Each week we speak to a lot of people planning CCTV systems. No two conversations are ever the same but the subject of wireless CCTV and in particular wireless CCTV cameras often comes up. In theory, wireless offers the ideal solution, no cables to run means installation times are reduced. So why don't we sell wireless CCTV?
There are a number of problems with wireless CCTV. Firstly it isn't actually wireless, you still need to power the cameras via a cable. Wireless cameras tend to be fairly poor quality aimed at the lower end of the DIY market. The electronics aren't great and you only have a limited choice of lens options. Choosing the correct lens CCTV camera is the single most important factor in determining the overall quality of your CCTV system. Read our camera buying guide to understand what you need to consider when looking at CCTV cameras.
The wireless link itself often causes problems. In the UK a lot of other devices share the relatively narrow frequency bands allocated to this sort of device. Wireless routers which stream the internet around your home share the same 2.4GHz frequency as many wireless CCTV systems for instance. Microwaves, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, 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.
There are 2 frequencies in use, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz. In theory, 5.8 GHz wireless transmission is supposed to suffer less interference than 2.4 GHz but that is changing as more and more devices switch to the higher frequency. The higher frequency also tends to be blocked more readily by solid objects such as walls. Whether you choose 2.4 or 5.8 GHz there is one thing that is unavoidable, 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 or overseas where no such limitations exist?
There are wireless solutions with improved power outputs but these require specialised professional licenses and the systems are expensive. Often the wireless link alone costs more than a typical system from ourselves. Unlicensed wireless cameras totally ignore the claims in terms of range and image quality.
A wired solution will always give the best results. It might take a little more time to install initially but you only have to do 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 far in excess of any wireless Camera.