Skip to Content

Why Security Cameras Need Wifi (And Using Them Without Wifi)

Security systems have come a long way. The earliest surveillance systems required constant monitoring of the video feed, as there was no way to record or store what the camera saw. Internet connectivity allowed cameras to be more functional and user-friendly as security systems. Suddenly, you could use your smartphone to manage your security system and view your surveillance footage.

Using Wi-Fi for security cameras avoids having to run wires between cameras and monitors.  This makes security systems much easier to manage and much more inconspicuous. It also allows you to view your video footage whenever you want, rewinding, and fast-forwarding when necessary.

Having your own security system has never been easier or less expensive than it is now.  If you are considering purchasing a security system, a wireless security camera like the Google Nest package (on Amazon) is the best place to start.  See below for some more detailed information on the convenience of wireless security cameras, the pros and cons of owning one, and options that don’t require Wi-Fi to function.

How Do Wireless Security Cameras Work?

web camera for indoor video surveillance. home security and mode

As we talked about in our guide, wireless security cameras use your Wi-Fi network to send their surveillance footage up to the cloud.  The “cloud” is a server that can be accessed over the internet so that no physical server needs to be purchased and maintained by you in your home. Once your surveillance footage is sent to the cloud, it can be accessed and viewed on any device that connects to the internet, like your smartphone.

More recently, wireless security cameras have been referred to as “smart” cameras, as they interact with and are controlled by your smartphone.  Many can also be connected and controlled with smart home systems like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (more on what can be done without WiFi in our guide).  These systems also have smart locks, lights, and speakers to make your house as safe as possible. 

There’s now impressively futuristic functionality, like the ability to control your whole security system all at once with voice command. While smart security systems are certainly the future, there are some drawbacks that haven’t been fixed yet, as the technology continues to work out its kinks and the manufacturers update their products.

Pros of Wireless Security Cameras

Wireless Cameras are Easier to Install

There are many benefits to choosing a wireless security camera over other options. First, wireless cameras are extremely easy to install.  Most wired cameras require an electrician for installation.  With a wireless camera like the Google Nest (on Amazon), the only wire you will have to deal with is plugging it into a power source.

Then, choose a spot to mount your camera where it gives you a good view of the area you would like surveillance of. Typically, set-up instructions are very straightforward and user-friendly for wireless cameras.  Download the corresponding app for your camera, and you will be up and running in a matter of minutes.

They’re More Affordable

Another benefit of wireless cameras is that they are much more affordable than other options. If you’re on a budget and don’t have a small fortune to spend on a security system, you should choose a wireless camera. You can still keep your family or your business safe without breaking the bank, and more importantly, there are many competing options for wireless security cameras, driving the prices down.

Wireless Cameras Are More Portable

Lastly, wireless cameras are very portable. If you use your camera for a week or two and decide you don’t like its placement, you can easily unplug it and move it to another location without having to rewire anything.  This is ideal if you are renting your house or apartment.  When you move, you can simply unplug the camera and set it up in your new location.

Cons of Wireless Security Cameras

Wireless Cameras Need Access to Wifi

While there are various positives to having wireless security cameras, there are, however, some drawbacks or limitations to these cameras. First, a wireless security camera – like Alexa (our guide) – must have access to your Wi-Fi network in order to work.  If your internet goes down or stutters, which can happen frequently depending on where you are and the quality of service, then your camera will not function properly.

You Have to Check the Batteries

Second, if you decide to make your wireless camera completely wireless and use batteries instead of a power cord, you will need to check the batteries often to make sure they’re charged.  This is time-consuming and easy to forget. Additionally, batteries cost more money and not everyone likes the idea of constantly buying new components to make their system function properly.

Proximity to the Router

Another drawback of using a wireless security camera is that it can’t be too far away from your wireless router.  The closer your camera is to your router, the stronger your wireless connection will be. Similar to setting up in your car which we explored in our guide, this takes a little trial and error and may require you to move your router or use a WiFi extender to place the camera where you want it to be.

Options That Don’t Use Wifi

Surprisingly, using wireless security cameras does not necessarily mean that you need to use WiFi, in fact, you could even view the footage on a Smart TV (our guide) if you wanted.  Using a wireless camera without having access to the internet is quite easy.  All you have to do is purchase an entire wireless security system, instead of just a single camera. Look for a system that comes with an NVR and multiple cameras.

This is more like a CCTV system as it operates as a self-contained system. This type of package allows you to have surveillance around the clock without using the internet because the cameras will automatically connect to the NVR device and send their footage to the NVR for storage. You connect the NVR to screens, and then you can access live feeds and recordings as needed. 

There are even CCTV systems that work without internet or power if you want surveillance for a remote cabin, for example. Products from companies like Reolink, for example, offer 24/7 surveillance using solar power and no internet.  These systems, however, can be pricier than others because of the more sophisticated technology.