What is the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cameras?

difference between indoor and outdoor cameras

You may have wondered what the difference is between indoor and outdoor security cameras. After all, they both do the same thing, right? Well, not exactly. By knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor cameras, you can make an intelligent purchase when setting up your security system.

Indoor cameras are typically smaller and more discreet than outdoor cameras. They can be placed on a shelf, desk, or table, and can be less conspicuous than their outdoor counterparts. Outdoor cameras, on the other hand, are designed to withstand the elements and are usually larger and more obvious.

People can purchase the wrong type of security camera if they don’t understand the difference between indoor and outdoor models.

difference between indoor and outdoor cameras

The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Cameras

The primary difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is the environment each is designed to handle. To build complete coverage for your home or business, you should install indoor and outdoor security cameras in and around your property.

Here are some key attributes that distinguish indoor and outdoor security cameras:


Indoor cameras can be placed anywhere inside your home or business, while outdoor cameras have to be mounted to an exterior wall.

Outdoor cameras should be installed near doorways and exits. An outdoor security camera should cover both front and back doors, with a possible extra one covering the driveway.

The hallways, living rooms, and kitchens are the main areas in most homes where indoor cameras should provide coverage. Be careful not to install cameras anywhere a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. bedrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.)

Field of View

Field of view is everything a camera can show on a monitor. You’ll need more cameras with a relatively narrow field of view to cover an area than what you can cover with a wider field of view.

Indoor cameras typically have a narrower field of view than outdoor cameras. This is because indoor cameras are often placed closer to the area being monitoring. About 130 degrees is a good minimum field of view for indoor cameras.

Outdoor cameras require a greater field of view to cover the entire perimeter of your property. Outdoor cameras should have a minimum field of view of around 180 degrees.


Security camera resolution is measured in pixels. The more pixels in an image, the higher the resolution and quality of the image. 2MP (1080p), 4MP (1440p), 5MP (1920p), and 8MP (4K/2160p) are the most common resolution types for home security cameras.

You should aim for a camera resolution that provides constant picture quality both day and night, without deterioration as you zoom in to get a closer look at people or things.

Generally, high resolution is more important for outdoor cameras than for indoor cameras. Outdoor cameras need to be able to capture details at a distance, while indoor cameras only need to capture details up close.

Night Vision

Both indoor and outdoor cameras can come equipped with night vision. However, outdoor cameras typically have better night vision than indoor cameras.

Indoor and outdoor cameras can be equipped with infrared (IR) LEDs that allow them to see in the dark. The number of IR LEDs can vary from camera to camera, but the more LEDs a camera has, the better its night vision will be.


Outdoor cameras are designed to withstand the elements, while indoor cameras can be damaged by exposure to the elements.

Outdoor cameras are typically weatherproof and can operate in a wide range of temperatures, from -20°F to 130°F. They also can be equiped to withstand high winds, rain, and snow.

Indoor cameras are typically intended to be used in temperature-controlled environments. Indoor cameras cannot withstand the elements or extreme temperatures like outdoor cameras can.

Power Source

Indoor and outdoor cameras can be powered in a number of ways, including wired (AC power), battery-powered, or solar-powered.

Wired cameras are the most common type of indoor camera. They have to be connected to an AC power outlet to work.

Battery-powered cameras are becoming more common for both indoor and outdoor applications. These cameras can be placed anywhere, without the need to be near an AC outlet. However, battery-powered cameras need to have their batteries replaced or recharged on a regular basis.

Solar-powered cameras are the most environmentally friendly option. Solar-powered cameras use sunlight to recharge their batteries. However, solar-powered cameras only work if they’re placed in an where they’ll receive consistent, direct sunlight.

What is an Indoor Security Camera?

As their name suggests, indoor cameras are designed for indoor use. Indoor cameras are generally smaller, lighter, and not as bulky as outdoor cameras.

Infrared is a feature of both indoor and outdoor cameras, allowing for clear video footage in low light conditions. Infrared night vision cameras can adapt easily to a change in lighting, going automatically from color pictures under bright light to black and white when it gets dark.

Indoor cameras typically have a narrower field of view than outdoor cameras. Indoor cameras are generally positioned closer to the viewing area, while outdoor cameras are intended to cover larger areas.

What is an Outdoor Security Camera?

Outdoor cameras are more prone to vandalism, thus they are generally built with more durable materials. Their housings can be heavier and designed to discourage simple removal.

Outdoors cameras also have to handle a wide range of weather and changing light conditions.

Outdoor cameras typically have a wider field of view than indoor cameras. This is necessary to cover larger outdoor areas.

The Different Types of Security Camera Technology

You probably know firsthand how difficult it can be to choose among a various brands of security cameras. There are so many different types of security cameras too, it can seem overwhelming to decide which is the best for your needs.

Here different options and what each type is best used for:

Wired vs. Wireless

The terms wired and wireless refer more to how a security camera is connected to its recording device and network control. Some wireless cameras do have an AC power cable, but their connected by WiFi to their recording hardware. Other completely wireless cameras are battery operated in addition to being WiFi connected to the overall system.

Wired cameras have two important wires: one that connects to a power source, and another that connects to the security system network. Hardwired security cameras require professional installation and can be difficult to upgrade.

IP Cameras vs Analog Security Cameras

IP cameras are digital security cameras that transfer data over a network. They require an NVR (network video recorder) or DVR (digital video recorder) for storing footage. IP cameras have many benefits over analog cameras, such as higher quality images, remote viewing, and the ability to integrate with other smart devices.

Analog security cameras are the traditional type of camera that has been in use for many years. These cameras send an analog signal over a coaxial cable to a DVR. Analog cameras are typically lower quality than IP cameras, but they can be less expensive and easier to install.

Motion Activated Security Cameras

Motion activated security cameras only record when they detect motion.

The camera is triggered to start recording by a motion sensor rather than being set to record continuous video footage. This helps to conserve data storage space and extend the camera’s service life.

Passive infrared (PIR) technology is used for motion activated security cameras. PIR sensors use relative heat as a signal to detect movement in an area.

Motion activated cameras are best used in areas where there is not much foot traffic, such as a backyard or an empty parking lot.

Hidden Cameras

A hidden camera (sometimes called a spy camera) can capture video of area covertly without alerting people in the area. They can be used in home or business settings, mainly used for surveillance applictions.

In any case, a hidden camera functions similarly to a regular CCTV camera except for the fact that it’s much smaller, making them easier to hide. Hidden cameras can be installed in out of the way places or disguised as ordinary objects like smoke detectors, electrical outlets, teddy bears or digital clocks.

outdoor security cameras


When deciding between indoor and outdoor security cameras, consider where you want to install the camera and what type of footage you want to capture.

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is that uutdoor security cameras are built to be more durable and handle a wider range of weather and lighting conditions than indoor cameras. They also typically have a wider field of view to cover larger outdoor areas.

If you need a camera that can be hidden or disguised, an indoor camera may be the better option. If you need a camera that can withstand the elements, an outdoor camera is the way to go.


What are the benefits of a wireless security camera?

A wireless security camera can be easier to install than a wired camera, and it offers more flexibility in terms of where you can place the camera. Wireless cameras also tend to be more affordable than wired cameras.

What are the disadvantages of a wireless security camera?

The main disadvantage of a wireless security camera is that it can be subject to signal interference from other devices in the area. Wireless cameras also have a shorter range than wired cameras.

What is the point of indoor cameras?

Indoor cameras are typically used to monitor activities inside a home or business. They can be used to keep an eye on pets, children, and employees. Indoor cameras can also be used to deter burglars and other criminals.  An added benefit for renters is that indoor cameras can show whenever a landlord enters a property unannounced.

Do security cameras record all the time?

Some security cameras do record all the time, but it will cost you extra. More than likely you’ll need active monitoring service, which means a monthly bill. Continous recording also means you’ll need hardwired cameras rathar than wireless, because recording all the time would require a ton of extra batteries.

Should I get NVR or DVR?

NVR and DVR are both digital video recorders. NVRs use an Ethernet connection to send video signals from the camera to the recorder, while DVRs use a coaxial cable to connect the camera to the recorder.

NVRs are newer and offer some advantages over DVRs. They are easier to set up and don’t require any special equipment. NVRs also offer better video quality and can be used with IP cameras.

DVRs are more affordable than NVRs, but they require a bit more work to set up. DVRs also require special equipment, such as a coaxial cable, to connect the camera to the recorder.

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