What is the Best Outdoor Security Camera?
Kevin O’Connor discusses the latest security camera that you can connect to your smart phone
I’d like to install security cameras outside, but the more research I do, the more confused I get. Can you help?
—Tony Kenyon, New Bedford, MA
There have been huge improvements in outdoor security cameras in recent years, making them both easier to use and easier to install than the clunky cameras that had to be hooked to a security system and a service contract. The new generation of security cameras simply link to your smartphone, without the need for a monthly contract. But if you want specialized enhancements like continuous recording, optional subscriptions are available for about $10 a month.
The biggest difference among these new cameras is where they get their power—from batteries or through a plugged-in cord. Battery-powered cameras can be mounted anywhere, but then you have to be diligent about changing or recharging the batteries if you want the camera to remain functional. That’s not an issue with a corded camera, like the Nest Cam Outdoor ($199; Nest), shown above. You just need a covered GFCI-protected outdoor receptacle within 25 feet of where you want to mount it.
When comparing different outdoor cams, look for useful features such as night vision, high-definition resolution (the Nest Cam has 1080p), motion activation (so it’s not constantly recording), and a microphone that allows you to listen and talk to people arriving at your house.
Whichever camera you choose, mount it 7 to 10 feet high, overlooking a place that has high activity, such as the front door, the driveway, or the back door. Come to think of it, you’ll probably need more than one camera to get all the coverage you need to feel safe.
Shown: Kevin O’Connor uses his smartphone to make sure his Nest Cam Outdoor is streaming video and that it’s aimed correctly. Outdoor cameras are best placed under overhangs that keep rain or snow from obscuring the lens.