Ever since the smart home boom few years ago, TP-Link has pivoted from making just networking products to a full range of smart home products. The Tapo cameras is probably their most successful smart home product with great capabilities and relatively affordable pricing.
The new Tapo C420S2 is the latest Tapo camera from TP-Link. It’s a battery powered camera that’s supposed to last up 180 days on a single charge according to TP-Link. TP-Link also included a really crisp 2K QHD camera sensor with great low light performance to provide full color night vision.
How it works?
The Tapo C420S2 comes with 2 cameras in the box with a Tapo smart hub included. The camera can be installed anywhere without the need of power cable since it’s powered by a battery. However, the camera will rely on the smart hub to communicate with the Internet.
That’s because all the image processing are done on the smart hub instead of the camera to reduce power consumption on the camera. The smart hub will require a power outlet and it can be installed indoors. It will then wirelessly communicate with the Tapo battery camera.
Connectivity on the Tapo smart hub is great, you can either connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi network or use the Ethernet jack for a more reliable connection. There’s a Micro SD card slot to store recorded footages locally. TP-Link also provide a free 30-days trial of cloud recording service.
Installing the camera
Installing the cameras are really simple since no wiring is required. However, some drilling is needed to mount the base of the camera securely to a wall. The camera units are rated for IP65 dust and water resistant which mean they can be installed outdoor as well.
Before setting up the camera, the battery must be fully charged. The battery on the Tapo C420S2 is removable and it can either be charged externally or charged when the battery is insider the camera. TP-Link is also selling the Tapo A100 battery separately for those who wish to have a backup.
The included battery is actually pretty large with a 5200mAh capacity. It will take up to 5 hours to fully charge the battery when it’s totally flat. TP-Link claims the battery will not suffer memory effect with their intelligent charging algorithm and the use of premium lithium battery cells to mitigate the effect.
Battery Life and Tapo A200 Solar Panel
I installed the camera on my garage with a rather high frequency of movements. Since the camera is triggered around 40-50 times a day, the battery only last up to a month. TP-Link’s claim of 180 days battery life is based on their benchmark with 10-20 recording events per day.
However, if charging the camera is a hassle, the Tapo A200 solar panel that’s sold separately might be the answer for a truly wireless operation. When linked to the Tapo A200 solar panel, the battery life is practically infinite even when the weather is cloudy. My camera is always fully charged by evening.
Installing the Tapo A200 solar panel is really easy as well. Just mount them to a wall, point it to the sun and connect the MicroUSB cable to the Tapo battery camera. The tapo camera will detect the solar panel and automatically optimize the charging algorithm to compensate for solar operation.
Detection and Video Recording
The Tapo C420S2 battery camera will only record video footages when motion is detected to reduce power consumption. It’s not possible to force the camera to record video continuously unlike other Tapo cameras. Thankfully, the motion detection feature is pretty robust and reliable during my test.
The detection zones and the sensitivity can be customized easily on the Tapo app. TP-Link also included other advanced AI detection features such as person detection, pet detection and vehicle detection. When these objects are detected, it will prompt a notification on your phone to inform you.
Viewing the recorded footages on the Tapo app is really user-friendly. Despite being a battery camera, viewing the live footage is surprisingly responsive as well. Since the footage is recorded on the MicroSD card at the hub, the CCTV footage will survive even when the battery camera is stolen or damaged.
Crisp Image Quality
The image recorded by the Tapo C420S2 is extremely crisp thanks to the 2K QHD camera sensor. The color is natural and fine details like car plates are easily identifiable even after a certain distance from the camera. This will be a great surveillance camera for places like driveway or the garage entrance.
When it’s dark after sunset, the Tapo C420S2 delivers great night vision thanks to the wide aperture camera. It can provide a full color night vision recording unlike some other cameras that switched to a black and white infrared recording when it’s darker outside.
For the worst case scenario, the camera comes with two spotlight that will be automatically activated when motion is detected. However, that will definitely increase battery consumption. Thankfully, the brightness for the lighting can be adjusted or even disabled completely on the Tapo app.
Sound and Light Alarm
Another great feature on the Tapo C420S2 is the sound and light alarm which can be configured to activate automatically when motion is detected by the camera. With the bright spotlight and loud siren, it will attract attention and act as a deterrence to further incursion to your property.
The camera also comes with bi-direction communication feature with the built-in microphone and speaker. This means it’s possible to speak with the person near the camera. That will be great if the camera is installed at the entrance and it can be used to talk to the delivery person.
Included Tapo Smart Hub
The included Tapo smart hub with the Tapo C420S2 will work with other Tapo smart home sensors. This means you can actually link other Tapo smart sensors like the Tapo Smart Contact Sensor and Tapo Smart Button to setup a smart home environment or a basic smart home security system.
I’ve did an article on TP-Link Tapo smart home ecosystem previously and they are surprisingly good. Check out the article over here.
The Tapo C420S2 is a great battery camera by TP-Link. The 2K QHD camera sensor provide a crispy image during both daytime and nightime. The large aperture also means the camera can record in full color vision even when it’s really dark outside with minimal lighting.
At RM799 for 2 units of camera, it’s certainly more expensive than the usual Tapo cameras. However, it’s probably worth paying the higher price for a really great camera sensor and the high performance battery that’s safe and certified by various agencies.
Tapo C420S2 Battery Camera
- Excellent image quality from the 2K QHD Starlight sensor
- Great endurance from the included battery with optional solar panel support
- Good repairability with removable battery and replacement is available
- Lack of Apple HomeKit support
- Only record video when motion is detected without continuous recording feature