Thinking about buying a wireless camera? Here’s what you need to know!Wireless cameras can be an excellent solution for a video surveillance system. There are a few things to consider before choosing a wireless option, one being what type is going to be the most beneficial. In this article I will touch on the different wireless options as well as the issues that can arise with each.
Wireless Cameras Types:
Cameras with built in wifi that communicate with existing network requires an established wifi connection. One of the things to keep in mind with this option is the distance from the camera to the wifi connection. Long range placement may require additional equipment such as wireless radio. This option needs either a recorder or an SD card to store video. Range is usually around 300 feet barring the absence of physical obstructions like trees and poles.
Cameras with built in wifi communicates with recorder that also has built in wifi. This option is quite popular because no established wifi is needed. The recorder has 2 jobs- recording the captured video and being a standalone wifi network. Wireless Bridge is essentially just more than one wireless radio that communicates the data to each other in long range placement. These radios can be placed every 200-300 feet to create a bridge that carries the data back to the recorder.
4G Wireless works similar to a cell phone. The modem connects to the internet just like a cell phone. One of the things to consider with this option is not only is a sim card needed but also a cellular modem and a switch would need to be encased in an enclosure if the camera is placed outside, this is assuming there is a nearby power supply if not a solar panel would be needed. Also keep in mind there would be a monthly fee for using a 4G network similar to internet, if you don't pay the bill the cameras would have no signal. This is not a good option for homes or business’ in the country where cell phone service is limited.
While analog wireless cameras usually have a lower resolution compared to IP, there are some that are available with a higher resolution. This is a good option for homes and business that require a super secure system with no network vulnerability.
Consumer vs commercial wireless:When choosing commercial vs consumer its important to consider a couple of factors like warranty, the type of support that will be available after the sale and ease of use. Consumer grade security cameras come standard with a 1 year manufacturer warranty, limited tech support, lower grade quality materials than commercial but are typically more user friendly and offer the plug and play option. Commercial grade is basically the opposite of the consumer grade equipment. Often comes with an extended warranty, excellent support and top quality materials. Often with a commercial grade camera the image sensor is higher quality, and the software is more refined, user friendly.
Wireless Cameras Configuration:Wireless cameras present a few challenges when it comes to configuring them to the network depending on if its commercial or consumer grade. Consumer Grade is actually the easier of the two to configure. That’s because there is a wireless signal option around the camera. (small button on camera turns on wireless network to configure) Most commercial grades are more complex in configuring because the plug and play option is absent. Geovision just launched a new commercial grade camera the first of its kind that’s functions as a consumer grade camera with the commercial grade benefits- the OPAL SI.
Power Source/Cost:Ideally the best place for a wireless camera would be next to an existing outlet, if this is not possible there are other options but they bring up other concerns like safety and cost. 1) Run a cable from the camera to the outlet, this option could be a potential safety concern because anyone can simply walk up and remove the cable disarming the camera 2) Pay an electrician to add on a power outlet close to the camera. This can be costly running up to $500 per outlet. 3) Purchase a single solar panel and install, this option can be somewhat costly and inconvenient because the battery will have to be replaced at some point, not a good option for cold weathered areas
Distance and Obstructions:Video fragmentation occurs when there is some kind of disruption in the signal. Whether its trees, poles or concrete walls, objects blocking the signal strength is definitely something you want to be aware of and keep in mind if you are purchasing a wireless system. A quick speed test will help you determine if wireless cameras are not an option. The speed test can be performed on a cell phone or laptop and will identify where the signal will be strongest. Cameras with built in wifi that talk to an existing network must be within 300 feet for optimal performance. With cameras that communicate with wifi NVR’s placement of the camera close to the NVR is definitely something to be taken into consideration. For example if the only thing blocking the NVR from a camera is a window there wouldn’t be much of an issue but if there is an insulated wall in between the camera and NVR or the NVR is down stairs and the camera is mounted on second story wall, this would cause a disruption in the signal. A wireless bridge is a great option for long range situations where trees and poles are not present.
Wireless Cameras Bandwidth:Wifi Bandwidth is another issue that will need to be examined before choosing a wireless system. Will there be several different devices using the wifi at the same time, consider laptops, ipads, or streaming service like Netflix. All of these things reduce your wifi bandwidth and can cause bottle necking when the signal heads back to the modem.
Wireless Security and Network Safety:Another factor to consider is security, a wireless connection is somewhat easy for hackers to access. If a hacker were to gain access to your wireless network they would also have access to the security cameras and the data being captured. There are devices called wifi jammers that cause the signal to jam rendering the camera useless for recording that activity.
Wireless Cameras Maintenance:Wired cams can be accessed through the network because of the cable where a wireless camera requires a laptop or similar device attached to the camera to configure. While there are several things to consider before purchasing a wireless security camera system, it is still a great option. Still have questions?
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