(Pocket-lint) - Arlo is expanding into a large system of devices. Starting with the Arlo cameras, the expansion to a doorbell and a light mean that that the system covers many of the home security bases – and all in a system that works with some cohesion.
The Arlo Security Light – like the Arlo Q models – is a standalone product, in that you can buy it just because you want a 'connected' light, without having to own any of the rest of the system. But if you do own more of the company's camera products then you gain the benefit of their cross-communication and can set recording to occur when the Security Light is triggered.
As winter nights draw in, having something that will provide illumination as well as alerting you when motion is detected is useful. Here's how the Arlo plays out.
- Plastic body with IP65 water-resistant rating
- Screw mount and Micro-USB charging
- 101.5 x 72.8 x 60.75mm; 252g
There's a consistency to Arlo's design language reflected in the in the Arlo Security Light. The white plastic body is nicely sculpted so its recognisable as part of the family, offering a 3/4in screw mounting that works with Arlo's accessory mounts – one of which is included in the box.
The face of the camera houses the LED array (white and colour) at the top, while the bottom section has the passiive infrared (PIR) hardware, so that it can detect motion.
On the base of the camera is a rubber seal to cover the Micro-USB charging port. Like the Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 cameras, it uses a rechargeable battery and unless you've forked out for the accessory charger, you'll mostly be charging the battery in the camera, meaning you'll have to connect it in situ or take it down.
The Micro-USB connection port is rather narrow, so only really works with the cable that Arlo supplies. As we said in our review of the Arlo Pro, it's a little flimsy and easy to damage this cable, so care will be needed. It's worth noting that the new Arlo Ultra cameras move to a magnetic charging system, but sadly the Arlo Security Light doesn't have that option.
Mounting and connection
- Outdoor Security Mount included
- 3.4in screw mount fitting
- Arlo Bridge included
We opened this review by stating that the Arlo Security Light is a standalone product. It comes with an Arlo Bridge in the box, which you'll need to plug into a mains socket indoors. This then provides the network connection, but there's a slightly different connection process to the Arlo camera products.
Yes, if you're already an Arlo owner you might wonder why the Security Light has a separate hub, but that's so that it can be a standalone product: there's no option to use an existing Arlo hub for that connection.
However, once you're setup and have gone through that connection process, the Arlo Security Light will integrate into the Arlo app. If you're new to Arlo, then that's all you'll get (and you'll have to configure what you want it to do and when) – but if you're an Arlo user already, then you'll find that it integrates with your other cameras.
The Arlo Security Light does need to be mounted and attached to the wall, which will mean some drilling to attach the mount and then screwing that into the camera. Once it's all done, that mount gives you enough flexibility to position the camera in the direction that's most appropriate for you, so the light covers the area you want.
There's nothing to lock the light to the mount, so it could be unscrewed and stolen, so you might want to put it out of everyday reach – but remember you still need to access it to charge the battery.
Features and functions
- App control
- Smartphone notifications
- Integration with Arlo cameras
The Arlo Security Light has 400 lumens brightness from the LEDs, the white providing much brighter lighting than the colours that are also on offer.
In most cases, when in darkness, the PIR will detect motion and turn on the illumination – pretty standard for a security light. Because this is Arlo, you can then also have detected motion trigger other actions, like turning on an Arlo camera and sending you notifications. If you don't have any Arlo cameras that's fine – you can just get a notification that motion has been detected. In that sense, it's a smart security light.
But the real smartness comes from that integration: you can have the Security Light detect motion and tell an Arlo camera to start recording, in which case you're getting a recording of whatever triggered the light. While the Arlo cameras all have a PIR too, it means you can cover a wider area potentially, as well as having things working automatically, rather than having to manually check your camera when you get an alert.
There are also manual options for the camera, with the ability to change the colours for ambiance, flashing and switching from flood lighting to spot lighting and adjusting the duration of illumination. All are accessible through the app, along with a switch so you can manually turn the light on and off – making for a useful exterior light so it's not only about security, as you could, say, turn it green to welcome trick or treaters at Halloween.
Battery life and performance
- Rechargeable battery
- Solid connection
Arlo provides a flexible system and that makes up a lot of its appeal, with the benefit of easy installation because it's a wire-free design. That means battery charging, but not regularly: for us we got around a month of use.
We've found the connection to be solid too, so that separate Bridge is doing its job well. We've experienced no operational problems with the Arlo Security Light either. Getting it to work with an Arlo camera is pretty easy and setting up special modes to accommodate it and control the notifications is easy too. In that sense, there's lots of control of this smart light.
However, there's no avoiding the fact that it's a pretty expensive product. A PIR floodlight costs a fraction of the price, so we can't help feeling that the appeal here really is as part of the smart system, getting it to work with your other Arlo devices. There are other rival lights out there – like the Netatmo Presence or Ring Floodlight Cam – but those devices come with an integrated camera and a higher cost.
Smart security lighting is becoming more popular, with companies like Ring and Netatmo also offering products that are connected, rather than just a dumb light that turns on and off. Being able to get a notification that there was motion in your garden is more useful than just the physical deterrent of an intruder setting off a light too.
But combine that with an Arlo camera product and you can see the appeal: anyone who shouldn't be there will instantly know that they have been spotted, whereas with most other cameras they might not even know that they've been captured on video. That said, rival systems from Netatmo and Ring include a video camera within the light, so there's no need for separate devices – which might have greater appeal.
The Arlo Security Light will really be of interest to those who have already invested in the Arlo system. Whether you're just adding lights to outdoor areas or using this as part of a front door security system, it all works well. But for those who simply want the light trigger: there are much cheaper ways to get security lights.
Alternatives to consider
Netatmo sits on a different platform, but in the case of the Presence the unit offers both the lighting and the camera to do the recording. That might not be as simple as Arlo's approach where you can just add a light, but there's a lot more going on here to justify the higher price.
Ring Floodlight Cam
Ring also offers lighting devices, but they are again combined with a camera. It's a slightly different proposition and as a result is more expensive, but it is an all-in-one device. It does need to be wired in, however, if you opt for the Floodlight Cam, and you'll need a subscription to capture and store video.