If you’re anything like me, you want a straight-forward, easy-to-use, easy-to-understand security system to secure your home or office.
You may have looked into a variety of subscription plans with famous brands, or you might be just starting out investigating your options.
Wherever you fall in this discussion, I’d like to advocate for a solar powered security camera for your outdoor security needs. This kind of camera has a lot of advantages, which I’ll discuss below, but there’s also no monthly subscription fee you need to pay to have someone else watch your home or cabin.
Below we’ll review the 3 best solar powered security camera options.
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How Does a Solar Powered Security Camera Work?
A solar powered security camera works like any other solar powered system.
The camera, in this case, is positioned in an appropriate location somewhere around the home, office, cabin door, or shed roof, and a solar panel – which is connected by cable to the camera – is positioned somewhere nearby where it can get the most sunlight.
The solar panel – a sheet of photovoltaic cells – captures UV light from the sun and translates this light into energy that can be used to power the security system.
When Does a Solar Powered Security Camera Make Sense?
I’m all about using solar power for everything possible. However, there are some circumstances that are more suitable for the use of solar security cameras than others. Let’s start with the reasons you should use solar powered security cameras, and then we’ll dig into where and when they shouldn’t be used.
First off, and probably most obviously, solar powered security cameras are eco-friendly. They use solar panels – with photovoltaic cells – that draw in energy from the sun and convert that energy into a form of electricity that electronics and appliances can use instead of traditional powerplant electric.
That means you’re saving the environment – even a little bit makes a difference! – by using a renewable energy source instead of burning through the resources that run a power plant.
They’re Convenient for Remote Locations
If you’ve got a vacation home, hunting lodge, or some other location where you don’t live but want to keep secure, a good wireless solar powered surveillance camera with movement sensor can track possible issues for you. This is especially true for those cameras that are WiFi enabled.
They’re Independently Secure
If someone does try to cut into your home power system to prevent getting caught on camera, they won’t actually disarm the security camera.
The rest of the house might lose power, but the solar powered wireless home security camera will still be running and able to signal you that there’s a problem.
They’re Quick and Easy to Install
Unlike security systems that require extra wiring and heavy installation setups, solar powered security camera systems are easy to install and get going. You don’t have to wire them into anything.
You simply place and mount them as you need, with the solar panels in line with as direct sunlight as possible, and you turn them on and run any programs to get them connected to your Wifi system or phone.
They’re Harder to Detect
Because you don’t have all those wires running all over the place outdoors, your solar powered wireless security camera is harder to notice by the bad guys. They’re looking for wires that indicate a system they don’t want to trigger. And, if they don’t spot the system, they’re less likely to try to disarm the security system and you’re therefore more likely to know there’s an issue.
They Work When the Power Grid is Out
If your neighborhood has a power outage, you’re still going to have security because the camera’s working on that solar energy and back-up battery. Need I say more?
When Does a Regular Security System Make More Sense?
As I mentioned above, there are some circumstances in which a standard electrically based security system just makes more sense than the energy saving solar powered system.
When There’s Not Enough Sunlight for the Solar Panels
Some folks do live in places where they’re just not going to get enough sunlight to keep their wireless solar powered surveillance camera with movement sensor running and able to detect movement.
Seattle, Alaska, Portland, or anywhere with a regular cloud cover or dark winters will have issues keeping a solar powered system running all the time.
And, honestly, this is the biggest issue I would warn against on solar powered cameras. Generally speaking, everyone else can use them successfully, unless they get a poor-quality camera or a solar panel with too low wattage to run the camera appropriately.
Ideal Locations to Place Solar Outdoor Security Cameras
There are a few specific places that are ideal for a solar powered security camera, though I always recommend them for standard homes and smaller offices as well.
- Log cabins in the woods
- Sheds in the backyard
- Vacation homes
- Mother-in-law apartments
- Kids’ bedroom windows
- Construction sites
- Off-the-grid farms
- Rental properties
- Stables – especially stalls for animals with health concerns
The reason I particularly recommend solar cameras for these locations is that you can have added peace of mind being able to see things that you don’t typically get to keep a close eye on. When you’re away, it’s good to know that the kids are secure, the tools are secure, and your RV is closed up tight.
I especially like having one or two of these along for camping trips of any extent. They help me know the site is secure when I’m off hiking or visiting the local areas of interest.
How To Choose The Best Option For Your Specific Circumstances
I created a list of options for you to consider using this brief list of criteria for finding the best solar powered security cameras.
1. Choose a Camera with Long Working Hours
This, of course, should be fairly obvious. A security camera needs to have a powerful enough solar panel to run pull in power for the camera to work for long hours – i.e. during daylight hours and overnight.
You can’t feel secure if you’re constantly wondering if the camera’s even got enough juice to keep it on.
2. Find a Camera that is Weather Resistant
Since your security camera is outdoors, you need a system that can put up with some wind, rain, and falling debris.
Obviously, we’re not expecting the system to survive hurricanes or tornadoes, but your camera and solar panel need to be able to handle the standard weather concerns in your area.
3. Pick a Camera that is Vandal-Proof
Security cameras have different mounts that can help make them difficult to tamper with.
Weak, easy-to-remove mounting systems are a no-brainer for baddies to quickly pick off and disarm.
Opt for cameras that have vandal-proof mounts, and then position them in secure places where they won’t easily be snatched.
You can also do things to protect, secure, and camouflage them to help prevent this issue as well.
4. Look for a Camera with Infrared or Starlight Vision
Since most of us are expecting our security cameras to work at night protecting our homes and vacation cabins, we need cameras that have some way of seeing things at night. Finding a system with Starlight or Infrared Vision can increase the security these cameras offer.
Many also give the option of a security light that clicks on and lights the area where they sense motion. This can also enable the camera to pick up images clearly enough to see what’s going on outside.
5. Decide on a Camera with WiFi or 4G Capability
This option isn’t necessarily required for everyone, but many of you will find it more convenient. WiFi capability doesn’t require a subscription, while 4G will (for the data from your phone company).
Both are beneficial and provide things like push notifications, alarms, email alerts, et cetera, but the 4G has additional features and functions since it has a subscription providing more versatility.
6. Opt for a Camera with SD Cards
Cameras with SD cards provide more memory than the average security camera. For those with remote locations they’re securing, this is probably your best option.
However, WiFi and 4G enabled cameras can also transmit without storage (or to the cloud) so you may not need both features in your camera.
7. Purchase a Camera with Movement Detection
Finally, and potentially most importantly, you want a solar powered security camera outdoor system that has motion detection.
This means it won’t trigger and run down the power while just sitting there, but instead engages when there’s some kind of motion in the range of the camera’s lens. This can add hours of life to the charge.
How We Chose These Solar Powered Security Camera Systems As Our Top Options
We’re looking at these cameras because we want security for our homes and remote locations. And I wasn’t about to review and suggest just any cameras for you, any more than I would just buy the first option I found online when searching “best solar powered security camera.”
Let’s be honest here – a lot of the options are just something some guy is trying to push for profit because he’s got a contract.
I want unbiased suggestions, and I know you do, too. So, I dug around for quite a while looking for as long a list as I could muster before doing my own investigation into the quality, reputation, and features of each.
After that digging, I had a list of about 25 cameras that are currently available, had great reviews, and high ratings from real users.
25 is way too many to realistically consider for anyone, so I looked at all the specifications, and the details of the consumer reviews.
I compared these things to my own understanding of solar power, security, and cameras, and then dropped any off the list that didn’t meet my own standards.
I was left with a list of about ten at this point. This is a manageable list, so I checked into things myself and discovered which ones work well.
You’ll find my Ring spotlight cam solar review and Reolink Go review below, along with a couple of runners-up and additional thoughts on this matter of solar powered wireless IP cameras.
Reviews of the Best Solar Powered Security Cameras
Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
The Reolink Go is one of the best solar powered security cameras available. It’s got pretty much every feature you could want, including both Cloud storage and SD card storage, night vision, and two-way audio.
It’s a great camera to use at home, at the office, or at a remote location in the woods.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Memory: SD/Cloud
- Starlight/Infrared Vision: Yes
- WiFi Enabled: No
- 3G/4G Enabled: Yes
- Weather Proof: Yes
- Motion Sensor: Yes
- Battery Backup: Yes
- Video Quality: 1080p Full HD
- Alert Options: Email, push notifications, sound alerts, custom
- Two-Way Audio: Yes
- Vandal-Proof: Not specifically
- Solar panel included: No, but available here
This camera from Reolink is awesome. It’s got everything you need, plus some things that you want beyond that.
First off, it’s 3G/4G connected so you can put it anywhere you can get a cell signal and not have to worry about having a connected WiFi router.
And because of this kind of connectivity, you can get email notifications, instant push notifications on your phone, or create your own alert message and have the alarm sound whenever there’s an issue.
The system is solar powered but has a strong rechargeable battery that runs the system overnight, meaning you’re not going to have to worry about whether or not this camera is working, even after a short day of sunlight.
The system has 1080p Full HD and 110-degree wide field of vision. I love this because it means I can see more of what’s going on – both in field of vision and in the video itself. It’s high enough quality that you can catch details – like a nametag – meaning you can feel safer.
Plus, this system has the amazing advanced technology 2-megapixel Starlight CMOS image sensor – i.e. works at night for clear pictures – that will catch clear images in really low light conditions.
Finally, the camera can support up to 64GB SD cards for memory and works with your data plan to store the images in your Cloud data plan. You can playback everything using the free Reolink app.
Note: You can recharge the battery either by solar power or micro USB if you need the camera working immediately.
The downside is that the solar panel is sold separately. Many of the other systems include the panel with the camera.
However, I try to think about this as an advantage instead. I can choose my own panel and select the right wattage for my needs this way, instead of paying extra for the full package and needing to purchase a better panel anyway.
Most people I see just buy the Reolink solar panel here, which is designed to work with the Go and is probably the easiest one to install and connect.
The Reolink Go also doesn’t come with an SD card. Again, this isn’t too big of a deal for me since these aren’t terribly expensive anymore. I just grabbed this one from Amazon.
The other downside is that you need a cellular plan for this camera. Of course, if you were running it on a WiFi connection, you’d be paying for the WiFi plan for a remote location anyway, and you can potentially get a better bargain on a cell plan than a WiFi plan for someplace in the woods.
The Reolink Go is the top of the line wireless solar powered surveillance camera with movement sensor that we’d most recommend if you want 3G/4G coverage.
It meets all the qualifications of a great product while meeting the goals of a no-fuss security system that just about anyone can operate.
Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
The Ring Spotlight Cam is my solar powered security camera WiFi choice for anyone looking to operate a solar powered security system online.
The camera has 1080p HD definition, meaning you can see quality images of everything going on, it’s weather-proof, and meets all of my other qualifications, all while being reasonably priced up front.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Memory: $3 monthly subscription
- Starlight/Infrared Vision: Yes
- WiFi Enabled: Yes
- 3G/4G Enabled: No
- Weather Proof: Yes
- Motion Sensor: Yes
- Battery Backup: Yes
- Video Quality: 1080p HD
- Alert Options: Push notifications, email, 110-decibel siren, Alexa
- Two-Way Audio: Yes, with noise cancellation
- Vandal-Proof: Yes
- Solar Panel included: Yes
Positives of the Ring Spotlight Cam
This is the best solar power kit for security camera needs. The Ring Spotlight Cam works with Alexa to launch real-time video by using your voice. It’s not a necessary benefit for most of us, but it’s still pretty cool.
And, actually, I love recommending this particular camera for this feature because of how accessible it makes this camera. And if you’re not at home, just use the Alexa connected app to ask her what’s going on with the cameras.
The camera has infrared night vision and live view so you can know when someone’s there. You can see, hear, and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet, or PC.
I used to live in an apartment complex that had a similar feature. Someone could call my phone via the building, and I could speak with them from anywhere in the world. This is great for giving instructions for deliveries from anywhere.
The camera offers 140° horizontal, 78° vertical views for a wide-angle view of everything going on outside the door or window.
The spotlight on the camera gives 300 lumens of light as well, so everything’s bright and your camera will capture everything easily.
And bonus, it includes built-in LED light strips and a siren to deter the bad guys.
Another bonus: it includes Lifetime Theft Protection. If the camera does get stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
Negatives of the Ring Spotlight Cam
The main issue I have with the Ring Spotlight Cam is that you have to pay a monthly subscription to keep the footage. I’m not thrilled with it particularly because that means I have an extra regular cost associated with the camera when I already have to have it connected to WiFi.
Of course, $3 a month isn’t that bad, so I won’t complain too loudly.
Our Verdict on the Ring Spotlight Cam
The Ring solar powered security camera is your best bet for solar powered, WiFi-based security for your home.
The whole system is reasonably priced, with a minimal monthly fee, and has great video and audio components that help you feel secure and know that your home or vacation house are safely cared for while you’re sleeping or away.
Solar Powered Wireless Home Security Camera Runners-Up
While the two options listed are my absolute top choices for a remote solar powered security camera, there are a few others worth mentioning.
They have different features and benefits, and may, for some reason, better suit your needs.
I’d recommend checking them out and comparing them, just in case there’s something that stands out to you.
This is another solid camera from Reolink.
It meets most of the qualifications I’m looking for in a solar camera, including easy-install, WiFi connection, night vision, 1080p HD, weather-proof setup, and vandal-proof mounting.
We just found the Go was overall a better option overall, though the Argus 2 is still pretty good.
Arlo Pro 2 – Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars
The Arlo Pro 2 is another decent option to consider.
It works with Alexa for notifications and communication, has 1080p HD quality video, easy-install, and night vision, plus free Cloud storage.
While good, it didn’t outclass either of our top 2 picks.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you’re looking for the illusion of security system without the hassle of an actual one, you can go with the YSUCAU fake dummy camera instead.
It’s got a flashing red light to help deter theft.
It works indoors and outdoors and looks like a high-end professional option.
Plus, since it’s not a real camera, there’s no actual installation process. Just stick it anywhere that seems logical for surveillance, as long as there’s some sun to keep it “charging”.
- Flashing red light: Yes
- Looks real: Yes
- “Solar-powered”: Yes
- Indoor: Yes
- Outdoor: Yes
The Positives on the YSUCAU Fake Dummy Camera
The YSUCAU fake dummy camera is one of the best-looking models out there. It looks like an expensive model, which makes it all the better.
Plus, it has that flashing red light to help keep the illusion real. But the light is run off solar power, as well, so you’re still not putting out cash to run it.
It’s great for your home or your business. For exterior purposes, the sun recharges the system to keep the light going year-round – as long as there’s sufficient sun. For the interior, you can use a couple AAs to keep the light flashing.
If you do want to use batteries in the exterior setting, they recommend you use rechargeable batteries instead of standards, however, as the sun will recharge them and could cause damage to standard batteries.
The Negatives on the YSUCAU Fake Dummy Camera
Honestly, I can’t find any drawbacks on this dummy security camera. It does as it’s supposed to, it flashes the light to convince folks it’s real, and it doesn’t take any real effort to install. Plus, it’s a great value. You really can’t beat it if you just want the illusion of having a system set up.
Our Verdict on the YSUCAU Fake Dummy
If you want a solar powered dummy security camera, this is your best bet.
It’s inexpensive, easy to set up, looks real, and has that necessary flashing red light to convince folks that it’s working. And it’s solar powered but can use AAs. Win-win-win.
FAQs for Solar Powered Security Camera Outdoor Systems
Do solar powered security cameras need to be installed in direct sunlight?
While it is recommended that you install the camera’s solar panel in direct sunlight, your camera will still work if it is not in direct sunlight itself.
The more direct the light, the more power via the panel.
However, even on cloudy days, your camera will still have power because UV rays still penetrate clouds.
Do solar powered security cameras work in shade?
The camera itself can be in shade, but the panel should be placed in as direct sunlight as possible.
The more sun the panel receives, the stronger the power of the camera.
If the camera itself is in shade, the resolution of images and what you can see will be lower quality, but they will still work.
Do solar powered security cameras work in winter?
Unless you live in Alaska or someplace where the days are very short during winter, your solar security system will still work in winter.
In fact, solar panels can receive more light in winter because of reflection off the snow.
How long do solar cameras work without sunlight?
This will vary depending on a couple of factors.
If there is a backup battery, the camera will work as long as the back-up allows for.
If there is partial light, the camera will continue to work.
If there is zero light and no backup, the camera will stop working once the energy from the previous collection has run out. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a day.