Security Tip

A realistic looking fake camera, attached to a visible outside part of the house, can be very effective in deterring an intruder.






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The Wireless Camera System: Look Before Leaping

What You are NOT always told about wireless security cameras
(… and what to watch for)


Now if a wireless camera system is on your shopping list, don't let that title scare you. This will not be a blanket argument against installing wireless security cameras.

In fact, most of what you read about wireless systems points out that they are reliable, easy to install, and are often the cheapest home security technology available. And much of this is true.

However, it is much less often that you're told about the potential problems. So let's bring some balance to the hrad-wired versus wireless debate. The fact is that a wireless camera system is not always the perfect solution for residential security.

In many cases, these issues may not even apply to you. But if they do, as long as you are aware of them, they are easily dealt with.

Typical Home Wireless Systems

Most residential wireless video systems have a frequency of either 900 MHz, 2.4 GHZ or 5.8 GHz. Almost all of the inexpensive home wireless cameras on the market are based on:

1) analog systems, and
2) the 2.4 GHz frequency range

Although equipment in this group usually falls into the 'cheap security ' category, it has it's proper place. And much of it is still quite good as long as it is used with the proper expectations.

So What Are the Issues ?

In order to allow multiple wireless video cameras on the same system, 2.4 GHz analog transmitters, require signaling channels that are fixed and non-overlapping in order to reduce interference.

What does this mean to you ? And how do you avoid problems ?

1) Capacity: In the analog 2.4 GHz frequency range there are a total of 4 available non-overlapping channels. That means that these systems are limited to only 4 wireless video cameras, each of which is tuned to a different pre-defined frequency.

Solution: Plan carefully. Do you really need that 5th wireless camera ? If you can get by with 4 or fewer security cams, then you'll want to place them to provide the maximum coverage for the highest priority areas. If you want a 6 or 8 camera security system, you'll need to get a digital wireless camera system, or opt for one of the hard-wired systems. You may have a little more work to install wiring, but the quality and complete coverage will be more than worth it.

2) Interference: Because analog 2.4 GHz wireless video transmitters use fixed frequencies, they are especially susceptible to interference from other RF signals around the same frequency. In this 2.4 GHz range, interference can come from cordless phones, microwave ovens, local television broadcasts, computer monitors, power supplies, or wireless local networks.

Solution: Again, do your planning. Keep as much distance as possible between the components of your wireless camera system and devices like cordless phones and home entertainment gear that generate RF signals. And if you do find a problem, almost all interference can be solved by re-locating the transmitters or receivers.

3) Range: In order to achieve the best results and the longest range, a wireless camera system requires a reasonably clear line of site between the transmitter and the receiver to operate consistently. Wireless signals are impeded by glass, walls, concrete, trees, or other obstructions. A typical transmission range for analog 2.4 GHz wireless security systems is 300 to 600 feet when installed outdoors with a clear line of site. This distance is reduced when installed indoors, with some low cost security equipment providing less than 100 feet.

Solution: Did I mention planning ? A good line of site is a basic requirement for maximum range. Also, wireless technology continues to improve, and there are now cameras and other components that can now be extended well beyond 600 feet. If you require a distance greater than a few hundred feet, or if you need very high security camera resolution, you can opt for a wired/wireless hybrid system. This will allow you to use the necessary wired extensions on your wireless system.

4) Privacy: Since a home wireless security system transmits on fixed, un-secured open frequencies, the signal is easily intercepted and can be seen by anyone with a 2.4 GHz 4-channel receiver. Theoretically, a voyeur or burglar could simply drive around a neighborhood with a receiver and see inside your home.

Solution: This is more of a theoretical problem, since it is very unlikely that someone would discover that your house uses a wireless camera system. But if the possibility concerns you, your only option is a hard-wired system.

Wireless Camera System Trade-Offs

A home wireless camera system offers many advantages over hard-wired systems. They perform better for remote viewing, generally cost less, and are easier to install. But don't let ease of installation and low cost blind you to the need for planning.

If you be keep in mind the number and ranges of cameras needed, and position them properly, your wireless camera system should give you years of quality service.

For more info:

Introduction to wireless home security systems.
Wired vs Wireless Security Systems:
The Pros and Cons.
5 great advantages of wireless home security systems.