When it comes to home security, you might notice that the conversation usually surrounds the indoor components, while the outside is typically thought of last. The truth is, a complete home security system deals with both the inside and the outside of a home, which is especially important to prevent crimes before they even happen. Of course, knowing where to start with your outdoor security can be difficult, which is what I want to help you out with.
In this article, I’ll explain all the necessary components of an outdoor security system, what you’ll need in terms of durability, and how monitoring, storage, and installation as well. Alright, we have a ton to go over, so let’s get started!
Outdoor Security System Components
Outdoor portions of security systems have fewer components than those of the indoor, but there are still a few things that’ll greatly increase your security.
Obviously, the key feature of any outdoor security system is a durable outdoor camera. Of course, it requires more weather-resistance than an indoor camera, but as far as the camera goes, we’re looking for similar features, specifically Security Baron’s Necessary Features.
Our Necessary Features Test ensures that cameras are up to industry standards as well as our own very high standards in terms of video, audio, night vision, storage, smart platform integrations, artificial intelligence, value, and overall convenience. Let me tell you a little bit more about what to look for.
In terms of video, I’m looking for a display of 1080p HD or higher, the industry standard. I’d also like a camera that can zoom optically and has a field of view of at least 120 degrees. The wider the field of view is, the fewer cameras I’ll need, which puts money back into my pocket— never a bad thing, certainly!
Outdoor security cameras should have two-way audio via a microphone and speaker. Two-way audio allows you to speak to whoever the camera is on. It’s a great way to tell your kids to come home from dinner remotely, or scare off anyone you think might be an intruder.
You’ll also want an outdoor camera with infrared night vision, which allows you to see in the dark clear as day (pun very intended). There’s also cameras with color night vision stemming from a bright white light, but I prefer infrared as it’s more conspicuous. You want to keep your security camera as low-key as possible, so infrared LED lights hit the spot.
In order to save your footage, you should back it up in two ways, locally and on a cloud. Some outdoor cameras come with a slot for a micro-SD card as well as cloud storage, which can be free or paid. But the most expensive cloud storage by far is for the Nest Cam Outdoor and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, at $30 a month for 30 days of cloud storage. Make sure you factor storage into your total cost when you’re choosing a camera!
Smart Platform Integration
If you’re already in a smart home ecosystem, you’ll want an outdoor camera that you can control via voice commands. Whether you have Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit, there’s an outdoor camera with the correct integration out there for you:
- Amazon Alexa: Canary Flex, Logitech Circle 2, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Ring Stickup Cam Wired, Tend Secure Lynx Pro, Nest Cam Outdoor, Arlo Ultra, Blink XT2, eufyCam E, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Ring Spotlight Cam Wired, Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
- Google Assistant: Canary Flex, Logitech Circle 2, Arlo Pro 2, Swann Dome Camera, Swann Thermal-Sensing Camera, Netatmo Presence, Tend Secure Lynx Pro, Night Owl Wired Bullet Camera, Nest Cam Outdoor, Arlo Ultra, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
- Apple HomeKit: Logitech Circle 2, Netatmo Presence
Amazon Alexa is the most popular voice assistant, which is why it’s no surprise that the greatest number of outdoor cameras work with Amazon Echo.
When it comes to security cameras, artificial intelligence usually refers to person detection and facial recognition, both of which create notifications that matter more. While person detection can differentiate people from other moving objects, facial recognition learns the faces of your friends and family over time, making your notifications incredibly specific. Here are some outdoor security cameras in terms of artificial intelligence capabilities:
- Facial recognition: Tend Secure Lynx Pro
- Person detection: Logitech Circle 2, Arlo Pro 2, Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Arlo Ultra, Ring Spotlight Cam Wired, Canary Flex
- No person detection or facial recognition: Blink XT, Ring Stickup Cam Wired, Swann Dome Camera, Swann Thermal Sensing Camera, Night Owl Wired Bullet Camera, Lorex 4MP Camera, Blink XT2, eufyCam E, Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
While not having person detection isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, it can greatly affect your buying decision.
As you can see, the price of outdoor security cameras can vary greatly. These prices show the cost of the camera by itself, while cameras from Blink, Arlo and eufy require additional hubs in order to work. The average price of an outdoor security camera on this list was around $180, which I think is very reasonable. Make sure the camera’s price correlates with its Necessary Features before you make any hasty decisions.
All of these outdoor cameras offer DIY installation, so it’s important to research what the installation process is like. I’ll talk about this a bit more in our section on installation.
Extra— Activity Zones
Finally, activity zones are an especially useful feature in an outdoor security camera. Activity zones let you tell your camera which areas to look out for and which areas to ignore. For example, you can have your camera ignore movement from the street and only notify you if something is going on on your front lawn. Again, that’s only going to make your notifications that much more specific, not just that your outdoor camera detected motion but that Grandma just stepped onto your doorstep!
And that’s everything to look out for in an outdoor security camera!
Video doorbells combine a working doorbell with a camera so you can see and speak to whoever is visiting you remotely through a mobile application. As far as the camera goes, we’re looking for the exact same Necessary Features as with the outdoor security camera (see above for more details).
Some doorbells require an existing doorbell and chime setup, while some are battery-powered. The doorbells also have different operating temperature ranges and IP ratings, so make sure to look into that as well (more on IP ratings later). As far as pricing goes, video doorbells tend to be around $200.
Outdoor motion detectors are a rarity, and they’re mostly useful for homes with longer driveways. While I haven’t reviewed any outdoor motion detectors myself, I can say that there are options from the following companies:
If you have an outdoor security camera that picks up on motion, you may not need a motion sensor, but it will only make the information you get more specific.
A security system’s keypad will typically be placed indoors, although it can be used to arm and disarm outdoor components. Not all security systems come with a keypad for you to enter a passcode, but here are the companies that do:
- Ring Alarm
- Nest Secure (Nest Guard)
The keypad might also have a panic button to call emergency services like the police, the fire department, or an ambulance. Of course, each keypad is part of a larger security system with sensors, cameras, key fobs, and more; it’s not something you would buy on its own.
Smart locks let you give guests temporary access codes so that they can enter your home safely, without you having to leave a key under the mat. You’ll be able to track the locks’ activity and control it through your phone. Some smart locks have touch pads or keypads, many integrate with smart home platforms, and some require an existing deadbolt. With an average price around $188, smart locks are definitely on the pricier side, but they’re especially useful for a vacation home or a house that is usually unoccupied.
Smart Light Bulbs
Just like smart locks, you’ll be able to control smart light bulbs remotely through a mobile application. Outdoor smart light bulbs are pretty hard to find, although I did find some examples from Philips Hue, Vgogfly, and Govee. Smart bulbs may integrate with smart home platforms, connect to your app by using Wi-Fi or Zigbee, and have features like scenes, schedules, and even geofencing! They tend to be around $30, which may seem like a lot for a light bulb, until you consider their amazing capabilities.
Finally, smart plugs allow you to control appliances up to 1800 watts remotely through a mobile application. The only outdoor plug that I’ve reviewed is the iSP100 from iHome. It’s water-resistant and comes with a six-foot long power cord. You can set it on schedules, group multiple appliances into scenes, and use it with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Wink, and Nest products. At $39.99, this plug is a little high in terms of pricing, as the majority of plugs land at about $30. However, it can be argued that the higher price is due to its increased durability, which brings me to my next section…
Outdoor Security System Durability
No matter what components you decide to put in your outdoor security system, you want to make sure that all of the components can handle any weather that’s thrown in theme. Durability is measured by IP ratings, which you probably haven’t heard of if you don’t deal closely with consumer electronics. Have no fear, Security Baron is here!
IP ratings consist of a two digit number between 00, not protected from solids and liquids at all, and 88, completely protected from solids and liquids. Here’s how you read an IP rating:
- first digit refers to a product’s susceptibility to solids
- second digit refers to its susceptibility to liquids.
For example, if a camera has an IP rating of 65, that means it’s completely protected against solids and can handle water jets up to 6.3 mm. Use the chart above to translate IP ratings from numbers into meanings.
Some items also come with a temperature range, which is helpful. I recommend finding out both the IP rating and the temperature range before purchasing any component of your outdoor security system. Depending on where you live, it may have to go through rain, snow, shine, hail, you name it!
Wired vs. Wireless Outdoor Security Systems
When it comes to security systems, they can either be plugged in, hard wired to your home, or battery-operated. Obviously, battery-operated components are easier to install, but you will have to worry about the battery running out eventually. For an outdoor system, however, you’ll have to think about how far away components are from a power source. Depending on the layout and size of your property, you may have to go with a wireless system just for ease of installation.
Either way, make sure you know where you want to place each component before you buy, keeping the power source in mind. Now, I want to go through all of the aforementioned components and divide them into wired vs. wireless for your convenience. You can thank me later!
Note: since light bulbs and plugs must be plugged or screwed in by definition, I’m going to leave them out of this section completely.
Wired vs. Wireless Outdoor Cameras
- Wired: Canary Flex, Arlo Pro 2, Ring Stickup Cam Wired, Swann Dome Camera, Swann Thermal Sensing Camera, Netatmo Presence, Tend Secure Lynx Pro, Lorex 4 MP camera, Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Ring Spotlight Cam Wired
- Wireless: Canary Flex, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Arlo Ultra, Blink XT2, eufyCam E, Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
As you can see, a couple options have options to be wireless or plug-in, but the majority of the outdoor security cameras that I’ve reviewed plug in.
Wired vs. Wireless Video Doorbells
- Wired: Nest Hello, Ring Video Doorbell 2, SkyBell HD, Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell, Zmodo Greet Pro, Ring Video Doorbell Pro, August Doorbell Cam Pro, SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, Vivint Doorbell Camera, eufy Security Video Doorbell, Scout Video Doorbell
- Wireless: SkyBell Slim Line, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Arlo Audio Doorbell, Ring Door View Cam, Vivint Doorbell Camera, August View
While some video doorbells require an existing doorbell and chime setup, some are battery-operated. As you can see, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 along with the Vivint Doorbell Camera have options for either a wireless or wired setup, but the majority will require hardwiring.
Wired vs. Wireless Motion Sensors
All of the outdoor motion sensors I’ve looked at are wireless, which is typical of motion sensors in general. Here’s a reminder of those outdoor motion sensors:
All of these sensors are battery-operated, which makes installation as easy as peel and stick.
Wired vs. Wireless Keypads
- Wired: Lifeshield, Ring Alarm
- Wireless: Frontpoint, Ring Alarm, SimpliSafe, Nest Guard
While Ring Alarm’s keypad can be plugged in or powered by a rechargeable battery, Lifeshield is wired only and Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, and the Nest Guard are wireless only. Again, the keypad will most likely to kept inside of your home so it will probably be easier to plug in if needed.
Wired vs. Wireless Smart Locks
All of the smart locks that I’ve reviewed, namely:
- Schlage Connect
- August Smart Lock
- August Smart Lock Pro
- Nest Yale Lock
- Kwikset SmartCode 913 Deadbolt
- Kwikset SmartCode 888 Deadbolt
are battery-operated, which certainly makes installing the locks a heck of a lot easier.
Monitoring Outdoor Security Systems
As opposed to self-monitoring through a mobile application, 24/7 professional monitoring means that you’ll have a team of people to verify your emergencies and contact the right people, if needed. Some plans also include cellular backup to keep your system on in the event of a power outage.
While some companies only give you the option to self-monitor, some companies have the option of 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup, and some companies even require that you sign up for professional monitoring! Let’s take a closer look.
Self-Monitoring Outdoor Security Components
The following companies do not offer professional monitoring. Instead, you’ll monitor these components yourself through their respect apps.
- Tend Insights
- Night Owl
- Philips Hue
If you’re looking to avoid monthly or yearly fees, I’d go with components from one of these companies.
Self-Monitoring or Professional Monitoring Outdoor Security Components
Some of the cameras, motion sensors, video doorbells and keypads are part of larger security systems that provide optional professional monitoring.
- Lifeshield: In addition to a self-monitor option, Lifeshield has monthly or three-year monitoring plans with cellular backup priced at either $29.99 or $39.99 a month if you want to livestream footage.
- SimpliSafe: Although SimpliSafe technically has a self-monitoring option, it prohibits any use of the app, turning your security system into local alarms only. For 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup, you’ll pay either $14.99 a month or $24.99 a month for remote control of your system, notifications, cloud storage, and more.
- Vivint: I’d recommend doing 24/7 professional monitoring for $39.99 a month with Vivint, as self-monitoring will turn the system into local alarms only.
- Scout: For professional monitoring and cellular backup, Scout will charge you either $19.99 a month or $215 a year. Even without the professional monitoring, you’ll still pay either $9.99 a month or $107 a year for cellular and battery backup and notifications.
- Ring Alarm: Pay only $10 a month or $100 a year for professional monitoring and cellular backup, while $3 a month or $30 will get you 60 days of cloud storage along with local storage.
- Nest Secure: Nest outsources its professional monitoring and backup to Brinks Home Security, either $29 a month or, if you sign a three-year contract, $19 a month.
As you can see, Ring has the most affordable plans by far, while Lifeshield and Vivint’s plans are a bit expensive. Of course, monitoring cost aren’t the sole determinant of your buying decision, but they should be an important factor.
Professional Monitoring Required Outdoor Security Components
Out of all the companies we talk about in this article, only one requires that you buy 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup.
- Frontpoint: All Frontpoint plans include 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup in one or three year contracts and cost anywhere from $34.99 to $49.99 a month.
Let’s be honest: none of us are available to deal with emergencies 24/7, which is why I highly recommend getting professional monitoring and cellular backup for your outdoor security system.
Installing Outdoor Security Systems
All of the brands that I’ve included in this article are all DIY installation. Of course, you can always hire a third party to install your system, but the majority are pretty simple. Motion sensors are typically peel and stick, and as the majority of the security cameras I’ve mentioned plug-in, that makes things more simple as well. What will probably be the most difficult to install are the smart locks, so I recommend hiring a professional for that part at the very least. However, as we’re taking smart security, most of the apps can walk you through installation step by step, so you don’t have to be a tech genius to set up your outdoor security system.
That’s it for the components of an outdoor security system! From outdoor cameras to video doorbells, from motion sensors to smart locks, lights, and plugs, there are a ton of different ways you can get yourself set up. There’s also durability, monitoring, and installation to consider. Here’s a quick recap of your options when it comes to the components of an outdoor security system.
- Canary Flex
- Logitech Circle 2
- Arlo Pro 2
- Blink XT
- Ring Stickup Cam Wired
- Swann Dome Camera
- Swann Thermal Sensing Camera
- Netatmo Presence
- Tend Secure Lynx Pro
- Night Owl Wired Bullet Camera
- Lorex 4MP Camera
- Nest Cam Outdoor
- Arlo Ultra
- Blink XT2
- eufyCam E
- Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired
- Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
- SkyBell Slim Line
- Nest Hello
- Ring Video Doorbell 2
- Arlo Audio Doorbell (can be used with Arlo Pro 2)
- SkyBell HD
- Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell
- Zmodo Greet Pro
- Ring Door View Cam
- Ring Video Doorbell Pro
- August Doorbell Cam Pro
- SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
- Vivint Doorbell Camera
- August View
- eufy Security Video Doorbell
- Scout Video Doorbell
- Ring Alarm
- Nest Guard
Outdoor Motion Sensors
- Schlage Connect
- August Smart Lock
- August Smart Lock Pro
- Nest Yale Lock
- Kwikset SmartCode 913 Deadbolt
- Kwikset SmartCode 888 Deadbolt
Smart Outdoor Light Bulbs
- Philips Hue PAR-38
- iHome iSP100
If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them below. Thanks and we hope to hear from you soon!