Wired vs Wireless Security Cameras

cctv security cameras

What Are the Pros and Cons of Wireless Home Security Cameras?

Pros:

  • Easier to install and adjust
  • Often easier to operate
  • Often have advanced features like machine learning
  • Often use cloud storage, which allows you to view your footage from anywhere

Cons:

  • Have a monthly fee for cloud storage
  • Can have spotty video quality due to reliance on Wi-Fi
  • Must have batteries changed regularly
  • Can be susceptible to hacking

Advantages of Wireless Home Security Cameras

A primary advantage of wireless security cameras is that they are much easier to install than wired cameras. You may need to mount them to a wall or ceiling using a drill, but otherwise, there’s minimal installation – just plug it in and connect it to your Wi-Fi network using the camera’s smartphone app.

Wireless security cameras are also very simple to use. You can view live or recorded footage on a smartphone or tablet app, where you can easily scroll through a timeline view of events triggered by motion or sound. You can also control your camera’s settings from the app and download footage you want to store long term.

Wireless cameras also have advanced features powered by machine learning and innovative software. “Wireless cameras can determine whether it’s a person or an animal in your yard, or whether somebody’s walking back and forth multiple times,” says Jeff Welch, a former corrections officer and founder of Grab The Axe security consultants LLC.

Some wireless cameras offer onboard storage so you can record footage directly to a micro SD card. If you have a battery-powered camera and local storage, your camera will still work and still record even if your power and internet have gone down.

As most wireless cameras use cloud storage, you can store more video for longer than you can with a wired system. Some cloud services offer up to 60 days of footage, although you have to pay a fee for this.

Wireless cameras are a great solution for renters as they are easy to both install and uninstall. Their flexibility also makes them a good option if you think you may want to reposition them in the future.

Disadvantages of Wireless Home Security Cameras

Monthly fees are one of the major cons of wireless cameras. Most rely on cloud storage, which requires a subscription fee. You also may have to pay a fee to access additional features like person detection.

Wireless cameras are only as good as your home Wi-Fi network. If your Wi-Fi is too slow or your camera is placed too far from your router, you may experience glitches, video that lags or freezes, or sometimes not be able to access a live view at all.

Another issue with wireless cameras is that the quality of your video feed will fluctuate as your internet bandwidth does. Even if you have 1 GB internet, Wi-Fi quality will go up and down based on many factors, such as how many other people in your neighborhood are using the internet at a given time and radio interference from other wireless devices in your home. As a result, your 4K cameras may sometimes transmit in just 720p (not even full high definition) because there isn’t enough bandwidth to provide higher quality video.

Wire-free cameras are very flexible in terms of placement, but you have to wire your cameras to a solar panel or remember to charge their batteries. “If you have to pull out a battery to charge it, that leaves that area exposed unless you have a backup which you can swap out,” Welch says. Wire-free cameras also can’t record 24/7 without draining their batteries quickly. Instead, they record in short bursts (10 seconds to five minutes, depending on the brand), which means you may miss key moments.

Because wireless cameras connect directly to the internet and offer remote access they can be hacked, putting your privacy and security at risk.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Wired Home Security Cameras?

Pros:

  • Tend to be more reliable
  • Tend to be more secure
  • Have more consistent video quality
  • No monthly cloud storage fees

Cons

  • Professional installation usually required
  • Mobile apps and software often not as advanced or user-friendly
  • Don’t work with smart home systems like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa

Advantages of Wired Home Security Cameras

The biggest advantage of a wired camera system is reliability. “With a wired system, you don’t have to worry about Wi-Fi signal degradation or charging the camera’s batteries,” Welch says. “Also, with wireless cameras, if the network goes down, so do the cameras. With wired cameras, you can keep everything up and running with a battery backup.” He also points out that wired security cameras are less likely to be hacked (although it’s not impossible), but still have the benefit of being able to connect to the internet should you want to view footage when you’re away from home.

While wired cameras can connect to the internet, the fact that they can operate entirely locally makes them more secure. If privacy and the security of your network are big concerns, wired cameras are the way to go, Welch says.

Wired cameras are a good solution if you have an inconsistent or unreliable Wi-Fi signal or a large property with a lot of area to cover. Wireless signals don’t extend very far – 300 feet at most without a wall or anything else to block the signal. A wired system will provide a more reliable signal. Additionally, the video quality will always remain consistent as it won’t be susceptible to bandwidth fluctuations, and the cameras won’t use as much bandwidth because they don’t need to send their video to the cloud.

Wired cameras record continuously with no monthly fees or cloud storage subscriptions, and you can add more cameras to the system with less expense. The cameras themselves cost less than their wireless counterparts, as most of the brains of the system are in the recording device, not the camera.

Disadvantages of Wired Home Security Cameras

The equipment for a wired camera system can cost less than that of a comparable wireless system, but setup costs will usually be higher. That’s because professional installation is most likely necessary unless you’re comfortable fishing wires through walls and along ceilings to connect to the central recording device.

The apps and software used by wired systems are often not as advanced or as user-friendly as those used by wireless cameras from the likes of Ring, Nest, and Arlo. Moreover, wired cameras don’t work with virtual assistants such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, while many wireless cameras do. You also may need to set up a computer monitor to view your footage, and most DVRs are limited in capacity, capable of recording seven to 14 days of footage before wiping recordings.