Wireless vs Wired CCTV
Should you buy a wireless CCTV system?
It’s becoming an age old argument now that CCTV is becoming more accessible. With numerous companies now offering "wireless" cameras claiming to be easier to install than standard wired CCTV cameras, but is there any truth behind this? We’re always looking at products that will make the installation and setup of a CCTV system easier so we have looked at various units.
Firstly, the term "wireless" CCTV camera is quite misleading. The wireless part of the term is aimed at the networking side of the camera, you will need to power the camera somehow and this would almost definitely be with a wired power cable. Even if the camera is battery powered it will still need to be able to transmit a picture for live viewing. What this means is that there is a constant drain on the battery, this would then mean the battery will need replacing or recharging quite often. Wireless network bandwidths drop out quite frequently, but as we are not online constantly we tend not to notice it.
Think about what you do on your wi-fi, maybe look at a few websites, this takes less than a second to load, if the network drops it will retry the website that’s why some webpages take a while to load but sometimes instantly after. If you stream a video you’ll notice that a lot of it gets cached so even if your wireless network drops temporarily for a second or two the video will still play. If you have children who play online games you may hear them complain quite often that there’s a lot of ‘lag’, part of it may be due to information being lost on the wi-fi. Why is this bad? With CCTV the video footage is streamed from the camera to the recorder.
Security on wireless systems
There is no caching on the camera side so if this footage is lost then it cannot be retrieved. If you really want to go down the route of getting wireless cameras you should ask yourself why do you need them? If it has anything to do with security then you may want to think again. There are so many different ways in which you could attack a wireless network, you can even download some program to flood a wireless channel with so much information the camera footage would be drowned out. You don’t even need to be logged into the wi-fi to do this.
You could even target the wireless router with so many logins that the router fails to respond, similar to a denial of service attack that you hear on the news so often on the news. So wireless CCTV is not that secure, and the pictures could drop off easily and not record properly, and you still need to run a cable for power.
Why would anyone want to buy a wireless CCTV system?
Well not all wireless is bad, you can use a wireless network bridge to create a link to a separate building to your home network, such as an un-linked garage. There would be power in the garage to power the camera and you could just use the camera to view what’s happening there. Larger commercial sites also use the same technique to connect various buildings within the same site as the range of some wireless transmitters can reach up to 10,000m if they have line of sight and are unobstructed.
Wireless CCTV has its uses but for the smaller business premises or the home we would almost always use a wired system.