What is the best smart home security camera for cold weather? I live in the Northern US and also have spent a good amount of time in Canada and I can attest to the fact that not all outdoor security cameras are created equal. It gets extremely cold where I live and can really take a toll on an outdoor piece of smart home gear like an outdoor security camera. Basically you will see everything from total failure to laggy video performance if you use a smart home security camera that isn’t up to the task.
We crowned the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor as our favorite outdoor smart security camera, but is it also the best smart home security camera for cold weather? Short answer, yes. It may be a little more expensive than some of its competitors, but the quality speaks for itself. The Nest Cam IQ is 100% our top pick for best smart outdoor security camera if you live in a cold climate.
Why other outdoor security cameras fail in cold weather
Basically it comes to the weather-proofing that is built into the camera. Most simply aren’t rated to the extremes that many see in the winter months. For example: Here is a breakdown of the temperature tolerances of many of the top rated outdoor smart security cameras:
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor temperature rating: –40° to 113°F (–40° to 45°C)
Blink XT temperature rating: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
Arlo Pro 2 temperature rating: 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C)
Logi Circle 2 temperature rating: above 14° F (-10° C).
Nest Hello temperature rating: 4° to 104° F (-10° to 40°C)
Netatmo Presence temperature rating: -4° to 122° F (-20° to 50°C)
Canary Flex temperature rating: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
Foscam F19901EP temperature rating: above 14° F (-10° C)
As you can see, the very popular Arlo Pro 2 system is just not up to the task. Even the next best camera in the bunch, the Blink XT and Canary Flex can only handle temperatures that go down to -4°. This isn’t too bad, but as someone who grew up in a very cold climate, I would see regular cold snaps that go down to -10° and -20°. This means that many of the most popular cameras out there will start to fail in these cold temperatures.
The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor leads the way with a temperature rating that simply dwarfs that of everyone else (even their own Nest Hello doorbell cam). Based on temperature rating alone, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is your best pick for best smart home security camera for cold weather. But let’s dig deeper.
Durability of the outside case
If you grab a Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and then put pretty much every other camera on the market in the other hand you will feel the difference. The plastic casing on the outside is solid. Arlo cameras are great, but they just aren’t built to the same tolerances of these Nest Cam IQs. All of the exterior of the camera is totally weatherproof, with gaskets covering any inputs and plugs. Even the mount itself is weatherized, with a gasket that keeps water and snow out of the AC plug input. The whole camera is rated as IP66 weather proof which means that the unit can actually withstand a direct spray of water or even submersion. Most other cameras on the market are only rated IP65 or “dust-proof” which won’t cut it in a strong winter storm.
How is the video quality in cold weather?
I have a few outdoor smart home cameras and most of them perform very well under ideal weather conditions. But as soon as the temperature dips I start to see fogging, lagging and stuttering on many of them as the cold takes a toll on the internals of those cameras. With the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor I haven’t seen any issues whatsoever. Last year we had a major cold snap and had extremely cold weather for like 2 weeks straight and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor never missed a beat. The camera’s two-way audio also never had any issue in cold weather.
In many locations, cold weather also comes with darker nights and days. This means that you will be relying on your night vision mode more often. And I can safely say that the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the king of the castle on night vision. The IR flood on the camera is perfect for illuminating my front step, driveway and front yard. While many struggle to flood IR at around 10 feet, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor has no problem illuminating objects as far away as 20 and 25 feet.
Pros of the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Aside from the stellar cold weather performance, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is also just one of the best outdoor smart security cameras around. Even those that live in a warm climate should consider it. Check out our more in-depth review here, or just look at the pros below:
Very easy to setup
Works well with other Nest products
Two-way audio is excellent and loud
The 4K sensor provides excellent zoom and detail even at long distances
Rich notifications on Android and iOS beat the competition
Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support
Slick industrial design and durable casing
Tamper proof locking mount (a new addition this year)
Cons of the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Honestly, there aren’t a lot. But let’s look at any negatives of the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor:
Relatively expensive compared to some other competition
Cord is meant to be plugged into an indoor outlet which limits mounting options
Nest Aware paid service necessary for full video backups to the cloud
Sure, these sound like big cons, but honestly, there aren’t too bad. First, I think the cost associated with this camera is totally justified considering how it performs in cold weather. Second, I was able to actually just mount the cord into a weatherproof outdoor electrical box so the cord issue was not an issue for me at all. Plus I don’t have to worry about changing or charging batteries with the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. Lastly, I think the Nest Aware subscription is actually a fairly decent deal. I use the 5 day storage for $5 a month ($50 a year) and it has been perfect. This is a new plan that brings Nest Aware into very affordable territory. And considering that Nest Aware brings along with it really good AI functions and facial recognition and its sort of a no brainer.
Installing the Nest Cam iQ Outdoor was actually a very straightforward operation. The kit comes with everything you need including screws and the locking mounting bracket. The thing that can be tricky for people is to figure out where they will draw power from. I decided to actually install a weather-proof outdoor electrical box to house the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s power supply. Nest recommends to run this cable into the indoors but I haven’t had an issue.
Honestly, take a look at the official Nest Youtube tutorial, it helped a lot. One thing to keep in mind is that you should setup the whole thing BEFORE taking it outside and mounting it. I made this mistake the first attempt. This means adding the unit to your Nest account and connecting it to your wifi even before stepping outside. It just makes things easier.
Once the camera is fully installed, one thing that took me a while to figure out was finding the setting for flipping the image (since mine is mounted to my soffit upside down. Answer: There isn’t one! It took me a few minutes but I relaized that the entire Nest Cam housing is meant to rotate. Basically look for the little seam across the white housing and then spin the outside portion while keeping the part attached to the mount stationary. Seriously, this was not super obvious and it isn’t mentioned in the tutorial video!
I recommend that you install the camera under some kind of overhang if possible. Its not that the camera won’t withstand the elements, its more about not having ice build-up around the lens. I have mine installed at the front door, nicely nestled away under my soffit.
Conclusion: The Best Smart Home Security Camera for Cold Weather
Look, this camera is without a doubt the best outdoor smart security camera on the planet right now. Its temperature rating is well beyond what anyone else is offering and the smart features on board are great even when talking about warm temperatures. The cost is a bit more than some other cameras but for cold weather, you really won’t be able to find a more capable camera than the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor.
Let’s hope that other manufacturers start paying more attention to colder climates with their smart security camera offerings in the future. But right now, just look at the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor as the best smart home security camera for cold weather.
Where to buy the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Check below for the best real-time prices. This camera doesn’t go on sale very often but sometimes you’ll get lucky with a good sale at Best Buy, Walmart or even Ebay.