Wired or Wireless Surveillance Cameras? Pros & Cons

Some people have the impression that security cameras are only good for businesses and corporations; that just isn’t true. When installed and used correctly, having cameras around your home can help protect you from crime. In fact, residential surveillance cameras have only become more popular over the last decade, but technology is advancing fast enough that it can be difficult to figure out which cameras to buy.

Ultimately, your choice comes down to two main categories: wired, or wireless. Both have unique advantages and disadvantages. In this post, you’ll learn the differences and how they can impact your decision.

Quick Read:
Wired cameras are stable, making them ideal for long-term monitoring, while wireless cameras are, fast, user-friendly, and remotely accessible. Both have distinct disadvantages, meaning they may not be right for every homeowner. Get the details on the wired vs. wireless debate in this post.

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Wired Camera Pros

Wired cameras may sound like an antiquated home security option, especially given the prevalence of wireless tech. However, they remain the gold standard for a few different reasons, including the fact that they’re more reliable and stable.

  • Transmission Stability: Wired cameras aren’t influenced by the stability of wireless networks. They only drop connection if the cable connecting them to the network becomes damaged or is completely cut. Because you have full control over wired installation, you should (theoretically) never experience interference.
  • Network Security: Wired cameras link to a central hub inside your home; this hub is inaccessible to anyone except you and maybe your alarm and monitoring provider. It’s virtually impossible for hackers to access a computer that has no WiFi capability, meaning that they can’t tap into your cameras, either. That makes wired cameras especially safe and robust against cyberthreats.
  • Scalability: Wired security networks are much more scalable than cameras relying WiFi connections, which makes them more suitable for larger homes and properties. In fact, you should consider using wired cameras if you’re planning install four or more cameras in multiple locations.
  • Long-Term Solution: You can build a wired security network to last a long time. In fact, wired cameras are preferred if you need a stable system that you don’t plan on changing in the future.

Wired Camera Cons

Wired cameras are sturdy and reliable, but those benefits don’t come for free. A certain amount of flexibility is lost to achieve that constant connection. This includes impacts on longevity, installation struggles, and the issue of staying connected during outages.

  • Long-Term Solution: Not every homeowner wants a permanent security solution. If you know you’re moving in a year, wired cameras don’t really make sense because they will be harder to take down and move. They’re also more expensive, making them a poorer choice for temporary needs.
  • Installation: It takes time to setup a wired system; running cables often requires using advanced skills to tunnel into walls and maybe even the exterior of your home. The hard-wired approach also limits installation locations to areas close to where power is easily accessed from the outside.
  • Power Outages: Wired cameras are completely reliant on a consistent power source. Your cameras can’t and won’t operate during a power outage, be it a result of tampering, inclement weather, or random outages. If power stability is a problem where you live, you should consider this impact carefully. That said, you can link wired cameras to a backup generator with an additional associated cost.
  • Central Computer: Wired cameras usually require a main central monitoring station within your house. You’ll need a dedicated computer system installed somewhere inside where you can run and monitor your cameras. This may be an inconvenience if you aren’t tech-savvy or just don’t have the space.

Wireless Camera Pros

Wireless cameras don’t require a hard-line connection to work. Instead, they use batteries, an exterior hidden power plug, and either WiFi or Bluetooth to connect with your home router. They’re also often very easy to use and offer unique opportunities for remote monitoring.

  • Ease of Use: WiFi cameras are very easy to install and operate. You can interface with most models via a smartphone app or home PC. Controls are often simple and intuitive, making them accessible for even entry-level tech users once they’re set up. It is also easier to set up and tear down WiFi cameras without needing a significant amount of skill.
  • Remote Access: Wireless cameras let you monitor cameras from anywhere with an internet connection. Going on vacation? Check your video monitoring from your phone. Heading out for the weekend? Spy on the kids from the conference to make sure they aren’t throwing wild parties. You’re always in touch.
  • Cloud Storage: WiFi cameras feed footage directly to cloud storage. As with monitoring, you can access this cloud storage from virtually anywhere at any time. Set your cameras to retain a day, a week, or a month of footage. If you realize later that someone broke in, your cloud server will still hold traces of proof even days or weeks later.

Wireless Camera Cons

Wireless security cameras come in two main flavors. Some rely on a wired power source, while others operate on battery packs alone. The former also suffers from power outages, while the latter does not – but may fail if the battery dies. They function identically in most other aspects.

  • Signal Interference: WiFi signal disruption can be a significant issue, particularly during peak usage hours. Walls and metal objects can drastically reduce signal range, so you need to carefully choose where your setup wireless cameras.
  • Network Overload: Installing too many wireless devices can strain your network beyond its capabilities, especially if you’re on dialup or satellite internet. You may unintentionally bog down your WiFi network to the point where it’s unusable for everyday enjoyment. You’ll either need to remove a few cameras, purchase additional equipment, or use wired cameras if that happens.
  • Battery Life: Battery-powered cameras need to be charged frequently, especially if you’re consistently monitoring them. If they don’t use rechargeable batteries, you’ll need to totally replace the batteries instead. This may be a monthly obligation involving climbing ladders that you may not want in your routine.
  • Hackability: Virtually anything with a wireless connection can be accessed by a savvy hacker if they have the know-how, including cameras. There have been stories of parents finding their cameras accessed by unknown parties over their network, which can be very frightening. Wireless setups with higher levels of security are available, but they can be more expensive, too.

For temporary or movable setups with flexibility, WiFi cameras are the clear winner here. That said, the fact that wireless setups need charging and may bog down a network unnecessarily, and the fact that they may be accessed by hackers, holds significant weight in your decision. Examine your property and go through the pros and cons do determine which option is best for you.