The best floodlight cameras

When something goes bump in the night in your backyard, you probably want to know about it. While regular security cameras with night vision can show you what’s out there, a floodlight camera can show you and tell that rascal or raccoon to get off your lawn, scaring them away with some powerful lumens and possibly a blaring siren.

While there’s mixed research on whether outdoor lighting is a significant crime deterrent or just potentially annoying for your neighbors, there are plenty of benefits to lighting up your property from a safety and security perspective. With smart floodlight cameras, you get the added value of better lighting, plus a way to keep an eye on your home. Thanks to sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, smart floodlight cameras can be set only to light up when there’s someone there instead of just when a gust of wind sends a plastic bag through your yard. 

A floodlight camera has a few benefits over a standard smart security camera. If you have existing hardwired lighting around your home, it’s an easy swap to add a camera and lighting in place of standard outdoor lights. This removes worries about recharging batteries, installing solar panels, or finding an outdoor outlet. If you’re looking for advice on why you might want a floodlight camera or how to install it, I’ve got more details for you below as well as tips on how to install a floodlight camera.

Here, I’ve rounded up the seven best floodlight security cameras based on extensive testing over a 12-month period at a single-family home in South Carolina.

The best floodlight cameras

The best hardwired floodlight camera

Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro

Video quality: 1080p HD, 8x digital zoom / Lumens: 2,000 / Smart alerts: Person ($) / Field of view: 140 degrees (270 motion) / Siren: Yes (110 decibels) Power options: Hardwired or plug in / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz and 5GHz / Storage: Cloud, local / Subscription fee: $3.99 a month / Works with: Alexa, Ring

$250

The Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro delivers high-quality video with adjustable, accurate motion detection, 2,000 lumens of light, and a good digital zoom. It offers smart alerts for people or motion and works with Ring or Alexa apps but not any other smart home platform.

Ring’s top-of-the-line floodlight camera has superb video quality, excellent motion detection, and an impressive 2,000 lumens of adjustable light. Its wide horizontal and deep vertical field of view gave a better vantage over my backyard than most of the competition. While I didn’t find the Bird’s Eye View feature that useful, the radar-powered 3D motion detection was very good. Of all the cameras I tested, this was the most reliable at picking up motion anywhere in its range, even mounted on the eave of my second floor. It’s part of the Ring security ecosystem — which is great in its own right — but it doesn’t integrate with smart home platforms except for Amazon’s Alexa.

The enhanced motion detection is the main reason to buy the Pro model over the Floodlight Cam Wired Plus, which is $50 cheaper. The other key differences are no HDR imaging on the Plus or the option of 5GHz Wi-Fi. Neither of these makes much difference on a floodlight camera — due to its likely location being up high and far away from your Wi-Fi router — but better motion detection is worth a lot on a security camera.

Ring’s digital zoom is also excellent, and the bumped-up siren is the loudest I tested (at 110dB, 105 on the Plus). You can’t trigger the siren on motion, but there is the unique-to-Ring option to add a verbal warning telling prowlers they’re on camera — less offensive to the neighbors than a motion-triggered siren. I also like that a $20 wall plug can power this camera if you don’t have a junction box available (you can also just buy the plug-in version for $20 more), but I recommend hardwiring if you can. 

The Ring Floodlight Cam has an excellent field of view.

For recorded video, you’ll need to pay for a Ring Protect Plus plan, starting at $4 a month. This also adds person detection (no other smart alerts) — without it, it’s livestream only. However, the Pro does work with the local storage option of a Ring Alarm Pro, if you have that security system.

Alexa integration is useful; you can view a live feed in the Alexa app and on Alexa-enabled smart displays and have Echo smart speakers announce when people and / or motion is detected. But you can’t control the Ring’s floodlights through Alexa, either with voice or in Routines; you have to use the Ring app for all light control.

The Ring Floodlight Cam works best with Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem

In the Ring app, there’s an option to adjust the three motion zones for the lights — which I found handy so that my neighbor walking in his yard doesn’t turn them on. The lights can also be set on a schedule, adjust the brightness, and link Ring devices so that if a Ring camera on one side of the house detects motion, it can turn on the floodlights on the other.

If you use a smart home system other than Alexa, give the Ring Floodlight Cam a pass, as it only works with Alexa. However, if you are just starting on your smart home journey, the Ring app is fast becoming a smart home platform of its own, especially if you add a Ring Alarm or Ring Alarm Pro to your setup.

The best budget floodlight camera

Wyze Cam Floodlight

Video quality: 1080p HD /  Lumens: 2,600 / Smart alerts: Person, package, vehicle, animal ($) / Field of view: 130 degrees (270 motion) / Siren: 105 decibels / Power options: Hardwired / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz / Storage: Cloud and local (SD card) / Subscription fee: $1.99 monthly / Works with: Alexa, Google Home

$64

This is a Wyze Cam v3 with two adjustable floodlights attached that can also support a second Wyze Cam for more coverage. The motion-detecting floodlights can be triggered by sound, too, and the option of local storage and 24/7 recording (with an SD card) are just a few high-end features on this low-priced camera.

Wyze’s superb floodlight camera is under half the price of the competition. This 2,600-lumen blaster lit up the side of my house like an airport runway. (It’s a harsh white, however.) Moreover, unlike most of the competition, the Wyze Cam Floodlight offers sound detection, useful to highlight anyone trying to creep through the bushes while out of range of any motion sensors. 

Wyze uses both PIR and camera-based motion sensors — which means the camera doesn’t have to be in the range of motion for the lights to turn on. Wyze offers 270 degrees of motion sensing, which is the widest range of motion sensing I tested, and it’s adjustable. The cherry on top is the extra USB port, so you can power a second Wyze Cam v3 (sold separately) and put it around the corner for an additional angle.

Two cameras are better than one. With the Wyze Cam Floodlight, you can connect a second Wyze Cam and leach off the power supply.

Despite the low price, you’ll want to factor in paying for a Wyze Cam Plus subscription plan (starting at $1.67 a month), as that’s how you’ll get smart alerts for people, packages, vehicles, and animals. Although 12 seconds of motion-recorded clips are free, there’s a five-minute cooldown period between them where the camera won’t record anything, so unless you pay up for the unlimited length clips and no cooldown included in Cam Plus, you could miss some vital action. 

Zoom on the 1080p resolution Wyze is not great, but the starlight sensor-powered night vision is superb. This uses any available light to illuminate a dark scene in color, and I could see more in that mode than with the floodlights turned on. The Wyze Cam also has a loud siren and can pulse the lights to scare off anything creeping around. As a bonus, there’s the option of local storage by adding an SD card, which enables free 24/7 continuous video recording.

As with all Wyze gear, smart home integration outside of the Wyze ecosystem is limited. You can stream footage to Google and Alexa smart displays and have Alexa announce if motion is detected. But you can’t control the lights with either voice assistant, and you don’t get individual control of the floodlights outside of the Wyze app.

The best battery-powered floodlight camera

Arlo Pro 3

Video quality: 2K, 12x zoom / Lumens: 2,000 (3,000 when plugged in) / Smart alerts: Person, package, vehicle, pet ($) / Field of view: 160 degrees (130 motion) / Siren: Yes (105 decibels) / Power options: Battery, solar panel, plug in / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $3.99 monthly / Works with: Alexa, Google Home, Apple Home, Samsung SmartThings

$247

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Cam has the best video quality, most versatile installation options, and widest smart home integration — Amazon Alexa, Google Home, SmartThings, and Apple Home. It’s expensive, though, especially when you add continual power and pay for smart alerts and video recording.

If you don’t have access to hardwiring or a nearby power outlet or you want a floodlight camera that works with all the major smart home platforms, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Cam is the best option. This camera integrates well with Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple Home as well as Alexa. It has better video quality than the Ring, a 12x digital zoom, an option to auto-track and zoom, a motion-activated siren, and more smart alerts.

But the Arlo is a battery-powered camera, and while this means you can mount it anywhere you need to, it lacks the best feature of hardwired floodlight cams: reliable, continuous power. Arlo has the option of continuous power, but you need a nearby outlet and an additional power cord (for $50). It does not mount to a standard outdoor junction box and isn’t a great drop-in upgrade for an existing non-camera floodlight. I tested the Arlo for six months on battery power, and I had to charge it every two months. (It was in a very busy location.) A $60 solar panel add-on would help, but then you’re paying over $300.

The camera’s software features are also expensive. You have to subscribe to its Arlo Secure service (starting at $3.99 a month) for zoom and track, rich notifications, and smart alerts for animals, vehicles, and packages. I couldn’t even snooze motion alerts without a subscription plan. There is the option of continuous 24/7 recording (for an additional fee).

The Arlo is the least obtrusive-looking floodlight camera I tested. I won’t go so far as to say it looks nice — but it’s not as large or as prominent-looking as the rest (with the exception of the Eve Outdoor Cam and Netatmo).

The Arlo can run on battery or off of a nearby outlet but can’t be wired to a standard outdoor junction box

Despite the camera’s smaller size, the light is very bright and more than enough to light up my entire back patio. It’s one of only two cameras I tested that has the option to pulse its light to scare off intruders, and you can set its 80dB siren to go off on motion. (Be careful with this feature if you don’t want your neighbors to come knocking.)

One issue I ran into was water getting into the floodlight after a heavy rainstorm. I was able to dry it out, and it’s been working fine since then, but I would recommend installing this and any floodlight camera under an eave or some covering where possible to extend its life.

I also find the Arlo app to be finicky. It logs me out frequently and takes way too long to pull up a live view. In comparison, I didn’t have the same issues with the Ring app — despite the camera being installed further from my router than the Arlo.

Unlike some Arlo cameras, the Pro 3 Floodlight Cam doesn’t require an Arlo hub, but it can be used with one to help with range and extend battery life. If you want HomeKit compatibility, you also need that hub, which costs $100. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have HomeKit Secure Video or the option of local storage. There is just no way around that Arlo subscription.

The best pan and tilt floodlight camera

Eufy Floodlight Cam 2 Pro

Video quality: 2K /  Lumens: 3,000 / Smart alerts: Person / Field of view: 360 degrees (270 motion) / Siren: 100 decibels / Power options: Hardwired / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz / Storage: Local (on-device), cloud / Subscription fee: $3 monthly / Works with: Alexa, Google Home

$230

The Eufy Floodlight Cam 2 Pro has a 360 field of view and super bright, tunable LED floodlights. There are no monthly fees for viewing recorded footage, but the limited zoom and lack of smart alerts let it down.

Eufy has gone for function over form with its beast of a floodlight camera that boasts a camera with a 360-degree field of view that pans and tilts to cover a vast area. This feature — plus its three adjustable, tunable lighting panels, individually addressable PIR motion sensors, and local storage — makes the Eufy Floodlight Cam 2 Pro a great option if you have a large area to cover. 

Important note: Eufy recently suffered some security vulnerabilities, which the company was not transparent about. We temporarily removed our recommendations while the company worked on a fix. While the security flaws appear to have been resolved, the company’s lack of transparency is something to consider before purchasing a Eufy camera. You can read more about the issues and Eufy’s solutions here.

The 360-degree pan and tilt feature is well thought out, with subject lock and tracking that follows a person as they walk through your property. While you set the camera to a fixed point, it can detect motion outside of its view (thanks to PIR motion sensors in each floodlight panel) and will swivel the camera to catch it. 

Smart alerts are for people but not animals, vehicles, or packages. You can adjust the sensitivity of each motion sensor and set up activity zones to limit false alerts. Opt-in rich notifications preview the captured clip right in your phone’s notification tray, reducing how often you have to open the app to check in.

A helpful auto-cruise feature lets you set four preset positions and have the camera auto-rotate through them on a set schedule or on demand. A Look Around button on the main page of the Eufy app sends the camera into a surveillance spin for a quick check on your property.

But it is ugly. And the outdated push-to-talk two-way audio (we’d love some full-duplex here), limited zoom, and no option for continuous video recording are all letdowns.

A neat feature is three lighting panels that deliver a blinding 3,000 lumens of light at up to 5,700 Kelvins — both of which are much higher than any competitor. At full brightness, it resembles the lighting of a prison yard, which is not great for most people. Thankfully, you can change the brightness and the color temperature from cool to warm. I set it to warm and 20 percent brightness, and it was more than bright enough without being harsh. 

The 2K video quality is good, although the digital zoom is lacking (surprising with this image quality). The camera works over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, has a weather rating of IP65, includes standard and color night vision, and doesn’t require a Eufy hub.

There is 4GB of nonremovable onboard storage that gets 14 days’ worth of recordings for free, based on about 45 activations a day. You can also use a network attached storage setup or use Eufy’s cloud service for $3 a month per camera. There is no 24/7 continuous video recording, and it works with Google Home and Alexa to stream footage on smart displays and control the camera’s lights in the app.

The best floodlight camera for keeping your footage private

Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera with Siren

Video quality: 1080p HD, 8x digital zoom / Lumens: 1,100 / Smart alerts: People, vehicles, animals / Field of view: 100 degrees / Siren: 105 decibels / Power options: Hardwired / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz / Storage: Local (microSD card) / Subscription fee: None / Works with: Apple Home, Alexa, Google Home

$353

Expensive but entirely local, the Netatmo is subscription-free and stores and processes all footage locally. It works with Apple Home, Google Home, and Alexa and features smart alerts, a 1,100-lumen floodlight, and a built-in siren. But video quality isn’t great, and there’s no two-way talk.

For those who are leery of relying in any way on a company’s cloud to protect their footage, the Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera is a good option. Netatmo doesn’t have a cloud service: all video is recorded locally, and all smart alerts are processed on the device. You can also opt to store recordings on your personal server (via FTP) or in Dropbox or use Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video service (an Apple Home hub and an iCloud plan is required).

Additionally, Netatmo doesn’t charge any ongoing fees. Its smart alerts for animals, people, and vehicles and rich notifications are all free, which makes up a bit for that eye-wateringly high price tag. The built-in siren is an ear-splitting 105dB, which you can opt out of by getting the non-siren version for $30 less.

The Netatmo camera works with Apple Home, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa, and you can control both the light and camera in Apple Home. It also works with HomeKit Secure Video, but we like the Eve better if you’re an Apple Home user, as it has better video quality, double the lumens, and two-way talk (but no siren). 

The Netatmo is a stylish-looking floodlight camera made of aluminum instead of plastic, with a high-end feel that doesn’t look out of place on the side of more modern homes. It comes in black or white, and it needs to be mounted vertically to the side of a house. (It won’t fit under your eaves.)

The biggest downside is that the video quality of the Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera is nowhere near as good as the competition. This is an older camera, and while it offers 1080p video, it streams in 720p, and there is no HDR imaging or seemingly any other digital trickery more modern cameras use to produce a more vibrant image. There is also no two-way audio. You can hear someone through the app, but you can’t speak to them. The light is also only rated for 1,100 lumens, the lowest by far, but it feels plenty bright in use. I do like that you can choose specific types of motion to trigger the lights and have it just come on for people or animals if you prefer. 

The best floodlight camera that works with Google Home

Google Nest Cam with floodlight

Video quality: 1080p HD, 6x digital zoom /  Lumens: 2,400 / Smart alerts: People, vehicles, animals, familiar faces ($), sound ($) / Field of view: 130 degrees (180 motion) / Siren: No / Power options: Hardwired, plug-in ($) / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz and 5GHz / Storage: Cloud and local / Subscription fee: $6 a month / Works with: Alexa, Google, Samsung SmartThings

$280

A Google Nest Cam attached to two bright, adjustable floodlights, this camera has free video recording, powerful lights, and on-device processing of smart alerts for people, vehicles, and animals. There’s no siren, but there is 24/7 recording and facial recognition.

There is a lot to like about the Google Nest Cam with floodlight. It has built-in battery backup for when the power goes out, free on-device recording (up to three hours), free smart alerts for people, animals, and vehicles, and the option of 24/7 recording (for a fee).

It’s also got facial recognition if you take the time to add known faces. It’s a lot nicer to get an alert that says “Sarah the Gardener is in the backyard” rather than the scarier “there’s a person in the backyard.” You need to pay for a Nest Secure subscription service for this, which starts at $6 a month. 

All of these features are part of the Google Nest Cam that magnetically attaches to the two floodlights. The lights have some good control options, including adjustable arms to angle your lighting, app and voice control in the Google Home app, ambient light activation, and the option to dim the beams. 

Google’s camera strangely lacks a built-in siren

But there is no built-in siren, making it a poor choice for a dedicated security device. It does offer 5GHz Wi-Fi, and the on-device machine learning makes for speedier notifications than most of the cameras we tested. Motion sensors in the floodlights provide a wide 180-degree sensing range, ensuring the lights turn on when anything gets nearby.

The camera works with the Google Home app (not the old Nest app) and can stream to both Google Nest and Amazon Echo smart displays. It doesn’t fit well for an under-the-eave installation (as you can see in my pictures), so only consider it if you can install it on the side of your house and up high. 

Read my full Google Nest Cam with floodlight review here.

The best floodlight camera with HomeKit Secure Video

Eve Outdoor Cam

Video quality: 1080p HD, 6x digital zoom / Lumens: 2,400 / Smart alerts: People, vehicles, animals, familiar faces  / Field of view: 157 degrees / Siren: No / Power options: Hardwired / Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz / Storage: Cloud / Subscription fee: $1 a month / Works with: Apple Home

$230

The Eve Outdoor Cam is a compact floodlight camera that mounts to a wall. With good-quality video and two-way audio, it doesn’t have a siren but is the best option if you want to use Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video, which has alerts for people, packages, animals, and vehicles as well as facial recognition.

The Eve Outdoor Cam is the best Apple Home floodlight camera. It works with HomeKit Secure Video, which processes all video locally on an Apple TV or HomePod. But it only works with Apple Home and the Eve app, which doesn’t have an Android version yet, so only get this if you use an iPhone.

The Eve camera is compact and svelte — and the smallest camera I tested. It was so small, it didn’t completely cover the electrical box for the light it was replacing. (It only mounts on a vertical wall, so you can’t put it under an eave or overhang.) It has a good solid feel and, like the Netatmo, the housing is aluminum (all the other models are plastic) and it comes in white or black. The Eve Outdoor Cam also looks much less like a mall surveillance camera than many of its competitors.

The Eve Outdoor Cam looks much less like a mall surveillance camera

Its video quality is very good, especially during the day. Images were bright and clear and only a little pixelated when I zoomed in. At night, with the light on, the image was a little muddy, but I could make out faces clearly enough. The regular night vision was slightly better.

Apple’s HomeKit video integration adds a slew of smart alerts, including people, packages, animals, and vehicles. You can also grant access to your Apple Photos library and get alerts when it recognizes people. Facial recognition and package alerts make this a good camera to set up by your front door. It’s also not super bright, as in it won’t blind visitors. But it will light up the scene well enough to see what’s happening. There is a brightness boost mode that adds an extra bump for 30 seconds if you did want a stronger floodlight. It’s nothing compared to the Eufy or Wyze lighting, though, which are both like walking down an airport runway.

There is no built-in siren or 24/7 recording, and you have to pay for an iCloud Plus plan (starting at 99 cents per month) to view any recorded video. But there is two-way audio, which was very good, and you can use the light and motion sensor separately to trigger automations in the Apple Home app.

Why buy a floodlight security camera

Anyone considering installing security cameras outside their home should look at a floodlight camera first. These devices combine lights, a camera, and (in most cases) continuous power in one easy package. The motion-activated lights also provide a valuable safety feature, helping make sure you don’t trip on that package left in your driveway. Plus, most have built-in sirens you can activate to deter anyone from creeping around your property. 

Floodlight security cameras generally hardwire to your electrical system, like a light fixture. They still operate wirelessly to transmit video using your home’s Wi-Fi. Some have a backup battery built-in, and one I tested (the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight camera) can be completely wireless, working just off battery.

The advantage of the hardwired option is there are no battery-charging woes. And unlike with a plug-in camera, you don’t need to worry about drilling through your walls to access an indoor plug or putting the camera near an outdoor receptacle while snaking wiring down the side of your house. If you already have some sort of outdoor lighting, it’s a relatively easy swap to get a hardwired, always-on security camera plus light set up on the side of your house.

It’s relatively easy to upgrade an old floodlight to one with a camera

Floodlight cameras cost between $99 and $350 and, in general, come with the same camera technology as standard outdoor cameras. The Google Nest Cam with floodlight, the Wyze Cam Floodlight, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, and the Ring Floodlight Cam Pro all essentially take the companies’ flagship cameras and stick 2,000 to 3,000 lumens of motion-activated light on them. The camera is controlled in the same way and with the same features as the regular outdoor camera, but you get the added option of light control, making this an excellent upgrade to standard motion-activated lighting.

That lighting control includes adjusting the brightness (handy if you have sensitive neighbors), the length of time the lights stay on, what activates them, the option to have lights come on automatically at sunset and turn off at sunrise, and even integrate into smart home routines. Some models have lights that can be controlled individually with voice assistants such as Alexa, Google, and Siri, using their respective platforms.

Why not to buy a floodlight security camera 

The downside to floodlight cameras is they’re significantly more expensive than their non-shiny siblings, generally $100 or so more. They’re also more limited in where you can place them; most need to be up high and where there is existing wiring for lighting (unless you are ready to spend a few extra hundred dollars on an electrician’s services). But that wiring provides continuous power, so once they’re up, you don’t have to mess with them. The same can’t always be said for battery-powered options.   

Another consideration is that most floodlight cameras use non-replaceable LED lighting, so if the lights go bad, you’re left with a camera in the dark. A couple of models — Nest and Wyze — have removable cameras, so if the lights do go out, you still have a camera you can use elsewhere. All of the models we tested have lights that should last between 50,000 and over 100,000 hours of use. 

How to install a floodlight security camera

Wiring for a floodlight camera is similar to any lighting fixture, with the addition of an outdoor junction box in some cases. I highly recommend employing an electrician, especially if you are at all uncomfortable fiddling with wiring anything while on the top of a ladder.

Installing a floodlight camera involves wiring and a ladder. While it can be a DIY project, it’s likely best suited to a licensed electrician.

The ideal place to install a floodlight camera is facing a yard, path, or driveway, placed up high — at least six to 10 feet — so the lights cover an ample space and the camera has a good view. Make sure you have decent Wi-Fi in the area you want to install; if not, consider extending your Wi-Fi or upgrading to a mesh router. 

Before installing, download the manufacturer’s app and check the instructions. Some cameras must be paired to the app before mounting them, which helps avoid too many trips up a ladder.

Another thing to be aware of is which light switch in your home controls the camera. If you install it where there was previously a light, it will be controlled by a switch somewhere in your home. Handily, Wyze provides a bright purple sticker with its camera that you can affix to the switch, warning people not to turn it off. I wouldn’t recommend covering it with a flat plate or disabling it because it’s a helpful troubleshooting tool if you do run into any issues. 

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Update Thursday, March 16th, 2023, 11:50 PM ET: Added new details throughout and updated features and prices.

Source: The Verge

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