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How to select outdoor security cameras for your home

Published 27th January 2023
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We all want to keep our property safe and secure. It doesn't matter whether you've just bought your first starter home, manage several properties as a landlord or live in rental accommodation, you can use a security camera to keep your home safe.

In this guide, we'll tell you how effective security cameras can be, what types there are and the features you should be on the lookout for when buying them!

The benefits of buying security cameras

The biggest reason to buy security cameras is to protect your home from crime and anti-social behaviour. CCTV cameras are one of the most effective deterrents against break-ins. By having one visible, you're telling would be criminals that their acts of theft or vandalism will be recorded, and could be handed over to the police.

It's not threats to your house that CCTV cameras can guard against. Almost all of us use online shopping and expect deliveries when we're not at home. It's common for delivery drivers to leave packages against front doors or inside unlocked porches, where they can be easily stolen. A security camera looking over these spots will deter thieves.

Different types of security cameras

Security cameras come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Some of the most popular types of security cameras include:

Bullet cameras

Bullet cameras are small, cylindrical cameras that are often mounted on walls or ceilings. They're a popular choice for outdoor use because they're weatherproof and can withstand the elements.

Dome cameras

Dome security cameras have a rounded shape and are often mounted on ceilings. They're a popular choice because they're less visible and can blend in with their surroundings.

PTZ cameras

PTZ stands for pan, tilt and zoom. Rather than sit at a fixed angle, PTZ cameras can move their lenses left to right and up and down, as well as zoom the picture in and out, allowing you to keep an eye on multiple areas at once or zoom in for a closer look at a specific area.

PTZ cameras can be moved via a remote control, or they can be programmed to move in a specific pattern. They're ideal for commercial properties like warehouses, or for homes with very large gardens.

Hidden cameras

These cameras are designed to be hidden, so they can be placed in a variety of locations without being noticed. They're often used for covert surveillance or to catch thieves or vandals in the act.

Security camera features

When shopping for a security camera, there are a few key features to look for. Some of the most important features include:

Motion activation

This feature allows the camera to start recording only when motion is detected. This saves on video storage space and battery life (if applicable), since your camera isn't always running. It also makes it much easier to find the footage you need. Often motion activated cameras include the time they started recording in the names of their video clips.

Video resolution

Video resolution describes how many pixels are in the video. More pixels means more detail, so a higher resolution security camera will record sharper images, and you'll be able to make out small important details like vehicle licence plates. It's a good idea to look for cameras that offer at least 1080p resolution.

Weather resistance

Weather resistance tells you how vulnerable the camera is to dust and water. Almost all outdoor cameras have an 'IP rating', which has two numbers. The first tells you how protected the camera is from dust and other small particles getting inside, and the second tells you how protected it is against water.

If your camera is going to be outside all the time, make sure to look for a water resistance rating of IP55 or higher. This will protect it against ordinary rain, although you should still try to position it under an awning or somewhere else it isn't totally exposed.

Viewing angles

The viewing angle is how wide an area the camera can see at once, expressed in degrees (°). Imagine a cone, with the small end coming out of the tip of the camera lens. The higher the viewing angle, the bigger that cone will be.

Night vision

Some security cameras have an infrared light emitter attached. In darkness, the infrared light is picked up by the camera sensor, allowing it to record footage in the dark. Security cameras with this feature are often called infrared cameras or day/night cameras. Infrared light is invisible to humans, so infrared cameras are not easier to spot that regular CCTV cameras.


An alternative to night vision is a camera with a spotlight. This feature is available in motion activated cameras, so when the camera detects movement and starts recording, an LED spotlight illuminates where the camera is facing, acting as a security camera/security light combo. This can be a more effective deterrent than a night vision camera, since the sudden, bright light can cause potential criminals to panic and quickly leave the property.


Some cameras come with built-in microphones, allowing you to listen in on conversations or hear any sounds that may be happening around the camera. Cameras with two way microphones have a speaker built into them so you can talk to whoever is at the door. It's good for telling delivery drivers where to leave their package, or for asking a stranger questions without opening the door.

Object recognition

Some security cameras have this advanced version of motion tracking. Rather than recording only when something is moving in the frame, object recognition cameras can tell the difference between a floating paper bag, the neighbour's cat and a human being. You can program to ignore certain objects, so they won't turn for just anything.

Smart security cameras

For decades, all security cameras had to be wired up to a DVR machine to convert the images into a digital format before it could be viewed on a television screen. This made them prohibitively expensive for most people. However, with the rise of smart security cameras, almost anyone can benefit from a CCTV system.

A smart security camera, also called a Wi-Fi security camera, is a camera that can be controlled and accessed using a smartphone or tablet. They stream all of their footage via a secure internet connection, so there's no need to buy a DVR. As long as your phone or tablet has internet access, you can see what's going on at your property and control the camera in real time - even if you're on the other side of the world!

Some smart security cameras are still wired into your home's electrical grid, but many are battery powered, so they can be installed practically anywhere. Just remember to keep them charged! Also, many of the best features, like two-way microphones, are found only on smart cameras.

Security camera brands

Choosing a top security camera gives you confidence that your home is in safe hands. Whether you're looking for a top-of-the-line option or something more budget-friendly, there are plenty of brands to choose from. So, who's leading the pack? Here are some of the most popular:

We've reached the end of our outdoor security cameras buying guide! Although outdoor security cameras can help deter criminals, they can’t protect your home alone. Even if you’ve installed a camera, you should follow security best practices. Always keep your doors and windows locked when you’re asleep or out of the house, and avoid publicising when you’re away from your home for long periods. You should also consider buying other home safety products to create a home security system. Read our other security buyer's guide to learn more!

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