How To Create The Ultimate Outdoor Security System
Between June 2019 and June 2020 there were almost 350,000 burglaries across the UK, according to official police statistics. That’s almost 1,000 break-ins every day! If you’re worried about your belongings being stolen, you’re not alone, but a good outdoor security system can drastically reduce your chances of being the victim of a crime. According to one study, installing outdoor security lights alone can make your home up to three times more protected against burglary.
With the help of this buyer’s guide, you’ll be armed with all the information you need to create the ultimate outdoor security system! We’ll explain what devices you should consider setting up for your home and offer you a few products that will protect your -home without breaking the bank!
What makes a good outdoor security system?
The best outdoor security systems have multiple layers of defense. That means, if an intruder manages to bypass one system, they’ll be caught out by another. Having multiple layers of outdoor security also keeps you protected from any unforeseen faults. In the unlikely event that one of these items fails, you’re not left unprotected.
We recommend that you combine a video recording device (either a traditional CCTV system or modern smart security devices like a video doorbell or smart security camera) with one or more bright outdoor security lights. Experienced criminals like to assess their chances of success before they attempt a break-in, so having more than one visible security device will help put them off.
As good as outdoor security systems can be, you shouldn’t neglect the security of your home itself. Make sure to keep all of your external doors secured with properly fitted locks, and it’s a great idea to invest in a burglar alarm too.
How to install CCTV at home
Not so long ago, a CCTV system had to be wired directly into your home’s electrical grid to function, and a video cable had to be connected to a tape bank or other storage medium to record video. These days, thanks to advances in battery and digital storage technology, most outdoor security cameras can be easily put up by you. Just make sure your camera is battery-operated and has either an SD card storage or wirelessly transmits video to an app or cloud storage. Some modern cameras still need to be wired into your home, and so should be installed by a specialist.
While it’s easy to set up modern outdoor security systems, you should be careful about how you position certain devices like outdoor security cameras. Not only do you need to make sure there are as few blind spots as possible, you must also follow local laws. Some countries, states and municipalities have strict regulations about where CCTV cameras can be positioned.
For instance, positioning your camera so that it can see into your neighbour’s property is often illegal. Some regions have also passed laws that require you to post a sign on your property letting people know they’re being recorded. These are just a few examples, and we can’t list all of the laws for each country, so please make sure to consult your local legislation before you begin setting up your home security system.
Top outdoor security products
We’ve given you some general advice, now it’s time to look at specific products that can protect your home. It’s our belief that you shouldn’t have to spend huge amounts of money to set up a quality outdoor security system, so we’ve put together a list of products spanning an array of price points to help you create a solid security system - no matter the budget you have.
Pros: Great features, brilliant camera
Cons: Requires a subscription, fairly expensive
Arlo aren’t as well known as some of the other brands in this buyer’s guide, but they’re quickly becoming one of the most respected in the outdoor security sector. The Arlo Video Doorbell proves why. This video doorbell has made the list because of its combination of a camera with top technology.
Let’s start with that camera: it has an exceptional 180-degree field of view camera with an HD resolution and high dynamic range. You’ll be able to see anyone at your door clearly. Powerful infrared LEDs give you great night vision too.
This video doorbell is truly feature-rich. One example is Arlo’s superior image recognition technology. This doorbell can differentiate between humans, animals, parcels and traffic, and alert you differently depending on what’s arrived at your door. Your phone doesn’t have to buzz every time your neighbour’s cat walks past your front door with this video doorbell. The Arlo Video Doorbell even comes with its own siren that can be activated remotely from the doorbell’s companion app. The same app lets you set up a speed dial to your local police department too.
These features come at a price, however. The Arlo Video Doorbell is a fairly expensive purchase, although you can save on installation costs by opting for their latest wire-free version. But you don’t just have to worry about the upfront cost, either. In order to use many of the doorbell’s smart features, you’ll have to pay for a subscription to one of Arlo’s Smart Plans. Plans start from just £2.49 per month though, and that includes 30 days of cloud-based video storage, so the subscription isn’t exorbitant.
Pros: No subscription cost needed, low price
Cons: No cloud storage, battery must be bought seperately
Our second video doorbell in this buyer’s guide is the M7 WiFi Doorbell. A great no-frills budget option, this video doorbell gives you a wide viewing angle of 166-degrees, 720p resolution video, black and white infrared mode for night time viewing and a two-way talk microphone, all for a low price. Another advantage to the M7 Wi-Fi Doorbell is that you don’t need to pay for a subscription to access any feature, so there’s no hidden costs.
However, the subscription-free model also means there’s no cloud storage. This video doorbell does have a slot for an SD card, but you’ll have to buy one separately. Remote video recording isn’t absolutely essential, but it can be a great help when it comes to prosecuting burglars and filing restraining orders against harassers.
This M7 WiFi Doorbell also requires a single battery to function, which isn’t included. This isn’t particularly unusual for budget devices, but it does mean you’ll have to source a 18650 type battery with a pointed connector. Unlike AA or AAA batteries, 18650 batteries are not easily available in supermarkets. They’re available online pretty easily though, including from our sellers!
Pros: No maintenance or wiring needed, three light modes
Cons: Reliant on good sunshine, sensitive to placement
Next, we’re taking a look at outdoor security lights with the Digital Daffodil Solar Motion Light. This powerful security light has 46 LED bulbs that are entirely powered by a solar panel fixed at the top of the light’s housing. Because it's powered by renewable energy, this light won’t add a penny to your electric bill and it doesn’t require any wiring. What’s more, its IP65 waterproof rating will protect it from all weather conditions.
Unlike many outdoor security lights, you can change how the Digital Daffodil Solar Motion Light reacts to motion. By default, it will only turn its light on when the sensor detects movement. However, you can also set the light to shine a dim light on stand by and a brighter light when something moves in front of it. A third option is to have the light on all the time, which is useful if you want to have an after dark party in your home. Switching between these modes is achieved with a switch on the light’s housing.
While solar energy is a sustainable and efficient energy source, it’s not the most ideal way to power electronics if you live somewhere that isn’t always sunny. On overcast winter days, they may struggle to gain enough charge to last all night on medium light mode, so make sure that you switch over to pure sensor mode when the nights start to lengthen.
You also have to be careful about placement, as an excess of shade could interfere with how effectively the motion sensor can charge. If you take account of both of these facts when you’re installing the Digital Daffodil Solar Motion lights, it’ll be one of the best outdoor security lights you can buy for your property.
Pros: Integrates with other Ring products, powerful spotlight
Cons: Subscription costs mount, inferior clip footage compared to rivals
Next up is the Ring Spotlight Cam. If you want to purchase both outdoor security lights and outdoor security cameras, why not buy a product that can do both at once? That’s the Ring Spotlight Cam in a nutshell - a simple and effective motion-activated security camera with a spotlight built in. This version runs from a rechargeable battery that can last for up to six months between charges.
The powerful LED lights aren’t just there to surprise any criminals that try to sneak onto your property. They provide illumination for the camera as well, meaning that it can record clips in full colour, even at night. You can turn these lights off from the Ring app, and the night vision allows stealth recording if you prefer.
The Ring Spotlight records in 1080p full HD resolution. This is pretty standard for most outdoor security cameras at this price point, although the footage can appear a little muddy and blocky when streamed from Ring’s servers, when compared to the Arlo Video Doorbell. That said, you’ll still be able to see the faces of intruders when they approach the camera.
The Ring Spotlight Cam is already pretty great, but the Ring ecosystem makes it easy to pair with other Ring products. You can set up more than one Ring camera for a customised CCTV system, or pair it with a Ring video doorbell to greet anyone who comes to your door safely.
That said, adding more Ring products will also increase the cost of your Ring Protect subscription. It’s not as essential as the Arlo Video Doorbell, but you’ll still want to consider it if you want to save video footage. At £8 per month (or £80 per year), it’s still not excessive, and it will also increase the warranty of any new Ring devices that you register at your home.
Pros: 4K video capture, extremely tough IP67 weather resistance
Cons: No cloud storage, 4K video takes up a lot of data
Our penultimate pick is for homeowners who want every angle covered. This CCTV system from security specialists, Hikvision, includes four turret cameras with a dedicated hard drive to store clips. If you’re looking for a system that will offer you a great deal of protection for a reasonable price, this is the outdoor security bundle for you.
The video from this CCTV system will be the clearest of all the products in this outdoor security buyer’s guide. That’s because it records natively in 4K video - which has four times the pixel density of standard 1080p HD video. These cameras will show up every detail of an intruder’s face, even from far away.
Not only do these cameras have superior video quality, they’re a lot tougher than the competition too. That’s thanks to their IP67 waterproof rating, which protects the camera’s insides from even the worse weather. Theoretically, these cameras can be submerged in water for thirty minutes at a time - a rain storm won’t be any trouble at all!
You can stream footage to your phone directly from the cameras via the Hik-Connect app, but there’s no cloud storage option to record clips. With the hard drive, this is much less of a weakness than it sounds. Because the hard drive is stored inside your home, it’s much harder for thieves to steal the evidence (compared to an SD card stored in the cameras themselves).
You will have to regularly save any clips you need to a different device like your PC fairly often, though. That’s because of the massive file size of 4K video. An hour's worth of footage can easily take up more than 100GB of storage space or roughly 10% of the hard drive’s total capacity. You won’t record that much in a single night, as motion detecting cameras only record in short clips, but it’s something to remember.
Pros: Realistic housing, no maintenance cost
Cons: Provides no security beyond the psychological, flashing red LED light
Our final product in this buyer’s guide is a bit of a weird one from Kabalo. In the pack are four realistic-looking cameras. Each one has a realistic housing and a ‘power cable’ that snakes behind the body, but no actual electronic parts. Rather than relying on high tech image sensors, these cameras rely on good old fashioned psychology. The idea is that, because the mere sight of outdoor security cameras deter burglars, you don’t actually need to have functioning cameras to secure your home. They’re not only cheap to buy, they’re free to maintain - they don’t even need power, let alone a subscription fee.
Of course, if a criminal manages to figure out that the cameras aren’t real, these dummy alternatives won’t provide any protection at all. Their frame is more realistic than most fake cameras, but an experienced burglar might see through your ploy. Be aware that just because these cameras are fake, you still need to follow local laws around where the cameras are pointed.
Another feature that detracts from the Kabalo dummy CCTV system is the blinking red LED installed at the bottom of each camera’s lens. This feature was included by the designers to make the outdoor security cameras easy to spot - after all, you want potential burglars to see these dummy cameras.
The issue is, outside of films and video games, modern security cameras don’t have blinking red lights, so they’re a dead giveaway for experienced burglars that the CCTV system isn’t real. Thankfully, this issue is easily resolved. The Kabalo dummy cameras need a pair of batteries to power the lights, so simply leave them out! Dummy cameras will never be as effective as a real CCTV system, but if you want an extra layer of security for a small amount of money, the Kabalo cameras are a good choice.
Keeping an eye out
That's six fantastic outdoor security devices that you can use to create your dream security system. Of course, that’s just a fraction of the home security products you can purchase from verified sellers at OnBuy! From security cameras to smart alarms, our range includes choices for every homeowner.
To increase your knowledge of home security even further, check out our range of security-focused buyer’s guides and blog posts. Two great examples are the best video doorbell for your home in 2021 and the best smart locks for your home, both of which centre around smart systems - the latest tech advancement that’s taking the home security world by storm. And, for the smart sceptic among you, we’ve even debunked some of the most common myths to put your mind at ease. So, whether you’re ready to start your smart journey or you’re looking for more traditional means of security, we’ve got you and your home covered.
The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.