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How to Choose the Best Outdoor Security Camera for Your Needs

Jan 30, 2024|

An outdoor security camera system is a great way to protect your home and property, even if you’re hundreds of miles away.

Outdoor cameras are designed with security in mind, and outdoor cameras record live video footage of your property’s surroundings, detect lurkers, and send motion alerts to warn you about movement in the area.

Modern outdoor security cameras, like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, even come with HD resolution and infrared LED color night vision, so you have a 24/7 view of your home — regardless of the weather, temperature, and sunlight.

In this guide, we discuss the most important camera features to look for to help you choose the best exterior security camera for your needs.

Vivint Outdoor Camera on a home's exterior.

How do outdoor security cameras work?

In today's world, where safety and security are paramount, outdoor security cameras play a vital role in safeguarding our homes. But have you ever wondered about how these cameras work to keep you safe?

The core of modern outdoor security cameras lies in their ability to seamlessly integrate with wireless technology. Utilizing your home's Wi-Fi network, these cameras capture and relay live footage, ensuring that every corner of your property is under watchful eyes. Not only do they record videos, but the integration with your home network also allows for storing and retrieving this footage anytime, anywhere.

What sets contemporary models apart is their 'smart' capability. Equipped with advanced artificial intelligence (AI), these cameras can distinguish between mundane movements and potential threats. Features like motion and sound detection enable the camera to be more than just a recording device; they become proactive protectors of your home.

Take, for instance, Vivint Smart Deter technology. Smart Deter makes Vivint cameras more than just cameras; they become sophisticated security devices. If an uninvited presence is detected, your camera doesn't just record. It actively deters, emitting a loud sound and flashing an LED ring, thus acting as a first line of defense against potential intruders.

The convenience factor is significant too. With mobile applications such as the Vivint app or home hubs like the Vivint Smart Hub, these cameras offer unparalleled ease of use. Whether you're at home or halfway around the world, you can access live or recorded footage via an internet connection. These apps aren't just for viewing; they empower you with full control over your camera. Adjusting the field of view, tweaking settings, or simply turning the camera on or off can all be done with a few taps on your device.

In essence, outdoor security cameras today are more than just lenses and wires; they are sophisticated, intelligent systems designed to offer peace of mind and an enhanced sense of security. In a world where safety can never be taken for granted, these devices stand as silent, vigilant protectors of our homes and loved ones. And the best part? They are remarkably user-friendly, making advanced home security accessible to everyone.

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Outdoor security camera features to consider

With hundreds of outdoor security cameras on the market, choosing the best security camera for your home can be a big task. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about finding the best system to suit your home and family.

Ability to withstand weather conditions

To be worth the investment, an outdoor security camera should be constructed of durable materials and able to withstand the elements — whether rain, wind, ice, or heat.

Outdoor cameras are given IP ratings, which give you an indication of how the device responds under weather conditions.

The first digit describes the device’s resistance against dust and hazardous parts and ranges from 0 to 6. Similarly, the second digit tells you how resistant the camera is to water and moisture and ranges from 0 to 8.

Ideally, you’d expect your outdoor security camera to have an IP rating of at least IP65 to be weatherproof, like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

It’s also important to consider whether a company stands by its promises with a warranty. Vivint cameras are covered by a 120-day warranty and service plan where we’ll repair or replace any defective part of the system without charge to you.

Video quality and Resolution

If you’re investing in an outdoor security camera, the last thing you want is blurry, low-quality footage. For this reason, the resolution of your exterior camera is an important feature you should consider when buying a camera.

Outdoor security cameras come in different resolutions; however, a common resolution is 1080p HD. In fact, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro provides 1080p footage, which delivers high-quality videos without taking too much storage.

If you want to buy a 4K resolution camera, make sure that you have the network connection and storage to support the streaming; otherwise, you run the risk of lags and problems.

Night vision

Night vision is a vital feature for outdoor cams to ensure continuous monitoring of your property, even in complete darkness. When choosing a camera, prioritize those with infrared (IR) technology, as this allows for clear visibility at night.

The camera's night vision range should be sufficient to cover the desired area. High resolution and clarity in low-light conditions are essential for capturing important details.

Consider cameras with color night vision for more detailed imagery compared to traditional monochrome vision. Automatic switching to night mode and Smart IR technology are important for maintaining image clarity and preventing overexposure.

Finally, ensure the camera is effective in various environmental conditions, like rain or fog, and equipped with anti-reflection panels to reduce glare. These features collectively ensure reliable night-time surveillance and enhanced security.


Motion and sound detection

Many outdoor security cameras have a built-in motion sensor that can detect motion and sound in the surroundings. If your outdoor camera is connected to your phone, it will even send a warning message or a live recording of your home when triggered.

Some cameras, like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, also allow two-way talk.

That said, motion-activated security cameras are smart enough to know the difference between people, pets, and cars — so you don’t have to worry about getting repeated false notifications.

For added security, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro has a Smart Deter feature that proactively detects lurkers and sends them away with its LED illumination and a built-in siren.

Field of view

The Field of View (FoV) of a security camera is crucial in determining the scope of the area it can surveil. Measured in degrees, a camera with a larger FoV can cover a wider area, enhancing your property's security coverage. For example, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro has a 140-degree FoV. This extended field allows for monitoring larger spaces like yards or parking areas with minimal blind spots, ensuring comprehensive surveillance.

A wider FoV also means fewer cameras are needed to pan the same area, making the setup both cost-effective and less complex. The flexibility in camera placement is an added advantage, allowing for strategic positioning to maximize area coverage.

However, it's important to balance a wide FoV with the camera's ability to maintain detail clarity, especially for identifying specifics at a distance. Additionally, the type of lens and sensor size can influence the FoV, whereas wide-angle lenses offer a broader view but may cause edge distortion.

Video storage

When it comes to storage, exterior cameras have different types of video storage options, including cloud-based storage, local storage, and continuous video recording (CVR).

Let’s take a closer look at each option.

  • Cloud storage: A camera with cloud storage automatically uploads videos onto a server. Most cameras offer free cloud storage for a limited number of days; however, there are subscription options with monthly fees available for unlimited cloud storage.
  • Local storage: Local storage on a micro-SD card, DVR, or hard drive is a video storage option for those who prefer to keep their footage on a memory card. The good thing about local storage is that it can work without an internet connection.
  • Continuous video recording (CVR): As its name suggests, CVR means that the security camera records continuously — as long as the device is active. CVR is a great option if you want to record all action 24/7.
  • Network video recorder (NVR). NVR systems are an advanced local storage option, especially suitable for high-quality video from multiple cameras. NVRs provide larger storage capacities and more sophisticated software compared to DVRs, making them ideal for extensive camera setups.

The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro offers a cloud-based storage solution to provide real-time footage that’s automatically backed up and accessible from anywhere.

Power source

The power source is a key consideration when choosing a security camera, with options including wired, battery-operated, and solar-powered models.

Wired cameras plug-in with a power cord directly to your home's power supply, offering consistent and reliable operation without the need for battery changes. However, their installation can be more complex, requiring professional help, and their placement is limited to areas near power sources.

Battery-operated cameras (wireless security cameras) provide greater flexibility in placement, as they can be installed anywhere within your outdoor Wi-Fi network's range. This makes wireless cameras suitable for areas hard to reach with wiring. The trade-off is the need for periodic battery replacement or recharging, which can lead to downtime if not managed well.

Solar-powered cameras are an eco-friendly alternative, using a small solar panel to keep the battery charged. They offer similar placement flexibility to battery-operated cameras but work best in areas with ample sunlight. In regions with less sunlight, their efficiency may be reduced.

In essence, the choice of power source for an outdoor Wi-Fi security camera depends on the balance between reliability, installation complexity, and flexibility in placement. Wired cameras are more reliable, wire-free cameras are more flexible, and solar-powered cameras offer an environmentally friendly solution with some geographical limitations.

Smart home integration

Smart home technology has made our lives easier and safer. Without a doubt, controlling your home devices from a central control system can give you peace of mind, whether you’re close or far away from your home.

For this reason, choosing a Wi-Fi camera with smart home integration is essential for keeping things simple. Here are a few key things to consider.

  • IFTTT: If your camera supports IFTTT, it can be linked to other devices to create a holistic home system. For example, you could set up an automation for the floodlights to turn on as soon as the motion detection system is triggered.
  • Smart assistants: If you want a voice-enabled security camera, check the compatibility of your device with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. For example, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro works particularly well with smart assistants and home automation devices.
  • Other integrations: If you have a home security system already set up, check what other integrations could work well with your current setup, such as smart door locks, video doorbell cameras, and even lighting.

Advanced AI features

Security cameras with advanced AI features are transforming home surveillance by offering more precise and intelligent monitoring. Key features include facial recognition and vehicle detection.

Facial recognition technology allows cameras to distinguish between known and unknown faces, sending specific alerts based on person detection. This significantly reduces false alarms that often occur with basic motion-detection systems. Vehicle detection adds another layer of security, enabling cameras to identify the presence and types of vehicles and, in some cases, recognize specific license plates. This is especially useful for monitoring areas like driveways and streets.

In summary, these advanced AI features not only enhance the accuracy of security cameras but also provide homeowners with more effective and responsive surveillance tools. As AI technology evolves, these systems are expected to become even more sophisticated, offering enhanced security and peace of mind.

Installation, design, and aesthetics

Incorporating security cameras into your home involves considering both their aesthetic appeal and the ease of installation.

Your top pick camera's design should either blend in with your home’s exterior or be discreet to avoid drawing attention. Various styles and colors are available, allowing you to choose a camera that complements your home's architecture. A less conspicuous design can also be beneficial for security, as it reduces the likelihood of the camera being noticed and tampered with by intruders.

Security cameras vary in installation requirements. Many models are designed for easy stick up DIY installation, providing user-friendly manuals and requiring minimal tools, especially wireless models. However, wired cameras or those integrated into a larger security system often need professional installation. This ensures proper setup and optimal functionality but may increase costs and require coordination with technicians.

Vivint Outdoor Camera.

How much do outdoor security cameras cost?

Outdoor security cameras can range in price depending on many factors, like features, integrations (e.g., Google Home, Apple HomeKit), live streaming capabilities, wired or rechargeable battery life, HR/HDR resolution, two-way audio capabilities, and weather-resistant rating.

Depending on your home and needs, you might choose a battery-powered option for basic home security or invest in a modern camera with added features like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

As a final note, when setting up your smart home security system, consider installation and professional monitoring costs apart from the equipment.

What is the best outdoor home security camera?

If you’re looking for a security camera with advanced features, then look no further than the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro. Here’s why you need this camera.

  • Smart Deter system: Equipped with a computer vision chip, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro can detect lurkers close to your home and proactively warn them that they’ve been spotted. As soon as the Smart Deter system is activated, the device will play a loud sound and illuminate its LED ring.
  • 24/7 monitoring: Vivint systems come with 24/7 monitoring included in the monthly service fee. Our team of home security pros remains on standby around the clock to help if needed.
  • 4k ultra HD video with high dynamic range: With a 4K ultra HD resolution and a 140-degree field of view, you’ll be able to see high-quality footage from your home and surroundings.
  • Durable against the elements: The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions without impacting video quality. The device is marked with an IP65 rating.
  • Night vision: With a night vision range of 55 feet, our outdoor camera guarantees that you’ll see what’s going on from morning to night.
Vivint Outdoor Camera.

Protect your home with outdoor security cameras from Vivint

If you want to keep your home and family protected, investing in a surveillance camera could be a good idea.

Choosing the best home security system (including outdoor and indoor security cameras) for your needs and budget doesn’t have to be difficult. If you want to see how the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro can bring you peace of mind with advanced home security, contact our Smart Home Pros at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation today.

Get a free quote today.

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*Offer Details

Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.

Third-Party Financing Options Available

Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.

Vivint Systems & Services

System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.