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Arlo tips and tricks

Key Takeaways

  • Take advantage of geofencing – let Arlo arm your system automatically based on your location.
  • Use activity zones and motion sensitivity settings to customize your notifications and reduce unwanted alerts.
  • Get smarter alerts with Arlo Secure’s person, animal, vehicle, and package recognition features.

Arlo is a well-known name for doorbell cameras and security cameras, but the company’s devices can do more than just show you who’s at the front door. Arlo can sound a siren or create a motion trigger to activate other smart home devices like lights. Equally important is what Arlo is not doing — if you don’t want to be inundated with a constant barrage of notifications, Arlo has settings for that too.

If you just pull the Arlo out of the box, mount it, and walk through the app setup, you may be missing out on some of the platform’s best features. These Arlo tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your doorbell or camera, integrate Arlo into your smart home system, and more.


Do you need an Arlo subscription? How much it costs and what you get

Arlo security cameras are great devices, but how much do you really get if you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for the Secure subscription service?

1 Turn on geofencing

So your own motion doesn’t trigger notifications

While you can arm your system manually every time you leave the house, Arlo can also do it for you automatically using geofencing. With geofencing turned on, the app will automatically start sending notifications when your phone leaves home. This can be set to just one phone, or even be tuned to the entire family’s devices. The feature can also be set up the opposite way — sending notifications when you are home but stopping them when you are away. To turn on geofencing:

  1. Tap on the Routines tab in the Arlo app.
  2. Select Automations.
  3. Tap the (+) icon at the top.
  4. Select Add Arrive/Leave.
  5. Choose when — either when everyone arrives, one or two people arrive, or when you leave.
  6. Tap Save, then Add Action.
  7. Under change mode, select whether to enter Standby Mode (no notifications), Arm Home, or Arm Away modes.
  8. If needed, tap on the map to adjust your home’s location, then hit Save.

2 Use motion detection sensitivity and activity zones

To reduce unwanted notifications


An Arlo camera with the Arlo app

If you don’t want to give Arlo access to your phone’s location, there are other options for reducing the number of unwanted notifications. Activity zones allow you to only receive alerts when your cameras detect motion in a specific area. However, this feature does require an Arlo Secure subscription or a continuous power source. Activity zones determine whether or not to send a notification, but because the camera still looks for motion across the frame, frequent movement outside of Activity Zones will still cause the battery to drain faster.

To create activity zones on compatible cameras:

  1. Tap Devices.
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Selct Activity Zones.

Another option is to adjust the motion sensitivity inside the device settings. This allows you to trigger notifications with large motions but ignore small movements.

3 Try Arlo Secure’s person, animal, vehicle, and package recognition

Get smarter alerts

Arlo Motion Alerts


An Arlo Secure subscription includes object recognition. The software can differentiate between people, animals, and vehicles so you can determine if you want the motion of your dog to trigger an alert or not. The cameras can also detect packages for notifications as well. Smart notifications also include a setting for all other motion — you can turn this off to prevent things like swaying tree branches from triggering a notification.

Find Arlo’s Smart Notifications in the user (person icon) menu > Locations and Plans.

4 Don’t forget smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Alert yourself to a potential danger

Arlo smoke alarm


Arlo’s Smart Notifications will also listen for the sound of a smoke detector or CO2 alarm, which alerts you to a potential danger even if you aren’t home. This feature requires a subscription. The settings can be found by navigating to the user menu (person icon) > Locations and Plans > Smart Notifications.

5 Create custom modes

For different scenarios


An Arlo camera with the Arlo app

Arlo’s modes are designed to customize your notifications for different scenarios. Arlo cameras come with four modes built-in:

  • Armed: Cameras are triggered by motion (and on some models, sound) and record video when it’s detected.
  • Disarmed: The cameras are not looking for sound or motion. Videos are not recorded and no notifications are sent.
  • Schedule: Choose whether the cameras are armed or disarmed by setting a schedule.
  • Geofencing: This option automatically switches the mode when your smartphone leaves or arrives home.

You can also create your own modes or edit existing ones by setting up rules that dictate what the cameras should do in that mode. For example, you can create a mode that will record video but won’t send notifications. Modes and Rules are found in the Arlo app under the Routines tab.

6 Schedule your cameras

When to turn on and off


The Routines tab also houses a scheduling feature, which allows you to turn different modes on at a set time every day or week. Routines also allow you to change camera settings automatically, such as setting the camera to record for longer stretches overnight.


8 Use the Arlo motion sensor for smart home routines

Automatically trigger


An Arlo camera with an Amazon Echo Show

Because Arlo cameras and doorbells are designed to detect motion, the devices can also be used to trigger smart home routines. Arlo works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, Google Home, If This Then That, and Samsung SmartThings. Paired with one of these systems, Arlo can be used to trigger a routine. For example, paired with Alexa, motion on Arlo can trigger a smart light to turn on. Check which devices are compatible on Arlo’s complete list.

9 Use Arlo night vision

Some models even have color night vision

Arlo night vision


Some Arlo cameras feature a built-in spotlight — which allows them to stream and record color night vision. In some cases, Arlo devices will default to the black and white infrared-enabled night mode. To change the night mode:

  1. Tap on the camera feed in the Arlo app.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Select Low Light Settings.

10 Activate an alarm

Sirens can also be activated


An Arlo camera with the Arlo app

In the Arlo app, the Emergency tab includes the option to swipe to sound an alarm. Subscribers can also quickly phone a friend in the emergency options. Sirens can also be activated automatically using rules or routines, but use this with caution as any movement brings an alarm.

With a SmartHub or Base Station

Arlo smartub or base station


Arlo has option SmartHub and Base Station accessories that are sold separately. While these increase the cost of the security system, they allow you to store videos locally rather than on the cloud, even if you don’t have an Arlo Secure subscription. The accessories can also increase the resolution of live streams and improve connectivity by using a separate frequency. Apple HomeKit compatibility also requires the use of an external hub.


Best smart security camera: Top models from Ring, Arlo, and Nest

The best smart security cameras monitor your home’s interior and exterior using 3D motion alerts, night vision, and even Alexa integration.


Q: Does Arlo charge a monthly fee?

It is possible to use Arlo cameras without a subscription. However, the free plans are limited to live-streaming and Arlo no longer includes free cloud storage. With a free plan, videos are not saved or accessible for review unless you use local storage on a SmartHub. The most beneficial tools come with a subscription, including smart notifications.

Q: How much is an Arlo subscription?

Arlo has two different subscription programs, Arlo Secure, and Arlo Safe.

Arlo Secure starts at $4.99 a month for a single camera and includes interactive notifications and up to 4K resolution. Secure Plus adds 24/7 emergency response for $17.99 a month, while Safe & Secure Pro includes 24/7 professional monitoring and Arlo Safe.Arlo Safe works outside the home with emergency buttons, family location sharing, and car crash detection. Options range between $4.99 a month and $24.99 a month.

Q: Do Arlo cameras record without a subscription?

Newer Arlo camera models require a subscription in order to save videos to the cloud. Without a subscription, the cameras are limited to viewing live footage. However, if you purchase a SmartHub, you can set up local storage, which allows you to store recordings without a subscription.

Q: Will Arlo work if the Wi-Fi goes out?

On most models, Wi-Fi is required for Arlo’s cloud storage to save videos. Local storage through a SmartHub or models that offer a microSD card slot or USB slot can still save footage without Wi-Fi, though you won’t receive a notification if the SmartHub isn’t connected to Wi-Fi.

The Arlo Go is a security camera that connects with 4G LTE through a phone provider like T-Mobile or Verizon. These cameras work without a Wi-Fi connection, such as if you want to outfit an RV with a security camera.

Q: How can I improve Arlo battery life?

One of the biggest culprits for a quickly drained battery is excessive motion. If the Arlo motion sensor is working constantly, it’s going to drain the battery quickly. Battery life can be improved by lowering the motion detection sensitivity in the device settings under Default Mode Settings. Adjusting the angle of view so the camera doesn’t see constant sources of motion, like trees swaying in the wind or traffic on a road, will also help.

Another way to improve battery life is to put the cameras in standby mode when you don’t need them. For example, you can turn off indoor cameras when you are home by using geofencing, scheduling, or selecting different modes through the Arlo app. Reducing the video quality will also help conserve the battery.

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