Welcome to the third article in my ultimate guide to buying the best security cameras for home. In this article, I’m going to discuss security camera connectivity, which for me is one of the biggest and most important considerations when choosing a security camera system. Why? Well, deciding on a system that is wired or wireless can change how you plan to set up the system, it could have a significant impact on the cost, and even the level of complexity in installation. Hopefully, I will give you the insight you need to choose the right security cameras for your home. So, let’s get into it!
Powering the security camera
As with most gadgets, all security cameras require power to work. The method for powering your security camera varies depending on what brand or model you end up buying. Here is an explanation on the most common ways security cameras are powered.
Hard wired – This method involves connecting your security camera directly to your electricity meter box at your home. Hard wired security cameras are usually found in systems that are physically mounted to walls or ceilings, inside or outside. They are a more permanent solution to security and would usually be installed by a professional, when your home is being constructed, as that is when it’s easier to run wiring throughout your home. Installation costs could skyrocket if you choose a hard-wired system for an existing home, due to the fact that there could be difficulties in wiring. Unless you’re happy with patching up drywall or plaster after the installation (another added cost!)
Battery Powered – Self-explanatory really. Battery powered security cameras are powered by…… batteries! Most commonly found in indoor cameras, however there are some outdoor models available that are battery powered giving you complete flexibility in where you can locate the cameras. Some indoor models the work on batteries come with a docking station to charge the batteries. These security cameras give you the ability to move the camera to wherever you like, creating a completely portable solution. Battery powered security cameras are usually very easy to install because they generally work straight out of the box and come with a variety of mounting options. A down side to battery powered security cameras is the battery life. Make sure you check how long the security camera will run for while not on charge. Also, as with any device that runs on batteries, the battery life declines over time, meaning you will need to replace batteries as some point in the future.
Power of Ethernet (PoE) – PoE technology allows power to be delivered to the device via network cables. In other words, if you have the internet at home with a router or wireless access point, then you may be able to connect a security camera, with PoE as an option, directly to your home network and it will be ready to go. These security cameras are also easy to install as they are usually plug-and-play. However, installation can get more complicated if you need to run wires within the walls or over long distances.
How are security cameras connected to a storage device?
The main ways that security cameras connect to a storage device are directly with the use of wires or cabling, wirelessly using wireless networks, or directly on an internal memory card.
Wired connections – This could be in the form of video/audio cables, or ethernet cables that run from the security camera to the storage device. The biggest advantage of a wired connection is reliability as the will always be connected. However, the down side of wired connections could be difficulties in installation, for example, running cables throughout your wall cavities, or even the cost of having it professionally installed, plus the extra wiring if running it over large distances.
Wireless connections – Usually connected to your wireless home network or access point which is then connected to a storage device on the same network. If you have experience in connecting wireless devices to your home network before, these systems can be a piece of cake to install. However, if you struggle with home networking, you may run into problems. Reliability can also be a problem, as with any wireless device, you may experience drop outs or loss of connection altogether.
Internal Memory Card – Some security cameras can have internal storage in the form of a memory card. These are great as they can be a complete standalone security device with no need to connect to a network or other storage. Generally, only indoor security cameras would come with an internal storage option, which makes sense as having a memory card slot on an outdoor camera would severely impact it’s weatherproofing. An indoor security camera with internal memory card storage would be ideal if you are looking for an easy solution that you can simply plug in and start recording immediately with ease.
There are many things to consider when deciding on a one of the above ways to connect to storage. The most common decision to make is whether to go wired or wireless. I have posted an article previously on wired vs wireless security systems, feel free to check it out!
What is the difference between CCTV security cameras and IP security cameras?
You may have heard about CCTV (closed-circuit television) surveillance systems in the past. They have been around for a long time, and are generally used in commercial settings such as businesses or in public places. The idea of a CCTV surveillance system is that it is closed to outside access. Or in other words, the security cameras are connected directly to a storage location where it is recorded. Older CCTV systems were set up with TV or computer monitors where a security guard would watch and monitor the vision 24 hours a day. However, they are more commonly found connected to storage devices where the footage can be reviewed at any stage. The fact is, CCTV security cameras are directly connected to a storage device.
IP security cameras on the other hand are usually connected to a home network. The home network can then have a storage device connected to the same network where the security vision can be recorded and stored. In other words, IP cameras are essentially network ready. Some IP cameras also come with internal storage via a memory card, or they can also come with a cloud storage service where users can subscribe to having their security footage stored digitally in the cloud.
Both CCTV and IP security cameras can have network capabilities, as long as they are connected to the internet or home network. I find these days that the features available are very similar, whether you buy a CCTV or IP security camera system. It really just depends on whether you prefer a system than connects directly to a recording device (CCTV), or whether you are looking for something that has network storage options (IP).
Viewing security camera footage from a mobile device
These days, most systems (whether it is CCTV, IP, wireless, wired, etc) come with functionality that allows you to connect to the security camera via your smartphone or tablet. Generally, if the system can connect to the internet, then you should be able to connect to it from a mobile device.
Usually the device would have an app than can be downloaded onto your smartphone or tablet, which then gives you access to your home security cameras from anywhere in the world. Certainly, a great feature in my mind. Especially if you travel a lot, or simply want to keep an eye on things when you are not at home.
Are there any devices that are completely wireless?
That is a great question! There is a really great security camera system called the Netgear Arlo that is completely wireless. It connects wirelessly to you home network, and it is powered by batteries, giving you complete flexibility in a totally portable security camera system. Read my Review of the Netgear Arlo security cameras for further information.
Connectivity is something you need to consider closely when buying a security system. Think about whether you want something that is easy to install, is portable, or maybe you want something that is 100% reliable. Hopefully the above information will help you decide what type of system is best for you.
Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions about anything I have mentioned above. Or if you need assistance in selecting a security camera, I’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.