When it comes to safety and peace of mind for outbuildings, larger properties or the entries to your home, a good outdoor security camera can be a worthwhile investment. And outdoor cams can do more than just monitor. Some have floodlights, sirens, motion sensors and other features. However, one of the top challenges can be powering these devices: If there’s no outlet nearby — and most outdoor cameras aren’t near one — you may have to switch out the batteries every couple months.
That’s where a solar-powered security camera comes in.
Investing in a solar-powered camera is a great way to put solar panels to good use. And solar-powered security cameras can mean a lot more practicality for outdoor cams that otherwise require complicated hardwiring (as anyone knows who’s tried to discreetly conceal wires behind siding) or frequent battery changes. But not every camera includes solar panels. In fact, our favorite outdoor security cameras — especially those from major brands — are frequently sold separately from panels, even if they’re compatible with them.
These are our favorite outdoor cams that work with solar panels.
Read more: Home Security Buying Guide
2560 x 1440 (2K)
Field of View
Arlo’s $200 Pro 4 camera is a little pricier than some of the competition, but it’s a fantastic all-around device, boasting 2K resolution, a 160-degree field of view, two-way talk, a loud siren, a reliable spotlight, night vision and a load of other smarts. Unlike some other cameras, like the Arlo Pro 3 or Wyze’s solar-powered outdoor cam, the Pro 4 can be used without a base station.
To use the camera with a solar panel, you’ll have to buy the panel separately, which will set you back another $60. That makes this package a little pricier than some alternatives, but the quality of the device justifies that price tag.
Read our Arlo Pro 4 review.
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Field of View
Ring sells a solid spotlight cam that is compatible with its solar panel, but if you want the best deal from the developer, you can get a Stick Up Cam with a solar panel for $149. That’s not bad, especially given the $100 cam’s relatively solid specs: 1080p resolution, night vision, two-way talk, a 115-degree field of view, a built-in siren and other smarts.
If you’re looking for a good deal, you can also find this package for even lower prices fairly frequently — especially during parent company Amazon’s Prime Day sale.
Read our Ring Stick Up Cam review.
How we test security cams
Home security cameras are tricky devices to test because how good they are doesn’t just come down to how their numbers stack up against the competition’s. We do look for better resolution, wider field of view and the presence of features we consider must-haves in 2023, like two-way talk, night vision and options for cloud storage. Then we add in extra goodies, like smart notifications or a built-in siren or spotlight, and hold up that whole package against its retail price. If the features are really strong for the price, we’ll recommend a camera more highly.
But we also test out cameras carefully, making sure all the features work well. Smart notifications aren’t helpful if they arrive 20 seconds late; a siren isn’t useful if it’s barely audible. Some cameras disconnect too often, and some apps are difficult to understand or navigate. This experiential side of things is where our recommendations become more personal and in many ways more useful. Anyone can line up the specs of different products, but we’re putting our hands on these cameras for a week or more to see how it actually feels to install and use them.
In the case of solar-powered home security cameras, we’ve tested each of these devices extensively — but not necessarily with their solar panels.
If you want to read more about our review process, check out our in-depth article on how we test home security cameras and video doorbells.
Solar-Powered Security Cams Compared
|Our Picks||Arlo Pro 4 (w/ solar panel)||Ring Stick Up Cam (w/ solar panel)|
|Field of View||160-degrees||115-degrees|
|Setup||Wireless, indoor/outdoor||Plug-in and battery versions, camera itself can be indoor/outdoor|
|Extra Features||Live streaming, two-way talk, night vision, weather resistance||Live streaming, quick alerts, night vision, two-way talk, privacy zones and motion detection zones, integration with Amazon Alexa|
Solar-powered security camera FAQs
Are solar-powered cameras any good?
Short answer: It depends on where you live. To get the most out of solar panels, you need to angle them toward the equator, and tilt them according to your latitude. In regions farther to the global north or south, you’ll likely generate less power than in regions closer to the equator. Likewise, the power generated will correspond to the season and weather. In other words, a cloudy week in Alaska during December isn’t going to give your solar panels as much to work with as a sunny week in Florida during July.
That said, solar-powered security cameras generally use batteries to store the power generated during the day, so a few cloudy days probably aren’t going to mean a cut feed. In short, they’re not foolproof, but depending on your region, solar panels can seriously lengthen the battery life of your outdoor cameras — or even do away with regular battery replacements altogether.
How long do solar-powered security cameras last?
Much of this comes down to region once again, but assuming you live in a good area for solar power — and you keep your panel properly angled and clean — many people report that needing to replace the batteries is exceedingly rare.
Do solar-powered security cameras work at night?
Solar-powered security cameras will work during the night using the battery power stored up during the daytime. Remember: Both of the cameras above have built-in batteries that normally last months. That means you shouldn’t run into issues with overnight battery drainage — and if you do, it’s probably a problem with the battery, not the solar panel.