Help me, Tom's Guide: Which outdoor security camera should I buy?

Wyze Cam v4
(Image credit: Wyze)

I spend a lot of my time testing the best home security cameras as the Smart Home Editor for Tom's Guide. For the past few years, I've gone hands-on with dozens of the latest security cameras and systems. It's an area I'm happy to nerd out about and have covered extensively from my complaints about the rise in their subscription costs to my opinion on Wyze cameras.

That's why I'm always eager to lend a hand to readers who write in with questions about how to improve their home security setup. So when someone recently wrote in asking for advice about the best outdoor security camera to buy for their unique situation, I came up with a few versatile recommendations that I thought would be great to share here.


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Hello,

Attached is a picture of my garage. It has no electricity. I live around the corner where I cannot see the garage. Someone has been tampering with the garage door, handles, and lock over the past few weeks.

What type of security camera would I need to catch/record them in the act? I know the people who live in the apartment with the window in the picture. I don't think they have Wi-Fi but I think they would let me plug something into an outlet near the window.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, 

Michael S


First off, I think it's great that you have neighbors that would potentially lend you a hand (or an outlet). Mine wouldn't spare me a drop of water even if I were on fire so I'd say you're off to a pretty good start! After looking at your requirements, I think I can suggest a few models you might want to look at.

Wyze Cam v4: $35 @ Amazon

Wyze Cam v4: $35 @ Amazon 
This is a fantastic value on a new outdoor camera with a 2K resolution, built-in spotlight, and local storage all packed into a slim white ultraportable cube that can be mounted on virtually any surface.

If your neighbors let you use their power I can't recommend the $35 Wyze Cam v4 enough. Just throw a MicroSD card into it and you don't have to pay a monthly fee for video storage. This outlet-powered camera has a sharp 1440p resolution with color night vision and can be placed outside since it is weatherproofed.

The Wyze Cam v4 sticks anywhere thanks to its magnetic base and records video locally which helps in your case since there's no Wi-Fi. Of course, you won't get live notifications right away when someone is in the act but you can go back and review the footage the next day.

Now if you don't want to rely on your neighbors at all you, can buy a battery-powered camera. These models don't need an outlet but will need you to either swap out the rechargeable battery once in a while or mount a solar panel nearby. 

Wyze Cam Battery Pro: was $99 now $69 @ Amazon 

Wyze Cam Battery Pro: was $99 now $69 @ Amazon 
For $99 you can grab the Wyze Battery Cam Pro which shares the same 2K resolution and weatherproof body as the model above but cuts the cord entirely. It has both PIR and radar, the combination of which leads to more accurate motion detection.

Wyze makes an affordable option which often goes on sale for just under $70. Like the Wyze Cam v.4, the Wyze Battery Cam Pro has a built-in microSD card slot, so it can save all its video locally. So, while it may be out of range of your Wi-Fi — meaning, you won't get any real-time alerts — you can always go back the next day and retrieve your footage.

Cameras with cellular connectivity

If you're willing to spend more, a few companies make cameras with 4G connectivity, so you can place them virtually anywhere. However, not only do these cameras tend to cost more, but you'll also have to pay a monthly fee for cellular. Still, this is perfect for a scenario like yours where you don't have power or Wi-Fi access. That way you don't have to plug a camera in at all, plus you can still get real-time notifications if motion is detected at your garage.

Two models I suggest are the Arlo Go 2 ($249) and the Eufy 4G LTE Cam ($249). These cameras can be powered by a solar panel (the Arlo runs on battery by default) so they don't need outlet power or W-Fi to work. They will require you to subscribe to a cellular plan to send you live footage and notifications. That way you not only get video clips sent directly to your phone but can also know exactly when that person is shaking on your garage door like an alarm system.

Eufy 4G LTE Cam: was $249 now $219 @ Amazon

Eufy 4G LTE Cam: was $249 now $219 @ Amazon
Eufy's S330 LTE and Wi-Fi camera boasts a high 4K resolution and includes a solar power panel. This eliminates the need to swap out batteries or plug it into an outlet. It's a pan-and-tilt model for a full 360 degrees of coverage and you don't have to pay a subscription for AI subject identification. 

Arlo Go 2: $249 @ Amazon

Arlo Go 2: $249 @ Amazon
This 1080p outdoor camera works on both LTE and Wi-Fi. If you want to use data you'll need to pay for a separate service plan and SIM card. Its weatherproof body is built to withstand the elements and the hot-swappable rechargeable battery means you can easily switch between a spare so there are no gaps in coverage.

I don't know how far away your garage is from your house, but you might also consider installing a Wi-Fi range extender in your house closest to your garage; it may just extend your Wi-Fi far enough to reach your garage.

Of course, there are plenty of security cameras out there but these are the companies I use in my own home each day. I find their hardware reliable and apps straightforward enough for anyone to use them without issues. Plus they all support custom zones so you can cut down false alerts and only get notified when someone is next to your garage.

Hopefully one of these recommendations helps you find the perfect fit for your security setup. But if not don't miss our list of the best home security cameras overall for more comparisons, reviews and buying advice based on our extensive hands-on testing.

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Hunter Fenollol
Senior Editor, Smart Home

Hunter Fenollol is a Senior Editor for Tom’s Guide. He specializes in smart home gadgets and appliances. Prior to joining the team, Hunter reviewed computers, wearables, and mixed reality gear for publications that include CNN Underscored, Popular Mechanics, and Laptop Magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest cooking gadgets, you can likely find him playing a round of golf or out with friends feeding his paycheck to a QuickHit slot machine. Hunter started his career as an intern at Tom’s Guide back in 2019 while in college. He graduated from Long Island University Post with a degree in Communications and minor in Advertising. He has been vlogging ever since the iPhone 4 took front-facing cameras mainstream.