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One of the real benefits of an IP camera security system is the flexibility that it offers - it’s very easy to cater your system to fit your needs, whatever they might be. In recent years we've seen the welcome expansion of wireless internet technology, and this has lead to a influx of cheap, high quality cameras that are able to connect to a home network wirelessly.
So, does this mean you should dispense with the cables completely and set up a totally wireless security network in your home or business? Below are a few arguments we’d like to make in favour of sticking with a wired network wherever possible, and why going wireless isn’t necessarily the best solution to fit everyone's needs.
First and foremost, a wireless security camera isn’t in fact truly ‘wireless’. Although it seems like common sense, it’s worth pointing out that all security cameras, regardless of make or model, still require a power supply! Sadly battery technology is not yet good enough to allow you to place a camera anywhere you like, without cables, and happily leave it to its own devices for any serious period of time.
So, when installing your cameras, wherever you're placing them you will still need to plan for this requirement and run cables to and from each camera in a secure fashion. If you’re having to do this anyway, by and large you may as well be running a network cable to them instead of just a power lead, as this has a number of associated benefits that we’ll go into below.
It's worth mentioning that there are of course some situations where a power lead is in fact a better option than a network cable. If you’re installing some cameras on the exterior of your house, for example, and already have an outside power supply that you can secure and use, you may well prefer to connect this instead of drilling new holes and fittings into your home and running network cables from the inside out. However, please read on to see why even here it’s often well worth the effort, and why we recommend using wired IP cameras in the majority of cases.
Power over ethernet (PoE) is now a stock feature in the majority of IP cameras, and is a fantastic innovation that greatly improves their ease of use. Simply put, it allows the use of only one cable to both power the unit, and connect it to your NVR (network video recorder) or network switch. This is supported by all Cat5 and Cat6 network cables, meaning that no specialist equipment is needed either - it really is so often a case of plug and play.
It does this via utilising an otherwise unused part of the cable to carry the power alongside the network data. It doesn't in any way impact the data transfer, so you don't need to worry about it compromising the speed or reliability of your connection.
Instead, what this means for you is that, by using one of these leads with a PoE compatible NVR (or else by using a converter), you’ll be able to both power all of your cameras, and connect them securely to your home network, all via a single cable per camera. Easy!
What additional benefits does this bring? The main two is that it grants additional reliability, and additional security, to your security system:
The major problem with using wireless cameras is the nature of wireless internet itself. We’ve all been there: you’ve set the router up, you’ve turned your laptop on, and some reason, no matter what you do, you can never get more than one bar of signal. And then it drops. And drops again. And again. However hard you try, you can't get anything better than choppy service that's interrupted by the smallest of things.
Wireless networks are notoriously tricky things, I think we can all agree. And while it’s slightly annoying when you can’t stream the latest Netflix series or load your emails quickly, imagine the horror you'd feel if the network decided to drop right as someone was breaking in to your property and your cameras recorded nothing at all.
With a wired connection, these problems are largely non-existent. Your system is as reliable as your power supply, and suddenly losing a camera’s feed due to a chance occurance isn't going to happen.
The other problem that may arise is one of security. Whilst the majority of modern wireless networks come with a whole host of security features and are generally very safe (we want to stress that typically you shouldn’t be too worried about using wireless for this reason!), it does introduce additional stress points into your system that can be exploited. WiFi cameras open the possibility of being accessed by unwanted parties connecting via the internet - something that can be easily prevented if the cameras remain within a closed system.
Given that criminals are generally looking for any advantage they can get, it’s worth making life as hard for them as possible whenever this is an option. And it’s typically far more straightforward to keep your cables secure than it is to guarantee all of your wireless devices are 100% tamper-proof.
Whilst there are certainly cases in which wireless cameras are a good solution, we hope you’ll see that in the majority of cases a wired camera is far better for both reliability and security, and that it is generally just as convenient to install as a wireless one.
If you have any questions, would like to talk to us about the particulars of wired and wireless IP cameras, or would like some help in finding the best solution for you, you can either give us a call at 01304 827609, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks very much for reading!