Protecting your home is easier than ever with security camera systems. Using wireless or wired cameras, you can monitor your home while on vacation or at work. When you are at home, the system acts as a second glance around your property.
Wired cameras require more setup time and effort, but offer greater reliability. Wireless security cameras are inexpensive and install quickly. But network outages and on-site alterations are possible inconveniences.
Wired Security Cameras
Wired security cameras transmit video and audio signals through a wire to a central hub. Images can either remain local to the hub for later viewing or be sent outside the home to a network. The network allows users to view the video live or watch it later.
Wired security cameras receive their power supply through a hardwired cable. This power supply can come directly from a power outlet. Or power can be sent through the wire that connects to the central hub: the PoE (Power Over Ethernet) cable.
The central hub is usually located in or around the house. The hub is sometimes a digital video recorder (DVR) which is connected to the cameras with coaxial cables.
Alternatively, the hub can be a Network Video Recording (NVR) system, which is used with newer Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. Instead of coaxial cables, the NVR system uses PoE cables.
- Erase video and audio signals
- Reliable signals, should not drop
- Constant camera power
- Wireless hacking of the home system is not possible
- Not portable; the system stays with the house if you move
- Long wiring should be hidden
- Wiring must be run in many places
- Number of cameras limited by the number of sockets on the DVR
Benefits of Wired Security Cameras
With the prevalence of low-cost wireless security cameras, it’s easy to perceive wired camera systems as a thing of the past. It is far from true. Wired camera systems are a solid option for home security and they offer advantages over wireless systems.
The main advantage of wired camera systems is that the power supply to the hub remains safe. The signal will not break or degrade. As long as the wire is in place, the hub should always receive power without interruption and with maximum fidelity.
Wired security camera systems work well for multiple camera installations in many rooms of the home and outdoors, as the signal will not be impeded by walls.
Disadvantages of Wired Security Cameras
Installation is the main drawback of wired security camera systems. Between four and 16 cameras may need to be installed. Because you want to project a wide view of your home and property, it is not possible to group the cameras to save on wiring.
Security camera wires are long, hundreds of feet in total. Since few homeowners bother to have exposed wiring tied to baseboards and walls, all wires must be fished through walls, ceilings, or crawl spaces.
Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless (and wire-free) security camera systems send images from cameras placed around the house to the home’s Wi-Fi. The transmission is completely wireless.
Once the Wi-Fi receives the signal, it is sent to a cloud server, where the images can be viewed in real time or archived for later viewing. Some cameras have built-in micro SD cards that store a limited amount of footage.
Standard features expected in wire-free, wireless security camera systems include night vision, two-way audio, 2K HD video, and voice control through your choice of digital assistant (like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant).
The distinction between cordless and cordless systems is important. Video signals from wireless cameras are sent wirelessly to the central hub, but the cameras are powered by wires.
Wireless cameras are battery powered. Due to the limited power of wireless cameras, they save power by only recording when they detect a signal. In contrast, wireless systems receive constant power from the home and are able to record constantly. They can also be configured to record only when motion is detected.
- Clean installation
- The system is flexible, mobile
- Easy to scale and add more cameras
- Intruders cannot cut the wire because there is none
- Limited signal range
- Walls, floors and other building elements can obstruct the signal
- Possible interference with other Wi-Fi dependent systems
- Prone to digital espionage
- Batteries must be changed for wireless systems
Benefits of Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless security cameras are less intrusive to your home than wired cameras, so they install easier and faster. No drilling through walls or ceilings is required.
Wireless cameras are also more flexible than wired systems because they are not as tied down by wires. Cameras can easily be rearranged. The entire system can even be moved to a new location, perfect for tenants.
With no wires between the cameras and the hub, it also means there are no wires for intruders or thieves to cut.
If there is a clear line of sight, such as between an outbuilding and the main house, wireless outdoor security cameras can have a range of up to 500 feet.
Disadvantages of Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless security camera systems work well as long as the signal from the cameras to the central hub is clear and uninterrupted.
In the home, wireless systems typically have a range of around 150 feet or less. The wireless signal passes through walls made of drywall and wood studs. But denser building materials like brick or concrete blocks can hinder the signal.
Wireless security cameras expose you to digital espionage. To protect you, the FTC recommends that the camera you buy encrypts its data and that your home wireless system supports WPA2 or other wireless security protocols.
Power can also be an issue for wireless security cameras. Some wireless cameras are battery powered, so the battery in each individual camera unit must be kept fresh. Even wireless cameras that plug into wall outlets can present a problem because each camera must be located near an outlet.
Wired or Wireless Cameras: Which to Buy?
As technology continues to improve, wired and wireless home security cameras are better than ever. The decision then becomes which system fits best with you and your home.
Wired Security Cameras
A wired camera system may be best for you if you don’t mind working on the front-end for the long-term benefit of system reliability.
Either you own the house or you plan to stay there for a long time. You’re good with tools and don’t mind rummaging through a few walls. If you’re not a DIYer, you can hire a company to set up the wired system for you.
Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless or wire-free security cameras may work best for you if you want the system up and running quickly, in addition to flexibility.
Changes to your home can be a concern, whether as a tenant or a landlord. Or you’re just not interested in doing a lot of work on your own.
If you’re renting, you’ll mostly want a cordless or cordless system because it can move with you to your next home.