Can You Use Arlo Cameras Without a Subscription?

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If you have a security camera or have been considering one, you've likely come across subscription plans for cloud storage and extra features. From the brands I've tested, support for a single camera can cost around $4 to $10 per month.

But is that money better spent elsewhere? I'm here to find out exactly that.

Video: Can You Use Arlo Cameras Without a Subscription?

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Testing the Arlo Video Doorbell without a subscription

I installed an Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell and skipped the Arlo Secure subscription to find out how vital the subscription really is.

This battery-powered doorbell works with Alexa and Google, has an easy app to navigate, and a bunch of other cool stuff. But this isn't a review of all those features (get that in our full Arlo Doorbell Review). I set out to see what one of these cameras can and can't do without a subscription. Although this test centers on Arlo, it's a good peek into what you can get away with on most cameras when you skip that extra monthly fee.

About the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell

The Arlo Essential Video Doorbell works with a battery or traditional doorbell setup. It has a super-wide field of vision, smart home compatibility, and operates in really cold and warm conditions. You can watch the live feed from the app, get notifications when someone stops by, and talk to anyone on your doorstep.

But the quality of this doorbell camera is different from what I'm here to talk about. I want to know how I can get the most out of this $200 doorbell without paying a cent more.

What you get from the Arlo doorbell without a subscription

Arlo doesn't block you from every feature in this camera if you opt to go without a subscription.

  • You can view the live feed from the camera and watch people or cars go by.
  • The two-way talk function lets you talk to anyone on the other side of the door.
  • It still works with smart home speakers and sends you motion notifications.

But sharing and saving videos? That's a no-go.

Thumbs Down
No video footage recording

Without a subscription, you have to check in every time the camera sends you a notification if you want to catch anything in the moment. And that can be a problem if someone breaks in or steals a package from your doorstep right in front of the camera.

What you miss without a subscription

Without recording or storage, you won't be able to share or save any events you catch on your camera—unless you see them in real-time. So if something happens, you won't have evidence for it or be able to look back and find out what really went down. And that's a big problem from a security perspective.

Aside from missing out on the basics of recording and saving footage from your security camera, here's a rundown of other features you'll miss without one of Arlo's subscription plans.

  • 24/7 professional monitoring
  • Cellular and battery backup
  • Video verification
  • Arlo Safe app

Arlo plans and pricing

Plan
Standout feature
Price
Learn More
Arlo SecureUp to 30 days of cloud recordings
1 camera
$4.99
/mo
Arlo Secure Plus24/7 emergency response
Unlimited cameras
$17.99
/mo
Arlo Safe & Secure Pro24/7 professional monitoring
Unlimited cameras
$24.99
/mo

At $5 per month, an Arlo Secure subscription for a single camera isn't outrageous. You can add multiple cameras to Arlo Secure for $12.99 per month. All Arlo plans come with up to 4K video recording, 30 days of cloud storage, and priority care and support. 

When you upgrade to the Secure Plus plan, you get the additional reassurance of 24/7 emergency response. Arlo's top plan, the Safe and Secure Pro, includes cellular and battery backup, video verification, and 24/7 professional monitoring.

But there are cheaper options out there. Look for cameras with local storage if you're looking for a real budget option without a monthly charge. Lorex and Reolink, for example, are a couple of big ones that offer great cameras without a subscription. But as far as Arlo goes, if you're rocking a single-camera system, that single-digit fee is worth it for the basics.

Why you should subscribe to Arlo

Even though you get quite a bit without paying for an Arlo Secure subscription, there are some vital security functions that you can't get for free.

Video storage: Subscribing to Arlo Secure provides access to video storage, allowing you to record and save footage from your Arlo Essential Video Doorbell.

Evidence collection: With a subscription, you can capture and retain video evidence in case of security incidents, ensuring you have a record of what happened.

Enhanced security and convenience: Arlo Secure enhances the security capabilities of your Arlo camera. Plus, the ability to access recorded footage at your convenience is invaluable. Recorded footage lets you easily review past events and monitor your property more effectively. You may not notice that something fishy happened until later, and if you don't have a recording, it's not as easy to put together what occurred.

Affordable pricing: The subscription cost is relatively inexpensive, especially for a single-camera system, making it a cost-effective solution for home security.

Final word

In a world where subscription costs are creeping into every aspect of our lives, finding ways to save money is crucial. When it comes to home security, the Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell offers some functionality without requiring a subscription—but it does come with limitations, especially in terms of recording and saving footage.

While it might be tempting to avoid monthly fees, having evidence in case of a burglary or other security incident is priceless. An Arlo Secure subscription for a single camera is relatively affordable and ensures access to essential features like video storage.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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