If you have ever bought an outdoor spy camera you will know that not all cameras are weatherproof.
Despite the manufacturer’s claims some cannot cope with very adverse weather conditions and some cannot cope with ‘regular’ conditions.
Luckily there are now standards and key functions to look for.
This article will explain everything you need to know to make sure you get the perfect outdoor spy camera
Key functions to look for
1/ IP Rating
The first thing to look for is the IP (International Protection or Ingress Protection Marking) rating.
This is a relatively new standard which is now industry wide and spreading.
As you browse through electronic equipment you will see this term used more and more.
Now a lot of mobiles now come with an IP rating.
Why is this so important?
The IP rating is a direct response by consumer watchdogs to combat vague terms such as ‘waterproof’ or even ‘weatherproof’.
In order to obtain an IP rating, the electronic item must go through a set of rigours tests.
Based upon their results they get an IP rating.
IP ratings are two digit codes and each digit has a specific meaning.
The first digit shows the level of protection against solid objects.
The second digit shows the level of protection against fluids.
Therefore from a broad point of view, the higher the number, the better the level of protection.
The chart below shows the exact ratings.
A chart showing all the IP Ratings
So looking at outdoor spy cameras, the normal terms used in relation to IP ratings are IP54, IP65, IP66 or even IP67.
As you will see from the chart there is quite a difference from IP54 to IP67.
A big consideration is where you live and what type of weather you will typically expect.
For example, if the climate is hot and dry then dust might be a concern but not rain so an IP54 might suffice.
However, if you live in an area that is subjected to tropical rainstorms you might feel the need to go for an IP67.
As with all functions, weight up the prices. If you have two cameras that are very similar in spec and prices I would always recommend to go with the higher rating even if you feel this is overkill.
It will help the lifetime of the camera and might help with the resale value.
2/ Operating Temperature
The second biggest consideration when buying an outdoor spy camera is the operating temperature.
This is often not heavily advertised in the spec of the camera but can have a massive impact on the performance and ultimately the lifetime of the camera.
Along with the temperature depending on where you live, you might also be concerned with humidity.
When looking for an outdoor spy camera I would expect the camera to endure temperatures of between -10°C and 55°C (14°F~131°F) with the humidity level around 10%~90%.
Pro tip:- Although a good camera should be able to handle all the weather the environment throws at it, I would recommend trying to position a camera in a place of shelter. A good example if under the eaves of your house.
Well-positioned Outdoor Spy Camera
3/ Night Vision
The various types of night vision and the considerations are covered in depth in this article Best Night Vision
However, essentially check out the specs and make sure the camera uses Full HD camera with at least 4 IR LEDs.
This will guarantee a baseline in clarity.
If you are able to find the similar camera’s for the same money then look out for advanced technologies such as WDR and EXMOR as this will mean enhanced clarity.
4/ How to access the Data
As discussed here: – WIFI Spy Cameras
It is advised to try and get a camera that has both WIFI and SD Card.
This reason is that an onboard SD card allows the data to be backed up locally so you have a fail-safe should the WIFI stop for whatever reason.
Some cameras need to be placed in areas that don’t have WIFI access such as remote areas outside.
In these cases, it is essential to have local onboard storage but be warned…..
In most cases, the footage will loop and overwrite the oldest footage which might be the very footage that you need.
So cameras with local SD storage need constant attention to avoid losing key moments of footage.
As a precaution, always get the largest memory card to work around this issue.
5/ Easy Installation
Finally, find out as much information as you can about the installation process.
Remember to get the best viewing angle this camera might well be in an elevated position.
As mentioned earlier a perfect location might be under the eaves of the house.
Therefore this installation might well be carried out on the top of a ladder.
This is the last place you want to be working with a complicated installation.
For the reasons above I would initially lean towards a battery operated camera as otherwise, the wiring could get tricky.
Our Top Picks of the Best Outdoor Spy Cameras
1/ Apeman 12MP 1080P Trail Wildlife Camera Trap
Our first choice is not the sort of camera that is immediately thought of when discussing outdoor spy cameras…….but it should be.
As although this is marketed as a wildlife camera this is actually a great all-round outdoor camera.
Most outdoor cameras are designed to be attached to a wall and then wired into the mains.
This isn’t always possible for physical reasons or because the owner might not be able to.
Apeman 12MP 1080P Trail Wildlife Camera Trap
As you would expect from a camera designed to be outdoors for a prolonged period this has a very sturdy build and has IP66 Waterproof certification.
The camera in standby mode can last up to 6 months so no need to constantly attend.
This device has an incredibly tough case and can work in any environment including deserts and tropical rain forests.
It also includes a time stamp featuring the Moon Phase, Pressure and Temperature.
2/ CPVAN 1080P Outdoor Security Camera
Our next choice is a camera in the more traditional form.
This camera is designed to be fitted outside to a wall or under the eaves in your house.
As you would expect from a camera that made our top pick list this is very resilient to weather with an impressive IP66 rating.
CPVAN 1080P Outdoor Security Camera
Alongside the impressive weatherproof credentials, this also has an impressive list of other features.
My favourite is the two-way audio which allows the user to communicate via the camera using the app which could be a very effective deterrent to a would-be intruder.
Another feature that impressed me with this camera was the warranty. This includes a 365 day no questions asked return policy which is exceptional.
3/ SZSINOCAM 1080P HD Wireless Security Camera
Another traditional camera and this has made the list due to its very impressive weatherproof rating.
This camera has the IP67 rating which is the highest on our list of cameras.
As discussed, if you live in an environment that doesn’t experience extreme weather this might be seen as overkill however it will boost its resale value as the next buyer might live somewhere else.
SZSINOCAM 1080P HD Wireless Security Camera
As well as the IP67, all the other features are great including one of the best Advanced Motion Detection sensors called Passive Infrared (PIR).
This also allows for a massive 64GB SD card which ensures that you will not have to spend a lot of time visiting the camera to retrieve your footage.
The camera is very crisp and records in 1080p with 6 pcs IR led lights.
All in all, this results in high-quality night vision at a distance of up to 26ft in total darkness.
In conclusion, the main consideration when purchasing an outdoor spy camera is the IP rating.
The reason for this is unlike nebulous terms such as ‘weatherproof’ the IP rating is an accredited rating which guarantees that the camera has passed a set of tests.
The camera should have an IP rating of IP66 or above to be truly weatherproof.
Alongside the IP rating, ensure the camera can cope at high/low temperatures and is very resilient.
Also, be mindful to check the other important features such as night vision and camera quality to ensure you have the very best outdoor spy camera.