wireless battery security camera

What is the difference between a Wireless Camera and Wire Free Camera?

Wire Free Cameras

People are often confused between these 2 terms as they both seem to imply the same meaning. Wire Free Cameras like Nest or Amazon Cloud Cam transmit video wirelessly via the router, however, they must be plugged in to an electrical outlet.

Wire Free Camera that requires to be plugged in.

A 100% Wire Free Camera on the other hand has no cables at all. They are powered by battery and also connect over WiFi to the router. The batteries are rechargeable and able to keep the device powered for many months before requiring a charge.

100% Wire Free Camera that is Wireless

While all Wire Free Cameras are wireless, all wireless cameras are not wire-free.

They are similar in the fact that both are required to be within a certain distance from the router to work effectively. They are designed to be a complete security system which includes video on demand, recording and playback. It is with home consumers in mind, hence designed to be mobile first.

Wireless cameras are most commonly Pan Tilt form factor.

There is no clear winner between these two types, as each use case is different. I’ll go ahead and list out some advantages and disadvantages for both types of cameras here.

Advantage of Wire-Free Cameras vs Powered Wireless Cameras.

  1. Installation – Can be done anywhere, even if no power connection is available. Can have a security system deployed within minutes.
  2. Cost – No professional required for installation, no electrical work to get a power point closer to the door or coverage location.
  3. Full duplex two way audio – Just like a cell phone. (most powered wireless cameras have a half duplex setup similar to a walkie talkie, can either listen or speak at one time)
  4. Smart motion notifications – Includes a hardware PIR motion sensor with the camera so only human motion is captured. Few false notifications. (Powered Wireless Cameras usually have a software based motion sensing which has many false notifications or requires expensive monthly costs to run advanced motion detection algorithms)
  5. Can be installed indoors or outdoors, making it ideal for outdoor situations. (most wired cameras would have difficulty finding a power point near enough to connect to and are designed mostly for indoor use.)
  6. Wide angle – Unlike Pan and Tilt cameras which have a narrow field of view and can be remotely controlled, the wire free cameras are usually wide angle allowing a wide angle of view in a single screen.
  7. Movable – An ideal baby monitor that can go wherever the baby goes.
  8. Offline locations – A unique offline mode feature with Vuebee, it records motion clips to the SD card for locations where WiFi is not available.
  9. Paired with a 4G hotspot / dongle, it can be deployed literally anywhere. (this is more appropriate for the models like Vuebee that do not connect with a central hub, it connects directly to WiFi). Great example would be to place it in a car.
  10. Can be paired with a solar panel for continuous power, no recharging required.
  11. These are cameras that non-tech savvy people can easily install themselves.

Disadvantages of Wire-Free Cameras

  1. They need recharging. The length of time the device can run between charges depends on the manufacturer. Our tests for Vuebee give us 4-6 months between charges with regular use of 10-15 detections per day. Many camera brands producing wire-free cameras do overstate the run time.
  2. These cameras are able to run off batteries because they are in standby mode where they wait for motion to wake the camera. This means continuous recording is not possible. In most cases, continuous recording is not required as we only need to know when there is human motion.
  3. Wire-Free cameras are not suitable for places with high foot traffic. This would cause the camera to keep waking from standby mode, using precious battery power. Time between charges would reduce drastically making it impractical to keep charging the camera.

Advantage of Wireless Cameras with Power connection

  1. Once installed, touching the physical camera is not required unless it has to be reset.
  2. They are usually quite low cost.
  3. There are more options and are more commonly available.
  4. Continuous watching or recording is possible.

Disadvantages of mains powered wireless cameras.

  1. Need to install near a power outlet, limiting the locations at which it can be installed. Most cameras ship with a short 3ft cable by default.
  2. Most of them are for indoor only 
  3. Single way talk, simultaneous talk is only in the more expensive cameras
  4. False notifications or no smart notifications.
  5. Installation is usually a few steps longer and more complicated.

It would be best to consider the application you will be deploying a camera for, how tech savvy you are, how close to a power point your ideal installation location is and your budget before choosing between one or the other style of wireless security camera. If you are unable to decide, let us know in the comments and we can offer our unbiased recommendations.

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