The installation of just one WiFi camera for house or property monitoring is simple and does not require special expertise. Anybody can do it. It can be done in three simple steps: 1) mound camera at the desired location, 2) turn the camera on, and 3) configure it. Don’t worry, configuration is not complicated at all. That’s all it takes to start streaming video. However, the purpose of a surveillance camera is not just to monitor the house, but also to save the video for later use, and provide motion alerts to the owner.
The type of surveillance camera needed is determined by the owner’s needs and infrastructure limitations. Internet availability at the installation site is a major determining factor. There are other factors that can cause issues with a WiFi camera, such as radio interference from external sources, but we will not address them now, since they are part of installation troubleshooting and will be addressed in the future.
We like to install a WiFi surveillance camera system to monitor the main entrance of the house, the back entrance, the site windows, and the garage door. Perhaps we also like a camera inside the house, to monitor the hallway or living room.
Case 1: No Internet connectivity
It is very hard to imagine a house nowadays that does not have access to the Internet, especially in a city. However, there may be locations that just don’t have internet connectivity, such as holiday house out in the woods, or a remote warehouse. Then what do we do? What equipment is needed for a security camera surveillance system?
We need a total of 5 cameras and we could certainly purchase five single camera packages. Each one of these single-camera packages includes the wireless camera, a power supply and perhaps some wires, and a USD card to store the video. We install and configure these five cameras to use the USD cards for the video captured. This setup though is not very convenient since we need to access each camera individually to view the video.
A better solution is to use a video storage device called NVR that will collect all the videos in one place. Using the Video Management Software (VMS) interface provides a single interface to all five cameras. Usually there is also a web server that allows browser access to the recorded video. Needless to say, the VMS also provides user management and authentication. To monitor the video captured we can use a PC, a laptop, or a TV.
So we need, the WiFi cameras, and the NVR. Yes, but how does the video be transferred from the camera to the NVR? It looks like there are not connected, or are they? The answer relies on the equipment purchased. If the WiFi camera and the NVR have a built-in access point, then it is a matter of configuring the two devices to communicate. Otherwise, the simplest way to connect the WiFi camera to the NVR is a wireless router with a Wireless WiFi protected setup (WPS) button. The wireless router is connected to the NVR using a CAT5 cable.
A UPS should be also used to provide short term power to the NVR in case of a short power outage or a spike.
It should be noted that the more equipment added to the surveillance system the more complicated the configuration gets.
Site Note – NVR vs DVR
These two terms are used frequently when it comes to surveillance systems, and they are used interchangeably causing confusion. Both devices are used for the same purpose, to store video captured by surveillance cameras. However, they are both different technologies and used differently.
DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder and is used to capture the analog signal that is converted to digital. The video signal comes through an RF cable connected to a captured card, where the video is processed and converted to digital.
NVR stands for Network Video Recorder allowing the device to capture and record video streamed from the Network. Additionally, there is no capture card since the video is already digital, and therefore it processes video much faster allowing for better quality and higher resolution.
NVR surveillance systems for home use are generally wireless and relatively easy to configure and set up. The NVR client software is used to configure and access the video recorded. It also provides triggered alarms to notify the owner of motion detected.
Case 2: With Internet Connectivity Setup
These single WiFi camera packages usually, provide cloud storage for the video captured. We purchase the five cameras, install them and configure them to store the video on the cloud and use any device that can browse the Internet to view the video recorded from any of the cameras.
The provided/manufactured of the WiFi cameras provides the cloud storage with a VMS software that allows adding and configure the WiFi cameras purchased. Triggered alerts are configured through the VMS system. There may be charges required for the cloud storage.
If you want to avoid the cloud charges, you can use a similar setup as the one described above under Case 1. In this case you connect the NVR to your ISP router and you can view the video stored via any smart device or web browser. In this case however, you are lousing the hardware redundancy provided by the cloud storage. If the NVR fails, then no video is recorded.
To protect you NVR, which is now connected to the internet, it is recommended to use some kind of firewall to protect the system from hackers and authorized access.
A WiFi surveillance system is easy to install, configure and use. Even though WiFi is susceptible to radio interference, I would not consider it a major issue since it is for a home use. It is however something to keep in mind while troubleshooting video issues.
If the surveillance system is connected to the internet, a firewall appliance is recommended.
A survey of the location where the WiFi surveillance system will be installed to identify any possible issues ahead of time, will save time, money and unnecessary headaches.
As time goes by and new WiFi technology is implemented and used such as WiFi 6, WiFi security and surveillance will also provide enhancements and new features, much faster data transmission, and more advanced applications.