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Long-awaited outdoor camera echoes SimpliSafe’s easy, DIY approach.
Affordable? Check. Effective? Check. Simple? Check.
No matter how you look at it, it’s hard to go wrong with SimpliSafe. Their equipment is durable, well-designed, and they don’t require monthly fees. Their DIY setup is straightforward, and their protections are fairly comprehensive (though not perfect).
Oh, and their outdoor camera is one of the better cams we’ve tested.
Similar to the indoor SimpliCam, the outdoor camera is pretty affordable considering the features that you get. It has full color night vision, 1080p HD video, and an up-to-six-month battery life. Not bad at face value, but I wanted to really get to know this camera to make sure it gets our stamp of approval.
Let’s begin by perusing the pros and cons below to get an overview of the camera, before moving on to the full review.
Pro Tip: The SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera’s biggest drawback? Its limited features. Enjoy the power of AI detection with SimpliSafe’s rival, Google Nest Cam. See our Google Nest Cam review for more details (we loved the Familiar Face Alerts in particular).
So right off the bat here’s something to consider. Unlike many security cam providers out there, the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera can’t be used on its own. It needs to be purchased as an add-on piece of equipment to a larger security system. If you’re already using SimpliSafe products, great. If you’re planning to invest in a security system, even better. Two of their comprehensive packages — the Beacon and the Lighthouse — include the outdoor camera. If you’re looking for something a little more pared down, though, you can always choose the outdoor camera as an add on, or build your own customized system.
To use the outdoor camera, you will need both the SimpliSafe base station and the keypad. You’ll then be able to view the camera’s live feed any time on your phone via the SimpliSafe app. To receive motion alerts, view video of past events, and harness other features, you’ll need to take a subscription to one of their monitoring plans (which are either 33 cents per day for basic self-monitoring or 93 cents/day for the Interactive package). The camera on its own runs you $189.99 if it’s not purchased as part of a package.
The good news is, if you’re a SimpliSafe user already enrolled in the Interactive plan, the camera’s premium features are actually included in the plan. Just connect the camera to your system and you will auto-magically gain access to everything the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera has to offer, with no additional monthly fees.
Pro Tip: If you’re accustomed to using the cloud for storage, you should find a lot to like in a SimpliSafe alarm system. Read our in-depth SimpliSafe review for more on that.
Just like the SimpliCam, which I also reviewed, the new SimpliSafe outdoor camera is very easy to install. Its construction is simple and lightweight; rest assured you’re not dealing with bulky equipment or small parts.
Everything about installation was easy and straightforward, from removing the camera from the box to placing it on my wall. It’s always a good idea with any battery-operated camera to check the battery first to see if it needs charging (like we did when we reviewed the Ring Spotlight Battery). I made sure to dig out the battery from the SimpliSafe Outdoor camera box, and charge it in the house before beginning installation.
The battery took about two hours to reach a full charge (the three flashing lights on the battery are an easy indicator). To compare, this was about the same time it took for the battery-operated Reolink Argus 2 camera to charge when I reviewed it.
But here’s the big difference between SimpliSafe and the Reolink cameras I reviewed: the Reolink’s battery isn’t removable. You have to plug the USB cord into the camera itself to charge the battery, which – for me – meant having to climb up and take it down every two to three months or so. (The battery lasts three to six months before it needs a recharge.) That’s not ideal, frankly, because I’m barely 5 feet tall, I don’t have the steadiest hands, and I’m just not very fond of ladders.
So with SimpliSafe Outdoor, I had a bit of flexibility, and I used it. While I waited for the battery to charge, I took the device apart and found the place the battery would go when it reached 100%. Easy enough, right?
I also took a look at the camera’s magnetic dome-shaped mounting bracket. It latches on tightly to the camera, so I knew the device would be secure, but also adjustable. Even before the battery was finished charging, I could swivel the camera around with the base attached so I could test out different views and angles or focus on a single target.
We really like this approach to mourning. We saw it with the Google Nest, and we saw it again when we reviewed Geeni. These magnetic mounts are great for adjusting on the fly, but make sure you’re installing them where potential burglars and thieves can’t get their hands on them. More on this in our guide to security camera placement.
I liked how I could install the camera anywhere, using just two screws and the included bracket. Since I’m accustomed to DIY cameras, this step was no sweat. But if you’re new to home security, check out my thorough security camera installation guide for more tips.
FYI: If you don’t want to hassle with setting up the camera yourself or have physical limitations preventing you from doing so, SimpliSafe offers Pro Setup Help as an add-on service. Starting at $99, a SimpliSafe-approved technician will come to your home and set up the equipment for you.
Next, I took the bracket apart, then proceeded to drill those two (very) small screws into the wall adjacent to my home’s garage door using the bottom of the bracket as my guide.
From there, I sealed up the mounting bracket and popped the camera body into place.
Here’s where things might get slightly complicated – but don’t worry, it’s still SimpliSafe, so the answer is never too hard to find. With most of the top wireless security cameras, location matters – greatly. The camera can sometimes perform poorly if it’s placed too far away from the required base station or Wi-Fi router. Six to eight feet is usually the maximum distance;3 any farther away and you might experience delays in loading the camera’s live stream and preparing motion-activated clips.
FYI: Get lots more tips on installing SimpliSafe equipment in our complete SimpliSafe installation guide.
You might also try installing the camera in one location, find it’s not responding at all, and have to move the camera elsewhere. It’s a common process that requires some trial and error, but it shouldn’t add too much time to the total installation.
Plus, if you have a solid Wi-Fi connection and/or range extender, you might not encounter these issues at all. That said, let’s get into the full experience.
As I said previously, this camera works with a SimpliSafe alarm system and won’t record as a standalone camera. So provided you have the SimpliSafe equipment, the camera should be as easy to use as any other wireless camera, from the multi-functional Canary cameras I reviewed to the practical Lorex cameras I tested soon after.
FYI: You never know what your security cameras are going to pick up. Passing cars in the afternoon? A raccoon strolling through your backyard in the early morning hours? How about a dog-food eating burglar who sued his victims for mental anguish? It’s a strange world out there. Keep an eye on it.
For the most part, the technology takes care of itself, and after spending a few minutes navigating the app, locating and browsing settings, I started getting motion-triggered notifications. My live view showed up on the same screen I used to add the camera initially, and from there, I could navigate to my video timeline, look at pre-recorded clips, manually record an event, and even download clips to my smartphone or computer.
What did that live view look like, you might be asking? See for yourself:
On a beautiful early fall day in Central Ohio, the picture quality I got from the SimpliSafe outdoor camera is just about the best you can hope for in a security camera: clear and colorful, thanks to the camera’s 1080p resolution. That’s still the industry standard, and for good reason. It means the camera can capture finer details like facial features – details that could mean everything in the event of a break-in.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad to see SimpliSafe adhering to said standard in the outdoor camera. When it first came out, the SimpliCam maxed out at only 720p resolution. Of course, industry standards have gone up since then, and to SimpliSafe’s credit, the latest generation of SimpliCam now has 1080p resolution. All in all, SimpliSafe’s cameras are doing well in terms of video quality.
FYI: Looking for a new doorbell camera? Check out our full SimpliSafe video doorbell review.
When the sun set, things got even more interesting. For one, the camera, according to SimpliSafe, can record in full color at night with a range of up to 10 feet, thanks to a motion-activated spotlight. Now, this wasn’t an earth-shattering discovery, as I’ve tested a number of spotlight cameras and found them to be immensely useful. But I was still impressed with the way this camera handles night vision, for the simple fact that I was able to control when and how I used that spotlight.
If I wanted potential intruders to see the light pop on (that’s usually when they run away), I could set the spotlight to trigger as soon as motion is detected. Or, I could keep the spotlight off for a more discrete approach and rely on infrared (in this case, black and white) night vision. It’s all right there in the app, under the camera’s settings, as seen in this screenshot:
During my tests, the camera didn’t miss any motion, but because it’s an outdoor camera Wi-Fi connections can be finicky, it did struggle at times to record in color at night.
Most of the time, what I got were slightly grainy but overall decent motion clips. Would they be usable to the police if the camera happened to capture an intruder or another crime in progress? For the most part, yes. But again, wireless cameras do have their limits at night.
Now, let’s explore more notable features of this camera.
In a fairly recent development, SimpliSafe’s motion detection can now decipher between people and other types of motion. So if it’s human intruders you’re worried about, turn on people mode so you’ll be notified only when a person enters the frame.
For intrusions of the animal variety, turn on all-motion detection to track critters in your flower beds. It’s not anything the average wireless camera can’t do these days (see our analysis of Arlo’s wireless cameras for a slightly glossier experience), but if you’re a SimpliSafe loyalist, I think you’ll appreciate this simple but important feature.
The camera has a built-in microphone that lets you hear what’s happening around your home, even while you’re away, and talk to relatives or even suspicious lurkers within the camera’s view. This is a standard feature in security cameras, and for good reason: it can actually scare people away.
The audio handled as well as many others in the market, like the affordable Wyze Cam I tested recently. It fell just a bit short of expectations in audio clarity, but it definitely accomplished the task.
By itself, the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera doesn’t integrate with any smart home platforms or third-party devices. Since the camera requires a SimpliSafe system to work properly, the only way to sync it up with existing smart home devices and platforms in your home is through SimpliSafe’s smart hub (aka base station). From there, you can set SimpliSafe to pull up your camera’s live stream if the alarm is triggered (and automatically sound the siren).
All in all, SimpliSafe automates well with Alexa-enabled platforms like the Echo Show and Fire TV, but it was a little less intuitive than when I reviewed Blink’s security cameras. SimpliSafe users still have plenty of options to automate with other components, like smart lighting, smart locks, and smoke detectors. For example, you can tell Alexa you’re going out, and Alexa will set the system to Away mode, so it’ll be armed and ready for any suspicious or hazardous activity.
One final note about home automation: You’ll need an Interactive plan to enjoy any home automation feature. Otherwise, SimpliSafe is just a security system. A pretty good one, sure, but one without smart home integrations.
Many competitors in this market offer one-year warranties by default, with options to extend – and that typically costs extra. With SimpliSafe, the warranty is three years, no matter what. It’s a nice touch, and another reason I’ve been recommending SimpliSafe as one of the best security systems out there.
On top of that, you’ll get a no-questions-asked, 60-day money-back guarantee. During that period, you can return your system and get your money back. It’s essentially a risk-free buy.
For $189.99, the SimpliSafe outdoor camera is priced fairly, in my view. Some might find it a bit steep, since it only works with a SimpliSafe system and lacks any direct smart platform integrations. Also, as I noted above, the indoor SimpliCam costs only $99 and is included in some SimpliSafe packages at no extra charge.
It’s evident, though, that this new camera was meant to fill a void that SimpliSafe users had long been waiting for. Compared to $100+ outdoor cameras I’ve reviewed previously like the Reolink Argus 3 camera and its successor, Argus 3 Pro, this one didn’t knock my socks off, but I also understand its primary function: as a component to SimpliSafe’s larger system, rather than a standalone camera.
Pro Tip: Learn more about the hottest SimpliSafe sales and deals throughout the year in our full SimpliSafe discount guide.
It’s a decent camera at a mid-range price, reminiscent in form and function of Night Owl cameras. The price, however, appears to reflect the flexibility this camera provides, so I don’t think $189.99 is an unreasonable price for an add-on camera. If you think otherwise, the $80 Night Owl camera might be worth looking at; their cameras tested well and presented a functional alternative.
One final note about pricing — keep an eye out for deals. SimpliSafe offers them throughout the year. For example, SimpliSafe recently offered 40 percent off of any new system PLUS a free indoor camera. It pays to do your homework.
Keep reading for a brief snapshot comparing SimpliSafe’s cameras.
|SimpliSafe Product||Product Type||Price|
|SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro||
||$99 (free with some kits)|
|SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera||
Interested in what a full SimpliSafe security kit might cost you? Here’s the latest pricing on the brand’s selection of packages.
SimpliSafe Package Pricing
|The Foundation||Base station, keypad, entry sensor, motion sensor||$244.96|
|The Essentials||Base station, keypad, three entry sensors, motion sensor||$274.95|
|The Hearth||Base station, keypad, key fob, three entry sensors, motion sensor, auxiliary siren, smoke detector||$394.91|
|The Knox||Base station, keypad, key fob, six entry sensors, two motion sensors, auxiliary siren, smoke detector||$469.87|
|The Haven||Base station, keypad, key fob, four entry sensors, two motion sensors, auxiliary siren, panic button, freeze sensor, smoke detector, water sensor||$509.86|
|The Lighthouse||Base station, keypad, 3 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 wireless outdoor security camera,||$464.93|
|The Beacon||Base station, keypad, 4 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, 2 wireless outdoor security cameras||$699.90|
In addition to their affordable kits and cameras, SimpliSafe sells their own equipment and add-ons individually, ranging from motion and entry sensors to video doorbells and smart locks. Here are their offerings and what you can expect to pay:
|SimpliSafe Equipment||Equipment Type||Cost|
|Glass break Sensor||Sensor||$39.99|
|Carbon Monoxide Sensor||Sensor||$49.99|
|105 dB Siren||Control||$59.99|
Part of SimpliSafe’s value lies in its flexible monthly plans. There are no contracts required with SimpliSafe, so you can subscribe to a monthly plan with the option to cancel at any time.
Since neither of SimpliSafe’s cameras allow for local (micro-SD card) storage, the cloud is the only option for storing video. SimpliSafe’s offerings include cloud video service starting at $4.99 per month. That’s just for storing video from SimpliCams and the new outdoor camera, and that’s a pretty fair price compared to most camera subscriptions nowadays. It’s about the same price you’d pay to store video from an Arlo or Canary camera, for example. And it allows storage for more than one SimpliSafe camera, too.
If you want to connect your system to the authorities for live monitoring, the brand makes it easy to add that on. You’ll need to choose between two SimpliSafe monitoring plans, listed as follows:
||.33 per day|
||.93 per day|
SimpliSafe started out as a favorite of college students and renters, but it didn’t take long for the brand to become universally beloved by homeowners, businesses, apartment dwellers, retirees, and home security enthusiasts in general.
The addition of an outdoor camera to SimpliSafe’s arsenal only makes it a more well-rounded security solution. Did the camera knock my socks off? Not really. But part of that is because there are plenty of other top security brands that can do the same thing at the same or lower price, and still be on par with this camera in terms of performance.
But those other brands don’t rely on a complete home security system to keep them running, either. With a trusted brand like SimpliSafe, you can’t really go wrong with the new outdoor camera.
If you’re a non-SimpliSafe user and are looking for a simple, inexpensive security camera to enhance peace of mind, head to our list of the most affordable camera systems of the year. Otherwise, if you already have a SimpliSafe system installed — or you’re considering buying one — then this outdoor camera will protect your home with the best of them.
Yes. SimpliSafe’s new Wireless Outdoor Security Camera offers a 140-degree field of view, wire-free installation, and resolution of up to 1080p HD.
Yes. Two-way audio works on all cameras in the SimpliSafe system. To speak, hold down the microphone button while viewing the livestream. To listen, release the microphone button to hear audio from the camera. You will not be able to hear the audio while holding down the microphone button.
If you have a SimpliSafe security system with an Interactive Plan for $27.99 per month, you can add up to 10 cameras.
The new SimpliSafe outdoor camera records at up to 1080p resolution, the industry standard for HD video. The other SimpliSafe cameras, namely, the SimpliCam and the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell, also have a 1080p resolution.
SimpliSafe offers a generous three-year warranty, along with a 60-day, money-back guarantee.
PR Newswire. (2017, Jun 21). Introducing SimpliCam — SimpliSafe's $99 Smart Security Camera.
PR Newswire. (2021, Aug 31). SimpliSafe Broadens Whole Home Protection with Launch of Outdoor Camera.
Lorex. (2021). How to Install Security Cameras.