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Outdoor Security Camera Buying Guide

Feb 28, 2023|

Security cameras are one of the most popular home security devices today; in fact, around 44% of homes have at least one home security camera. This is not surprising, given how effective they are at deterring crime and how affordable they have become in recent years.

In addition to providing a visible deterrent to burglars, outdoor surveillance cameras are good for homeowners who want to keep an eye on their property day and night, whether they’re home or away.

Outdoor security cameras vary widely in price based on their features and capabilities, so narrowing it down can be a daunting task. This buying guide will help you know how to choose the best one for your needs.

Vivint Spotlight Pro and Outdoor Camera Pro (Gen 2) monitoring a home's exterior.

Why you need an outdoor camera system

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you really need an outdoor camera system, there are a plenty of benefits to having at least one on your property. Some of the most compelling reasons include:

Let’s be neighbors.

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Deter crime

One of the biggest benefits of outdoor video surveillance is the deterrent cameras provide against criminal activity. Burglars, trespassers, vandals, and car thieves are less likely to target a home that has surveillance cameras on the property. In fact, one survey of actual burglars named security cameras as a top deterrent when deciding which homes to target.

Most criminals want to avoid anything that will attract attention or identify them, so incorporating cameras into your security system will help protect your home.

Check on your property from anywhere

Being away from home, especially for extended periods of time, can be stressful. Many camera systems will send you notifications if the camera’s motion sensors detect someone, allowing you to check on your property in real-time right from a mobile app.

You can also look at your camera’s footage from right inside your home. So if you hear a noise outside or your dog suddenly begins barking, you can view your camera feed from the safety of inside your home.

Assist law enforcement

Many smart home security cameras today have excellent facial recognition features. When combined with high video quality, the recorded footage can be an excellent tool for helping law enforcement identify possible criminals. It also helps provide evidence if needed to prove a crime has taken place.

Keep an eye on specific areas of your property

Whether it’s a shed full of valuable tools, a swimming pool, or another area of your property that you want to keep an eye on at all times, outdoor security cameras can help you see specific areas of your property at all times, day or night.

Check on children and pets

Your outdoor security camera can help you keep an eye on your older kids or pets while they play outside. Being able to check on what they’re up to at any time, even from inside your home, helps you multitask while they play outside.

Integrate with your home security system

If you already have a smart home security system, you can integrate your compatible smart security camera with other smart home devices in your system. When part of a complete smart home network like Vivint, your camera will also activate other security features around your home. For example, when the Outdoor Camera Pro spots someone on your property, it activates the Spotlight Pro, shining a floodlight on the lurker to let them know they’ve been seen.

Outdoor Camera Pro footage of a lurker being scared away from the camera owner's car.

Types of outdoor smart home security cameras

There are different types of outdoor cameras, with some of the most common including:

  • Doorbell camera. Also known as video doorbells, a doorbell camera replaces your home’s doorbell and allows you to remotely see who is at your front door. This type of camera also sends you notifications when someone approaches your door, even if they don’t ring the bell. This is a very helpful and popular camera, making it a must in a well-rounded security camera system. However, because it only covers your front porch area, you’ll want additional cameras to monitor other areas of your property.
  • Floodlight cameras. This camera also comes equipped with a floodlight to provide additional security and better night vision. When motion is detected in the camera’s field, it triggers both a floodlight and video recording.
  • Wired cameras. This type of camera is hardwired into your home and remains powered on at all times. While you don’t have to worry about charging or changing batteries, it can be difficult to DIY the wiring, so you’ll likely require professional installation.
  • Battery-powered. Wireless outdoor cameras connect to your Wi-Fi network. These cameras are wire-free and have the advantage of being easy to move to different locations if needed. Because they are battery-powered cameras, you’ll need to change out or recharge batteries to avoid interruption.

Features to look for

Outdoor cameras range from no frills to loaded with impressive smart features. Some of the essential features to look for as you narrow down your options include:

Video quality

A surveillance camera isn’t going to be much use if the video quality is poor or if it has a very limited range. Look for cameras with the following features that will enhance the overall quality of your footage:

  • HD resolution. A 1080p is an ideal resolution for providing crisp, high-quality images, including facial recognition, clothing, and other important details.
  • Wide field of view. The field of view is the area your camera will clearly see and record without getting distorted. A camera with a viewing area of at least 140 degrees, like the Outdoor Camera Pro, will provide the most bang for your buck.
  • Night vision. Most outdoor cameras have night vision, so focus on the camera’s range. Generally speaking, the longer the range, the better. Pairing your camera with a floodlight will provide visibility as well as color night vision.

Video storage

Video storage is essential in any camera system, as it allows you to go back and access recorded footage at your convenience. Camera storage is either local or cloud-based:

  • Cloud storage cameras send footage via their wi-fi network to the cloud. Most companies will sell storage for their cameras for a nominal monthly fee. Look for storage that will keep footage for a sufficient amount of time. 30 days is ideal and gives you plenty of time to go back and save any footage you might need to access later.
  • Local storage stores footage on the camera itself and usually works with a microSD card. Make sure you get sufficient storage of at least 64GB or more, which will hold larger HD video files. If you have a large camera system with multiple cameras, consider a NVR (network video recorder), which records digital video to a hard drive or other storage system.

There are pros and cons to each type of storage. Local storage works if your wi-fi network is down, but if your camera is stolen or broken, you won’t be able to access your footage. Additionally, if your storage is insufficient, your camera could automatically record over or miss important footage.

Cloud storage, on the other hand, can be accessed any time, even if your camera becomes damaged or is stolen. However, if your camera is offline or an unstable internet connection, you may not capture footage.

Outdoor Camera Pro footage of a lurker being scared away from homeowner's driveway.

Power source

Security cameras can be wired or wireless. A battery-powered wireless security camera is convenient because it can be moved and doesn’t require complicated wiring. However, this type of camera also requires a stable, strong internet connection in order to record and store footage.

Wired cameras require more complicated wiring and typically rely on local storage, so you don’t need wifi for it to run. They typically record constantly, unlike wireless cameras that record based on motion detection. As a result, you will need sufficient storage.

A better option is a hybrid camera, like the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro. It combines the speed of a wired connection with the flexibility of wireless for a better, more reliable connection. It also provides smoother, faster video with less delay and buffering.

Two-way audio

A camera that lets you hear as well as see what’s going on outside is also a must. There are a number of benefits to this. Sound will give you additional context that you may not get from video; for example, hearing your child crying, which may not have been apparent from watching a video clip.

Two-way audio also means you can speak to the people (or animals) through the video, whether it’s telling a barking dog to quiet down or a potential intruder that they’re being recorded and you’ve called the police.


Some people are tempted to use indoor security cameras outside. Unlike an indoor security camera, however, cameras used outdoors face rain, sun, wind, and more extreme temperature fluctuations. As a result, they are specifically designed to withstand the elements. Make sure you look for an outdoor camera that is weatherproofed to your specific climate, so it will function properly even in extreme conditions.

Why you need Vivint’s Outdoor Camera Pro

When it comes to features and advanced capabilities, no smart camera on the market compares to the Outdoor Camera Pro.

With the Outdoor Camera Pro, you have

  • High-quality footage with 4k Ultra HD picture
  • 1080p resolution
  • 55’ night vision range
  • 3X HD digital zoom

The Outdoor Camera Pro goes beyond recording and proactively protects your home and property from lurkers. Here’s how:

  • Smart Deter keeps a watchful eye on your defined area with an enhanced computer vision chip
  • If a lurker spends too much time on your property, the Outdoor Camera Pro plays an audible sound and illuminates the LED ring around the camera, letting the intruder know they’ve been spotted

For even greater security, you can pair the Outdoor Camera Pro with the Spotlight Pro. When the Outdoor Camera Pro senses a lurker, the Spotlight Pro kicks in, shining a spotlight directly on the trespasser. If they continue to linger, the spotlight intensifies with light patterns (like strobe, wave, or circular), sending the thief running.

In addition to advanced features that keep your home safe around the clock, the Outdoor Camera Pro also includes:

  • Professional installation from Vivint’s team of Smart Home Pros
  • Top-rated app through which you can view live and recorded camera footage
  • Integration with Vivint’s suite of smart home security system products

An outdoor camera is an excellent way to deter criminals while helping you see what’s happening on your property at all times. The Outdoor Camera Pro is a purchase that will provide your home and family with security and peace of mind.

Interested in an outdoor camera for your home? Call us at 855.822.1220 for a free consultation 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.