I don't know about you, but our village Facebook page is full of stories about would-be burglars trying to open doors on cars and houses in the middle of the night. I've read lots about the best security cameras, but never quite got around to investing. So when I was offered the chance to test the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Security Camera, I jumped at the opportunity.
Arlo, which is famous for its wireless security cameras, claims that the Pro 3 was first wire-free floodlight camera on the market, with an impressive six-month battery life. But does it live up to expectations? And, more importantly, do I sleep more soundly knowing it's watching our cars and front door?
Burglaries increase by a third when the clocks go back, according to research from Co-op, thanks to thieves taking advantage of the longer, darker nights. With the surge in local reports on attempted break ins, we decided to install our Arlo Pro 3 in November and have tested it for three months. Our detached house is set well back from the road but we have a lot of passing traffic – and wildlife – that we were worried would result in it going off at all hours.
There are two things I should probably admit before you read on; firstly, I'm a bit of a technophobe and usually struggle to set up and connect smart products. Secondly, our home has a video doorbell but I've pretty much given up using it when I'm out as the quality of the talkback is so poor. If you're not interested in the floodlight capability of the Pro 3, then take a look at our guide to the best video doorbell and choose one with good-quality talkback to really get the most from it.
Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight specs:
- Resolution: 2560x1440 resolution
- Video modes: 2K, 1080p, 720p
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi Connection (broadband connection with at least 2Mbps upload speed)
- Battery life: 6 months
- Weatherproofing: UV and weather resistant. Temps -20–45ºC
- Compatibility: iOS, Android, Alex, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT, SmartThings
- Features: 3000 lumen floodlight, siren, colour night vision, 12x zoom, 2-way audio
- Storage options: 3-month cloud trial with 30-day video storage
What does the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Security Camera do?
Put simply, it's a floodlight that doubles as a home security camera. The bright floodlight allows it to record full-colour video, even at nighttime, which you view live via the Arlo app. The footage is stored for 30 days if you need to look back through it, say to check whether a parcel was really delivered.
There are loads of handy features, including two-way talkback for when you're out and about, and a siren you can set off to deter would-be intruders. The camera can differentiate between animals, vehicles and people, which means it doesn't worry you unnecessarily.
Finally, the Arlo Pro 3 floodlight is completely wire free, which means you can choose where to install it without worrying about mains electricity, and the battery should only need charging twice a year. If you can't deal with it being wire free, then you can install a solar charger to keep it topped up.
Who does the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Security Camera suit?
The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight is aimed at anybody who has dark areas outside their home that intruders could try and take advantage of. Even houses fronting brightly lit streets could benefit from using it at the rear. Because it's wireless, it's easy to install and can be taken with you if you ever move.
The floodlight is particularly suited to detached houses in areas with no streetlights as the light is super bright and feels reassuring when you arrive home in the dark. You can also control the range of the floodlight, which means if your house is close to the ones next door, you can set it so that it won't go off when your neighbours come home. The light itself is very bright, though, so bear in mind that even if your neighbours don't trigger it, they could still see it.
Thanks to its superior video and talkback quality, I'd recommend the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight not just for use during darkness, but also as a great-quality daytime camera that allows you to keep an eye on your home and communicate with visitors when you're out and about.
What do you get in the box with the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight?
I liked the clean, simple packaging of the floodlight and was pleased with how few parts there were inside the box – a big relief for somebody who doesn't like putting tech products together! Inside, you'll find the weatherproof camera, the wall plate and fixings, the rechargeable battery, US and UK sockets and a charging cable.
There are some plastic inserts that I would have preferred to be cardboard, but the packaging is relatively minimal and doesn't feel OTT.
How easy is the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight to set up?
There are two parts to the set up process: physically fixing the floodlight to the outside of your house, and then installing the app and linking it to the device.
There's a short installation guide in the box, which is simple to follow. You use the wall plate to mark on and drill three holes into your chosen surface. You then tap in three wall plugs and use three screws to the secure the plate. The camera body clicks onto the wall mount and you're good to go. To remove the battery for charging, you simply slide a button on the underside of the camera and pull the battery out.
How easy is it to link to the Arlo Smart app?
It's really simple to link your device with the Arlo Smart app. You simply download the app, make sure you're connected to your wifi network and then create an account. Then press 'Add Device' and it will find your floodlight.
Once the account has been created, you can log in and access it from a phone, tablet or desktop browser. You do need to keep the app updated to the latest version to get the most from it. As I said, I'm a bit of a technophobe and I found it all reassuringly simple.
Do you have to pay for the Arlo Smart app?
Not for the first three months. You get a complimentary Arlo Smart app trial with every new Arlo product, which lasts for three months. After that, there are four packages you can subscribe to, depending on the number of devices you have and the quality of video playback you need.
All packages include 30-day playback, live video streaming and smart notifications, which are the bits we valued most. Prices start at $2.99 (£2.49) per month for a single camera with 2K video playback.
How good are the camera and talkback?
Honestly, the camera is amazing. When an alert comes through, it takes a few seconds for the live video to load onto the app and then the clarity is excellent. Thanks to the 2K HDR camera, you can tap and zoom in on objects, which is particularly helpful when you want to get a better look at visitors wearing face coverings.
The 160-degree view means you can see the entire front of our property, from the side passage to the end of the drive, which I find reassuring.
And the full colour night vision is brilliant. I was skeptical at how clear it would be, but you can even see the colour markings on our neighbour's cat when he takes his nightly tour of the trash.
I mentioned earlier that I've never got on with the talkback on our video doorbell. Luckily, the Arlo has such clear sound quality that we now use that instead. The sound is clear at both ends and it's easy to communicate with whoever is outside your house, as long as you're somewhere with an internet connection.
There's an intruder alarm that you can sound manually or set to come on automatically and when we tested it it was loud enough to make me jump – and I knew it was coming!
How bright is the floodlight?
If you're buying a security camera with a floodlight, then it stands to reason that you'll want the floodlight bit to function well. Arlo claims its floodlight is brighter than car headlights, thanks to up to 3,000 lumens of light, and it certainly illuminates the whole length of our drive.
We have a fixed floodlight at the rear of the house, which I'd say is slightly brighter, but the Arlo is more than bright enough and makes me feel safe by lighting up a large area if I arrive home in the dark.
How long does the battery last?
Our battery ran down within the first month but it turned out my husband hadn't inserted in correctly, so it was entirely our fault. Arlo claims the battery lasts up to six months and we're now three months in with no sign of it needing charging. The app shows you the battery level so it will never run out unexpectedly.
To charge the battery, you simply press and button on the unit to release the battery and then plug it in using the charging cable provided. It's easy for us to access our camera as it's on a single-storey roof, but you would need to be going up and down quite tall ladders if you positioned it higher up.
There's an optional solar charger that you can purchase to charge the battery in situ, if you prefer.
How does the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight compare to other wireless security floodlights?
There are very few wire-free floodlight security cameras on the market. The Ring Floodlight Cam, which is a comparable price and quality, has to be wired into your home's mains electricity by a qualified electrician, which is the norm for this kind of camera.
The only real competitor is the Eufy Floodlight Camera, which has similar features and the advantage of no ongoing subscription costs. The Arlo has a 160-degree field of vision, compared to the Eufy's 140 degrees, but that's the only real difference. The brand isn't as well known as Arlo, and the camera is even less visually pleasing, but the Eufy comes in around $100 cheaper, so is well worth considering. The Arlo currently retails for $249.99 (£259).
How does the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight rate online?
We've scoured the internet for reviews and can't find a rating lower than four out of five stars for the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, which is a glowing endorsement.
If you're looking for a sound investment, then based on our experience and the reviews we've found, the Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight is a pretty safe bet.
If you're looking for a hassle-free security system to protect your home, then you can't go far wrong with the Arlo Pro 3 Spotlight. It's wire-free design means it's easy to install pretty much anywhere, and the long battery life means you won't be worried about it running out of juice too often. We also like that you can purchase the solar panel charger or wire it into the mains, too.
The camera and sound quality are outstanding, the spotlight is bright and the alarm is loud enough to scare off any unwanted intruders. We also like the fact it's smart enough to differentiate between people, animals and cars so doesn't worry your unnecessarily.
In fact, the only potential negative we could find is its appearance. It's a bit space-age and wouldn't complement older properties well. Other than that, I feel reassured by its presence and the fact it delivers everything Arlo claims it will. Do I sleep better knowing it's there? Yes, definitely.
About this review and our reviewer
Laura Crombie is Brand Development Director in charge of the Real Homes brand. She has been writing about homes and interiors for the last 14 years and is a speaker on renovating and interior design at the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows. Laura is currently DIY renovating her third home – a 1960s detached house in the West Midlands.
Laura's the resident presenter for Real Homes and has produced video buying guides on everything from coffee machines and cordless vacuums to mattresses and toasters. She's currently putting her recently renovated kitchen to good use by testing cookware and wine fridges.
Laura tested the Arlo Pro 3 Spotlight for three months, utilising all of its functions in daylight, at nighttime, when in the property and away from home.