I've used a bunch of cameras outside over the last decade. Some were indoor grade, some were outdoor, and some have ceased-to-function.
Curiously, I have indoor cameras that have worked for 6+ years outside, and outdoor cameras that have failed within 2 years.
Your camera location must avoid:
- Water in all forms - that's driving rain, dripping water, condensation, and fog
- Heat - a white painted camera will survive longer than any other shell colour. Some even have heatshield panels on the outside to reject sunlight.
It helps to have a dust-free spot without strong wind, and an overhang that shades the camera. Shade in Summer helps more than shade in Winter. Dust is not a big issue, but insects can be attracted to the IR, which attracts spiders who make webs which reflect IR and look like battleship mooring lines in the image.
Cameras will still need power and signal. The outdoor ones often have a ~20cm pigtail of wire which has a RJ45 socket and perhaps a barrel socket. These are intended to be inside a soffit or other protective box, not just dangling in the wind.
By contrast, indoor cameras might just have a RJ45 port directly on the back with no sealing.
Power Over Ethernet is gloriously good for whatever cameras you end up using. POE means only one wire to each camera, and you don't need to bother calculating DC voltage drop. Downside, you need a POE-capable ethernet switch, or a midspan injector per camera. A switch becomes worth it at about 2 injectors.
I've never really dealt with cold temperatures - minus 5 degrees C is about the worst I've had locally. If you live in a cold place, the POE transformer inside the camera could be of benefit, though the camera body should be airtight and dry.
Personally my last cameras bought were $40 NZ aliexpress specials like https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003600846816.html And when they die in five years, I'll buy replacements.
Two considerations for cheap cameras
- The default provided configuration software often tries to phone home to China, even if its just a hard-set DNS server setting. You might not be able to change this. I put my cameras on an internal VLAN with no internet access, and read them using
motion on a linux box.
- The management interface might mandate the use of an ActiveX DLL. Seems to be super-common with the Chinese cameras. I keep a win2008 VM with Internet Explorer around if they need re-configuring.
But at $40 each, they are disposable.