Best Solar-Powered Home Security Cameras for 2024 - CNET

Article updated on December 31, 2023 at 9:34 PM PST

We’ve rounded up all the top picks for the best solar-powered security cameras that’ll help to keep your home safe. indoor solar camera with sim

CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise.

You don't want anyone peeping on your property or hacking into your camera. Some are more susceptible than others.

Your camera won't be effective if the only footage being recorded is grainy and unreadable. 

You have two main options and both have distinct pros and cons.

Having a security system in place can help to provide a level of ease and comfort in regards to feeling safe in your home. Security setups were once only accessible to those who could afford to spend the big bucks on them -- luckily that’s no longer the case, with plenty of low-cost security setups to choose from, including a range of solar-powered security cameras. 

These DIY cameras are easy to install and allow you to monitor both the interior and exterior of your home from anywhere. Some more advanced models even have floodlights, sirens, motion sensors and other helpful features. We have tested dozens of home security cameras over the years, comparing indoor versus outdoor, wired versus wireless and now even testing ones powered by the sun.

Unlike indoor cameras, the ideal spot to set up your outdoor camera won't always be near a power outlet. That's why wireless cameras are often better suited for outdoor use. They'll also keep you from having to run unsightly wires. But they're not totally without fault -- that battery will require charging at some point, most likely when it's least convenient and you're out of town. So, equipping your camera with a compatible solar panel is the best way to ensure it stays charged year-round. Solar-powered security cameras allow you to avoid tricky wiring and dead batteries while still delivering on all the other specs like their nonsolar counterparts.

After hours of testing, we've determined our favorite solar-powered cam of 2024 is the Arlo Pro 4 along with the sold-separately Arlo Solar Panel Charger . It's a fantastic device that boasts 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 -- making it well worth the price tag. 

Arlo's $200 Pro 4 camera (currently on sale for $140) 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 , which will set you back another $60. At a total price of around $220, that makes this package a little more than some alternatives, but the quality of the device justifies that price tag.

Ring sells a solid spotlight cam that is compatible with a separately sold , but if you want the best deal from the developer, you can get a Stick Up Cam with a solar panel together for $140. The bundle comes with everything you need: the camera, battery pack, solar panel, Micro-USB charging cable, plus mounts, screws and wall anchors for the camera and solar panel. 

That's not a bad deal, especially given the camera's relatively solid specs: 1080p resolution, night vision, two-way talk, a 115-degree field of view, a built-in siren and other smarts. You can also find this package for even lower prices fairly frequently -- especially during parent company Amazon's Prime Day sale.

There are hundreds of home security cameras on the market, ranging drastically in price, functionality and quality, but only a few offer solar power. After CNET's years of testing home security cameras, we have some tips if you're on the hunt for a new solar-powered security camera. Here are a few parameters to consider.

This is a big one. You don't want anyone peeping on your property or hacking into your camera. Wireless home security cameras can be more susceptible to hacking due to their connectivity to Wi-Fi networks and remote access. Wired home security cameras are more secure. (Read more about the pros and cons of wired versus wireless systems here.)

Video quality should be a major consideration when buying a home security camera -- whether solar-powered or not. In simplest terms, your camera won't be effective if the only footage being recorded is grainy and unreadable. 

The higher the resolution, the better the video quality. Most home security cameras on the market now have 1080p resolution, but others even have 2K resolution (like the Arlo Pro 4) or 1,536x1,536 resolution (like the Arlo Video Doorbell). Just remember, the higher the video quality, the more bandwidth it takes up and the more likely your camera is to experience lag times or glitches. 

You have two main options: There's cloud storage, which sends your video footage to a remote server to be saved, and local storage, which relies on a separate accessory or piece of hardware, usually a microSD card, to hold any footage you'd like to save. Usually, cloud storage requires a monthly fee. 

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. We do look for better resolution, wider field of view and the presence of features we consider must-haves in 2024, 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. You can also read about how CNET tests all devices and services.

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.

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.

4g lte security solar camera 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.