I tested the Spotlight Cam Wired and the Spotlight Cam Solar separately. The Wired is a great option if you have easily accessible outdoor power outlets. The 4.96-inch-by-2.72-inch-by-2.99-inch camera has a 20-foot power cable attached at the back as well as a built-in wall mount, and unlike with the battery powered models, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries or too many overcast days interrupting your surveillance. I’m guessing, however, most folks will need one of the battery-powered cameras.
First of all, I live in a very cold winter climate. (Sometime up to – 35) Also, I’m looking for a outside cam with great night vision. I wan’t to be able to get alerts on my phone. I’m not interested to pay for cloud. I want to be able to save motion detected video on my computer or phone. A plus would be be able to talk to the person outside and an alarm would be a plus. (looking for Wi/Fi and battery operated.)
Most companies will include a statement that says that recorded footage is only viewable by the customer. Regarding privacy, Nest, Ring, Canary, and Arlo all do a great job. Recently, I looked into where the cameras were sending data, including Argus. You can read about that here. If privacy is your top priority, Argus is a good option because it doesn’t have to send anything to the cloud. Though I’m not a huge fan of Netatmo cameras, they would also be a good option for you. Finally, CleverLoop. You can read more about how those two cameras work with/without the cloud here.
Hi Rose, thanks for the reviews. I am about to send a Vivint system back due to the doorbell camera. It does not capture motion events. I am curious as to why you did not review them (or the camera). They are complaining about my upload speed of my WiFi, which makes me ask, where are the motion detection algorithms processed? Are they run on the doorbell, the panel or only after it is uploaded? Did you look into that?
I’ve only tested one cloud-less camera this year (Reolink Argus) and it’s battery-powered. And if you’re asking about systems like Amcrest and Swann, I don’t have anything similar. I mainly focus on cloud cameras for now, but who knows what the future holds! Currently, I’m working on an updated indoor camera version of this article, but all the cameras I’m testing use cloud storage.
Thanks for the all the info and reviews. I have a Ring Doorbell and a Nest Thermostat. It seems as a stand alone the nest cam is a better choice. But at $100/year seems a bit steep. Adding a Ring Spotlight cam will put me at $60/year (doorbell and cam). Seems like the Ring cam is a no brainer for my situation. Am I missing something? I dont mind upgrading my doorbell (Ring or Nest), but even with the new 5 day plan from Nest Aware, Ring just makes more financial sense.

I’m not certain about Nest, but I asked abode about this before. They said, “We have what is called abode Signal Guard. Unlike other smash and grab solutions, the Signal Guard works whether your system is self-monitored or professionally monitored. The abode Signal Guard alarm acts just like a normal alarm where notifications are sent and the siren(s) go off until the alarm is disabled. If you are a professionally monitored customer, the monitoring center is notified of the abode Signal Guard event.”
Using a Family Account, you can share access with nine other people. However, Nest’s sharing feature is problematically one-size-fits-all. All members will have full control over your account, including all cameras and connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera at my house. There is no way to limit their access. Also, they can’t set their own notification preferences, so they either have to put up with all the notifications from my house, or I have to turn off my notifications.
How far away would the two doors be from an available Ethernet outlet? My thought is that you could use a system where the cameras actually talk to the base station, not the internet. Arlo, for example, uses cameras that talk to the base station directly. When the base station is plugged into Ethernet, it creates its own WiFi network which the cameras connect to directly versus connecting to your home network. The hard part would be that the base station needs to be in a central location between the two doors and, as I stated, connected using Ethernet. In a perfect world, you can place the Arlo cameras up to 300 feet away from the base station, but lots of things can obstruct their ability to talk to the base like walls and doors.
Yes, I’m looking for an ecosystem that provides cloud-based mobile access to security video in a reasonably low cost package. However, I don’t want WiFi cameras, because I don’t want the bandwidth burden on the WiFi when I already have CAT6 cables to each camera location and I already have a POE switch. I don’t need a doorbell at all, just the cameras.

One major issue that I have is that I don't believe there is a duress code for this system. A duress code will disarm the system but also secretly send a notification that there is a problem to the monitoring company, who will send the police. The Ring system has a way of doing this that would make it obvious to an intruder that you're letting the police know there is a problem. The panel has two buttons with red dots on them. By pressing both buttons at the same time, the system will notify the Ring monitoring center that you need assistance. The problem is that the intruder will definitely see you do this instead of entering your code to disarm the panel. I can see where this may upset the intruder. I feel like Ring needs to step up and add a duress code feature so that you can be discreet about needing help.


You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
I know the doorbell works because I have a rule that runs on the doorbell. I know the alarm does not work with IFTTT. Now I’m questioning my assessment of the Spotlight. I can’t remember if I actually used an IFTTT recipe with it or just assumed there was one. I gave the camera to my dad so I’ll have him check and then update the article if needed. Thanks for the tip!

Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
Use the Device Health button to view signal strength, firmware version, and the current Wi-Fi network you are connected to, and the Linked Chimes button lets you enable motion settings for any Ring Chime devices you may have installed. Motion Settings lets you adjust sensitivity using the slider, create detection zones, and set up schedules for enabling/disabling motion alerts, and Motion Snooze lets you temporarily turn off alerts. Tap the Shared Users button to invite friends and family to view video clips, and the App Alerts Tones button to assign one of a dozen sounds to play when motion is detected.
Once these motion-activated cameras pick up on movement, they’ll turn on their built-in floodlights, start recording, and send an alert to your connected mobile app. From there, you’ll be able to see and hear what’s going on via the camera feed, as well as speak through the cameras to whoever is on the property. You can also customize alert zones to narrow in on the most important areas for motion detection. All of this can be done from anywhere, which means you can keep an eye on your home even while you’re away.

Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. If you own a Nest Secure security system, events triggered by the system will also show up in the Sightline as red dots or bars. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill. Plus, Nest Hello offers facial recognition and a pretty sweet Google Home integration.
The Ring Alarm is equipped with the hardware to serve as a smart hub, though it's not quite there yet. While the base station contains both ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, only the latter is user- accessible, and any noncertified third-party devices that are paired won't trigger the alarm. You can pair Z-Wave products through the Ring app, but they'll only use the base station as a bridge.
Ring’s motion sensors and contact sensors are much more traditional than Nest’s, which cleverly combine the two into a single device that also adds a nightlight. Nest’s base station also combines the keypad with it and adds even more motion detection sensors – Ring’s separate base station and keypad approach is almost clumsy in comparison. But it is possible to add multiple keypads to the Ring system, so you can have one at each entry way or in your bedroom if that’s a more convenient place for it. The keypad can be placed flat on a table or mounted to the wall, and uses a simple MicroUSB cable for power. Its internal battery lasts between six and twelve months, according to Ring, so it’s possible to install it in a location that doesn’t have an accessible power outlet and just charge it occasionally.
There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
The camera uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ring Floodlight Cam and all of the Ring doorbells, and you can access it from a PC using the web console. The Spotlight Cam appears in the list of installed Ring devices in the app: tap it to access its dashboard screen where you can turn motion alerts on and off and check the battery level. Tapping the Live View button launches a live video stream in landscape mode with buttons for turning the spotlight on and off, sounding the siren, recording and sharing a clip with neighbors, push-to-talk (two-way audio), muting the sound, and ending the stream.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
After shipping later than expected, is the Ring Alarm still worth your time? There are a bunch of alarm systems available that you can buy and install yourself these days, but there are a few key points that make the Ring Alarm stand out. From the ease of installation to the low monthly costs, the Ring Alarm system ticks a lot of boxes on paper that people will be looking for, but how does that on-paper experience compare to the real-life one?
I have tested Reolink Argus and Argus 2. Both are indoor/outdoor, hubless, battery-powered cameras. The cameras do not offer cloud storage. Instead, you can purchase and add an SD card. The cameras record in FHD 1080p, offer night vision, live streaming, mobile app access, and a 130° field of view. However, they lack other features offered by Canary, Arlo, and Nest including geofencing and the ability to connect to third-party devices.
With Password Protected Sharing, you can share access to your video stream with up to ten people who have both the link and the password. Public Sharing is self-explanatory; it’s access to your live stream without a password. Both Public and Password Sharing allow others to view a live stream of your video, but they cannot view your video history, receive alerts, control cameras, or your other connected devices.

When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
Arlo Pro 2 also works with Arlo’s continuous video recording (CVR) plan. The catch is that the camera must remain plugged-in in order for the feature to work, and Arlo’s power cord is not weatherproof. The subscription is per camera and also works with Arlo Q, Q Plus, and Arlo Baby. For $9.99 per month, they will provide 14 days of 24/7 CVR, for $19.99 per month you get 30 days, and for $29.99 per month, you will get 60 days. Arlo provides a discount if you pay for the year upfront and they offer a 50% discount if you have more than one CVR plan on your account.
It was 20*F outside when I installed the cam. I didn't want to be running up and down a ladder if I had problems connecting to the network. I wired the cam up with a plug (from an old, grounded extension cord) and ran the wifi setup routine at my kitchen table. I verified everything was working (including the app, motion detection, etc.) before I installed it outside.
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