Looking for an outdoor IP camera? Not sure whether to get a dome or a bullet camera? What about PoE or a wireless IP camera?
Check out our top recommendations for 2015. And keep reading for the latest on the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) 2015 guidance for UK homeowners using an outdoor IP camera.
Planning on pointing your outdoor CCTV towards a public area? Beware, because you really don’t want to fall foul of the ICO CCTV guidelines.
Before You Get An Outdoor IP Camera
Ever thought about getting a CCTV camera for surveillance outside your home or small business?
With a wireless camera you’ve got lots of options for positioning. Power-over-Ethernet cams also make external installations potentially easier if you’ve got network cables and switches in the right place.
Evidence suggests that outdoor surveillance cameras definitely do reduce crime for particular applications, including:
- Monitoring car parking areas to reduce vehicle crime
- Entrances and exits to your premises, like doors and fire exits
- Back gardens, for passive monitoring criminals casing your home
- Sheds, garages and external storage, for when you can’t be there
- Back gates and fences, and easy access points for intruders
If you have decided on the extra protection offered by outdoor CCTV, make sure your house or shop is secure first.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a camera plonked on a wall will prevent crime.
Before you even think about boosting home security with an outdoor IP cam, get your priorities right.
- Are your external areas well-lit at night, or covered by PIR motion-activated lights?
- Have you secured all gates and entry points to your property with solid locks?
- Is it difficult for burglars to access your property – are low fences secured, climbable wheelie bins removed and boundaries checked?
- Are the locks on your doors and windows top quality? And do you lock them every time you go out?
- Got a security alarm? If not, get one
An outdoor IP camera will supplement your existing home security. It is not a substitute for poor home security.
Locations And Uses For Outdoor IP Cameras
Good, so your property is pretty secure in the first place. What can you do with an outdoor IP camera that offers surveillance?
Position Your Outdoor CCTV Camera
Depending on what you want to monitor, consider your camera position.
If you want to capture great CCTV footage showing the top of a burglar’s head, by all means mount your IP cam nice and high on a wall. It’ll be hard to tamper with a camera 4m up outside your house, and useless for identification.
Consider a discrete camera mounted lower on an exterior wall. A dome camera like a TRENDnet TV-IP311PI in a lower position will be more tamper resistant than a bullet cam in the same spot.
Try and think like a criminal trying to break into your property.
If you want to watch your garage, they’re going to have to come through the swing door. Sneak a bullet camera on high on the side of the garage facing out, so if anyone approaches you can see them coming.
Just try and get that security camera on any snooper’s face!
Motion-Detection CCTV Footage
A very useful application for an outdoor IP camera is to monitor specific areas outside your home.
Use CCTV for continuous surveillance of an alleyway beside your house. Cover a back gate and wall accessing your garden. With motion-detection, if anything enters that monitored zone, you will get an instant notification.
Foscam outdoor IP cameras are supported with some nice apps and software, and aren’t too expensive. They give you good remote viewing options to go with the instant alerts.
For larger areas, seriously consider a high-quality Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera. Top-of-the-range PTZ cams can be set to sweep areas 24-7. If any motion is detected, your outdoor IP camera is triggered.
The PTZ cameras are great for corners and blind spots around your home. Intruders may not spot a moving camera, giving you a better chance of capturing perp footage.
PTZ cams look a bit expensive? Consider a budget system from the likes of Annke. It comes with multiple outdoor IP cameras, so you can cover all areas.
Night Vision CCTV Features
Outdoor IP cameras really excel at offering surveillance through the night.
Good quality IR LEDs can illuminate targets at night up to 30m away. You are unlikely to identify an intruder with night-vision CCTV footage. A camera with quality like night vision like a Hikvision bullet will still register movement on the darkest nights.
Setup your cam properly, and you will get an instant alert to your phone or computer.
Alerts let you know if someone was snooping in the garden at 3am, or taking an interest in your car the night before.
You can get external IP lamps too, offering more illumination for night-vision ready IP cams.
External CCTV cameras are really useful if you have a holiday rental cottage or caravan. Its great to know if anyone is poking around your property when you are far away.
Notification features and remote viewing for IP cameras are dependent on a solid internet connection.
Best Outdoor IP Cameras 2015
Hikvision DS-2CD2732F-I Outdoor Dome Camera
First up, a quality dome camera from Hikvision. Hikvision manufacture lots of quality IP cameras that get re-branded by other companies like TRENDnet and Swann.
This DS-2CD2732F-I sports a 3.0MP sensor, great optics and replaceable lenses to give you different fields-of-view. The three-axis lens mount is very useful for getting your FOV just right.
It comes with onboard recording to an memory card, and the web interface is so good, it acts like a mini-NVR.
The only downside that with a RRP over £300, it’s an expensive dome – but a good one.
See our review for more information…
Next up is this much cheaper TRENDnet TV-IP310PI outdoor bullet camera (see our review).
It’s only £119.99 usually, and gives you a solid build, PoE and 3.0MP resolution.
These TRENDnets are Hikvision rebadges, so shop around for both if you like the feature mix on these IP cams.
No, we haven’t mixed up the pictures – the Hikvision DS-2CD2032-1 above is almost identical to the TRENDnet IP-310PI.
There’s not much to separate these two in terms of specs, but the Hikvision can be picked up for about £90 sometimes.
Hikvision DS-2CD2132 Dome Camera
Love the build quality on these Hikvision, so here’s another – the Hikvision DS-2CD2132.
Another dome camera, remember that outdoors you can mount these vertically or on a horizontal surface. And they can record footage at 2048 x 1536 pixels – so HD and then some.
The night-vision range is good, but for RRP £129.99 you miss out on onboard storage and the flashy image processing available on the higher-end models.
Annke 4ch 720P POE 1TB NVR CCTV System
Annke do everything right for an All-In-One outdoor surveillance system for your home or business.
For less than £250 (yes, that’s not a typo!) Annke give you FOUR IP cameras, running 720P streams using PoE back to the bundled NVR which comes with 1TB storage.
And the cameras look almost identical to the expensive Hikvisions.
You miss out on customisation and the firmware support that bigger manufacturers offer. But for a set-it-and-forget-it CCTV kit at a bargain price, Annke knock it for six.
Foscam FI8904W Outdoor Wireless IP Camera
Finally – a Foscam.
Foscam make cheap little CCTV cameras pitched at the domestic market. This FI8904W is new for 2015 and looks quite smart in gun-metal grey plastic.
This is a wireless outdoor camera, so for about £60 you get some flexibility with respect to positioning.
The Foscam software is OK, image quality is OK, build quality is OK, and Foscam are working to make their cameras easier to setup.
Sannce All-In-One CCTV Four Camera System
Like an Annke with a black spray paint job, this Sannce camera kit gives you four cameras, a 1TB NVR and all the cables you need – and it’s nearly £100 cheaper than the Annke.
The Sannce uses older CCTV tech to feed footage back to the NVR, and doesn’t run the streams on your home network, but it’s a good on-site surveillance system.
ZMODO 720P Outdoor Wireless IP Camera
A cheap wireless outdoor camera like the Foscam above, our review liked the features on tis Zmodo 720P.
It only costs £60 RRP and Zmodo offer their own apps for remote access and reviewing your video stream.
The Zmodo outdoor IP cam does what it needs to do well, but doesn’t let you tinker with many settings.
Hikvision Wireless Dome DS-2CD2532F-IWS
Who’d have thought – a wireless dome camera?
This great looking outdoor IP cam from Hikvision is super-sleek and perfect for those situations where discrete is better than in-your-face.
3.0MP and a wide field-of-view make this a good option for watching a wide area.
The Law and Your Outdoor IP Camera
The Information Commissioner’s Office issues practice guidance under the Data Protection Act 1998 relating to how surveillance cameras are used. The latest data protection code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information dates from May 2015. Lots of it covers Councils and police forces using disproportionate video surveillance to gather personal data on citizens.
However ICO’s code of practice for surveillance cameras does cover you and your outdoor IP camera.
Would your outdoor security camera comply with the code?
Rather than bore your senseless with all the details, I’ll give you the headlines.
Homeowners are entitled to exemptions from the Data Protection Act in order to install a surveillance system covering their own home.
A European Court ruled on outdoor CCTV cameras covering public areas in 2014. They said:
“…where a fixed surveillance camera faces outwards from an individual’s private domestic property and it captures images of individuals beyond the boundaries of their property, particularly where it monitors a public space, the recording cannot be considered as being for a purely personal or household purpose.”
Translation: don’t point your outdoor IP camera at the street or your neighbours. You are not entitled to conduct private surveillance of everyone passing near your home, no matter how annoying you think they are.
There’s more guidance for the public and CCTV at the ICO website. Other tips for home CCTV installations include:
- Do you need it? Outdoor security cameras don’t prevent crime, so consider alternatives
- Get a sticker. If you’re watching visitors on an outdoor IP cam, tell them
- Talk to your neighbours. Explain how your camera doesn’t intrude on their privacy, and benefits their security too