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SMB IP Security Camera Systems: Wired or Wireless?

What’s a Wired Security Camera System?

The wired security camera system needs a wire to realize video transmission and power supply. It has to be hardwired to the electrical system, the Internet and local storage to work. These are the traditional heavy-duty cameras that you might see in businesses and public areas. They’re your best choice if 24/7 recording and video quality are your top priority. In some old-fashioned models, like traditional analog cameras, the security camera requires a separate cable to transmit video and audio signals and gets power from a local wall outlet. However, with the invention of PoE security cameras, data (video and audio) and power can now be transmitted via a single Ethernet cable at a distance of up to 100 meters, which highly reduces the volume of network cabling. Although the wired security camera requires more installation time and effort, it delivers a higher level of reliability and security. Professional installation is often required, but consistent power and connectivity are also guaranteed.

Local Storage with DVR/NVR

The wired security camera often works with local storage methods like DVR or NVR to create a kind of command center. You’ll see them a lot in businesses rather than in residential homes for centralized management. The main difference between the DVR and NVR is how they process raw material. The DVR system typically works with analog CCTV cameras and processes the data at the recorder by translating analog signals into digital formats. In the DVR system, physical connections for power and data are basically completed through coaxial cables, which can run up to 500 meters. But the image quality will start to deteriorate after 90 meters. Moreover, standard coaxial cables are not able to support audio transmission, so an additional RCA connection is demanded. A DVR recorder usually operates with a dedicated and security-rated HDD which can be expanded with external hard drives or SD cards for high-quality video storage.

On the contrary, the NVR only works with network-based/IP cameras. The IP security camera is capable of processing video data before sending it to the recorder, while the recorder is only used for storage and remote viewing. The NVR system uses Ethernet cables to connect the IP cameras to the recorder, which are thinner and less expensive than the traditional coaxial cables. Moreover, the Ethernet cable natively transmits audio signals, so only one cable is needed for power, video and audio transmission. Both DVR and NVR can connect to the Internet via the Ethernet cable, but the NVR isn’t limited to on-premise storage. It can also upload videos to cloud servers, but you have to pay monthly subscriptions to such services. Moreover, it offers more flexibility and mobility since the camera doesn’t necessarily need to be hardwired to the recorder as in the DVR system.

Pros and Cons of the Wired Security Camera System

The benefits you can expect the wired security camera system to have are:

1. Reliability

One of the most significant advantages of the wired security camera system is its reliability. The cameras are installed using Cat5 or Cat6 cables, so they are less likely to be interfered with by other radio frequencies. Wired security camera systems provide a much more strong, constant connection between the cameras, recorder and router, offering superior performance. With wired security cameras, you don’t have to worry about system failure, unstable signals, overlapping bandwidth and interference from other electronic devices such as LED lighting and air conditioning, making it ideal for use in densely populated areas such as cities or office buildings.

2. Security

Another advantage you can benefit from the wired camera system is a higher level of security. Wired security cameras are less vulnerable to remote hacking than their wireless counterparts. For their security to be compromised, the hacker should be on-site and cut off the physical connections themselves. Although the wired camera system can be connected to the Internet, you can run the system 100% locally. Internet-free options mean zero susceptibility to hackers. If privacy and the security of your system are big concerns, wired security cameras are your best option.

3. More Cameras

Most wireless security camera systems can only connect 4 cameras at a time, while wired camera systems can handle large systems. Monitoring a large property can be difficult as you’ll need several cameras to cover the entire place. The best way to do so is to use a wired camera system to handle the increased workload better. By using a PoE switch, you can easily handle more than four cameras to provide more comprehensive coverage for your business. Running a large network of cameras also requests a larger bandwidth, while adding more wireless cameras to the router will only cause network congestion. Each camera will take up 4-5Mbps, assuming 1080p using H.264 codec. But by using fiber optic cables, you can stream 4K videos at 60fps to your TV with the least amount of compression and 4:2:2 chroma subsampling.

Drawbacks that should be avoided are:

1. Difficult to Install

Wired security cameras are more difficult to install as they require making holes in the wall to wire and connect to the central hub, which will affect where the cameras should be located. Although the equipment for a wired system often costs less than that of a wireless system, the installation cost is much higher. Installing a wired system is going to be time-consuming, labor-intensive and will require wiring throughout the entire property. This is often done by professionals to run multiple cables through walls and along ceilings. For outdoor applications, you’ve to run underground cables for security cameras to monitor the main entrances, driveways, parking lots, etc., and PVC conduits are necessary to protect the underground cables from decay and damage.

2. Less Flexibility

In the wired security camera system, it is difficult to move the cameras once they are in place. Because wired security cameras must be hardwired to the electrical outlets and the Internet through cables, they are less flexible and cannot be installed anywhere since the availability of power and data is compulsory. The layout of your property can affect where your cameras are located due to how you can run the wires. And since all the wiring is done during installation, moving or repositioning the camera can be a huge challenge. And there’s also a distance limit when using a PoE IP camera provided that the maximum distance of PoE is merely 100 meters.

What’s a Wireless Security Camera System?

The wireless security camera is a versatile but high-maintenance device that transmits its footage over WiFi and is powered by AC power. It should be noted that the wireless camera is not entirely ‘wire-free’ unless it’s powered by batteries. The key difference between wired and wireless cameras is how they transmit data. It normally stores the footage on a local SD card or a Cloud server (Cloud storage usually comes with a monthly fee) to allow its users to monitor their properties at all hours of the day. Some of the best features of the wireless camera make it great for more casual users and applications that flexibility and ease of use are highly appreciated. The wireless security camera system tends to be more user-friendly and can be controlled and configured via the mobile app.

Cloud Video Storage

Cloud storage is a method to store videos on a remote server. With cloud storage, video can be accessed almost anywhere across any smart device or browser and requires no configuration as in the on-premise solutions, eliminating the need for redundant, complex on-site hardware. It offers continuous recording to help you spot activities of interest that happen at any time by connecting your camera directly to the cloud for distraction-free video surveillance. It’s the best option for businesses and organizations that need 24/7 surveillance over their properties. By storing videos in the Cloud, they can easily expand data storage capacity to meet the demands of a growing business. Moreover, all live and recorded videos can be centralized in one location, which greatly simplifies surveillance management. Even though there’s no firewall installed, Cloud servers can protect important data with password protection and two-step verification. But since the wireless cameras are constantly streaming footage, they’ll consume a lot more bandwidth.

Pros and Cons of the Wireless Security Camera System

The advantages you can enjoy by using a wireless system are:

1. Easy Installation

Ease of installation is one of the main advantages of the wireless security camera system. Wireless cameras are far less time-consuming to install and are incredibly easy to use. They can be installed in multiple places and don’t necessarily need professional help. Just plug them in the power outlets and connect them to your WiFi network using the camera’s app. You can also configure the camera settings through the app. There are no wires you have to worry about and you don’t have to drill holes in the walls, fish the lines across the ceilings, etc. Furthermore, you can angle the cameras in whichever direction and adjust them to the exact position needed for video surveillance. The overall cost of setting up a wireless security camera system is usually lower than a wired system due to the less time and effort required.

2. Flexibility

There’s an increased amount of flexibility to have a wireless security camera since the reduced cabling allows you to place the cameras in any desired location. Relocation will become much easier since you don’t have to deal with the wires. Given that they are connected via WiFi and only need to be connected to a power source. After you have placed the camera, if you feel that it fails to generate the best possible field of view in that location, the camera’s position can be easily changed as long as there is a WiFi connection available in the new location. As most wireless cameras use Cloud storage and offer onboard storage to record footage directly to a micro SD card, it can save you a lot of trouble wiring new cables during the relocation.

3. Cost

The biggest benefit by far is the most obvious is that the wireless camera system is less expensive. Because it is wireless, typically there are fewer tools and accessories needed. This will allow you to save money on the accessories and pay strictly for a nice camera. In addition, maintaining a wired security camera can be troublesome. But since the wireless camera uses fewer cables to function, ideally you won’t be spending any money on cable maintenance. And since the wireless camera is a rather newer technology, it comes with various advanced features that are typically unavailable in a wired camera, which makes it a wise investment in the long run.

Drawbacks that should be avoided are:

1. Interference

The main downside to wireless security camera systems is the connectivity issue. Since the wireless camera depends entirely on WiFi for data transmission, it’s more susceptible to signal degradation and other network-related problems. As the wireless signal can be easily impeded by physical obstructions like walls and doors, if your signal goes down, the image quality/resolution will also be compromised. Any interruptions or weak signals can make you lose connection to the security system. Sometimes, when the wireless camera system is jammed, it’ll cause false alarms, and dropped signals, and you could potentially lose critical moments of footage. Many reasons can cause a wireless camera to fail, like weather, the camera location, the WiFi channel, etc. The quality of your video feed will fluctuate as the strength of your WiFi signals changes.

2. Security

Having your footage uploaded to the Internet also makes you more subject to hacking. Wireless security cameras can be very susceptible to security breaches and cyber-attacks. Data security is important in today’s world, connecting to the Internet can expose your security camera system to cyber attacks that can put your system at risk, making the recorded data easy for unauthorized users to access. And the chance of being hacked is much higher with a wireless system than with a wired system. Wireless cameras without effective security measures can easily be targeted by hackers. A hacking attempt can make a business lose new business opportunities. And even your customers would not trust their confidential information to a company that has their data lost.

Which is Better for Small and Midsize Businesses?

Before you decide which kind of camera is the best fit for your business, there are so many factors to be considered, but the first step is to decide between wired and wireless camera systems. If flexibility is your top priority, the wireless security camera system is definitely a great option. The cameras can be relocated within minutes as your system changes. It allows you to monitor what is happening in your business with real-time and recorded videos. In addition, the wireless camera system offers extremely simple installation and configuration, while the wired camera system requires a more elaborate and complex installation process. But if you’re comfortable drilling holes and wiring cables, using a wired system will give you more reliability and highly reduce network downtime caused by signal issues. The traditional wired cameras needed to be fixed near an electrical source for a continuous power supply, but with the introduction of PoE technology, you only need one cable to transmit power and data simultaneously to the remote IP camera. PoE makes it more flexible when adding, moving and changing security cameras, which is ideal for future upgrades. While wireless cameras are convenient, wired systems often provide businesses with more power and efficiency and make sure everything works properly and is tailored to your needs. Moreover, they can support larger properties that might need multiple cameras for comprehensive coverage with seamless performance. Although the wireless security camera offers significant benefits in deployment, it’s highly network-dependable: network failure, signal interference, bandwidth fluctuation, etc., can be its possible downsides. If you require a stable and scalable network with better management for mission-critical applications or if you’re designing a system for permanent uses, the wired security camera system is always the way to go.

How to Install a Wired Security Camera System?

To set up a wired security camera system, you’ll need a router, a PoE switch, an NVR, some PoE cameras and Ethernet cables.

1. Decide How Many Cameras You Need

The number of cameras you need depends on the size of your property and which areas you would like to cover. The bigger your property, the more cameras you will need. But today’s IP cameras are equipped with a wide-angle lens to provide a larger field of view to allow you to use fewer cameras to cover more places. Since it would be expensive and unnecessary to monitor every spot, you should prioritize which areas you want to monitor the most and make a diagram of your surveillance needs first.

2. Install the PoE Wired Cameras

Before the installation, you should evaluate your property and security concerns. It’s a good idea to place the cameras in the most bustling areas like driveways, garages, points of entry like the front door, backdoor and ground-level windows, and places where the valuables and cash are held. And you should place the camera at least 3 meters high so it will not be easily knocked down while giving you the most visibility for your entire room. After you pick up the right spot for your camera, you have to screw it to the wall and attach the wire to the fish tape to feed your Ethernet cable through the wall and thread it to the place where you put the PoE switch. After the installation, you should hide the exposed camera cables by painting your cables the same color as the background or laying them in a conduit.

3. Connect the Cameras to the PoE Switch and NVR

By using the NVR system, the cameras are not necessary to be physically connected to the recorder itself. Just connect them on the same network, and they’ll be able to communicate with the cameras through the router. To install more cameras at a time, the simplest way is to get yourself another PoE switch. By daisy-chaining two PoE switches with their uplink ports, you can easily expand your camera network. To separate your camera network from your local network, normally two PoE switches need to be installed for different network purposes. By using a managed PoE switch, however, you can mix the camera network and the local network on the same switch. You just need to create a VLAN ID on the switching tab and create a PVID to isolate it from other VLANs. And you can also set the desired CoS, Queue scheduling, etc., to prioritize critical traffic for your camera network. Moreover, for business applications, video backup is necessary in case someone erases the video footage on purpose. To do video backups, you need two NVRs, and the secondary NVR must share the same camera specs as the primary NVR. You can connect both NVRs on the same switch or connect them to the same router. Moreover, you can also take advantage of Cloud storage to back up the video footage to a remote server.

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