Practical Tool Review: Yale Floodlight Camera
Independent lighting for video, audio, and security that can store days of footage without a subscription required.
Like many people, I’m overwhelmed by the subscription, thanks to four different TV streaming services and three types of cloud storage. So hating new pets among gadgets is anything that requires a direct opponent.
Enter, the Yale Floodlight Camera. Where most security cameras and doorbell cameras charge a monthly fee to store footage in the cloud, this can result in videos being stored on board. So you can choose to join in with Yale’s greater security system, but it works well as a standalone 1080p HD camera with no subscription fee. There is no built-in storage but you can add a MicroSD card of up to 256GB. That’s enough for ten days of stills (with H.265 compression and 2MP resolution) when recording non-stop. This capacity obviously lasts longer if you don’t set the video to record continuously but play it in motion instead.
How much you score is up to you. You can set motion alerts to turn on and choose sensor sensitivity or record all the time. Other features include a 2000 lumens LED flashlight, 10m night vision when it’s dark but you’re not using floodlights, two-way talk, 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 installs it to the outside of your house but runs through the wall and wires it to a built-in stimulator and switch on the inside. It should also help you pair and set up with the Yale View app (iOS or Android). You can also install it as a DIY post or use your own electrician.
The installation process went very smoothly, although I wish we had known to pair the camera with the app before installing it on the wall. Pairing requires pointing your phone’s camera at the Yale QR code (not confusingly, the QR code in the instructions) and then using the phone’s microphone to play audio to communicate with the Yale Floodlight camera’s microphone. We installed 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 I installed it.
But the pairing worked and the app did teach the camera how to connect to your home Wi-Fi network. After that, the camera and the app worked beautifully together. The camera stays connected to Wi-Fi and you can access it from the app wherever you are. It is worth keeping the ladder for a short time after installation, until the application is launched. Seeing the shots on the screen helps you know the best angle to aim the camera (you can set it up and down, but not side by side).
The Yale View app gives you a live view from your camera, and you can optionally listen to the audio. It also gives you direct control over the operation of flashlights and sirens, even to speak through the built-in microphone. You may already have this functionality with the doorbell camera – and the disembodied sound coming from above is weirder for the delivery driver – but it can be useful. It may also be useful for pranks on trick-or-treaters.
You can view the most recent recordings in the app, with a calendar and timeline to scroll through. If you set the app to continuously record footage, the colored bars in the timeline indicate when motion was detected, so you know which points in the recording might be interesting.
You can set the motion detector to turn on the camera and send alerts to your phone. Choose from five levels of sensitivity and even choose which areas to pay attention to and areas to ignore. Frustratingly, you can only set one sensitivity limit. I wanted two: for the camera to record all movements but to only receive alerts when someone was walking straight to my door.
There is also no AI – the camera cannot distinguish a person, a parcel or a car. Other cameras in the Yale ecosystem feature AI (with different colored bars in the app’s timeline to indicate different types of events) and Yale says it will introduce these features to Yale Floodlight Camera as a firmware update in 2023. The app will notify users of the free update so you can Tell it to install via Wi-Fi…you don’t have to climb a ladder.
The camera shots are very impressive. The picture is high definition 1080p, detailed and you can zoom in on the shots. You can’t move and tilt the camera though, it’s fixed. The camera position obviously determines the camera angle – for example, whether you see people’s faces or the tops of their heads.
And if you have an important video that has been recorded – whether it’s a thief or a foolish family member – you can download it from the app, to keep or share. Otherwise, it is overwritten when the memory card is full.
Overall, the Yale Floodlight Camera delivers on the promise of storing home security footage without the need for a monthly subscription fee. Set aside additional budget time (DIY) or money (professional) for the installation, after which it is mains powered, requires no maintenance, and should benefit from firmware updates that add functionality. Yale has put a lot of thought into making a good standalone security camera, but obviously the idea is that the app supports its other modes as well – so if you want to expand your security system, you’ll go with Yale products that you can supervise from the same app.
eufy Security Floodlight Cam 2 Pro
More detail with the 2K HD camera, with pan and tilt capability to avoid blind spots. The three light panels are adjustable for color temperature and brightness (up to 3000 lumens), due to sunrise and sunset, schedules or motion detection. AI theme lock, tracking, siren and two-way audio as well. No subscription required but 8GB of storage cannot be expanded.
Google Nest Cam with Floodlight (Wired)
Motion detection, smart alerts, and a system that integrates well with your phone make this 1080p HDR camera attractive. Three hours of event history is included but you will need a paid subscription to store a month’s worth.
Ring Spotlight Cam Plus Battery
Mount this built-in security camera somewhere where it can be accessed because it has a rechargeable battery that will need to be charged, but it means DIY and cordless installation. The features are similar to those of Yale, but you will need a subscription to store and share your snapshots. Without a subscription, you will only get live view and notifications.
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