Night Home Surveillance Camera

This surveillance system comes complete with eight dome-style cameras to monitor your whole home. It features motion-based email alerts that let you know when something is happening around your home.

Key features:

  • Lifetime technical support
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range
  • 2-year warranty

Cost: *Est. $169.99

18. Foscam FI9828P 1.3 Megapixel 3x Optical Zoom H.264 Wireless Outdoor PTZ IP Camera

This outdoor surveillance camera comes complete with a fully waterproof enclosure and boasts a 1.3MP lens that provides HD images. You can remotely pan, tilt, and zoom to get just the right viewing angle. Images can be recorded to the Foscam cloud (free trial included) or directly to your computer.

Key features:

  • Up to 25 ft night vision range
  • iOS and Android compatible
  • Built-in audio jack

Cost: *Est. $259.99

19. Amcrest 960H Video Security System

Available in a choice of configurations, this surveillance system comes complete with four weatherproof bullet-style cameras and a 500GB hard drive that can be expanded up to 3TB to provide up to six days of continuous high resolution recording.

Key features:

  • Remote viewing iOS and Android compatible
  • USB backup
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $234

20. Lorex LW2731 Live LCD SD Recording Monitor with Wireless Camera

This wireless camera is available in a choice of configurations and features time and date stamped recordings. It can be set to record based on motion, a schedule, or manually.

Key features:

  • Up to 40 ft night vision range
  • Includes microSD slot
  • View up to four cameras at once

Cost: *Est. $299.99

21. Defender PX301-013 Digital Wireless DVR Security System Receiver and 2 Long Range Night Vision Surveillance Cameras

This outdoor surveillance system is wireless for clean and easy setup that connects to any television in your home to allow you to monitor the comings and goings around your home. It can be controlled directly from the unit or via the included remote control.

Key features:

  • Available in choice of configurations
  • Includes a 2GB SD card
  • Up to 40 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $259.99

22. FI9803P Plug and Play 1.0 Megapixel (1280x720p) H.264 Outdoor Wireless IP Camera

This bullet-style outdoor camera features a wireless design with plug-and-play installation that allows for quick and easy setup. Remotely monitor your feed via an Android, iOS, PC, or Mac computer.

Key features:

  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range
  • 2-year warranty

Cost: *Est. $73.95

23. Zmodo KDC4-YARUZ4ZN-1T 4-Channel 960H DVR Security System with 1TB and 4 x 700TVL IR Night Vision Outdoor Cameras

This home surveillance system comes complete with four weatherproof bullet-style cameras and a 1TB hard drive for hours of recording.

Key features:

  • iOS and Android compatible for remote viewing
  • 3.6mm lens
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $350

24. Wireless iCamera 1000 Outdoor/indoor Night Vision

Compatible with the ADT Pulse system, this camera provides a clear picture of the goings-on around your home. Night vision and motion tracking features give you peace of mind your home is secure no matter what time of day.

Key features:

  • Water- and dust-resistant
  • Hardwire or use wirelessly
  • 60-degree diagonal view angle

Cost: *Est. $134

25. Sensormatic Adt Oc810adt Oc810 Indoor Outdoor Wifi Camera Adt Pulse Ready

Compatible with the ADT Pulse system, this WiFi-enabled camera can be used as a standalone home monitoring solution and features an integrated microcomputer and a high quality digital image sensor for crystal clear images.

Key features:

  • Built-in speaker and microphone
  • Can be used wirelessly or hardwired
  • Built-in motion detection

Cost: *Est. $140.09

26. Spy Tec AEON OT – 1080p HD POE Mini Bullet Outdoor IP Camera

This weatherproof bullet-style security camera features clear 1080P HD images and is compatible with iOS and Android devices for remote monitoring no matter where you are in the world. You can connect up to 32 cameras for a complete home monitoring solution.

Key features:

  • Up to 50 ft night vision range
  • Motion-driven alerts sent to your smart phone
  • Onboard microSD slot

Cost: *Est. $174.95

27. Amcrest WLD895US 720P 4CH 7-Inch Wireless Video Surveillance System, Bullet IP66 Camera

This wireless video surveillance system features a bullet-style camera and monitor and can be expanded to include up to three additional cameras for a whole home monitoring solution. It boasts 720P real time video streaming along with audio, so you can hear what’s happening around your home.

Key features:

  • Motion-activated feature
  • Up to 32 ft night vision range
  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring

Cost: *Est. $179.99

28. Alptop AT-B603W HD 720P Wifi Wireless IP Security Camera

Suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, this wireless security camera connects into your home’s network and provides high definition 720P video.

Key features:

  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring
  • 3MP, 3.6mm lens
  • Power adaptor and network cable included

Cost: *Est. $49.99

29. Zmodo Smart Wireless Security Cameras- 4 Pack- HD Indoor/Outdoor WiFi IP Cameras with Night Vision

Available in single or multipacks, these weatherproof wireless security cameras can be used both indoors and outdoors and sets up in just minutes. It boasts a 3.6mm lens and 77-degree viewing angle.

Key features:

  • Motion-based push alerts
  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $199.99

30. Trivision NC-335PW Waterproof Wireless Outdoor Home Security Camera System

With intuitive operation and quick setup, this wireless security camera supports remote viewing and captures clear images in both daytime and nighttime, up to 30 feet away. Store up to 128GB on a microSD card.

Key features:

  • Choice of lens sizes
  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring
  • 90-degree viewing angle

Cost: *Est. $179

31. Uniden Wireless Weatherproof Video Surveillance Camera

Available in a choice of colors, this weatherproof bullet-style security camera can transmit video up to 500 feet away and boasts easy DIY setup with no complicated wiring to install.

Key features:

  • Up to 40 ft night vision range
  • Uniden Guardian Series video surveillance system compatible
  • Multi-position stand included

Cost: *Est. $84.63

32. Best Vision BV-IR140-HD 1000TVL Bullet Security Camera

This bullet-style outdoor surveillance camera boasts true analog HD video output along with adjustable zoom (2.8-12mm) and focus. It is ideal for use in any lighting condition and features optional motion detection.

Key features:

  • Up to 164 ft night vision range
  • NTSC video format
  • Compatible with an analog DVR with BNC connection

Cost: *Est. $56.90

33. ZOSI 1/3″ 1000TVL 960H CCTV Home Surveillance System Bullet Security Camera

This waterproof bullet-style security camera boasts a 1000TVL, 4.6 mm lens for clear, high definition video. It is suitable for use both indoors and outdoors and connects into any DVR, VCR, TV, or security monitor with a BNC connection.

Key features:

  • Up to 100 ft night vision range
  • Lifetime technical support
  • 1-year warranty

Cost: *Est. $19.99

34. HOSAFE 1MB1W HD IP Camera Outdoor 720P Night Vision

This waterproof outdoor surveillance camera boasts a 1MP, 3.6 mm lens that provides clear images in all sorts of lighting conditions. It features motion-based email alerts to notify you of any out of character goings-on around your home.

Key features:

  • Choice of two colors
  • Up to 66 ft night vision range
  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring

Cost: *Est. $35.99

35. Microseven HD 1080P SONY 1/2.8″ 2.4MP CMOS Sensor Wireless IP Camera

This wireless video security camera features a plug-and-play setup that allows you to begin monitoring your home in less time. You can remotely view recorded videos stored online for free and can connect up to 16 cameras for a complete home monitoring solution.

Key features:

  • iOS and Android compatible for remote monitoring
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Up to 65 ft night vision range

Cost: *Est. $189.97


What are the Benefits of a Video Surveillance System?

The best thing about a home video surveillance system is the extra sets of eyes. How many times has someone left home and realized twenty minutes later that the thermostat wasn’t turned off or that the front door was unlocked? Perhaps the nanny is new and the ability to check in would be invaluable. Each family’s individual needs will dictate unique benefits.

  • 24/7 surveillance capabilities everywhere a camera is installed
  • Recording feature keeps a log of past events
  • “See” other areas of the house or areas outside from anywhere
  • “Watch” for kids to arrive home from school
  • Check in on elderly relatives’ safety
  • Monitor pets’ activity
  • See who’s outside the door

How Does Video Surveillance Security Work?

A surveillance security system will typically consist of several cameras connected—either hardwired or wireless— to a digital video recorder (DVR), which records the images and displays them on a monitor. The monitor may be a closed circuit television, which can be monitored from the home, or the DVR can send the images to a web-enabled device such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, where they can be watched live or upon demand.

Video Surveillance Features

While there are many bells and whistles available for home video surveillance systems, the individual mandates of home and family members make choosing relatively simple. The size of a property, the age of family members, and even the safety of a neighborhood are a few things to consider. A few worthwhile features are listed below:

  • Motion detectors
  • Night vision
  • Recording capability
  • High resolution photography for clearer viewing
  • Microphones and/or speakers
  • Weather and/or vandal proof cameras
  • Remote alerts
  • Expandable to accept additional cameras to the system

Who is Video Surveillance for?

Both the ability of day-to-day connections to home and family, and the stepped up protection from intruders, a video surveillance system is an invaluable part of any home security system. So, who should consider this extra set of eyes?

  • Homeowners looking for a 24/7 visual connection to home and family
  • Anyone who is away from home all day or travels frequently
  • Families with several people coming and going often—gardeners, housekeepers, babysitters
  • Families with elderly members, infants, or small children and pets who may need monitoring from different parts of the home
  • Homeowners who want the added security and peace of mind that come with video surveillance

Where Can I Find the Best Surveillance Camera System for My Home?

A surveillance camera system, or CCTV (closed circuit television) system, is a useful tool for keeping your home and family safe. I like to think of surveillance cameras as pulling double duty – both offense and defense. Not only do they serve as a good burglar deterrent, but if anything does happen they can help law enforcement piece together events and find your intruder.

That said, choosing the best video surveillance system for your home is a complicated maze of features, prices, expansion packs, and other options that can leave your head spinning. Let’s break it down:

Wired or Wireless

Home surveillance systems are available in two flavors – wired and wireless. They’re exactly what they sound like: wired systems are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system, while wireless cameras work on battery power and via wireless signal. Wired systems are generally more expensive to install and more difficult to replace, but they are more stable and have excellent signal quality that won’t conflict with other wireless devices in your home. On the other hand, wireless cameras are easy to install, easy to hide, and less expensive to purchase and replace. However, other wireless devices (like a cordless phone) can interfere with their signal, compromising recorded image quality.

Home Surveillance System
You’ll have access to your cameras via computer

Indoor vs. Outdoor

According to the FBI, 79% of all home invasions begin at the front or back door, or a ground-floor window. If budget permits, weatherproof, outdoor surveillance cameras should be trained on all exterior doors and first-floor windows. These cameras are available in standard, bullet and dome variations, are rain and snow-resistant, and may even have heaters for cold weather areas. Additionally, dome cameras are resistant to physical attack, including strikes from a bat or hammer.

Recording Format

Most home camera systems record video for a set period of time (usually a few days), but you’ll need to choose the format. VHS (video tape) is inexpensive, but has the lowest quality and most outdated technology. Some systems also record to DVD or mini-disc, but most are now transitioning to DVR (digital video recorder) technology. A computer-based camera system records your video to the PC’s hard disc, making it fast and easy to review your video history. Some high-tech systems available today simultaneously upload your video online, so even in the event that your security is breached and your system is stolen or destroyed, you still have a video record of the burglars.

Virtual Access

Many home surveillance systems today also offer virtual access to your video feed via the Internet or your smartphone. Generally, remote access, mobile alerts, or cloud-based features require monthly or yearly fees with your surveillance manufacturer.

Dome Cameras
Dome cameras are shatter resistant

Price

You can get a CCTV security system for as little as $99, but this is probably a case of “you get what you pay for.” A good-quality, basic system (one camera) starts around $175 and can climb to thousands of dollars for multi-camera, indoor/outdoor, fancy systems with every feature imaginable. Most systems offer one camera in the base price, with additional cameras running $49-$200 each.

How to Choose?

There is no one-size-fits-all to home surveillance. The system you choose will be based on your budget, your home’s layout, your climate, your security concerns, and other factors. Start your search with a basic idea of what you want and a reasonable budget, and then get researching. Different systems, even those in the same price range, mix and match features differently, so keep looking until you find one that offers what you need at a price you can afford.

For more information on video surveillance for your home, see our Buying Guide for Outdoor Security Cameras.