While some popular security cameras don’t require you to sign up for a subscription, that usually means you can only access the live footage. (In other words, if something happens while you’re not staring at the app on your phone, you’re out of luck.) The best outdoor security cameras without a subscription, on the other hand, allow you to access recordings without a monthly fee, either via free cloud storage or local storage.
As you shop, first consider if a cloud and local storage option is better for you. Cloud storage saves your video data online and since someone else has to “host” this storage, it usually requires a subscription fee — but not always. While most popular security brands (like Ring, Blink, and Wyze) will charge you to access their cloud, some brands allow you to view cloud recordings for free for a shorter period of time, usually up to seven days.
Local storage, on the other hand, is a much more common tactic for subscription-free recording. Local storage means that the data is being stored on the device itself, either on a storage base that comes with your security system or a memory card that slips into the camera. (Keep in mind that local-storage security cameras don’t always come with the SD cards needed to use this feature, so you might have to purchase one separately.)
No matter your preferred storage style, these security cameras are weatherproof and deliver high-quality footage. Many also offer convenient features like night vision, two-way audio, and solar recharging. There’s even a video doorbell that lets you know when someone’s at your door — but none of them require a subscription service and let you access your security recordings without any fees.
1. The overall best outdoor cameras
This eufy outdoor security system has racked up nearly 10,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.6 stars — easily making it one of the most popular non-subscription options on Amazon. Instead of paying a monthly fee, you get live alerts from the two wireless cameras sent to your phone and up to three months of local storage saved on the included base. Other noteworthy features include a clear 1080p picture, night vision, a spotlight option, human-only motion detection, two-way audio, and an IP67-weatherproof rating to withstand most weather conditions including dust and jets of water.
- Power: rechargeable batteries (180-day battery life)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (2.4G)
- Storage: eMMC base (16GB)
One reviewer wrote: “We bought this for our front door and it works perfectly! We love the spot light option too! They hold a charge for a long time, records everything and saves it for a long time! I like the 2 way audio too! Best part is, no monthly subscription. I can’t figure out why anyone would give this a bad review. I’ve had zero problems. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase!”
2. The best value
Looking to spend less than $50? This security camera has earned more than 800 five-star ratings is a best-seller. Despite its budget-friendly price, it offers a clear image, smart motion detection, and the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom. It also has two-way audio (with smart noise-cancellation technology) and three different night vision modes, along with floodlights and an alarm feature. Finally, it’s IP66-rated to withstand dust and jets of water. The only catch? It requires an outlet, and you’ll have to buy your own MicroSD card for local storage — but some reviewers prefer that so they can personalize their storage capacity.
- Power: AC adapter
- Connectivity: wired or Wi-Fi (2.4G)
- Storage: MicroSD card (not included)
One reviewer wrote: “I have been extremely pleased with these cameras. These cameras have operated very well since they were installed. Both day and night image has decent quality. I mounted two cameras. One was mounted for front of property surveillance and the other to watch over my pets when they are in the kennel overnight. The ability to pan these cameras for surveillance is a huge plus. I am satisfied with my purchase.”
3. The best security camera that doesn’t need Wi-Fi
Because it utilizes GigaXtreme wireless technology (instead of wireless internet) and advanced SecureGuard encryption, the Defender security system leads with security. Its dual cameras have a 450-foot range, which directs footage straight to the included LCD display and allows you to save up to 16 GB of recordings on the included SD card. (The monitor supports up to four cameras at once.) Two-way audio allows you to communicate with guests, weather-resistant materials withstand water and sub-zero temperatures, and night vision as well as flood lights allow for a clear image in the dark. Since it’s plug-and-play, this is also the best option for those without smartphones or internet.
- Power: AC adapter (15 feet)
- Connectivity: digital wireless technology (450-foot range)
- Storage: MicroSD card (16GB included)
One reviewer wrote: “I wanted a system without using wifi...this is perfect. Video quality is great; especially night vision. Very satisfied with this and I love the motion detector because it lets us know if someone is in proximity. [...] I decided on this as wifi is most commonly hacked between 2:30-5am. This is peace of mind.”
4. The best solar-powered security camera
If you don’t want to worry about cords or batteries, this solar-powered security camera is the way to go. Since it comes with a high-capacity solar panel, it’s self-sufficient come power outages and more. It also has tilting and panning for a panoramic view, smart motion detection, clear night vision, and two-way audio. The brand’s app offers live viewing for up to eight users simultaneously, and the camera is designed to work with voice-activated smart-home devices like Alexa and Google Home. In terms of storage, you can either save your recordings locally on an SD card as large as 128GB (not included), or you can access up to seven days of footage on the encrypted cloud service for free. For more storage, the brand does offer a subscription model.
- Power: solar panel
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (2.4G)
- Storage: Micro SD card (not included) or free cloud playback (up to 7 days)
One reviewer wrote: “Awesome camera at an affordable price. Pictures are great and for places like Puerto Rico, where there are a lot of power outages, you can count that you are always recording with the solar panel option. It holds the charge for a few days when is not sunny and it changes fast.”
5. The best video doorbell without a subscription
Video doorbells let you see when someone’s outside your door, allow you to respond to guests and deliveries from your phone, and let you keep an eye on your front yard — but most require a subscription service to access recordings. The eufy Security video doorbell is the exception. Instead of storing recordings on the cloud, it comes with an encrypted 16GB base that can store up to 180 days of footage. The doorbell itself has impressive resolution, two-way audio, built-in AI with human detection to minimize false alerts, and a wireless, rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 180 days (There’s also a battery-free version that requires existing doorbell wires, if you prefer.)
- Power: rechargeable battery (180 days)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Storage: eMMC base (16GB)
One reviewer wrote: “I didn't want to have to subscribe to anything to see my videos. The EUFY was well-reviewed with a wider picture than most of the other, higher-priced brands. Your videos are stored locally. [...] It’s a super unit at a good price.”
Also great: A large-capacity SD card
Need some storage for your security camera? The SanDisk Ultra microSD card has an incredible 150,000-plus reviews and a near-perfect overall 4.8-star rating on Amazon. It has a super quick transfer speed, operates in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit, and comes in sizes up to 1TB, all of which make it a great option for local storage on compatible security cameras.
- Available sizes: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, 1TB
One reviewer wrote: “Got one of these for each of our security cameras. Excellent, not a hitch or glitch in any of them. Camera storage and playback has been excellent.”