How to choose the right outdoor security camera system

When the time comes to choose the right outdoor security camera system for your home, you will be presented with a huge range of viable security cameras. Even if you take the time to figure out which cameras the top rated home security systems use, there will still be more choices than you might be comfortable with. Therefore, the best option is to consider your needs and then choose the cameras accordingly. To do this, you will need to evaluate which camera features are important to you. This article will guide you throughout the process.

How to choose the right outdoor security camera system?

The first thing you will want to consider is whether you want to use wired or wireless security cameras. After you figure out your home security budget, that is. To maximize the benefits of investing in your home security, you will want to select security cameras that provide the most value for money. We will cover the choice between wired and wireless cameras shortly, but for now, you need to be aware of the following factors when choosing the right outdoor security camera system:

  • Night vision capability
  • Motion detection
  • Surveillance range
  • Smart features and cloud storage
  • Power supply
a security camera
Home security cameras can get rather complicated.

Depending on your needs, some of these factors may be less or more important. For example, if you are at your home most nights, you may not need night vision capability that much. But if you are traveling a lot, then night vision might be a higher priority. It all comes down to your unique situation. To make the best choice, you will need to figure out what camera capabilities you value the most.

Note that we did not include camera resolution in the list of factors. The reason for that is that all the different types of home security cameras that are on the market today provide good image quality. Yes, you can splurge a bit more to get a camera that can zoom in to another state but most of the time that cost would not be justified. For the most part, almost any outdoor camera that you can buy today will have satisfactory image quality. That being said, before you even consider the other factors, you need to choose whether you will install wired or wireless cameras.

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Wired vs wireless security cameras

If you are looking for a “traditional” outdoor security camera system, they are all wired. The wires go into the walls of your home, meaning that the installation cost is also higher. But that cost provides you with much greater reliability than wireless cameras have. Also, if you are looking to improve the privacy of your home at the same time, the lower cost of wireless camera installation might be the answer. That being said, outside of reliability, wired outdoor camera systems are inferior in almost every way.

wired security cameras
Repositioning a wired home security camera can be rather difficult.

For example, it is much easier to install additional cameras to a wireless security system. Most of the time, homeowners can easily install these cameras on their own. Furthermore, it is much easier to reposition wireless cameras than their wired counterparts. In some cases, repositioning wired cameras is all but impossible. But the fact that your wireless cameras rely on your wi-fi connection makes them a lot less reliable than wired cameras. The choice between the two is not clear-cut and is one that you need to consider very carefully.

However, to truly choose the right outdoor security camera system for your home, there is much more to consider than choosing between wired and wireless cameras.

Night vision capability

Outdoor home security cameras can have an infrared system, enabling them to record even at night. If your neighborhood suffers from night burglars, this capability should be at the top of your priorities. That being said, it is a smart idea to include night vision capability in at least a couple of security cameras (e.g. cameras in front of entry points). But if you want to burglar-proof your home on a budget, it is perfectly acceptable for most of your security cameras to be without night vision capabilities. That being said, if night vision and budget are your priorities, there are cheap cameras (starting from around $50) that can provide the balance. They usually “pay” in other capabilities, though.

Motion detection

a mug of coffee
You do not want your motion detectors sounding the alarm due to any movement.

Outdoor security cameras can have motion detection capabilities as well. There are two types of motion detection: Perimeter and volumetric. Perimeter motion detection is the traditional choice for an outdoor camera system. This type will monitor the perimeter of your home, scanning for any intrusions. Volumetric motion detection is handy when you need to focus the detection inside a specific area. One of the newer home security trends is to combine both capabilities within your outdoor security camera system. You may also want to consider smart motion detectors on your cameras.

Smart motion detectors are capable of telling the difference between regular, normal, movements and suspicious movements. They may be ideal if you plan to link your outdoor security camera system to the home’s alarm system. Otherwise, you will need to shut down the motion sensors every time you are using the space.

Surveillance range

Another factor that you need to consider when you want to choose the right outdoor security camera system is the maximum surveillance range of your cameras. This factor will also influence the camera positioning and is especially important for a wired camera system. You don’t need to purchase cameras with more range than you require, even though some additional range is never bad. If you are going with wireless cameras, though, you may want to think about whether you will be moving at some point. Getting cameras with more range than you need means that you can move into a larger home and still use them.

But if you are planning to install a home security system without wireless capabilities, then you will want to get the exact range that you need. There’s no point in paying for a camera with a larger surveillance range if you don’t need it, after all.

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Smart features and cloud storage

person pointing at a cloud and considering how to choose the right outdoor security camera system
Storing your footage in the cloud is amazing but be wary of the additional expense.

These days it can seem that every single camera is a “smart” camera. While these cameras are certainly very popular, if you don’t need the capabilities their cost is not justified. The main advantage of a smart outdoor camera security system is the fact that you can control the entire system through smart devices (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.). This capability is excellent for people that are traveling a lot, as it allows them to check and control their outdoor camera security system no matter where they are.

Most smart cameras also have cloud storage capabilities, meaning that you will not need to delete footage as often (or at all). That being said, cloud storage presents homeowners with additional costs for their outdoor camera system. Cloud storage is initially very cheap (or free) but it slowly becomes more and more expensive. You may want to read the terms of use very carefully.

Power supply

As you might imagine, wired cameras usually have a fixed power supply, whereas wireless cameras usually run on batteries. However, some wireless cameras have the option of being “plugged in”, to enable easier charging. Basically, you will choose the right outdoor security camera depending on the layout of the power supply in your home.

The issue with cameras that run on batteries is that it is entirely possible for you not to replace/charge the batteries at times, creating a vulnerability inside your home security system. On the other hand, a wired power supply usually means more complicated installation, as well as higher installation costs.

Positioning your outdoor security camera system

Once you choose the right outdoor security camera system, you will want to position it correctly. Here are some of the points that you will want to cover with an outdoor security camera:

  • Back/side doors
  • Garage and driveway
  • Front door
  • Lower windows (common entry points)
  • Small buildings within the property

Furthermore, you will want to position your outdoor security cameras well out of reach of potential burglars. Your security cameras need to be out of tamper range. You may also consider whether you want to hide some of the cameras or not. Normally, you want all of your cameras visible and serving as a deterrent, but there are times when hiding a camera or two is a good idea. Lastly, if you want to choose the right outdoor security camera system for your home, be prepared to spend some time on the task. Even when you know exactly what you are looking for, you will still have more choices than you might like.

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To find out more about home security as a whole, as well as any individual component, browse the Consumer Opinion Guide. We can also provide you with recommendations for top home security companies in the country.

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