Do You Need Wi-Fi for Security Cameras?

Do you need Wi-Fi for security cameras? The short answer to this question is no; some security cameras can operate without Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Yet, even though you don’t need connectivity to work a home security camera, there are distinct benefits to having a camera with Wi-Fi connectivity.


Do You Need Wi-Fi for Security Cameras?

What Are the Benefits of Having Connectivity?

With today’s technology coupled with the desire to monitor your house any time you are away, most security cameras contain Wi-Fi connectivity. This provides peace of mind to homeowners who can watch their house in real-time to see what is going on.


Some homeowners prefer this option if they have children. For young kids, it enables parents to have a more relaxing time away from them, knowing they can monitor them anytime. They no longer have to check in with the babysitter to see how the kids are doing. It further allows them to monitor the babysitter to ensure they are properly looking after the kids.


Parents of teenage/young adult children can monitor their activity while they are away. Knowing they are being monitored decreases the likelihood of an unsanctioned party. While there are ways that children can potentially hijack a camera, an observant eye will allow parents to immediately know if there is mischief going on in the house.


Also, surveillance cameras can monitor who is going into the house when you are away and what activities are happening. They help you keep an eye on what’s happening at home even when you have to be away.


For those who don’t have children or their children no longer live with them, homeowners enjoy being able to monitor their houses for criminal activity. While on vacation, you don’t have to be concerned about break-ins or whether something was accidentally left on. You can simply check on your smartphone and continue relaxing on your vacation.


A cost effective security camera option would be light bulb security cameras. I wrote an article on the best light bulb security camera reviews which can be found here. These security light bulbs can be used indoors or outdoors.


Without connectivity, you won’t receive notifications when your home security camera senses motion nearby, be able to check live footage of your home, turn the cameras on or off remotely, or perform any of the other functions that come with Wi-Fi connection.


But if this isn’t as great of a concern to you, you can purchase security cameras that don’t require the internet. Here is how they work.


Do You Need Wi-Fi for Security Cameras?

Do You Need Wi-Fi for Security Cameras?


Wireless security cameras do not need the internet to function correctly. Footage can be recorded locally using hard drives and microSD cards for viewing later. Security cameras that don’t need the internet are known as IP cameras. These cameras may or may not need a landline or cellular backup for footage.


Despite the fact that they don’t connect to the internet, IP cameras may be able to connect to a professional monitoring team, provided this is an available service. This monitoring team will respond when the surveillance camera detects motion and when it is armed.


There are also additional options to connect your camera to the internet without using Wi-Fi. You can do it via Bluetooth, Ethernet, and z-wave. Some cameras use cellular signals to transmit data. This type of system connects to cell phones with data plans. They record to microSD cards and can be controlled using an app.


Non-Wi-Fi Security Cameras

If you want to know what types of home security cameras operate without internet usage, you would be looking at a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV camera). They are usually bulkier and larger compared to a wireless camera’s sleek look. Your video footage travels through coaxial cable to a series of monitors. Data is stored on a DVR or NVR.


The amount of storage on these devices will vary according to your selection. Most will record up to two weeks of data. Once the two weeks are up, new footage is recorded over the old ones. Footage with these cameras may be grainy.


For more information on a hard drive for your security camera system then check out this article I wrote on the Best Hard Drive for Security.


There are some cameras with HD-over-coax. This will give you a high-definition video with detailed resolution since the media is not compressed.


You can also purchase cameras that transfer video using a USB or Ethernet cable. These are modernized versions of CCTV. While they cost more, they do have precise recordings. They can connect to DVRs, NVRs, or a computer/laptop.


Benefits of Security Cameras Without Internet

Using a security camera without the internet is beneficial in areas with poor coverage or that lack high-speed access. For those who don’t use connectivity, you can configure them through mobile or CCTV camera setup.


The benefit of having a security camera system without connectivity is that it is less likely to be hacked. A camera hardwired utilizing Ethernet cables is more difficult to hack. If your device isn’t connected to the internet, there is no chance that a data breach could occur. If you choose wired security cameras with Wi-Fi connectivity, ask the provider about their encryption level.


Without connectivity, you are not paying monthly or yearly storage fees for cloud storage. If there is no cloud storage, there are no further costs once the equipment has been installed. The footage is stored on local physical drives to be viewed whenever you wish.


Power outages don’t affect these recordings. The advantage of wireless cameras is that they aren’t dependent on power. They will continue working even during blackout conditions. Many thieves see this time as a golden opportunity to break into houses without being detected.


Running these cameras does not affect your bandwidth. An IP camera will not slow down the internet by occupying additional bandwidth. If you have a poor connection, having security cameras that take up bandwidth isn’t ideal. Not only will your internet become slow or fail, but the video feed will also glitch or buffer.


The only solution is to place the Wi-Fi camera close to the router. This is the strongest connection in the house. However, even in this case, it is more advisable to connect using an Ethernet cable than trying to connect using weak Wi-Fi.


Another option for a wireless outdoor system would be solar powered security cameras. I wrote an article on the best solar powered security cameras which can be found here.


Disadvantages of Security Cameras Without Internet

One of the strongest disadvantages of security cameras without an internet connection is that you will have limited options. Most home security cameras are connected to the internet. Furthermore, you won’t be able to access your footage at a remote location, check on your house using a live stream, or arm the camera remotely.


You will not receive a push notification if a camera detects a person or motion. This will depend on the camera’s artificial intelligence capabilities.


Not having direct access to your footage can hinder your ability to act should there be an intruder. Direct access means contacting local law enforcement, hopefully catching the criminal and preventing other items from being stolen or damaged. You won’t be able to use two-way audio to prevent unwanted guests before entering the home.


A wired camera only allows homeowners to view what happened after the fact. While they help pick up facial features and other things that police can use to find the person, the damage has already been done. Precious items may already have been sold or destroyed by the time the individual is found. Furthermore, the thief had time to flee anywhere, thereby potentially evading arrest.


While the footage is saved on a physical device, you will not be able to upload it for cloud storage. If you want to upload something, you must do it manually. Depending on your use, there may or may not be a cost. However, the likelihood of a cost associated with uploading large files is high. With these costs, you may as well have one with connectivity if that is an option for you


Installation of these cameras also tends to be more difficult. Since there is a greater degree of complexity and precision, it is advisable to have a professional install the security system to ensure it works properly.


Experts recommend that even if the camera doesn’t have cloud storage, you should back it up to a cloud server. This is so that you have the footage recorded should your physical storage device become lost, stolen, or damaged.


Homeowners are also advised to monitor their houses using hardwired cameras. They offer the same protection level as a Wi-Fi camera with a few exceptions. You will not be able to access your camera/footage using your smartphone. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to access it.


Connecting Wireless Cameras to a Computer to Store Footage

If you are not using a hard drive or microSD card to store data but want another option, you may want to consider storing it on a computer. This is possible without connectivity but you’ll need some additional cables and devices like:


  • UTP cables
  • Power adapter
  • Ethernet cables
  • Router


For a UTP cable, you would need to plug in your camera to your laptop using the cable. Set the IP address of your camera to the same range as your computer/laptop. Then, you can open your camera’s mobile or web app and type in the IP address to view the footage.


Connecting a Camera to a DVR Base

Connecting a Camera to a DVR Base


The software of these cameras is directly built into the DVR. The internet is not required to run these systems. The bulk of the work is finding the space for the unit and monitor and setting up the wiring to connect your power and picture.


Cameras require mounting, connection to power sources, and wiring to the central unit to provide a clear signal. Depending on your application, this takes some planning as your wires will have to be threaded or buried.


Once the wiring and camera placement are done, you can power up the monitor. After this, you should be able to see a clear vision of your cameras plus receive a successful recording to your device.


With these systems, there are more pieces to install compared to other security cameras. Before leaving the security system to run itself, test the video to ensure there is a proper connection and clear visual signals.


Why One System May Be Better than the Other

Homes with fast internet with a large threshold and strong router will benefit from a Wi-Fi camera system. Most experts would recommend investing in a smart home system as they are more efficient, beneficial, and will give you overall peace of mind. However, there are times when non-Wi-Fi systems are more advantageous than what is now the norm.


Rural towns or wilderness cabin areas with slow, expensive, or no internet connectivity may benefit from a standalone system. All your information and visuals are easily stored in a DVD box or other recording device.


If you are concerned about data breaches, you may want to invest in a CCTV security camera system. This limits the chances of it being controlled by an intruder. Furthermore, since most (but not all) of these systems are hardwired, you will have additional security from hackers.


For networks where the connection experiences frequent interruptions, it would be best to go with a system that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. This connectivity will cause your system to connect and disconnect, meaning that you could miss out on pertinent information. A non-Wi-Fi camera relies on wiring and the DVR system. There is an absence of a visual signal, making recording seamless.


The only downside to this is power failures. Hardwired systems will go down in a power failure. Therefore, investing in a wireless security camera system that does not connect to the internet may make more sense.



Do you need Wi-Fi for wireless security cameras? The short answer is no. However, depending on your location and internet connectivity, there are instances when purchasing a system without internet connectivity can be beneficial. Before investing in either type of system, examine what you need and your reasons for wanting one rather than the other. This will make your decision easier.


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