Finding the BEST Battery Powered Wireless Outdoor Security CamerasNovember 20, 2019
Today on the hookup I’m going to test out the fully wireless battery powered outdoor security cameras from every major manufacturer and tell you which ones are worth your money, and which ones you should absolutely avoid.
Blink XT2 (Amazon US): https://amzn.to/37l4ZmF
Blink XT2 (Amazon UK): https://amzn.to/2KArMkY
EufyCam E (Amazon US): https://amzn.to/35hD45l
EufyCam E (Amazon UK): https://amzn.to/2Xx3xsR
Best for Remote Install:
Reolink Argus E + Solar (Amazon US): https://amzn.to/2KOotqc
Reolink Argus E + Solar (Amazon UK): https://amzn.to/2XtHxiG
Reolink Direct: https://reolink.com/product/argus-eco/
Reolink additional 8% off Promo Code: ytb8offup
Looking for the best battery powered wireless camera? For most people it’s going to be this, the Blink XT2. As you’ll see in this video, there a few specific instances where you’ll be better off with another brand, but for the most part the Blink XT2 is an amazing value.
If you’ve seen some of my other videos you may have heard me say that these wifi battery powered security cameras are foolish and if you want real security you should be wiring your cameras. And while I do sort of still feel that way, I have to admit that I’m a bit of a hypocrite because when my mom and my sister both asked me to install cameras at their houses while visiting for the holidays I opted for the easy to install, easy to use battery powered variety. It’s true they will never be as good as their wired counterparts, but they do give you about 80% of the functionality for 1% of the work.
Here’s the lineup I’ll be testing today from least to most expensive:
First is the Reolink Argus Eco, a more traditional looking security camera that has all the features of other rechargeable battery powered wifi cameras, but for only $60 per camera. The Reolink comes with free cloud storage for one camera and supports free local storage via microSD.
Next is the Blink XT2, a non-rechargeable battery powered camera that costs around $90 per camera and comes with free cloud storage of your last 120 minutes of video. The XT2 is the only camera that I’ll be testing today that doesn’t use rechargeable batteries, but instead uses 2 lithium AA batteries that cost around $1.50 each, so plan on spending $3-6 per year per camera on batteries depending on how high traffic your area is.
After that is the ring stick up cam, a rechargeable camera that just got a massive price cut from $179 per camera down to just $99. The ring camera doesn’t have any local recording options and requires a $3 monthly cloud subscription. The app is pretty neat, and offers some additional features to make justify the price like the option to share a video with your neighbors if they also have a ring subscription.
Then we’ve got the Arlo Pro 2, a camera with a local base station that ends up costing around $140 per camera. The arlo does have free cloud storage with local backup but performed relatively terribly in all of my tests. It’s basically a significantly worse version of the final, and most expensive camera that I tested which is the EufyCam E.
The Eufycam E, also has a base station that it uses for local communication and recording and it can sync with the Eufy Cloud for free backup and remote viewing of your footage.
To figure out which camera was the best I tested them and rated them in a few different categories: Ease of installation, Battery Life, Motion Detection, Video Quality, Connection Range, Internet Reliance, and of course Price.
Since the whole point of these cameras is ease of use, lets talk about installation first. The easiest cameras to install are the EufyCam E, Arlo Pro 2 and the BlinkXT2. They have one or two screws each and a universal aiming pivot point. The arlo and the eufycam have magnetic bases to allow them to be easily taken down for recharging, but Eufycam does suggest that you use their also included screw on mount instead if you’re planning on using them outside.
The upside of these mounting systems is that it allows you to easily remove your cameras to recharge them when needed, with the obvious downside being that anyone can just reach up and remove them, no tools or force required. The EufyCam E has an option to activate a siren if someone tampers with the camera, but in my experience it was pretty easy to remove the camera without activating the siren, so don’t rely on it, still a cool idea though.
The ring stick up cam and the Reolink Argus Eco have more involved install processes that require you to screw in mounts and clip on plastic pieces, these cameras are not designed to easily come down and as a result should be slightly more tamper resistant.
Also different is how each of these cameras connect to your network. The Arlo and Eufycam use a hub that will broadcast its own wireless signal to communicate with your cameras. This is really helpful if you don’t have great wifi coverage in your house because you can rely on the base station to extend your wifi to communicate with your cameras. The BlinkXT2 also has a hub, but the hub is only used for initiating live view and changing settings, and you’ll need to have a strong wifi signal for each of your Blink cameras for them to work reliably. The Reolink and Ring cameras do not have base stations and instead will rely completely on your wifi connection.
Next lets talk about battery life. A subject that seems pretty simple on the surface: the more often your camera is waking up, and the more it’s recording, the less battery life it will get. In practice the variation in battery life was staggering, even after my attempts to normalize both the motion sensitivity and recording settings for each camera.
In my initial test the Arlo Pro 2 ran out of batteries in just 10 days, so quickly in fact that I figured something was wrong with the camera. After swapping out the test camera for a second one, its batteries ran out in just 12 days. Even on the most conservative recording options I was only able to get a maximum of 35 days of battery out of the arlo, and it missed a huge amount of motion events.
The reolink had the next shortest battery life, lasting 26 days. But as you’ll see later in this video I think the real strength of the reolink camera is installation in remote locations where you can use the optional solar panel accessory which resulted in the camera gaining battery percentage most days here in the Florida sun.
The Ring stick up needed recharging after a respectable 55 days, but when I started comparing motion events with the other camera it became apparent that the reason the batteries lasted so long was that the camera was missing most motion events.
The Blink XT2 batteries don’t show a specific percent, but instead have read a simple “OK” since I installed them 62 days ago, based on other reviews I don’t think they’ll be able to achieve the 2 years of advertised battery life, but most people have reported between 6 months and a year of battery life depending on how much motion they are exposed to.
The EufyCam E was the king of battery life. It’s battery indicator has 5 green bars when fully charged and it’s only lost a single bar in the same amount of time that the Arlo Pro 2 has needed to be recharged 4 times.
To be able to conserve their battery, these cameras only turn on when motion is detected, so being able to accurately sense motion is extremely important. To be able to rate each camera’s motion detection abilities, I combed through the same 48 hours of clips for each camera and classified each event as either an accurate motion event, late motion event, or false motion event, and then I used that combined data to determine how many motion events were missed on each camera.
The blink camera had the most total triggers with 71 in 48 hours, which is surprising considering it also had great battery life. It did mean that the blink camera also had the most false triggers with 18 events registering motion with no significant motion in the clip. This can be annoying when using notifications for motion events, but it also means that it is less likely to miss an event. The blink camera unsurprisingly had the least number of missed motion events with only 24 discrepancies from the other cameras.
On the other end of the spectrum the Ring camera had only 15 total triggers in 48 hours, which as I said probably explains why it’s battery life was a bit better than the reolink and arlo. I believe this difference in motion triggering is caused by the fact that the ring cameras only register motion near the bottom and middle of the image and not at the top. That makes some sense if you’re just trying to monitor the area immediately around the camera, but it did mean that the ring camera didn’t register 63 of the events that were caught by the other cameras.
The Arlo and the Reolink had similar middle of the road performances, and the EufyCam E did consistently well, missing only 35 events, having 0 false motion triggers, and still having the best battery out of all of the cameras.
Because the camera units are off most of the time they detect motion using a low power PIR sensor. PIR is great, but it has always struggled with detecting motion that is moving towards it. So for my motion detection test I mounted each camera pointing in the same direction and measured two types of motion events: Motion moving across the cameras field of view and motion moving towards the camera.
These are the clips for the horizontal movement, and you can see they align pretty well with the data from before. The ring camera did the best job detecting and recording motion, followed closely by the Arlo and the Eufycam. The EufyCam video is clearly superior to the Arlo, but both are better than the Reolink and the Ring cameras which failed to detect the motion event at all.
For the motion coming towards the cameras, all the cameras struggled, but the blink camera still did the best job detecting the motion followed by the Eufycam and then the Arlo. The Ring and Reolink cameras did detect motion but not until I was just feet from the camera and missed the entire 25 foot walk up from the street.
So as you can see reliability of motion recording is a little bit of an issue, and its one that’s been discussed in a lot of other reviews for these wireless cameras, but one thing I could barely find any information about is what happens to your recordings when these cameras lose their wireless connection. There were three areas in particular that I wanted to test: first I wanted to determine range of each camera, or how far away from the house you could place them, and then I wanted to know how internet connectivity loss, and complete wifi loss would effect the cameras ability to record.
I tested range by loading the live feed from each camera, then moving 5 feet away and repeating the process. Using this method the Blink XT2 had the worst range, failing to load the live feed at the end of my driveway, around 40 from my garage. Next was the Arlo which cut out at 50 feet and the EufyCam E at around 55 feet, then the Ring that stopped responding at 75 feet, last the Reolink lost it’s connection at around 85 feet away.
The variation in these ranges is relatively easily explained by how each camera handles it’s connection, but doesn’t tell the whole story. The Arlo and EufyCam systems connect directly to the wireless signal that is generated by their base stations. This means that the base station needs to be in a central location for your camera placement regardless of how strong your wifi network is, and this explains why these two systems performed relatively poorly even though my wifi signal is extremely strong.
The blink camera was the first to fail to load a live stream, but oddly enough when I checked the app later the blink cameras kept recording throughout the entire range of my tests. This is because the blink hub is not really a hub, but is actually only used for activating the live stream, and the communication with the cloud is done by directly connecting to my wifi, meaning that even though the camera couldn’t communicate with the hub for the live view it was still able to send it’s recorded footage to the cloud. The ring and reolink cameras don’t have hubs and connect directly to my wifi, which gave them the longest range, with the reolink having a slight advantage due to its external directional antenna.
This was a long winded explanation of this test, but here’s why it’s important for your situation: If you are installing these cameras in a location that already has very good wifi coverage then the blink, ring, and reolink cameras are your best option. However, if you’re going to be using them in a house with poor wifi like the kind you get from your service provider, the arlo and EufyCam systems are a better pick since they communicate directly with their base and won’t require you to upgrade your wifi.
The obvious next question is what happens to video recordings when there’s no connection.
To test this I brought all my cameras to a friends house for a night to see what recordings they would have when they regained their connection. Pretty unsurprisingly, the only camera that was able to record while disconnected from wifi was the Reolink Argus since it has the option to record go the microSD card in the camera. I wondered if the cameras would have some kind of internal temporary memory to record the last few motion events in case of a wireless outage, but that didn’t appear to be the case as none of the other cameras had any footage from outside my wifi coverage area.
This is an important consideration if you experience frequent power outages because even though these cameras are battery powered, the only one that can record when the power is out is the Reolink Argus.
Most people don’t have frequent power outages, but lots of people have flakey internet connections, so to test what happens without an internet connection I used my firewall to block all of the cameras and their hubs from the internet. As I said, I was trying to simulate an internet outage, so I allowed local traffic, just no internet. In this test the blink, ring, and arlo failed to make recordings and couldn’t connect to live view. The Reolink Argus and EufyCam E were both able to record locally and load the live view on the local network without an internet connection, interestingly the Eufycam doesn’t show the recordings in the app until it’s able to sync back up with the cloud, but all the recordings are conserved.
If your internet connection often goes out you should opt for cameras with local recording options like the Reolink Argus or the Eufycam E and you should definitely be aware that you won’t get any recordings from Blink, Ring, or Arlo, when your internet is down.
So it’s time for my final verdict, and as I mentioned in the beginning of this video I think the Blink XT2 is probably the best camera for 80% of people. If you don’t experience frequent power or internet outages and you’ll be able to place all of your cameras within 100 feet of the sync module than the Blink XT2 has great battery life, solid motion detection, and superb video quality for a great price.
However, if you do experience occasional internet outages, the next best camera system was absolutely the EufyCam E which performed just as well as the Blink XT2 in most areas except price. I really wanted to make the EufyCam E my first pick, but at almost twice the cost of the Blink cameras they aren’t significantly better.
If you have frequent outages, either power or internet, or you need to mount your camera in a remote, or difficult to reach location your best option for a battery powered camera is the reolink argus eco with the optional solar attachment. The Argus Eco’s battery will last indefinitely as long as it gets decent sunlight and it will never miss a recording due to connectivity since it can record directly to the internal SD card.
While I enjoyed the ring app and it was fun to be able to see events from around my neighborhood, I don’t think it justified the $3/month subscription fee and the complete reliance on the cloud was disappointing. It missed more motion events than any other camera and while the video quality was pretty good, it was often late to start recording. Even with the recent price reduction I can’t recommend the ring camera.
Last is the Arlo Pro 2… which was laughably bad. Not only was the battery life an absolute joke but the video quality was unacceptably bad for such an expensive camera. Despite the Arlo’s base station it still has no local viewing or recording options, and is completely non-functional without an internet connection. When you plug in a USB drive to the base station it lets you back up your recordings locally, but the flow goes from camera, to the base station, to the cloud, then back to the USB… lots of points of failure in there. Moral of the story, don’t buy these.
If you have had a significantly different experience with these cameras, or I missed something, make sure to let me know down in the comments. Thank you to all my patrons over at patreon for continuing to support my channel, if you’re interested in supporting my channel check out the links in the description. If you enjoyed this video please hit that like button and consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.