Hands-on gadget review: Yale Floodlight Camera
Image credit: Yale
Standalone video, audio and security lighting that can store days of footage without the need for a subscription.
Like many people, I have subscription fatigue, thanks to four different TV streaming services and three types of cloud storage. So a new pet hate among gadgets is anything that requires a direct debit.
Enter, the Yale Floodlight Camera. Where most security cameras and doorbell cams demand a monthly fee to store footage in the cloud, this can store videos onboard. So you can choose to team it with a bigger Yale security system, but it works fine as a standalone 1080p high-definition camera with no subscription fees. There’s no built-in storage but you can add a MicroSD card of up to 256GB. That’s enough for ten days of footage (with H.265 compression and 2MP resolution) when recording non-stop. That capacity obviously lasts a lot longer if you don’t set the video to record constantly but have it triggered by motion instead.
How much it records is up to you. You can set motion alerts to trigger it and pick the sensor’s sensitivity, or record all the time. Other features include 2,000 lumen LED floodlights, 10m night vision for when it’s dark but you’re not using the floodlights, two-way talking and a 110dB siren.
It’s mains-powered and Yale recommends professional installation. Buy online and you can book a third-party installer, which itself costs around £199. For this, you get someone who not only mounts it to the outside of your home but drills through the wall and wires it in to a fused, switched spur indoors. They should also help you get paired and set up with the Yale View app (iOS or Android). You could also install it as a DIY job or use your own electrician.
Installation went pretty smoothly, though I wish we’d known to pair the camera with the app before mounting it to the wall. Pairing requires you to point your phone camera at a QR code on the Yale (confusingly not the QR code in the instructions) and then it uses the phone microphone to play audio to communicate with the Yale Floodlight Camera’s microphone. We mounted it before pairing, so there was some going up and down a ladder with a phone. At least I remembered to put the MicroSD memory card into the slot in the weatherproof camera before it was mounted.
But pairing did work and the app successfully taught the camera how to connect to my home Wi-Fi. After which, the camera and app worked together beautifully. The camera stays connected to Wi-Fi and you can access it from the app, wherever you are. It’s worth keeping the ladder up for a short time after installation, until you’ve got the app working. Seeing footage on-screen helps you figure out the best angle to point the camera (you can adjust it up and down, but not side-to-side).
The Yale View app gives you a live view from the camera, optionally listening in to the sound. It also gives you direct control to trigger the floodlights and siren, even to talk through the built-in microphone. You may have this functionality already with a doorbell cam – and a disembodied voice coming from above is weirder for a delivery driver – but it could come in handy. It might also be good for pranks on trick or treaters.
You view recent recordings in the app, with a calendar and timeline to scroll through. If you’ve set the app to record footage constantly, coloured bars in the timeline indicate when motion’s detected, so you know which points in the recording could be interesting.
You can set the motion detector to trigger the camera and send push alerts to your phone. Pick from five levels of sensitivity and even pick areas to pay attention to and areas to ignore. Frustratingly, you can only set one sensitivity threshold. I would have liked two: for the camera to record all motion but to only get alerts when someone was marching right up to my front door.
There’s also no AI – the cam can’t tell the difference between a person, a package or a car. Other cameras in the Yale ecosystem do feature AI (with different-coloured bars in the app’s timeline to indicate different types of event) and Yale says it will introduce these features to the Yale Floodlight Camera as a firmware update in 2023. The app will notify users of the free update and then you can tell it to install over Wi-Fi... you won’t have to go up a ladder.
The camera footage is very impressive. The 1080p high-definition picture is detailed and you can zoom in to the footage. You can’t pan and tilt the camera though, it’s fixed. The positioning of the camera obviously dictates the camera angle – for example, whether you see people’s faces or the tops of their heads.
And if you have an important piece of video recorded – whether that’s of a burglar or a family member being goofy – you can download it from the app, to keep or share. Otherwise, it’s overwritten when the memory card is full.
In all, the Yale Floodlight Camera lives up to the promise of storing home security footage without the need for a monthly subscription fee. Do budget extra time (DIY) or money (professional) for installation, after which it’s mains-powered, maintenance-free and should benefit from firmware updates that add functionality. Yale’s put a lot of thought into creating a good standalone security camera, but clearly the idea is that the app supports its other modes too – so if you do want to expand your security system, you’ll go with Yale products that you can oversee from the same app.
eufy Security Floodlight Cam 2 Pro
Even more detail with a 2K HD camera, with pan and tilt to avoid blind spots. The three light panels are adjustable for colour temperature and brightness (up to 3,000 lumens), triggered by sunrise and sunset, schedules or motion detection. AI subject lock and tracking, siren and two-way audio too. No subscription necessary but the 8GB of storage can’t be expanded.
Google Nest Cam with Floodlight (wired)
Motion-detection, intelligent alerts and a system that integrates well with your phone make this 1080p HDR camera compelling. Three hours of event history are included but you’ll need a paid subscription to store a month’s worth.
Ring Spotlight Cam Plus Battery
Mount this compact security camera somewhere reachable because it has a rechargeable battery that will need charging, but it does mean DIY installation and no wiring. Features are similar to the Yale, but you’ll require a subscription to store and share footage. Without a subscription, you just get live view and notifications.
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