Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera
$225 at Amazon
$230 at Best Buy
$250 at Lenovo
LikeEasy to installWired or wireless setupFlexible app
Don’t LikeCharging process
The $250 Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera is the best floodlight camera I’ve tested — and no one has topped it since it launched last year. For that reason, I’m renewing its CNET Editors’ Choice Award for 2021. If you’re familiar with Arlo’s line of excellent battery-powered outdoor cameras, the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera is essentially identical to the Arlo Pro 3 Camera, but the floodlight doesn’t require the base station and has more powerful integrated lighting than the spotlight-equipped Pro 3 Camera.
Out of the box, you get the floodlight camera, a weatherproof housing, a removable, rechargeable battery, a charging cable and a simple wall mount and hardware. The camera has crisp HD livestreaming, delivers speedy alerts and offers true security-camera features with arming and disarming capabilities, a built-in siren and a very bright built-in floodlight. It works with Alexa and Google Assistant, too.
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If you pay for the optional Arlo Smart cloud service, you get access to even more features (more on this below). Arlo, which spun off from Netgear in 2018 to form its own brand, has managed to offer an increasingly impressive lineup of devices — and the battery-powered Pro 3 Floodlight Camera is among the best.
Blinded by the light
Aside from connecting directly to Wi-Fi instead of needing a base station to work, the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera differs from the Arlo Pro 3 Camera with its blinding floodlight.
According to Arlo’s specs for this model, the light output is rated at 2,000 lumens — 3,000 lumens if you buy an optional Outdoor Charging Cable ($25 for an 8-foot cable or the $50 for a 25-foot cable). There’s a $80 Solar Panel accessory, too, giving you a couple of options if you don’t want to rely entirely on the battery.
You can also buy additional batteries for $50 each.
When you’re setting up the camera, there’s an option to test the floodlight and it specifically warns of a blinding hazard: “This light is bright and should only be tested from a distance.”
For context on the brightness of this floodlight, 800 lumens is roughly equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent light bulb, so 2,000 to 3,000 lumens is more than double the brightness of a standard bulb. It’s definitely bright enough to annoy someone walking by, especially if the light is installed near eye level.
Fortunately, the floodlight is dimmable from 5% to 100%, so you can customize exactly how bright it is. Competing models sit in the same range — the Ring Floodlight Cam has two 1,500-lumen LEDs and Nest’s new floodlight cam has two 2,400-lumen ones — but Arlo’s has the highest brightness potential output if you buy that Outdoor Charging Cable.
When the floodlight kicked on at night when I took out the dogs, it illuminated the yard well beyond the back deck where it was installed. I could see the dogs walking around the perimeter of our small yard and beyond.
When the camera is armed and the motion sensor detects activity, the light will automatically turn on. In the app, you have the option to customize when you want it to turn on, based on how bright or dark it is outside. You can also adjust the brightness if you want to tone down those lumens a bit, as well as choose whether the light will shine constantly or pulsate and for how long, ranging from 1 minute up to 20 minutes.
The integrated floodlight is customizable based on your needs.
Screenshots by CNET
Everything else about this camera is exactly like the traditional Pro 3 Camera. The Floodlight Camera has a very clear HD live feed, although this will vary based on the quality of your Wi-Fi connection — so make sure to check the strength of your network where you plan to install it. If you’re having issues with connectivity, check out our favorite Wi-Fi extenders.
Inside the app, you can set your armed/disarmed mode manually, on a schedule or via geofencing. All three are simple to set up and worked well for me during testing. With geofencing, you can set a radius called small, medium or large. The app doesn’t specify the exact range of each, but the small radius armed when I traveled a couple streets away and then disarmed when I returned.
When the camera is armed and motion is detected (and it’s dark outside), the floodlight turns on by default. If you want the siren to turn on as well, you can edit the rules by clicking on the pencil on the mode and then on the rules. This is also where you can opt in to receive an email when activity is detected in addition to the default push alert.
With an Arlo Smart subscription, starting at $3 per month, you get advanced motion detection that differentiates among people (not facial recognition, but simply recognizing that it sees a person), vehicles, animals and packages. You also get 30 days of saved activity clips, activity zones, smoke and carbon monoxide detection and e911, the service that allows you to contact local emergency services straight from your phone, even if you’re out of town.
As with the Pro 3 Camera, the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera did a good job of identifying people and animals, successfully differentiating between me and my husband and our dogs. No cars or packages came within its view where I have it installed in my backyard, so I can’t speak to how well it does identifying those.
Set activity zones if you have specific areas where you want motion to be detected, rather than the entire yard or driveway. I created a zone for the back deck and after that, I only got alerts in that area. I didn’t test out the camera’s ability to “hear” standard smoke and carbon monoxide alarms or e911.
This camera works with both Alexa and Google Assistant. I don’t have a smart speaker or display at home to test this out, but in theory you should be able to pull up the live video feed on a smart display, arm and disarm the system (disarming requires a four-digit PIN) — and more.
Privacy is a crucial component to testing smart home devices, so be sure to read Arlo’s privacy statement before you buy to decide whether you’re comfortable with its policies.
Download the app and follow the steps to set up and install your camera.
Screenshots by CNET
My favorite Arlo yet
There’s really no competition here; this is a great floodlight camera. It’s true that $250 is a lot to spend, but you can find the Pro 3 Floodlight Camera for $200 fairly regularly these days — and that’s still significantly less expensive than Nest’s $280 alternative. Arlo combines excellent performance, features, usability and design in one tidy package. I’m particularly impressed by its easy installation and battery-powered design — and by the option to install it wirelessly, which most competitors simply don’t offer.
There’s a reason we’ve already given the Arlo Pro 3, Arlo Pro 4 and Arlo Video Doorbell Editors’ Choice Awards. The Pro 3 Floodlight Camera is consistent with Arlo’s trend of innovating with unique twists on classic products that simply work.