Wireless CCTV Cameras
In the course of a working week we speak to a number of people planning both DIY CCTV systems and also commercial CCTV projects. Obviously no two conversations are the same as each CCTV system will have it's own specific requirements but the subject of wireless CCTV and wireless CCTV cameras often comes up. In theory it seems to be the answer to everyone's prayers, no wiring to run and so installation times are reduced. CCTV cameras can be located where ever you want them as can the DVR recorder. So why is it then we don't sell a single wireless CCTV product?
There are a number of reasons. Firstly wireless CCTV isn't actually wireless, you still need to power the cameras and this involves running cables. Then there is the issue of quality. We quite often get calls from people who are experiencing video quality issues with their CCTV cameras. After going through all the usual possibilities we are left scratching our heads wondering what the problem can be only to find the camera wasn't actually purchased from us and is a wireless one. There lies the problem and the solution is usually to fit a wired camera.
Combined camera / wireless sender units tend to use fairly average CCTV cameras as their base. This is partly to keep costs down but also because knowing there is going to be a loss in image quality over the wireless link why waste money on an over qualified camera? You generally find the choice of lens options on these cameras is limited as well, this means you can't zoom in sufficiently during installation to capture high levels of detail.
What makes the actual wireless link problematic ? For one thing the number of other devices sharing the relatively narrow frequency bands available in the UK. Wireless routers which stream the internet around your home share the same 2.4GHz frequency of many wireless CCTV systems, microwaves, baby monitors, bluetooth devices, metal structural building components, cordless telephones, walls and other solid objects are just some of the things which can get in the way of a potential signal.
5.8 GHz wireless transmission methods sometimes suffer less interference than 2.4 GHz products but whether you choose 2.4 or 5.8 GHz there is one thing which is unavoidable and that is the power limit imposed on unlicensed wireless devices in the UK. Keep this in mind if you ever watch a demonstration of wireless CCTV technology, was it made in the UK using unlicensed equipment?
There are Wireless CCTV and CCTV camera solutions which do work but these tend to be specialised (read expensive) licensed systems where just the wireless link alone costs more than a typical system from ourselves. They use specialist directional aerials and other devices to further improve signal transfer and are not suitable for self installation.
The worst CCTV cameras we see on the market often tend to be wireless and are aimed at the DIY market. In some instances you can't even recognise yourself when staring directly at the camera but people fit them in the belief they are doing some good. As general advice we would say avoid wireless CCTV where ever possible and if you do need to fit it secure the services of a specialist installer, possibly going down the route of a licensed system.
Ultimately a wired solution will always give the best results and do bear in mind you only have to install it once. Cat5 cable when used in conjunction with a simple pair of passive video baluns can transmit video signals up to 300 metres without deterioration. Switch to active baluns and that distance increases to an incredible 1,200 metres.