Wired vs. Wireless Security Cameras

Wired security cameras can be a bit tricky to install, but they’re ultra reliable. They’re good for homeowners who won’t need to move the cameras around a lot and who want to keep a constant eye on multiple parts of their property. Wired cameras also don’t require you to recharge their batteries.

Wireless cameras are a bit easier to install than wired, so they’re better for renters or people who want an easier setup. The easiest wireless option is actually a wire-free camera, which means it has no wires at all and runs off a battery.

Types of home security cameras: 

  1. Wired: Wired cameras have to wire into both your internet network and a power source.
  2. Wireless: Wireless cameras use a power cord but connect wirelessly to your internet network. These cameras upload video to the cloud or a local storage drive.
  3. Wire-free: Wire-free cameras don’t use any wires at all. They run off of removable or rechargeable batteries and upload video to the cloud or a local storage drive.

What is a wired security camera?

Wired security cameras have to be hardwired into both your internet connection and a power source. Sometimes you need to route two separate cords to do that: one to your internet router and one to a power outlet. But a lot of cameras use PoE (Power over Ethernet) cables that require only one wire.

Why choose a wired security camera?

Choose a wired security camera if you want the most reliable possible connection. Wired cameras have fewer issues with dropped signals or recording issues due to a weak internet connection. They’re also harder to steal, since they’re physically connected to your house.

No signal drops

If you’ve ever been watching Netflix and had your internet signal drop, then you know how finicky Wi-Fi can be. Wired systems don’t rely on over-the-air connections like Wi-Fi to keep your cameras recording video, which makes them more reliable than wireless and wire-free options.

What are the downsides of wired security cameras?

The downside to wired security camera systems is all those cords! You don’t usually have to hire a professional to install a wired security camera, but sometimes it helps. It can be a pain to have to wrangle cords all over your house and get them properly hooked up to your internet router.

If you install a wired camera yourself, then be prepared to break out the drill and do some finagling.

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Heads up
If you want to put a hardwired camera outside, it’s also going to involve drilling holes in your wall, which is a no-go for most renters.

Power outages

If you live in an area that sometimes has rolling blackouts, wired security camera systems might not be a good choice for you. Because wired cameras rely on hardwired connections to operate, a cut to your power also means a cut to your security camera feed.

What are the best wired security cameras?

Best wired security cameras comparison
CameraVivint Outdoor Camera ProRing Spotlight CamAmcrest 4K Ultra HD Dome Camera
Resolution1080p1080p4K
Indoor/OutdoorOutdoorOutdoorOutdoor
Night vision?YesYesYes
Field of view140º140º69º–112º
Two-way audio?YesYesNo
Motion detection?YesYesYes
DetailsGet a QuoteView on AmazonView on Amazon

Data effective 11/30/2020. Offers subject to change.

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Why choose a wireless security camera?

Choose a wireless security camera if you have a strong Wi-Fi network and you want easier installation than you’d get with a wired camera.

Fewer cords to run

Wireless security camera systems need to be hooked up to a power source, so they do need to be somewhat close to a power outlet. But unlike wired cameras, wireless cameras don’t need another cord that runs all the way to your internet router, which makes them a bit easier to install.

If all you need is an indoor camera or two, then wireless cams are a cinch to put up.

What are the downsides of a wireless security camera?

The main downside to wireless security camera systems is potential connectivity issues. If your Wi-Fi drops or another signal interferes with yours, it can affect the camera’s operation.

Wireless cameras are also still susceptible to power outages, since they need a direct plug into an electrical outlet to work.

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Fun fact
Wireless security systems don’t have the same connectivity issues because they usually use cellular connections, not Wi-Fi.

Drill still required (sometimes)

If you want to beef up your outdoor security and opt for a wireless security camera, like the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, you still have to plug it into an indoor electrical outlet. That means you may have to drill a hole through an exterior wall to run the cord through—which is, again, usually not an option for renters.

What are the best wireless security cameras?

Best wireless security camera comparison
CameraNest Cam IQ IndoorNest Cam IQ OutdoorWyze Cam v2Frontpoint Premium Indoor Camera
Resolution1080p1080p1080p1080p
Indoor/OutdoorIndoorOutdoorIndoorIndoor
Night vision?YesYesYesYes
Field of view130º130º110º180º
Two-way audio?YesYesYesYes
Motion detection?YesYesYesYes
DetailsView at Best BuyView at Best BuyView on AmazonView Camera

Data effective 11/30/2020. Offers subject to change.

Why choose a wire-free security camera?

Choose a wire-free security camera system if you have a strong wireless network, and if you want the easiest installation possible. Wire-free cameras are also easy to put wherever you need an extra digital eye, and they usually come with versatile mounting options. (This one’s especially great for renters.)

Versatile mount options

When your camera’s not restricted by wires, you can put it just about anywhere. One of the key features of wire-free cameras is that they usually come with multiple mount options so you can put the camera on ceilings, walls, fences, or even in trees.

You can also set up wire-free camera systems on all sorts of flat surfaces—and they don’t have to be near a power outlet.

What are the downsides of wire-free security cameras?

The main downside to wire-free security camera systems is that you have to find a way to recharge their batteries (or replace them, depending on which model you choose).

Some camera models require you to take the camera itself down and bring it inside to plug it in and recharge. Some models have removable batteries that you can just replace when they die.

Most wire-free cameras last for at least a couple months on one charge or one set of batteries. But it’s still a pain to have to watch your battery life and take down your camera when it’s time to recharge.

Connectivity issues

Wire-free cameras have the same potential connectivity problems as wireless cameras. They usually use your Wi-Fi connection to upload video to the cloud, so if your Wi-Fi goes out or you get a lot of interference, your camera performance will suffer.

What are the best wire-free security cameras?

Best wire-free security camera comparison
CameraArlo UltraArlo Pro 2Reolink Argus 2Canary Pro
Resolution4K1080p1080p1080p
Indoor/OutdoorBothBothBothIndoor
Night vision?YesYesYesYes
Field of view180º130º130º147º
Two-way audio?YesYesYesYes
Motion detection?YesYesYesYes
DetailsView on AmazonView on AmazonView CameraView on Amazon

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Want to learn more? Check out the best home security cameras.

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