The battery powered Reolink Argus 2 is the DIY security camera for people who want added home surveillance but break into a sweat at the thought of running wires. The Reolink app is easy to set up and gives you access to live video feed from your smartphone. Using the add-on solar panel provides 24/7 power to the camera battery.
As the wife of a home security technician with 20 years of experience under his belt, I’ve seen my fair share of home security cameras. When he and I had the chance to test-drive the Reolink camera and solar panel, we were eager to see how it stacked up against our Ring doorbell, DVR-based Hikvision home security cameras, and ADT Pulse cameras.
Prices effective 7/25/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
How the Reolink Argus 2 Stacks Up
The Reolink Argus 2 runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Unlike most outdoor security cameras, you won’t have to worry about running wires for power, so you can mount it pretty much anywhere. Plugging it into a regular outlet using the included power cord will charge the battery pack, or you can plug it into the Reolink solar panel for continuous power to the battery.
The Reolink is an IP camera, meaning you’ll have access to a live video feed from anywhere using the Reolink app on your smartphone. The camera has a motion sensor built in, and it conserves battery life by recording to a micro SD card only when it detects motion—it doesn’t run continuously. The app lets you set up alerts so you get a push notification whenever it senses motion.
Price and Contract
The Reolink Argus 2 and solar panel together cost around $130. Access to the live video feed through the app is free, no contracts required. For the camera’s recording function to work, you’ll have to purchase a micro SD card, since one isn’t included with the camera. Basic cloud storage for video recordings is free, but if you want extra cloud storage, Reolink has a few different plans to choose from:
Free basic cloud storage option
2-year limited warranty
Micro SD card not included
Tech and Equipment
The camera is about the size of a large pear, and it comes with all the mounting hardware you need, including a weather-resistant silicone sleeve (that makes the camera look a lot like Eve from Wall-E). In the process of opening the perforated back of the sleeve to connect the power cord, I ended up accidentally tearing the sleeve. The power cord itself is designed to protect the connection, so the tear probably isn’t a big deal, but it doesn’t look very nice having a rip in the back.
After I was done mangling the camera sleeve, we used a power screwdriver to mount the camera and solar panel right next to each other and then connected the two using the included extra-long power cable. I was a little worried about how well the solar panel would work (I’ve used some less-than-effective ones in the past) but even on cloudy and rainy days the rechargeable battery hardly lost any charge.
Reolink’s website claims that the camera’s rechargeable battery can last up to six months in standby mode. We decided to test that by unplugging the rechargeable battery from the solar panel, and it went from 100% to 80% in about 30 hours, so the company’s claim of six months is a stretch. You can increase the battery life by lowering the sensitivity, adjusting the settings, and not checking the video feed frequently, but our Ring doorbell’s rechargeable battery lasts for months even without doing those things, so we were a little disappointed in the battery life.
The Argus 2’s 1080p HD resolution offers a clear picture and a nice wide 130-degree viewing angle, making it comparable to the other more expensive wired security cameras we have around our home. The camera’s CMOS sensor allows for clearer night vision and was also on par with our higher-end security cameras, as long as we kept the day/night setting on “black and white” or “auto.”
As far as pet immunity goes, I could always tell when one of my kids let the dog out because I’d get a camera alert every time she ran across the frame. Squirrels would also trip the motion sensor, so it’s safe to say that the Reolink Argus 2 does not have pet immunity.
Good picture quality
Starlight night vision
Good solar power
Poor battery life
Weak camera sleeve
No pet immunity
Features and Usability
The Reolink Argus 2 camera and the add-on solar panel are easy enough to install that anyone can do it—even me. (I said I’d seen my fair share of security cameras, not installed any of them.)
Both the printed and in-app instructions were easy to follow and included troubleshooting tips for when the camera didn’t play nice. The only installation problems we encountered were connecting the camera to our Wi-Fi network and getting the camera to recognize the QR code on my phone. Fortunately, we were able to sort out both issues with a little trial and error and it only took about an hour to set up the camera from start to finish.
With a maximum video speed of only 15 fps (frames per second) we noticed that the Reolink Argus 2 video feed is much choppier than our other security cameras. There’s also about a 2.5-second delay before the camera triggers a motion alert. This might not seem like much, but since the camera starts recording only when triggered by motion detection, we found that even someone walking across the farthest point of the field of vision doesn’t show up in a recording until they’re almost out of frame.
We tested the motion detection range of the Argus 2 by walking across our backyard at various distances from the camera. The motion sensor started to detect motion at about 15 feet away, and when you combine that relatively short distance with the delay on recording, it’s a major flaw for a surveillance camera. We easily covered the 15 feet in just over 2.5 seconds and the Reolink recording only captured the last few feet.
The camera’s two-way audio lets you listen and talk through the wireless security camera. Like the motion detection delay, the audio also has about a 2.5-second delay between when you speak and when your voice comes from the camera’s speaker. This makes it difficult to carry on a conversation with someone on the other side of the camera. Through the app you can also set the speaker on the camera to sound an alarm when it detects motion. It’s a good deterrent, and it doesn’t have the same delay as the other features, but the alarm isn’t very loud. You also have the option to change the alarm to your own voice recording instead—useful if you want to give the appearance that you’re watching the feed.
We liked that we could change the picture quality settings for different benefits, like increasing the resolution for more clarity, or lowering it for better battery life and better performance with slower connection speeds. Using the app you can also take videos and photos from the live feed and save them to your phone, even without a micro SD card, and you can give other family members access to the live video feed using the QR code.
Picture quality options
Motion sensor options
Photo and video saving and sharing
Motion detection delay
Alerts and Notifications
The Reolink app gives you several customizable options for the motion sensor’s push notifications. Turn them on and off or schedule them only for specific times (like at night when no one should be prowling around, not even the dog).
I found that when I was away from my home’s Wi-Fi network, connection to the camera’s live feed was often hit-and-miss. When I’d get an alert on my phone and check the captured video recording, often all I saw was my backyard with nothing happening. While I’d much rather have a surveillance camera be too sensitive than not sensitive enough, the false alarms got annoying and I was left wondering if something had happened and the camera had just been too slow to capture it.
Customizable push notifications
The Bottom Line
While we appreciated how easy it was to set up and use the Reolink Argus 2 and solar panel as part of a home surveillance system, the delays and limited motion range were a major drawback to its overall performance as a security camera. It’s a good choice if you don’t want to invest a lot of time and money in installation, but you won’t get the high performance you might get from other leading wireless security cameras.
How We Evaluated the Reolink Argus 2 Security Camera
We got a Reolink Argus 2 camera and solar panel to try out for a couple of weeks at our home. Since the camera and solar panel were only temporary houseguests, we mounted them to our deck railing to keep an eye on our backyard. We downloaded the Reolink app and tested out the camera’s different settings, including alerts, night vision, battery life, and two-way audio. You can find out more about how we review products by taking a look at our methodology.
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more