Having wireless security cameras doesn’t mean that the camera will have no wires at all. You can transmit the signal wirelessly but you still need to power up the camera. There are cameras that work on batteries, however a true and reliable security camera (wireless or not) needs to be powered. Many people have questions regarding whether a wireless security camera needs a wire for power or not. Where do you plug it? How do you power up wireless security cameras? In this article we will discuss different methods on how you can power your wireless security cameras.
Do all security cameras need a power source?
Yes, there needs to be some source of power for the internal circuitry of the security camera to function. The camera has to get the juice from somewhere in order to turn on and work properly. All the security cameras used to be a two cable unit. One cable for the video and one for the needed power for the circuitry to operate. Later the technology evolved and now we can use one single cable to transmit the signal and to power up the camera. Thus the PoE or Power Over Ethernet port was born. DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) and NVRs (Network Video Recorders) soon took this new concept and ran with it. It is a great solution to reduce installation overhead and more reliable as there are less parts.
When the wireless IP cameras came on the scene and the concept got skewed a bit. The term “wireless” was mis-used a bit for marketing purposes and here we are. Both outdoor cameras and indoor IP cameras have been guilty of this poorly termed marketing. So how are these not completely “wireless” little cameras powered? We know they are wireless, but are they “wire-free”? Well, some are and some aren’t. Let’s get to know the types of power supplies a wireless security camera may use.
How to power up wireless security cameras?
The most popular and common way for powering a “wireless” security camera both indoor and outdoor, is the DC wall adapter. Most of the cameras require a 12V voltage (and 2A), however a few models work on 5V voltage. You need to check the specs sheet of your camera in order to get the right DC power adapter.
Most of the camera manufacturers and brands use universal power connectors (jacks) to power up the cameras. Old cameras may have a different connector size or style, but they accomplish the same goal. Having an outlet easily within reach of all your cameras may be tricky. Most homes or other locations don’t have power access except near doors or patios, so what is the best solution?
Maybe you found a perfect spot for placing your security camera, but there is not a power outlet anywhere nearby, and an adapter won’t reach either. It’s time to get creative and handy (In a safe way!). When power is needed for a wireless outdoor camera that sits remotely there are two options: Move AC closer, or move DC closer.
Your best option is probably spicing and adding length to the power cable and you can get you a few more feet if the camera is just out of reach of a power supply. But adding a long cable will add resistance and increase the current drawn, even possibly damaging circuits in the camera. Generally, it is acceptable to add length if the gauge of wire is large enough to sustain the correct supply voltage.
Soldering skills are not absolutely necessarily, as you can use wire crimp connectors or butt connectors. These will get the job done, but tend to create weak points after moisture or mother nature has gotten to them. Good insulation around the connections will add longevity to your work by keeping out the elements.
Next in the list is solar power. Solar power panels have been used for outdoor electronics for a few years now, so it’s not the newest form of wireless power on the market, but it’s out there and getting better every year. This is not typically how a home security camera from a major manufacturer would get its power source, it is more for unique devices. This is more for a single camera or motion activated light would be powered. This unit from KKmoon is an IP camera with a solar light attached. Another article to consult: Buyer’s Guide: Solar powered security cameras.
The newest and most “exciting” platform to power wireless security cameras right now, is of course battery power. Yes it’s true that trail cameras have used batteries for years. What’s new is the powerful LiPo version of rechargeable batteries with extended life cycles.
This Arlo System for example has rechargeable batteries in each camera. It comes with five cameras and a NVR for a complete home security system with very easy installation. If one gets low you can bring it in and charge it. Charges last depending on settings and temperature. These cameras are some of the first to offer different colors. They call them ‘skins‘, and they come in black, browns, white, camouflage, and even fake grass covers.
Do security cameras work when the power is out?
They can if you use a UPS. A UPS is a sophisticated power supply regulation device meant to control output and supply power when it’s own source power is removed. In other words it is a battery backup for electronic devices, such as computers, medical devices, factory equipment, and at home it also works for security camera systems.
There are many sizes and features to choose from. For the most part they are fairly affordable. Here is an APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector (BR1500G) which has 10 outlets making it easy to power a monitor, router, computer, phone charger and NVR while the power is down. UPS devices are a smart way to go if you have the means.