Wired vs. Wireless Security Cameras

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Wireless cameras are versatile but high-maintenance devices that run off of battery power, have limited local storage options, and connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. They’re easier to set up and more convenient to control.

In contrast, wired cameras tap into your home’s electrical circuit through a basic wall outlet or via hardwiring. They can connect to huge storage devices and don’t necessarily need the internet, which makes them impenetrable to hackers.

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Pros and cons of wired vs. wireless security cameras

Wired camera pros and cons

pro No batteries to maintain
pro Steady power and internet connections
pro Internet connection options
pro Internet-free options mean zero susceptibility to hackers
pro Higher-quality videos
pro Local storage doesn’t require monthly fee
con May require an electrician to install
con Not easy to take with you if you move
con Placement limitations

Wireless camera pros and cons

pro Easy to install
pro Easy to move around the house
pro Easy to take with you if you move
pro Work anywhere
con Internet-free options uncommon
con Cloud storage usually requires a monthly fee
con Must keep a close eye on batteries and recharge as needed
con More likely to use Wi-Fi, which can be unstable
con Poor Wi-Fi connections lower video quality

Wired security camera FAQ

A wired camera gets power from your home’s electrical system instead of a battery or a solar charger.

Not all wired cameras connect to the internet. Some route directly to an in-home monitoring screen and/or hard drive.

Wired cameras that do connect to the internet can do so via an Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection.

Some wired cameras plug into an electrical outlet. Others get hardwired to your existing electrical circuit for a crisp appearance. If you don’t have experience working with home electricity, definitely call a pro to install a hardwired camera.

Many wired cameras feature a backup battery that keeps the camera running during a power outage. But these batteries aren’t very powerful. Some last just a few hours.

Some cameras also feature cellular backup to stay connected to the internet during a power outage.

Wired cameras without a backup battery will shut down as soon as the power goes out.

It depends on the camera. Plenty of modern security cameras connect to the internet so you can view live footage from an app or online dashboard. These cameras also store recordings to the cloud. Others only store video clips to a local SD card or hard drive. 

Hardwired security cameras may also come with separate monitors and control panels that mount to a wall in your home.

Check out Lorex cameras. We’re impressed by their versatile options, so there’s bound to be a Lorex cam with your preferred power source and internet-connection combo. You can even buy an analog camera system that doesn’t need internet.

Vivint cameras are hardwired into your home's electrical circuits, as are most video doorbell cameras

All other home security companies sell cameras that plug into an AC wall outlet or run on battery power. 

Wireless security camera FAQ

A wireless camera gets power from a battery or solar panel.

Sometimes the phrase “wireless camera” also refers to a wireless internet connection. But not all wireless cameras have to connect to the internet. Some store videos on a local SD card.

Yes, you can hire someone to install a wireless camera. But the appeal of these cameras is that they’re really easy to install by yourself. You just need a screwdriver or drill to mount it to a wall. A variety of tabletop cameras exist too, which are perfect for renters.

Many wire-free cameras come with a rechargeable battery. The battery is removed and charged on a cradle with a USB adapter. Some cameras come with a second battery so you just swap in the fully charged one and don’t experience a lapse in service.

Other cameras require a full battery replacement, just like your TV remote.

Outdoor wireless cameras can be charged by solar panels.

Any security camera, wired or wireless, that connects to the internet is only as stable as the internet connection. If you’re constantly experiencing internet disruptions or your bandwidth is too low, you might end up with choppy video clips that take forever to upload to the cloud.

Wireless cameras are as secure as any other internet-connected device in your home. Make sure you’ve taken these basic steps to secure your internet connection before setting up a security camera.

Wireless security cameras store videos on a local SD card or on the cloud. Not every wireless camera offers both, so it’s important to take your preference into consideration when choosing a wireless cam.

Check out our full review of the best wireless security cameras and best solar-powered security cameras. If you’re interested in a camera that’s professionally monitored, read our take on the best wireless home security systems.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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