Comparison Between PoE vs Wi-Fi Camera

June 23, 2020

Security has always been a trending topic, surveillance at home or in the offices is increasingly ubiquitous for the sake of safety. IP cameras can provide viable solutions for users to monitor the specified regions they require. PoE cameras and Wi-Fi cameras are regarded as two common surveillance camera options. What are their differences? What about their advantages and disadvantages? And how to choose between them?

Introduction of Wired and Wireless Camera System

The wired camera security system is regarded as the traditional de facto solution. As the name implies, this system requires cables for power, internet connection, and video transmission. With the introduction of Power-over-ethernet (PoE) technology, both power and internet connection will be realized with one single cable. It's like killing two birds with one "cable." IP cameras that support PoE technology are able to send the video feed it records to the network while receiving both data and power from that very same PoE switch.

Wired vs Wireless Camera Operating Progress

As an alternative, a wireless camera system that adopting wireless technology allows cameras to connect to a router wirelessly without a hardwired connection. However, wired power is still required. The Wi-Fi IP camera operates by transmitting security footage from the camera to the recorder, which can be accessed within a network or remotely. That is to say, the user has access to the footage either through a built-in device or cloud storage.

Pros and Cons of PoE Camera vs Wi-Fi Camera

Both PoE and Wi-Fi IP cameras can offer basic monitoring functions. The differences between them, however, are rather distinct. The following part will explain their benefits and drawbacks respectively.

Pros of Wi-Fi Camera

  • Wireless Design With High Flexibility: Place the camera in any location you pick as long as there is a power supply nearby, which saves the time to maneuver it. Move it physically to a different location without handling wires.

  • Easy Installation: Since the cameras are connected to the Wi-Fi network for footage transmitting, there is no need to run cables from the recorder to the cameras, which makes the installation much easier. The only limitation is the power source.

  • Concealment Feature: Wi-Fi cameras are obviously easier to hide. Adopting these cameras will save space and make the region more organized.

  • Fair Price: Typically, fewer tools and accessories will be needed, which saves your money on the accessories and known as a cost-saving option.

Cons of Wi-Fi Camera

  • Vulnerable to Interference: The significant downside of wireless security cameras is they are susceptible to interference, which can make them less reliable in some situations. The signal of your router and other routers in range on the same bandwidth overlap will cause interference for devices, particularly in some apartment complexes.

  • Restrict the Speed: Wi-Fi cameras are basically "Wi-Fi jammers." If you have 6 IP cameras, all transmitting nearly continuously, which definitely slows down the Wi-Fi for everything and puts a strain on your Internet.

  • Limited to Coverage: The biggest pitfall of a wireless connection is that you are limited to the range of the Wi-Fi routers signal. All wireless security cameras need to be located within the Wi-Fi range. However, the average signal range for most routers that homes and offices provide reaches about up to 10 meters.

  • Susceptible to Hacking: Network attacks are impossible on hardwired systems on account of the auditory alerts and automatic emails. "Wireless" makes it very easy to execute since spoof the end device's address and send the data in the same format will achieve the goal. Hackers don't care about your videos, they want your financial data. In some hack cases, the camera's software was modified to be used as the man-in-the-middle to collect and transmit financial data back to the hackers.

Pros of PoE Camera

  • Power Design With High Flexibility: The setup process is not difficult on account of the fact that you don't have to worry about a secondary cable for power. And it's also unnecessary to install the camera close to a power source because the switch directly provides the power source.

  • Faster Transmission Speed: Data speeds are improving with the aid of PoE technology. PoE can deliver up to 2.5Gbps to 5Gbps over distances of 100 meters with an immediate view to reaching speeds of 10Gbps by adopting Cat5 and Cat6 patch cables.

  • Higher Transmission Reliability: The data transmission is through wired cable for PoE security cameras. Therefore, these wired security systems are not susceptible to interference and jamming from wireless signals due to the physical connections between the camera, recorder, and router.

  • Wider Coverage: The maximum connection distance of PoE IP cameras is 100 meters, ten times than the Wi-Fi ones. In other words, Wi-Fi cameras need to be within a 10-meter radius of the router signal, while PoE IP cameras can be installed up to 100 meters from its network switch.

  • Better Centralized Power Management: A power outage will turn off your whole video surveillance system without UPS (uninterrupted power supply). Adopting PoE technology, you can rely on a single and centrally-managed UPS to supply backup power for your mission-critical network devices. You are able to remotely shut down or reset these devices, saving significant expenses as well as time.

Cons of PoE Camera

  • Difficult Installations: Normally, the installation process requiring both IT knowledge and handyman skills. Since the PoE camera is needed to drill into walls or ceilings, a nasty hole will be left if you decide to remove it onto a preferred spot.

  • Expensive Expenses: Another downside to this type of security camera is the cost factor. It may cost more to initially set up your IP camera system. A decent network switch, PoE supported Ethernet cables, qualified PoE IP cameras, and the installation costs are much higher than your standard wireless Wi-Fi routers.

PoE vs Wi-Fi camera, several key factors are presented below to clarify the diversity of them in the table below:

Wi-Fi Camera (Wireless) PoE Camera (Wired)
Transmission Speed Slower Faster
Reliability Lower Higher
Security Worse Better
Coverage Narrower Wider
Installation Easy Difficult
Power Management Individual Centralized
Expense Affordable Expensive

PoE vs Wi-Fi Security Camera, How to Make a Proper Selection?

Since both Wi-Fi and PoE security cameras have their pros and cons, it's not simple to make a quick and wise decision. Ask yourself several questions before purchasing: How are my daily network and power conditions? What kind of application do I want to realize? How many devices do I require to set up? And should I consider future upgrades? Take your time, evaluating your current situation based on the following considering factors.

PoE vs Wi-Fi

Networking Environments

The most important point is to evaluate your current network and power situations. The wireless signal strength, or the scope of coverage, is tied to various factors like the router, the interference, the route signals have to take to get to your cameras, and so on. Besides, the existing power design also has an impact on your future security system decisions.

Application Scenarios

Generally speaking, Wi-Fi IP cameras are widely used for non-professional indoor home security, and PoE IP cameras are installed for outdoor surveillance systems. When planning the IP cameras outside, make sure the models you purchase are weatherproof. In addition, wired security camera systems are normally for homeowners or businesses with relatively permanent uses, while wireless systems are ideal for renters or businesses in temporary locations. What's more, wireless Wi-Fi IP cameras may at the risk of being hacked, whereas the wired PoE ones can protect your personal data or company files safely.

Scale & Scalability

The size of your property and the number of cameras needed will determine your decision between Wi-Fi and PoE cameras. If you want to install one single IP camera for home monitoring, you can pick a Wi-Fi IP camera. Just make sure that the Wi-Fi IP camera is installed within coverage of your Wi-Fi router. However, many homes or business owners with large properties want comprehensive coverage with seamless performances. A wired system that can support and link all the cameras is recommended. Furthermore, PoE technology makes it more flexible when adding, moving, changing, or temporarily deploying security cameras, which is ideal for future upgrades.

No best solution, only the right solution. If you want easier installation and more flexibility for your current small-scale indoor applications, stick to wireless Wi-Fi security cameras; If you require a stable and scalable network with better managements for outdoor applications, turn to wired PoE security cameras is more advisable.

PoE IP Security Camera System Design

Further Considerations

According to the research, the video surveillance market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.14% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2023 and reach $77.21 billion by 2023, which is growing along with the increasing demand in the camera market. The IP camera market size is valued at over USD 8 billion in 2018 and will grow at a CAGR of 14% from 2019 to 2025. The global industry shipments are expected to exceed 100 million units by 2025.

The need for security in residential applications coupled with the rising trend of smart homes/offices has triggered an increased adoption of these wired and wireless IP cameras for homes and commercial buildings, which is expected to drive the IP camera market over the coming years. Compared with Wi-Fi cameras, PoE cameras feature with faster transmission speed, higher reliability, better security, and wider coverage for more application scenarios. With the popularity of PoE technology, these PoE cameras are poised to win more market share and will be an inevitable trend in the predictable future.


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