Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2019 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.
Designed to protect your loved ones, home and property, wired and wireless security cameras each boast distinct characteristics suited for specific environments and users. Examining both—as well as the best features of each—can help you choose the best model.
Several consideration factors regarding wireless cameras include connection reliability, smart home advantages, video analytics and motion detection, resolution, and security encryption. The installation process, location, and power outage backup should be noted with wired models.
When implementing any home security system, it’s recommended to weigh advantages and disadvantages of each camera to determine which is best for your needs.
Let’s review each camera’s features, examine pros and cons, and outline best practices.
Questions to Ask When Comparing Wired vs. Wireless Cameras
Whether adding indoor, outdoor, doorbell cameras, or a combination of all three, choosing the best starts with how many you’ll require, and intended use. This can range from combatting so-called “porch pirates” and other trespassers, to ensuring elderly loved ones and children are safe when you cannot be there.
Wired cameras are powered by a coaxial, CAT5, or CAT6 network cable connected to a network video recorder (NVR) or digital video recorder (DVR) for memory and storage. Wireless, however, operates in the cloud powered by in-home Wi-Fi or cellular networks.
When comparing wired and wireless security camera solutions, keep these questions in mind:
- What is the best location for my camera?
- How much time should I allow for installation?
- What is the best long-term solution?
- Which offers the best protection for my security needs?
- Which provides the most benefits?
- Can I easily integrate smart technologies?
- How much memory/storage will I require?
Wired Security Camera Benefits
A wired solution is recommended if installing multiple cameras on a larger property. It’s dependent on a single-cable Power Over Ethernet (PoE) connection that can run multiple devices without overextending the network. This system is also challenging to hack, since it’s on a closed platform. While there’s no guarantee any solution is 100-percent free of incidents, wired models carry slightly lower risks.
Stability is also a key feature, with users having several placement choices. Interfering signals is also something you won’t have to consider.
Wired security cameras are well suited for new construction projects, since installation may entail loud power tools and possibly opening walls to run cables. For a pre-existing space, it’s best to work with an experienced installer utilizing a drilling and fishing method, running cables and wires through walls and ceilings without disturbing the current structure. For leased spaces, check with the building management prior to installation, as some may not permit tenants to alter an existing structure.
If your location is vulnerable to lengthy or frequent outages, you'll need to purchase a camera with a backup battery. This will ensure functionality until power is restored. In some cases, data access won’t be available during the outage, but this can be bypassed with proper planning and network components. Data can also be viewed on an alternative device if the camera features a Secure Digital (SD) or memory card drive.
- No Interfering Signals From Competing Devices or Appliances
- Stable Connections & Reception
- Suitable for New Construction Projects
- Can Run for Long Periods Without Overextending Power
- Higher Video Quality Levels & Image Resolution
- Not Recommended for Leased or Temporary Spaces
- Wiring Throughout Can Be Cumbersome
- Do-It-Yourself Options Might Also Require Additional Assistance
Wireless Security Camera Benefits
These cameras’ portability are a great fit for smaller, temporary areas, such as an apartment or other leased space. They're also an easy first step when adding smart home integrations.
A wireless connection's absence of cords and cables make installation a cinch for any DIYer. Working with a company such as General Security can help ensure the correct project components are used. This solution can help achieve smart home goals and other additions, such as motion sensors, remote monitoring, and more.
Both wired and wireless solutions can provide real-time alerts, but wireless offers a slightly easier set-up on any mobile device for 24/7 video analytics and monitoring. Decreased false notifications and distinguishing between humans, animals, and vehicles are two additional assets. Virtual tripwires and activity zones can also be added for geofencing and smart alerts.
If you're in a remote area or unsure of Wi-Fi connection strength, type “Speed Test” in Google, and click “Run Speed Test” in your search results. A strong connection is required to handle the bandwidth of high-resolution 1080p or 4k images.
Both wired and wireless solutions can provide real-time alerts, but wireless offers a slightly easier set-up on any mobile device for 24/7 video analytics and monitoring.
- Portability & Easy Setup
- Suited for Smaller Spaces & Apartment Living
- Can Facilitate Smart Home Goals
- Can Easily Scale Camera Amounts Up or Down
- Could Be Problematic in Areas With Unreliable Wi-Fi
- Extra Security Encryption Could Be Required
- Dense Construction Materials Could Impede Wi-Fi Signals
- Weak Connections Could Produce Low-Resolution Images & Video
When implementing any type of home security system, it’s recommended you weigh the pros and cons of each camera to determine which is best for your needs.
Wireless Encryption for Added Security
While wireless technologies have improved recently, no system is ever 100-percent unbreakable. If you choose this camera type, you'll have to take extra precautions to ensure the feed is secure.
According to security tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), wireless cameras can be at high risk if running an open network. To address this, an extra security layer—such as wireless encryption—is required for secure access points. This demands an authentication protocol to safeguard information from being deciphered by network outsiders. These so-called “hackers” could also potentially uncover your login credentials and other personal information to infiltrate security camera systems.
While this might be a cause for concern, it's best to consult with an industry professional experienced in password managers and advanced wireless encryption, such as General Security.
Wired vs. Wireless Cameras: A Final Analysis
If you require additional guidance, it’s helpful to consult a trusted professional. They can identify determining factors in your search for the right camera and also advise about longer-term maintenance and services.