How to Buy Outdoor Security Cameras

outdoor bullet security cameraMany types of cameras can be used as outdoor security cameras, including dome cameras and bullet cameras.

However, most dome and bullet cameras especially, are smaller models and not small bullet security camerareally suitable for outdoor use.  The smaller cameras are better for use in more confined and sheltered areas such as hallways and carports.

An outdoor security camera should have “night vision” and “weatherproof” capabilities.

It should be able to view a large area and placed high up, typically at about a second floor level, to protect against vandalism and people throwing things at the camera.

If you notice outdoor cameras at shopping centers, Wal Mart stores, or schools, you will see they are placed up high enough to view a larger area and protect against vandalism.

If outdoor cameras are wired, the wires should be mounted inside the walls or placed inside conduit, or sealed some other way to protect against vandalism and also weather damage.

This may require professional installation.

The outdoor cameras you buy should have night vision capabilities, which means infrared LED’s, a low LUX rating (the lower the number, the better the camera can see at night).

With a LUX rating of .0011 a camera should see well on a regular starlit night.

A camera with a LUX rating of .0001 should see well on a cloudy night.

Even with a higher rating of .05 (or better) most outdoor security cameras are considered to see better than the human eye at night!

Weatherproof Ratings of Outdoor Security Cameras:

Cameras are given NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association) ratings and IP (International Protection or Inngress Protection) ratings.

The higher the number, the better the rating:

– A NEMA 4X rating would be given to a camera that is designed for indoor and outdoor use and resistant to corrosion.

– A NEMA 4 (without the X) rating would be given to a weather resistant camera without the corrosion protection.

IP Ratings are two-digit numbers – the higher the better. Here are examples:

00 means “no protection”

11 means protection against objects larger than 2 inches in diameter, and dripping water

66 means protection against dust (getting inside) and high pressure water (as in water from a severe storm)

You may commonly see a rating given of “IP56” which is limited dust protection and protection against high pressure water.

For any security camera you are considering buying online or locally, look for photos/videos or a demonstration of what the camera actually sees, and the features it has, such as PTZ.

(Pan, Tilt, ZoomPan refers to viewing horizontally – from side to side, Tilt means viewing vertically – up and down, and Zoom means a zoom lens).

Outdoor Security Camera Buying Tip:

This tip also refers to indoor and wireless cameras. Some websites or dealers may call a “varifocal lens” a “zoom lens” when it isn’t a true zoom lens.

focal-lengthA varifocal lens is a lens where the focus changes when the focal length is changed. True zoom lenses retain correct focus throughout the focal length range. An “auto iris” feature is required for this.

Typically a “varifocal only” lens is adjusted when you set up the camera and can’t be changed.

The best way I know to make sure you’re getting a true zoom lens camera is to ask these two specific questions:

  • “Does this lens have a constant maximum aperture at all focal lengths“?
  • “Can I adjust the zoom of this lens from where it is being monitored, or do I have to readjust the actual lens every time I want different zoom settings“?

outdoor camThe camera shown above and HERE is an example of a good Outdoor Security Camera with all the features you’d want.

  • It has 36 IR (Infrared) LEDs which gives it a range of up to 100 feet.
  • It is rated at 0.0 LUX, which means it can see in total darkness.
  • It is weatherproof and vandal resistant.
  • It has a weatherproof rating of IP67.  [IP67 = total protection against dust, and camera can be immersed in water approximately 6 – 39 inches deep (15 cm – 1 meter)].
  • This camera also has a Concealed Cable Mounting Bracket which means the cables run through aluminum housing, which protects against severe weather, vandals, and burglars.


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