What to Consider Before Buying an Outdoor Security Camera

Many factors go into the decision to install a security camera outside your home.

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With so many options for outdoor security cameras available today, here are a few things to consider before purchasing and installing your next security system.


Consider the number of cameras you will need for the surveillance of your property keeping in mind some cameras come with a monthly cloud storage fee.

One to two camera systems can range from $40 to $250. Two to three cameras can cost $80$290 , $500, and $700. Four to eight cameras can range from $400 or $550 up to $1250.

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Camera Types

There are three types of cameras to choose from including Wire-free, Wireless, and Wired.


Wire-free Wi-Fi cameras are the easiest to install using rechargeable batteries that can be charged with a USB cable. Some camera batteries last 6 months while other camera batteries last up to two years. However, they tend to drain quickly in colder weather. You can also add on a solar panel to keep your camera’s battery charged.


Wireless Wi-Fi cameras are easy to install as long as you have a power source close by and a strong Wi-Fi signal.


Wired cameras are a bit more challenging to install since they are hard-wired to both a power source and an ethernet port.

Home Security camera Blink Home Security

Connecting to Home Network

Most cameras use Wi-Fi to connect to your home network. This enables you to access your cameras from your mobile device or tablet.

Smart Home

You may already have a smart hub in your home such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to connect your smart devices to your home’s network. Check the camera’s compatibility with your smart hub. This may narrow your decision on what camera to purchase. A few other hubs available are Samsung SmartThings and Apple Home Kit.

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Camera Resolution

This refers to the size of the digital image the camera produces in terms of pixels. The more pixels you have, the sharper the image.

720p can give you a fairly sharp picture and doesn’t require a lot of storage capacity. 1080p is the most common resolution and doesn’t require a great deal of storage capacity. 2k & 4k (Ultra HD) cameras are also available but they require a strong network connection and greater storage capacity, resulting in possible cloud storage fees.

arlo security cameraArlo Pro 2

Video Storage

Most cameras typically store the video in cloud storage for seven days before deleting it. If more than a week’s worth of video storage is needed, you may need to subscribe to a cloud storage plan. Some cameras store video locally using a USB thumb drive or micro-SD card. There are cameras that offer both local and cloud storage.

Other Camera Options

Even though most outdoor security camera systems come equipped with these options, a few other things to consider before purchasing are:

Field of View

The camera can view 110, 130, 160, up to a full 180 degrees.


Motion-activated floodlight cameras can add extra security to your system.

Night Vision

Good clear pictures at night are always a good thing.


Camera surveillance in real-time to your mobile device.

2-way Talking

This is like an intercom. You can communicate with the person in your camera’s view and hear them as well.


You can sound an alarm from your mobile device.

Alerts to Phone

Motion detected alerts come directly to your mobile device.

Operation Conditions

Consider your climate. Most cameras can operate in temps ranging from -20° F to 120°F.

Joe Cruz
Joe Cruz is a contributing editor for Family Handyman Magazine, creating DIY how-to & home improvement projects for both digital and print. Joe started woodworking at an early age, finding himself in carpentry jobs such as building and remodeling houses, woodworking jobs such as custom cabinetry and kitchen installation, and artisan positions involving props work for theaters and artful exhibit building for national museums. Although Joe is also a fine furniture maker, his real passions are music and woodturning, with original compositions on streaming platforms and woodturnings featured in various art shows and galleries.