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Wireless Camera Myths

Chapter Video Surveillance Made Easy e-book

Wireless Cameras: Past vs. Present

In the past, the performance of wireless cameras has been disappointing. Common problems included; random signal loss, limited signal distance, fuzzy and choppy video. Because of this the old wireless technologies were ineffective for surveillance with the exception of some very limited residential applications. The users often became frustrated with the constant tuning required and eventually the equipment was simply discarded (or sold on ebay). But not any longer! While there are guidelines that must be followed to ensure reliable performance, our new wireless systems eliminate the problems of the past; producing reliable HD performance.

The performance of our Wifi-Pro and RF-Plus wireless systems are the best on the market; still they do not provide the level of performance of a “wired” system. Simply put the main benefit of a wireless system is convenience and second is performance. But there are many applications, usually residential, where running cable is just not practical and a wireless system is the right choice.

Discarding the Myths:

There are many assumptions about wireless cameras. Some are accurate but most are not. Lets clear a few of them up.

Myth 1 – Wireless cameras are wireless
Wireless cameras are not completely wireless. All cameras require a constant power source including wireless cameras. Only the video transmission is wireless. This requires the camera to be located near a power outlet or a power cable run from a power outlet to the camera.

Myth 2 – Long range signal
Wireless transmission distances are limited and the environment can have a big effect on the distance. We have seen many less than honest marketing claims of transmitting video signal 1500 feet line of sight. What is missing from the claim is the explanation of the “line of sight”. Even in a perfect environment void of buildings, obstructions, trees, power lines, nearby metal objects and other wireless traffic, this distance would be difficult if not impossible to achieve. Most real world applications have some if not all of these signal killing factors. Reality is; by the time the real world gets done trying to obstruct the video transmission, a maximum of 300 feet distance is most likely outdoors. Indoors considering all the building materials, walls, ceilings, floors and existing wireless noise the maximum distance can drop to 100 feet.

Myth 3 – Battery & solar powered.
Wireless cameras require more power than wired cameras because they have to broadcast the video signal. Then to compound things most cameras have night vision which is a very big power draw. Reality is batteries are not a viable option and a solar kit with enough power to support a wireless camera will cost $1,000+ per camera.

Myth 4 – License plate capture.
If your goal is to capture license plates, wireless is not an option. Recording moving plates is one of the most difficult applications in surveillance. You should use a “wired” system design to capture license plates. Wireless cameras simply do not have the shutter speed, back lighting and transmission speed to capture moving plates.


There are many structures that are not compatible with wireless cameras and many building materials can degrade the video transmission. The biggest one is metal. Large amounts of metal such as metal sheds or storage facilities with metal roofs are a big signal killer. Also excessive amounts of concrete can have the same effect. This limitation is the main reason most wireless systems are designed for residential use and not commercial.

Good System Design

  • Consider the local environment. Keep camera placement away from metal or other electronics that can emit electronic noise.

  • Centrally locate the DVR. If possible locate the DVR so it is centered within the cameras (like the hub of a wheel). This reduces the total distance the cameras must transmit and increases the reliability, clarity and frame rate.

  • Test the selected camera location before mounting. This is done by locating the camera near the desired location and running a temporary power source to the camera. Power up the camera and DVR to verify you have a good reliable signal. If not, test the next acceptable location.

Following these guidelines will ensure reliable top performance from both our WIfi-Pro and RF-Plus Series systems.

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