The idea of video surveillance is to increase security on a property and protect a business. However, deciding on wired or wireless security cameras can be a challenge. Wired cameras use wires to transmit their footage, such as through coaxial or ethernet cable. On the other hand, wireless security cameras use AC power or batteries and transfer video over broadband or short-range frequencies, such as Wi-Fi.

Although wireless security cameras are easy to install, flexible and more portable, they are prone to hacking, interference, and less reliable than wired cameras. Though they have dropped in price, wireless may not be the best option for your business needs. This post discusses three things to keep in mind when shopping for security cameras, including signal strength, number of cameras on site, and power requirements.

Wireless security cameras and signal strength

When installing wireless security cameras, consider the size of the space or facility. As mentioned, wireless cameras are flexible, which makes them appealing. And if the camera uses battery power, it can be placed virtually anywhere. However, if the camera is in a location with a lot of interference, the signal strength will weaken.

Wi-Fi vs Point-to-Point

If the camera connects through Wi-Fi, such as a laptop, the signal reach would be similar to that in a home or office setting. In this case, the reach would be around 50-100ft away from the wireless router/modem. But if the camera is set up through a point-to-point connection, the range increases, up to hundreds of feet away, as long as there is a line of sight. However, if there are things like brick walls, concrete floors, and large trees between the camera and the receiver, the signal strength will likely weaken. The signal of the router and other wireless devices within range can also overlap and cause the wireless security cameras to stop transmitting. Outdoor security cameras become even more of an issue because the wireless strength tends to weaken when moved from inside to outside.

Wireless security cameras with built-in antennas are typically for short-range and consumer use, not professional video surveillance systems. Professional setups for businesses with more than three to four security cameras generally are hardwired. However, it is common to see a few wireless cameras for special conditions such as on light poles in parking lots, remote buildings, and temporary structures. Therefore, for recording and capturing video, a wireless camera must maintain a signal and a link to the network. If the link breaks, the camera will not easily transmit footage to the recording device.

Note – Wireless links, especially outdoor security cameras, are sensitive to surrounding conditions and require regular service/maintenance. Antenna alignment is critical. Strong wind, bad weather, and even animals will cause the antennas to move. Even slight shifts will create security camera signal loss.

Number of wireless security cameras

Not only is signal strength important, so is the number of cameras connecting to the network. The more wireless cameras being used, the more likely the bandwidth will be overwhelmed. The wireless camera connected to a network may work for small projects with less than four cameras; however, it is not recommended for medium to large-scale facilities. In this case, it is best to create a dedicated point-to-point network for camera streaming if wireless is needed.

Connecting more than four wireless security cameras to an existing network is likely to reduce the cameras’ available bandwidth and make video streaming difficult. The Wi-Fi network also provides users with access to the camera network, which is a potential security concern. Therefore, consider the number of cameras and the network they are connecting to when looking at wireless security cameras.

Power needs for wireless security cameras

Wireless security cameras can save on costs because of the minimal installation requirements. And although they are moveable and easy to install, wireless security cameras come with challenging power needs. Many require either an AC outlet or work on battery power.

Power outlets are typically located two feet above the floor and rarely near an area that a camera is. Even if the power outlet is near the security camera, it is best not to plug the camera in at a height that someone can easily unplug it. Hiring an electrician to install power outlets just for wireless security cameras could increase overall costs.

Battery-powered cameras though convenient, tend to work poorly in high traffic areas. This is because motion triggers almost always keep the cameras running, draining the battery. As well, battery life varies significantly between brands and is impacted by weather conditions. On the other hand, if running a cable to power the camera is needed, a different setup might be best, such as connecting to a network cable and power through a POE switch. However, this eliminates the benefits of buying wireless security cameras in the first place.

Where do we go from here?

With technology continually changing, wireless security cameras are gaining steam in the security market. Their easy setup, flexibility and lower cost make wireless security cameras an excellent option for small setups and home use. However, they are perhaps less suitable for larger applications where more cameras are, and reliability is essential. So, when evaluating your business security needs, note the number of cameras needed, the signal strength and power needs for each camera.

Want to learn more about security cameras and systems? Read our related posts, including the different security cameras and DVR, NVR and VMS recording systems. And if you have more questions, contact us for a FREE online design session. We will help you pick the right video surveillance system for your business.



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