How to Power an Outdoor Security Camera | Planning | Placing

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security camera with power cable

When considering an outdoor security camera, it is easy to overlook that these cameras require a constant and reliable power source. This is also true for most wireless devices. However, for these cameras to function effectively, they must have a reliable power supply. Various types of security cameras have different powering methods. For example, there are wireless security cameras and PoE (Power over Ethernet) cameras that have their distinct charging methods. All security cameras, also outdoor ones, require power to work. This article will explore insights and options that will help you to figure out how to power your security camera.

Power Sources for CCTV

How Do Wi-Fi/Wireless Security Cameras Get Power?

The question you might want to ask is whether a wireless outdoor security camera will be powered using wires. The answer is: it depends. In fact, there are three primary and distinct power sources for wi-fi/wireless cameras:

  1. wired cameras,
  2. cameras with battery, and
  3. solar-powered cameras.

Read on for the details of each of these types.

1. Wireless/Wi-Fi Security Camera that Should Be Plugged in

When a device is termed as wireless, it usually means that cables are not required to transmit or transfer power to the receiver.

However, if the particular device needs power, it needs to be plugged into a power source for charging.

While installing a wireless/wi-fi outdoor security camera, it is essential to consider the distance between the camera and the source of power as well as the ease of installing a wire.

2. Wireless Security Cameras that Are Powered by Batteries

There are wireless security cameras that do not require cables for being powered.

Instead, they are relying on chargeable or replaceable batteries. This feature makes the camera easy to install because you will not stress over constant charging. Moreover, these cameras are appropriate for both outdoor and indoor security.

The process of replacing the batteries is also quite simple because there are no cables involved. You just need to be aware that you will have to change or recharge the batteries regularly.

These cameras also have a wide range of views, thus making them perfect outdoor security cameras.

However, these battery-powered cameras have some cons. For example, to save battery life, most of them only function when they detect motion. As such, some essential action and details might be left out by the security camera.

3. Wireless Security IP Cameras that Are Powered by Solar Energy

This is another option of wireless security cameras that do not require electric cables for charging. The only power source for these security cameras is an effective solar panel.

The security camera should also have rechargeable batteries whose function is to store solar energy. Furthermore, some of these cameras can be operational on 3G/4G cellular data.

They are devices whose video surveillance properties are top-notch even in remote parts. This makes these security cameras suitable for farms, homes and holiday homed, barns, construction sites and other places where no accessible power source exists. This is because they are conveniently charged by the sun, thus capture most activity. Hence, they can be very efficient and effective outdoor security cameras.

How Are PoE (Power over Ethernet)/Wired Security Cameras Powered?

Wired security cameras get powered using certain cables. This does not necessarily mean that the powering process of these security cameras is inferior.

The process of connecting the power cables on the PoE camera can actually be quite simple. This is because PoE security cameras only use one ethernet cable to charge and transmit data. These wired cameras are commonly powered using Cat5 or Cat6 cables.

The process of setting up these PoE security cameras is doable if you already have a duct (or a plan) for the connection between the camera and the network.

The primary requirements are a reliable power source and the previously specified cables. The connection process is simple because you will only need to connect the cables to the particular ports.

There are various advantages of using PoE security cameras.

For example, they are suitable in a situation where multi security cameras are necessary. This is because, with a simple cable connection, the PoE system can accommodate at least 8 PoE security cameras.

Furthermore, the location of the wired camera is not affected by the availability of an additional power source.

PoE security cameras will not have any underpower or overloading related issues that can be associated with outdoor electric cables. Those can happen if the installation is imperfect or the material is old or low quality, e.g. porous insulation.

Therefore, the PoE is an appropriate outdoor security camera that can be installed by most DIYers. It is a good solution to survey large areas effectively.

Security Cameras Without Power Cables

It is virtually impossible for an outdoor security camera to operate without a power source. A power source is mandatory, but power cords are not.

If you prefer a security camera that has no power cords, then the battery and solar-powered ones will serve you well. There are several significant factors that you should consider when selecting these security cameras.

For example, the most important ones are:

  • the quality of vision,
  • whether the camera is used indoors or outdoors, and
  • the quality of audio.

How to Install Power Supply for an Outdoor Security Camera

There are many outdoor places that you would need to survey. These may include (though not limited to) the front door or front porch, driveway, back yard, garage, etc.

The process of installing these outdoor security cameras is generally doable for most DIYers. However, it can be a bit of a challenge for a beginner (source, source).

If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to install the security camera correctly and without major difficulties. Under the section about the generic power supply installation steps, we provide more specific details for the installation of the different types of cameras.

Tools and Supplies

There are several tools and supplies that you will need when you install an outdoor security camera. These requirements differ depending on the type of security camera that is being installed.

For the installation of PoE security cameras, you will need:


A fish tape is a useful tool for pulling wires.

If you are installing a WiFi camera that requires a power cable, you will need

If you install a battery- or solar-powered camera, you only need to install the device and keep in mind that you will have to charge it from time to time. However, you would not need to install wire to power the camera.

1) Find and Mark the Right Camera Location

Mark the particular location where you want the security camera situated.

Ensure that you choose a spot where the outdoor security camera will have a good view of the vicinity. Furthermore, it should be in a convenient place where it does not interfere with the house.

Ideally, you are able to find a location with some protection from the weather. For the longevity and reliability of CCTV, it is good to make sure that the camera is not too exposed to no rainwater, no excess sunlight or extreme heat that can potentially impact the electronic.

Before you install the camera, you should spend a few minutes and test that the system is working properly. Thus, you will prevent spotting defects or incompatibilities after having installed everything.

2) Determine the Route of the Wires

The first thing to do is to decide the particular route that you want the security camera data and power to pass through.

It is advisable to use a short route and one where the particular cables can be buried conveniently. The rule of thumb is: The longer the distance, the harder the installation and the higher the risk of defects or material fatigue over time.

If the first step is strategically conducted, the whole installation process will be easier and the durability and reliability of the installation will be better.

As a result of this step, you should know the length of the cable that you need.

3) Get a Power Cable (or an Ethernet Cable for PoE CCTV)

Once you have determined the route and required length of the cable, you need to get the material ready.

Which cable you need depends on the type of camera that you have chosen (see the previous section for the different ways to power CCTV).

If you are installing a PoE security camera, it is important to ensure that you have a good and durable Cat5 or Cat6 cable that will transmit both data and power.

However, if you are installing a camera that needs to be connected to the grid, then you should ensure that you have good cables that will transmit power to the outdoor security camera.

You should also ensure that you have a power source that is well protected from water and extreme weather.

4) Get Protection for the Wires

The next step is to ensure that the cables are well protected from damage. An obvious first step is to invest in quality wires. Even if the difference is not visible at first sight, popular brand names and positive customer reviews, e.g. on Amazon, will help you pick quality material.

Metal conduits or PVC guards should be used in order to protect the cables from both humans and animals.

This will ensure that the cables work for a long period. It also ensures that the transmission of power and data is not interrupted unnecessarily.

5) Drill the Holes Needed

The next crucial step is to drill the holes wherever you need the cable to pass a wall or stud.

The first hole to drill is typically for running the cables from your house to the respective location of the outdoor security camera. Ensure that the drill you use will make suitable holes where the wires can fit. To avoid mistakes, drill the holes slowly and with less effort. Moreover, ensure that you drill on the studs. Try to avoid drilling into an exterior wall if possible as it may affect its resilience against water, cold and heat.

Another hole might be necessary at the location of the camera, e.g. if it is mounted to the outside of the house wall.

6) Install the Cable Protection

If your camera is a few feet away from your house, ensure that you bury the wire ducts effectively. If you are using a PVC conduit, then you need to bury it at least 18 inches deep. If it is a metal conduit, then you should bury it at least 6 inches deep.

This will ensure that the cables are well protected from damage and external interference.

7) Pull the Wires

The next step is to pull the wires for the outdoor security camera.

One person should be standing on one end to ensure that the wires are even. The person on the other side should pull the wires slowly. This will protect the wires from nicking and damage to the material. Moreover, ensure that the wires being pulled are not entangled.

The fish tape will help you to pull the cables successfully. Ensure that you attach the fish tape on the electric cables correctly. This will make the pulling process simpler and more effective.

8) Connect the Cables with the Camera

Once the wires are drawn, the next process is to connect the power supply with the camera. You should follow the installation instructions of the device for more details.

We hope that this step-by-step guideline has been helpful for you for installing your outdoor security cameras securely and effectively.

How to Install PoE Security Cameras

The PoE security camera relies on either a Cat5 or Cat6 cable for transmitting both power and data. This makes the installation and configuration process of the camera comparatively simple.

The installation process of the PoE security camera requires the following steps.

  • Step 1:
    Install the PoE security camera to the respective location of your choice.
  • Step 2:
    Run the Cat5 or Cat6 ethernet cable from the respective router to the security camera.
  • Step 3:
    Confirm that the camera and the particular remote view are connected and in sync.

If you want to monitor and control the camera from your mobile phone, then select the LAN option. The camera will then be integrated into your home network and you can access it with your phone or computer.

To connect both devices, you usually have to access the IP address of the camera from your phone or computer. Alternatively, you can scan the camera’s QR code, or you can use the camera’s UID for remote supervision.

How to Install a Battery-Powered Wireless Security Cameras

Security cameras that are wire-free get their power from batteries and use wi-fi to transmit data. These features make the outdoor security camera completely free from wires. The process of installing battery-powered security cameras is quite simple.

  • Step 1:
    Ensure that you have the respective software that will help you to connect with the security camera.
  • Step 2:
    Put the respective batteries on the camera. You will then follow the verbal guidelines to finish the camera setup.
  • Step 3:
    Select a good name and create a formidable password for the security camera.

These three simple steps will help you to correctly setup and install the wireless battery powered security camera. This camera can function well outdoors because it does not use wires to charge or transmit data.

How to Install a WiFi Security Camera with External Power Supply

The wireless security cameras are the ones that depend on cables for the power supply but use Wi-Fi to transmit data.

These simple steps will guide you on the installation process of wireless outdoor security cameras.

  • Step 1:
    Ensure that you install the security camera on a position that is conveniently close to the power source. This will ensure that the power cable does not travel for a long distance to reach the camera.
  • Step 2:
    Connect the camera to the power source. Moreover, you should use the network cable to connect the security camera to the router.

After the initial compulsory setup, the wireless camera is ready to use Wi-Fi. Hence you can disconnect the network cable from the router.

  • Step 3:
    Ensure that you have access to the respective software used to connect with the wireless camera.

For example, if you already have the particular software, the camera will be connected to your mobile phone through either LAN or WAN connection.

CCTV Camera Power Supply Questions

Can Security Cameras Work without Power?

It is unfortunately not possible that outdoor security cameras are operated without the need for power to function. All kinds of security cameras require either solar, electric, or battery power to function.

But this does not mean that you would necessarily need a wire. Solar- and battery-powered cameras can work without power cables but their batteries need to be replaced from time to time.

How much Power Do Security Cameras Use?

The overall amount of power that an outdoor security camera requires is comparatively little.

The specific amount of energy consumption can be found on the specification chart of the particular security camera. The range is generally from around 4 to 10 Watt. More feature-rich systems tend to consume much more power, e.g. cameras that include advanced night vision technology.

Moreover, the power consumption varies according to different brands and the actual operation time of security cameras (e.g. if it only activates upon detection of movement).

Can Security Cameras Work when Power Is off?

This depends on the particular outdoor security camera being used.

For example, if the camera is solar or battery powered, then it can still function even when power is off.

However, wireless and PoE security cameras cannot function when there is no power coming through the respective wire.

However, there are also (semi) professional plug-in cameras available that come with a battery to cover a short time of power interruption.

How Do You Power a Wireless Camera?

There are types of wireless security cameras that are powered by solar or battery, or both.

Besides, some wireless security cameras require a power connection for them to function.

Scroll to the beginning of this article to learn more about the different types and the way they are installed.

Conclusion

While every camera needs a source of power, you do not necessarily need to connect your CCTV with the grid. PoE cameras can operate with the power coming through specific Ethernet cables and do not require separate power wires.

If you prefer not installing any cables at all, go for a solar- or battery-powered WiFi camera. While this is convenient to install, you will have to monitor the battery and replace or recharge them. This is also true for solar-powered cams if the sun is not strong enough to fully charge the batteries.

There are a number of reasons why plug-in cameras are the first choice among professionals. Generally higher reliability and better performance ensure the cam is operating when it is needed. However, this advantage comes with the need for a more demanding installation.

If you have not got your security camera yet, make sure you check out the latest deals on Amazon (they have some bargains over there indeed).

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