IP camera increases overall safety in this highly connected world of today. It safeguards your properties and provides real-time surveillance on your premises. In the meantime, the significance of IP cameras in business cannot be overestimated: real-time video surveillance helps cut down security-related costs for monitoring strategic locations, boost productivity within the workplace and prevent any kinds of reprehensible activities. Briefly, IP cameras are crucial in both residential and commercial applications, but the main problem is they’re normally installed far away from the control center and from each other, which increases the difficulty of deployment on the job site.
The most basic way to set up the IP camera is using PoE technology to transmit power and data simultaneously to the PDs via the same Ethernet cable so as to eliminate extra power cabling, but technically, regular IP cameras only support a maximum distance of 100 meters. Beyond this limit, they’ll experience severe attenuation as the distance increases. But many applications that require IP camera installation are normally more than 100 meters. Deploying fiber optic cables seems like a feasible option for long-distance setups but installation can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. So the question is: Is there any way to extend your network without using any cable in between? Obviously, a wired connection can deliver a higher level of stability and performance in data networking, but there’s always a time when you can’t pull any cable at all and here’s where a wireless network bridge comes in.
What is the Wireless Network Bridge?
Wireless bridging is a technology developed to extend the network connectivity via infrared or microwave transmission between physically isolated locations where cable connection is not viable. The wireless network bridge joins different segments of networks together over a wireless channel by enabling two access points to connect to each other over long distances using their radios. By deploying the wireless network bridge, you can cover a larger physical area with higher throughput to build a point-to-point (P2P) or point-to-multipoint (P2MP) connection between cross-building offices, neighboring districts, and nearby towns, etc.
Wireless bridges are very similar to access points but they are designed to serve different purposes. The central difference between the two devices is their functionality. The wireless bridge is designed to integrate two divided networks through a radio link to facilitate data sharing, while the access point connects multiple wireless devices with a router to provide Internet access to devices that are out of the transmission range of the router. Simply put, the access point acts as the extender of a WiFi network, and some wireless APs can even provide the functionality of the wireless bridges to connect two network clusters.
How It Works?
The wireless bridge is completed by a pair of access points and the communication between two devices is very bidirectional. They don’t simply work like an ‘emitter+receiver’ unit in which one access point unilaterally broadcasts the radio signals to another. When the bridging is working, the master AP located in Building A will pick up the packets from the wired port (the one connected to the main network) and transfer them to the other AP, so that the client AP in Building B can connect to the network on Building A to create a dual-radio network portal over the wireless bridge. In the network bridging, the traffic is forwarded at Layer 2 to prevent any direct tempering on the devices and fend off cyberattacks. Moreover, the network bridge will read both source and destination MAC addresses and only forward packets to this exclusive link to avoid unnecessary data flows and reduce bandwidth waste.
Using Wireless Bridging for IP Camera Installation
Wireless bridging is a state-of-the-art technology to bridge the gap between two segmented networks and make them work as one. It provides a budget-friendly way to extend the physical network without running any cable along the way, giving administrators more freedom on where to install the cameras. As previously said, deploying and maintaining a wired link over long distances can be very expensive, and sometimes even impossible (e.g. running cables across the sea could be geographically challenging and undersea cables generally cost more), while the wireless bridge opens up a new world of possibilities to allow you to install the IP cameras wherever you want as long as within its transmission range.
“Wireless Bridging Leverages the Benefits of PoE in the Surveillance System”
• Increase WiFi Coverage by Congregating Network Segments
Wireless network bridges help a lot in the extension of a physical network. It helps increase the network length without installing any hardware equipment. To provide full coverage of the monitoring site, the security cameras are often installed in different locations to cover every weak spot, so it would naturally cost a lot to install new network infrastructures and wire new cables to the installation site every time. But by deploying the network bridge, you can take advantage of the existing network and broadcast the radio signals further to the job site by congregating the network segments together, so you will never bother to create a new IP subnet. The function of the network bridge is not only limited to network expansion, it also helps intensify the signal strength in long-range applications, so you can assign tasks from one part of the network to the other effortlessly.
• Reduce Network Traffic and Collisions with Network Subdivision
Wireless bridges can reduce network traffic by subdividing network communication. In network bridging, the communication between two APs is mostly point-to-point, so you can create an exclusive wireless channel between two endpoints that only authorized devices can access to reduce the traffic passing through the bridges. In the meantime, the wireless network bridges won’t be easily interfered with by other wavelengths so crosstalk will be highly reduced. Additionally, network collisions can be greatly minimized by segmentation. When we bridge a connection and divide our network into two segments, bandwidth waste can be efficiently reduced and more bandwidth will be forwarded to the edge devices as fewer nodes are connected on the same LAN. So you can ensure the optimal performance of your security cameras and access real-time video streaming from basically anywhere.
How to Install a Wireless Bridge for IP Cameras?
The wireless network bridge provides a budget-friendly way to install your IP cameras in a remote location with limited network access. It allows more flexibility on where to place the cameras without the constraints of wired cabling. In technical terms, the wireless bridges can cover distances ranging from a few dozen meters to kilometers, so you can send camera data back to the NVR or PoE/network switch effortlessly. There are mainly two stages to set up the wireless bridge: preparation and installation.
Preparation Lights the Way for a Successful Setup
“For preparations, you have to make sure you have a clear line of sight between two access points, choose the right frequencies for your wireless bridge, etc.”
Signal Strength is Crucial for WLAN: Line-Of-Sight Requirement
A clear line of sight (the path between two access points) is important for a wireless bridge to work at its full throughput, which is especially true for less urban areas. And LoS can be mainly subdivided into three categories: Full LoS (no obstacles between two transceivers), Near LoS (partial obstruction present, such as treetops) and Non-LoS (full of obstructions in between). WiFi signals will radically deteriorate when penetrating through any type of obstruction. Light waves and radio signals will get reflected off solid objects in their path, which will result in poor signal strength and even cut off the bridge link. For example, things like trees, buildings, or other landscape features or obstructions that may partially or fully block the line of sight between the access points will jeopardize the efficiency of network bridging. So first thing first, to set up the bridging, you have to measure the signal strength in the required coverage area, and make sure you have a good line of sight.
2.4GHz or 5GHz? How Much Bandwidth Is Enough?
Wireless network bridges operate in a wide range of frequencies: 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 3.6GHz, 4.9GHz, 5GHz, etc. Lower frequencies are less susceptible to interference and can penetrate through walls and other obstacles more easily. 2.4GHz can offer a faster network speed and a larger coverage in greater distances but it doesn’t mix well with water and is more susceptible to interference. But one of the advantages of using 2.4GHz WiFi is that most networking devices are using this frequency so there’ll be no interoperability issue. 5GHz is technically capable of delivering higher throughput at a higher data rate than 2.4GHz. And it’s less prone to cross-channel interference, ideal for fast-speed transmission at a shorter range. Thus you should go for lower frequencies for rural places, but in urban areas, 5GHz is more favorable.
Bandwidth is a highly important aspect to consider when picking a wireless bridge to ensure a high-performance network. The device should offer at least a speed of 300Mps for 2.4GHz. And for all times a wireless network bridge with a speed of 900Mpbs will be appreciated. Most 2.4GHz bands support speeds from 450-600Mbps, while the 5GHz WiFi could support speeds up to 1Gbps or more. The average bandwidth consumption of a static IP camera is 4Mpbs (2MP streaming with H.264), while a 4K quality camera requires at least 15Mbps of throughput when streaming with H.265, but the bandwidth will increase to 32Mbps when running H.264. Like any other network device, the signal strength of the wireless bridge will gradually start to degrade as the distance increases. If you’re planning to install multiple IP cameras at the edge, make sure the network bridges you pick have enough bandwidth.
Note: A Fast Ethernet wired interface is also a ‘must-have’ feature for wireless bridging since most network devices are hardwired.
PoE Switch or PoE Injector: Which is Better?
It all depends on how many cameras you want to install at the edge. You can connect one camera directly to the client AP or install multiple cameras at once by using a network switch. Once connected, the client AP will convert the wireless signals into the wired ones that the edge device can understand. Provided that most IP cameras are hardwired and mainly PoE-supported, you can directly use a PoE switch or PoE injector to deliver power and data to the PD(s) without additional power cabling and trenching. The PoE switch provides centralized management to prioritize the traffic forwarded to each PD, which greatly helps improve the scalability of your network. Moreover, by deploying a managed switch, you can configure the low-bandwidth devices to low priority so other high-bandwidth devices like PTZ cameras can get spare bandwidth to work at their full capacity. A reliable power source is also guaranteed from a centralized source rather than multiple randomly distributed wall outlets. On the other hand, the PoE injector is often used when only a few devices are to be installed. If you only plan to install one IP camera, then the PoE injector is absolutely a perfect choice since it’s relatively cheaper. And the point-to-point connection also makes it easier for troubleshooting. And more power can be allocated to the edge device, ideal for installing high-power devices.
Three Steps to Set Up a Point-to-Point Wireless Bridge
Wireless networking provides a solid way for extending the network range and creating long-distance bridges and helps installers to deliver cost-effective and low-latency security solutions. The wireless network bridges normally work under two topologies: point to point (P2P) and point to multi-point (P2MP). In the first scenario, the bridge simply connects the networks in two separate locations and is normally used in cross-building applications. While the P2MP aims to connect multiple networks together and mix them into the same network. But in network bridging, the connection is largely point-to-point.
Where to Install the Wireless Bridge?
Since the point-to-point connection requires a perfect line of sight if possible install the APs in a wide-open area with few obstructions in between to reduce any possible interferences and reflection along the way. If your line of sight is partially or completely obscured, move your access points high up and place them with as much of a clear line of sight between them as possible. Make sure the APs are installed as high as possible, normally placed on the rooftop or mounted on a tower and pole, to keep them far away from the interferences of other radio frequencies and solid obstacles. Besides, since the wireless bridges are often installed outdoors, extra protection is required in extreme weather like thunderstorms, while installing a surge protector will be of great help to protect your devices from damages induced by the lightning waves.
How to Install the Wireless Network Bridge?
Once you’ve got all the preparation done, the connection is pretty straightforward. To set up the wireless network bridge, you will need a router, a pair of wireless APs, a PoE injector, two power adapters and some Ethernet cables. In this case, we’ll take the 450Mbps Outdoor Wireless CPE as an example. The wireless bridge is equipped with a Gigabit PoE port and a Fast Ethernet wired interface, so you can set up at least 2 IP cameras at once. It comes with the next-generation WiFi standard of 802.11ac and runs flawlessly at 450Mbps at an extended range of 1km. Now, follow the instructions below to complete the setup.
1) First, use an Ethernet cable to connect one of the LAN ports on the router to the Gigabit PoE/LAN port of the wireless network bridge. Plug the power adapter into the wall outlet and plug it into the network bridge to activate the device. When the device is online, the digital channel (1-8) will display at the rear. Power another network bridge and make sure the two wireless bridges are aligned on the same level and face-to-face.
2) Then, set up the master AP and slave AP. Switch ‘master’ to ‘slave’ on the slave AP and synchronize the channel on both devices to make sure the ‘master’ and ‘slave’ APs stay on the same channel. And you can alter the configuration by pressing the reset button. Then check the signal indicators on the wireless bridge to ensure the devices are successfully matched.
3) Take another Ethernet cable to connect the LAN port of the ‘slave’ AP to the LAN port of the PoE injector. Power the injector with the DC12V power adapter, and connect it with the IP camera with a third Ethernet cable. If you want to install another IP camera, you can connect it directly to the ‘slave’ AP and power it with an external power supply.
How to Power the Client AP in a Remote Location?
Powering network devices in remote places is challenging, especially when your device is installed outdoors. But we’ve concluded three ways to help you power the wireless network bridge in hard-to-reach areas: using a power adapter; deploying a PoE injector; or installing a solar power system.
1) DC12V Power Adapter
If there is an electrical infrastructure available at the edge, you just need to use power adapters to power up the wireless network bridge and the IP cameras. The power adapter can convert the alternating currents to the low voltage DC power that low power consumption devices can receive. But you need to pay close attention to the maximum power your media converter can consume and choose the compatible power adapter accordingly since the voltage tolerance of every network device varies. And considering most IP cameras require a standard 12V DC power supply, it’s recommended to deploy compatible network devices and power adapters that share the same voltage.
2) PoE Injector
And for some wireless APs that are naturally built with a PoE interface, you might as well use a PoE injector to power the client AP. By using the PoE injector, constant power delivery is guaranteed with an uninterruptible power supply and the conversion from AC to DC power also lowers the risks of power outages/overloads and power failures. Once connected to a power source, the PoE injector will simultaneously convert the received energy to DC power and send it to the wireless bridge. And it will initiate a power handshake procedure to identify if the connected device is PoE-compatible and decide how much power is required. And if the power handshake fails for any reason, then the power will be immediately cut off to ensure the safe operation in outdoor applications.
3) Solar Power System
Since power outlets are often unavailable in hard-to-reach areas, it would be too impractical and expensive to run a traditional wired power source to the edge devices, but the solar power system allows you to install the wireless bridge and IP camera in remote locations, extremely helpful for applications such as oil and gas, construction sites, parking lots, remote gates and ranches. These are the basic components you will need to solar power your network device: a solar panel, a solar charge controller, a rechargeable battery and proper cables for the power load. First of all, you have to calculate your power load. You need to figure out how much energy your solar panel can produce, and you need to know the amount of peak sunlight hours your location gets. Place the solar panel in a location where it will not be in shade for shading of even a small part of the panel can result in low power generation. And you’ll need a solar charge controller to control the amount of charge coming in and out of the battery and the battery will receive the power from the controller and supply it to the connected electrical loads. The setup is very straightforward when you’re using our 10A Solar Charge Controller. First, mount the solar panel on the roof and use a power cord to connect the solar panel to the controller. Use another power cord to connect the battery to the controller. Finally, connect the edge device to the controller, and then the whole system is completed.