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Wireless CCTV: Why Spending Now Means Saving Later

Having a sales person prompting you to spend more on another product is nothing new, but have you ever considered that they might be trying to save you? Admittedly, not every product that a company sells performs and incredible as you’d like. In defense of those companies, it’s what the market and consumer demands. If they didn't sell what people thought they wanted, they wouldn't be in business for very long. We’re certainly not going to tell you to take every sales person at their word, but it would behoove you to look into what some of them have to say.

Affordable Wireless Systems

To be honest, high performing wireless systems are not affordable. Plan on spending quite a bit more than you had originally predicted. When people are told that a good wireless camera costs upwards of five hundred dollars, their first reaction is usually to ask, “Why is your camera $500 when I can find wireless cameras on Amazon for less than $100?” Our question for that person is, “Why does a BMW cost more than a Dodge Neon?” There’s a level of quality that you’re looking for and, no matter what that is, you’re going to have to pay for it. If you just want something passable, the cheaper solutions you find may be enough for you. If you want something that will actually perform as a security camera system should, accept that there’s a cost that comes with that.

More moving parts may be better

When we say more moving parts, we’re really talking about multiple pieces of hardware. Instead of having a compact wireless camera that’s difficult to disassemble without smashing it against the ground, think of something more along the lines of an enclosure filled with all kinds of goodies. More hardware means a higher cost but it also means easy repairs and upgrades to existing cameras. When less expensive cameras go bad, it usually means replacing the camera. When more expensive cameras go bad, it’s the matter of repairing or replacing a single component.

wireless-system

The Problem Child

Wireless transmitters and/or receivers seem to be the Achilles heel of wireless systems. These are easily the most common components of any wireless system to go bad. In cheaper cameras, this usually isn’t going to be a repairable issue. Why? Because these cameras are produced so cheaply that it’s less expensive for them to ship you a new camera than it is for them to replace it. What do you think that says about the quality of the product? Higher end transmitters and receivers are far less likely to burn out or go bad, but it still happens. With quality hardware, this is something that’s very easily swapped out and reconfigured, even for the layman. Assuming the item is no longer under warranty, it’s still cheaper to replace than buying a replacement camera.

Boost Your Signal Strength

A lot of people don’t take this specification into consideration. Your transmitters and receivers are going to have a finite range. This is usually a matter of a couple hundred feet. For distances exceeding this, you’re going to start needing additional hardware. Higher quality components will get you some extra distance, but more than likely, you’re going to need something extra regardless. Panel antennas will be needed for analog cameras and powerful access points for network/IP cameras. Without additional hardware, don’t plan on positioning transmitters and receivers too far apart. If you miss this step during your installation, you may find that you’re in for a pretty large headache down the road.

Frequency Variations

This only applies to analog cameras. We generally only see transmitters and receivers for wireless cameras running on 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz. The 2.4GHz frequency has recently started to slowly fade away. The reason being is that most cordless phones, routers, and other wireless devices operate on this frequency and interfere with the transmitters and receivers of your cameras. This obviously makes 5.8GHz the more reliable options. Unfortunately, seeing that there are lots of conflicts in the 2.4GHz world, manufacturers of these other wireless products have begun making their own devices operate on the 5.8GHz frequency (i.e. – wireless routers). For now, 5.8GHz is still you best option. Just know to expect some potential conflicts. Nobody ever said wireless was perfect.

Be careful about bandwidth

This is normally only applicable to IP cameras. If someone is advising you that you may need access points and a more powerful router, there’s probably something to it. Network, or IP, cameras take up a good deal of your bandwidth. Without having both the hardware and sufficient bandwidth, your IP cameras might not work for you. Unless you know a lot about this aspect of the industry, you’re going to be stuck taking someone’s word for it when it comes to hardware. Use the power of the internet and ask questions on forums. You’d be surprised how good of a resource these people are. As far as knowing the status and effectiveness of your internet speed and bandwidth, your service provider is a good place to start asking questions.

Easily Upgrading Resolution

If we haven’t made it obvious, we will now. If you’re going to spend the money on a more expensive wireless camera, it’s almost always better to go with a custom build. Being able to easily upgrade the wireless camera’s resolution is just another reason. These custom builds generally just involve adding the appropriate hardware together and putting it all inside of the same enclosure. As a result, the camera portion of this build is just a box camera. Whether it’s analog, HD, or IP, it’s all the same. When you get to a point when you think it’s time to upgrade, you buy the new box camera and out with the old and in with the new.

Getting back to the point

When you spend little, you get little. Things go bad with cheaper wireless products and they go bad fast. Wireless CCTV has it's own set of problems, which again is why most won't recommend it to someone who has other options. Don't make make the mistake of buying cheap equipment and wondering later what went wrong.

is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.

 

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