Top 10: The best standalone surveillance cameras with Wi-Fi, battery & solar in testing

Robert Eugene

Updated on:

According to crime statistics, home burglaries in Germany have been decreasing since 2016, after reaching a peak of 167,136 cases in 2015. In 2019, the last year before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 87,145 cases of residential burglary were reported. However, this decline does not mean that you no longer need to protect your house or apartment. On the contrary, for the police, this positive trend is also the result of technical security devices, including the use of surveillance cameras that deter thieves, especially with switchable LED lights and alarm sirens. However, the use of surveillance cameras for gardens or driveways often fails due to the lack of cables for networking and power supply. In this case, Wi-Fi cameras with battery (guide) are the first choice, as long as the home router can reach the planned location of the camera. If this is not the case, users can resort to LTE cameras. In both cases, depending on the battery’s strength, the device needs to be charged sooner or later unless the battery is recharged via photovoltaics. This eliminates the need for manual charging of the surveillance camera, as long as the solar panel can harvest sunlight for a few hours a day.

The Sun as an Energy Source: Surveillance Cameras with Solar Panels

Using the sun as an energy source to charge a surveillance camera is becoming increasingly popular among manufacturers. Until recently, there were only models with a separate solar panel, but Eufy has integrated the solar panel directly onto the surface of its Solocam S40 (review) and Eufycam 3 (review) models. This has the advantage that only one device needs to be installed. On the other hand, it limits the choice of installation location to some extent: after all, the solar panel must harvest sunlight for at least a few hours to charge the camera’s battery and convert it into electrical energy. Surveillance cameras with a separate solar panel are more flexible in this regard: users can, for example, place such models protected under a canopy in the shade, while easily finding a potentially sunny spot for mounting the solar panel, thanks to a several-meter-long connection cable. In addition to solar panels, there are other important factors to consider when choosing a surveillance camera, which we will explain in detail below.

Surveillance Cameras with Solar Panels: Colored Night Vision Included

For security reasons, an increasing number of surveillance camera manufacturers are equipping their devices with LED lights (guide). Following the motto “Light Drives Away Dark Figures”, the LED spotlights, also known as LED floodlights, automatically turn on when motion is detected. An additional benefit of the supplementary lighting is that these surveillance cameras also record videos in color at night, while models without lighting only record in black and white. The image is also clearer, making it easier to identify unwanted guests. Surveillance cameras with LED lights thus provide a higher level of security than models without lamps. With the exception of the Reolink Go PT Plus (review), all other models in this ranking list offer colored night vision. For more information on this topic, check out our guide on surveillance cameras starting at 80 euros: outdoor lights with cameras, floodlights, and more.

Surveillance Camera with Solar Panel: Fixed or Pan-Tilt-Zoom

So-called PTZ cameras (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) monitor a significantly larger area than surveillance cameras with a fixed lens, thanks to a swiveling and tilting lens. The latter usually offer a field of view of 110 to 140 degrees, while PTZ variants can reach a total of 360 degrees. A higher resolution provides more details. For many users, the resolution of a surveillance camera is a crucial selection criterion. The higher the resolution, the more details the recorded videos and images provide. Of course, the image sensor must be designed for this purpose and still provide sufficient light sensitivity even at high resolutions. In terms of light sensitivity, the surveillance cameras listed in this ranking are well-positioned. They offer good or very good image quality during the day and at night. However, they differ significantly in terms of resolution. Users should keep this in mind when it comes to zooming in on a specific object. High-resolution models have a clear advantage over a traditional Full HD camera. For example, the Eufy Solocam S40, with a resolution of 2304 × 1296 pixels, has 44 percent more pixels. The Reolink and Ezviz models, which have a resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels, have a 78 percent advantage. And the Eufycam 3 (S330) and the Reolink Argus PT Ultra have four times the resolution of a Full HD model with 4K. Unless a surveillance camera offers a second lens for six times optical zoom, like the Reolink Trackmix Akku.

Controlled via App and on Desktop

The quality of the apps used to operate the surveillance cameras listed in this ranking is generally good. Users can conveniently adjust all relevant parameters and efficiently control the cameras with them. However, there are still some notable differences in detail. For example, Eufy offers an Energy Dashboard for the Solocam S40 and Eufycam 3 (S330) models, which presents relevant data on energy supply in a clear manner using numerous graphics. The Reolink cameras also offer something similar, though not quite as informative. If you want to control your surveillance camera conveniently from your desktop, the Reolink models are the best option. The desktop application, available for Windows and macOS, offers the same configuration options as the mobile app. Both tools can be operated in a similar way, ensuring a consistent user experience. This is not always the case. Often, camera manufacturers do not provide a desktop application for controlling their devices, or there is only a web or desktop application with reduced functionality, as is the case with Eufy and Ezviz. In addition to security monitoring, users can also configure a time-lapse recording with Reolink models to document the progress of a house construction or other events.

Integration into Smart Home Systems

The manufacturers of the Wi-Fi and LTE models introduced here officially do not provide direct integration into smart home systems such as Aqara, Bosch, Homekit, Homey Pro, Hornbach, Tuya, or Smartthings. However, thanks to a community app, Eufy surveillance cameras are compatible with Homey Pro. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi and LTE cameras do not support the ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface) standard, which allows for easy integration into Homey Pro or other smart home systems compatible with this standard, such as Iobroker and Home Assistant. Ezviz is slightly better in this regard: the Elife 2K+ supports the cloud-based pairing service IFTTT and is compatible with Homematic IP. The products listed here only support integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant by default, allowing users to control the surveillance camera by voice or view the live image on a smart display such as Amazon Echo or Nest Hub. Tip for Apple users: If you use Homey Pro or Home Assistant as a smart home hub, you can manage all connected Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave devices with Homekit. For experimental users, there is also Homebridge, a software that integrates smart home devices into Homekit.

Video Storage

All of the surveillance cameras introduced here store videos locally, either on a central unit (Eufycam S330) or on a microSD card (all other models). Optionally, all variants also offer paid storage in the respective manufacturer’s cloud. Bundle with a solar panel will cost you around 130 euros. Both are currently available in the manufacturer’s webshop for 114.74 euros with the code “15COMBO”. ## 7th place: Reolink Go PT Plus 4G

Reolink offers the Go PT Plus 4G (test report), a universally usable surveillance camera that offers 360-degree monitoring and a maximum resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels with its pan and tilt lens. Thanks to its battery operation and LTE connectivity, users can choose the camera’s mounting location independently of a power supply and Wi-Fi network. The solar panel adds to the flexibility as it allows the battery to be charged by the sun. Under favorable conditions, manual charging may not even be necessary. The recording quality is good, and the notifications work promptly and reliably – optionally also via email. The AI can distinguish between people, vehicles, and other objects, minimizing false alarms. Additionally, this Reolink model includes a time-lapse function. The Reolink Go PT Plus 4G costs 255 euros including the solar panel and microSD card. For those who can do without the LTE connection, the Reolink Argus PT (test report) offers a similarly priced Wi-Fi variant, including a solar panel, for around 140 euros. ## 8th place: Ezviz Elife 2K+

Ezviz offers the Elife 2K+ (BC1C) surveillance camera (topic), which is equipped with Wi-Fi, a battery, and a solar panel. As a result, the Elife 2K+ operates almost autonomously with its colorful night vision feature called Spotlight. It stores videos on an internal 32GB memory. Users can also opt for a cloud subscription. Overall, Ezviz provides a good surveillance camera with the Elife 2K+ (BC1C), which impresses with its 2K resolution and colorful night vision capabilities. It is also flexible in terms of positioning, thanks to its magnetic mount, battery, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The powerful solar panel, which can provide enough energy to the battery in just a few hours of sunlight, is an additional highlight. With the ability to store videos locally, users do not need a paid cloud subscription. However, it is still possible to add one if interested. The Ezviz Elife 2K+ (BC1C) leaves a good visual and tactile impression. The recommended retail price is just under 170 euros. Currently, there is a discount of 25 euros, making it available for 145 euros. ## 9th place: Reolink Argus PT

The Reolink Argus PT surveillance camera is tilt and swivel capable, covering a horizontal field of view of 355 degrees and a vertical field of view of 140 degrees. It operates on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands and offers a resolution of 2K. Thanks to its high resolution, the Reolink Argus PT delivers detailed and sharp images both day and night. However, it should be noted that the camera does not support HDR; bright areas may become overexposed in high dynamic range situations. On the other hand, it provides a 16x digital zoom, which is very useful for identifying objects in the distance. The notifications work promptly and reliably. False alarms are virtually eliminated due to extensive settings and the camera’s ability to distinguish between people, vehicles, and other objects. The Reolink Argus PT currently costs around 180 euros, including a solar panel. There is currently a 20 euro discount. It is also available separately for just under 160 euros. ## 10th place: Ezviz CB3

The Ezviz CB3 Wi-Fi surveillance camera (focus topic) features a powerful 5200 mAh battery that can provide up to 120 days of operation with just five minutes of daily usage. For extended battery life, users can opt for the separately available 6.18-watt solar panel. Ezviz also sells the CB3 with a solar panel included. The Ezviz CB3 records videos with a maximum resolution of Full HD and stores them locally. It has a microSD card slot with support for storage media up to 256 GB. Alternatively, users can opt for a paid cloud subscription. Overall, Ezviz offers a good surveillance camera with the CB3, which impresses with its Full HD resolution and colorful night vision capabilities. It is also flexible in terms of positioning, thanks to its battery and Wi-Fi connectivity. The powerful solar panel, which can provide enough energy to the battery in just a few hours of sunlight, is another highlight. Consequently, manual charging may only be necessary during the winter months. With the ability to store videos locally, users do not need a paid cloud subscription. However, it is still possible to add one if interested. The motion detection feature differentiates between people and other objects, practically eliminating false alarms.

The Ezviz CB3 currently costs just under 80 euros, including shipping. The solar panel is available for just under 30 euros. Buying the camera and solar panel as a set currently costs 100 euros. ## Conclusion

Surveillance cameras have a deterrent effect on thieves, especially when equipped with a switchable LED light and siren to confuse intruders with light and sound. Thanks to the battery and solar panel, the surveillance cameras listed in this top 10 list no longer need to be manually charged, even when there is occasional sunlight in the installation location. Finding such a place is generally not an issue due to Wi-Fi or LTE connectivity. The Eufy models Eufycam 3 (S330) and Solocam S40 (test report) even integrate the solar panel on the top of the housing. While these variants must be mounted in a sunny location to benefit from sunlight, models with separate solar panels offer more flexibility in terms of mounting. Users can mount these cameras in a protected area under a roof in the shade and place the solar panel in a potentially sunny location. For those looking for the highest resolution, the Eufycam 3 (S330) or the Reolink Argus PT Ultra with 8 megapixels are the best options. If 2K resolution is sufficient, the other models are also a good choice. The PTZ variants Reolink Go PT Plus 4G (test report) with LTE and the Argus PT (test report) with Wi-Fi are best suited for securing a large area due to their pan and tilt lens. Alternatively, if a PTZ surveillance camera with optical zoom is desired, our test winner, the Reolink Trackmix Akku, is the right choice. More details about the best battery-powered surveillance cameras with battery, solar panel, Wi-Fi, or LTE can be found in the individual tests.

There are many surveillance cameras available. TechStage readers can find numerous tests, guides, and additional information in our surveillance camera topic area. A good starting point is the article “WLAN, Cloud, Solar: Surveillance Cameras for Indoor & Outdoor starting at 30 euros”. We explain the most important buying criteria and present the best surveillance cameras from different categories with prices ranging from 30 to 500 euros. And for those interested in surveillance cameras with lighting, our guide “Outdoor Lights, Spotlight, and Floodlight Cams starting at 60 euros” provides all the relevant product categories with the best deals. In our guide “Surveillance Cameras without Cloud”, we show how to control surveillance cameras locally, saving costs and implementing more data protection. It is also recommended to take a look at our other surveillance camera top 10 lists.

%d bloggers like this: