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Wired or Wireless? What's the difference?

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

When it comes to IP security cameras there are two ways to connect your cameras to your NVR. You can either run an ethernet cable to the camera that would provide power to the camera and video back to the NVR or connect your camera and NVR over the WiFi network. Understanding the difference between them and the advantages of one over the other can be very intimidating, especially if you aren't familiar with the technology behind these systems.

Diagram of Camera Connection to NVR
Wired and Wireless Connection to an NVR

An IP security system consists of two main components. The NVR or network video recorder receives video from the IP cameras connected to it and simultaneously live streams the video and records the video to an internal hard drive. You can view the video on your smartphone or tablet through an app made by the manufacturer, a computer using a web browser or a TV/monitor connected directly to the NVR. The second component of the system and the main focus of this article are the IP cameras. Again IP cameras come in two flavours, wired and wireless. With either type you choose the functionality is the same, the camera will capture video and send it back to the NVR to be stored and or streamed. Ok now to the whole point of this post wired or wireless, what situations call for either connection method.

A wired IP camera is connected to the NVR with a single ethernet cable. That single cable will supply power (provided by the NVR) to the camera and return the video captured by the camera. A wired connection will result in the best video quality for a couple of reasons. There is little to no interference with running a cable straight from the camera to the NVR which results in a clearer signal and faster connection. The faster connection enables the camera to send a higher resolution video with a lower compression rate. Modern wired cameras can record and stream at 4K resolutions. The less compression is done by the camera the more detail you'll be able to see in the picture.

The negative aspect of a wired IP camera is the limitations imposed by the installation of the wire itself. Sometimes running a wire just isn't possible or is too invasive for the setting that it is being installed in. Another situation that can make a wired IP camera more difficult to install would be over large distances. If you are installing the camera on a different building then the one that is housing the NVR you might not want to have a cable strung across your property. These situations are where wireless cameras shine.

A wireless IP camera connects t your NVR over your WiFi network. This enables an easier and much less intrusive installation than wired cameras. As long as the camera is in range of your wireless and close enough to a source of power you'll be able to install and connect wirelessly to your NVR. The convenience of the wireless installation does come at a cost. Wireless cameras usually record at 720p or 1080p much loser than the 4K of most wired cameras. The wireless cameras are also forced to compress the video a lot more than wired cameras which will make it harder to seen fine details.

One of the biggest hindrances of a wireless IP system is the stress it will place on your WiFi network. The more wireless cameras you add to your NVR the less bandwidth you are leaving for the rest of your devices. If you have one or two other devices on your network like a computer and a smartphone then it might not be an issue. On average a single household has almost 7 devices connected to the internet. Adding some wireless cameras to an already congested network can cause unusably slow speeds.

In short, both options have their advantages and disadvantages. A rule of thumb we operate with here is that always go wired unless you absolutely can not run a cable to the camera. If done right the cable for a wired camera can be almost completely hidden from sight. Obviously, certain instances would require a wireless camera. A wired camera will provide better video quality than a wireless camera but a wireless camera can be easier to install. You can connect both wired and wireless cameras to the NVR as long as you don't exceed the number of channels the NVR can handle.

Pros and Cons List of Wired and Wireless Cameras
Pros and Cons of Wired and Wireless Cameras

We will be able to find the best solution that will work for your home or business whether it be wired, wireless or a mix of both. For information and answers to any other questions you might have you can give us a call at 780-539-9677 or email us at

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