Security cameras have come a long way from the bulky, conspicuous cameras of yesteryear. These days, you can get motion detectors, telecentric lenses, and high-resolution digital images-along with all kinds of other gadgets and accessories-in small, unassuming surveillance cameras that look like streetlights.
And now, with the world going steadily wireless, the CCTV industry is following the trend with wireless surveillance cameras.
How Do Wireless Surveillance Cameras Work?
As the name suggests, wireless CCTV (WCCTV) cameras require no cables or wiring to send data. WCCTV technology uses microwaves in the form of radar, radio, or lasers to transmit the camera signals to a remote location-a radio receiver, a DVR, your PC or laptop, or wherever else you'd like to view the images.
For short-range transmissions (to a police van around the corner, for instance), a WCCTV camera may beam the signal point-to-point-that is, straight to the receiving device. For longer distances, the signal goes by way of satellites, ground-based antennae, GSM phone networks, or even ADSL.
Why a Wireless Security Camera?
That's very nice, you say, but what's wrong with regular surveillance cameras? Aren't there plenty of perfectly good, modern digital security cameras that aren't wireless?
Of course there are. But the trouble with non-wireless, or fixed, security cameras is that they require expensive cabling and valuable time and energy to install-and then, after all that effort, they're stuck in one place. Also, the signal from a fixed camera deteriorates over long distances-so not only are the cameras stuck in one place, but the person doing the monitoring is also confined to a short range if they want to see the images clearly.
Add to that the risk of tampering or damage to the cables, and you have a strong case for wireless. Because wireless cameras don't use cables, they're portable, low-maintenance, and easy to install. That means that if the location you're watching changes, you just pick up the camera, move it to the new location, plug it into an electrical socket if necessary, and go back to the monitor to watch.
This is good for, say, tracking criminals who don't stay in one place, or for catching action that's outside the camera's range. Another advantage of wireless cameras is their remote monitoring capabilities. Whereas cables can only go so far before the signal goes bad, wireless transmission can send clear, high-quality pictures all the way across the globe.
Also, wireless internet enables many modern wireless cameras to send images by email, so you can check on the camera from just about any computer. Needless to say, this is extremely convenient, since you may not want to be so close to the place you're monitoring. Something to note, if you have a laptop rental and plan to use wireless accessories be sure to ask if the equipment is wireless capable.
Special Features of Wireless Security Cameras
As with any other security camera, you can choose from a wide selection of bells and whistles: audio, motion sensors, infrared filters, computerized pan/tilt/zoom, night vision capabilities, and even automated alarm-triggering functions. Assess your security needs, decide which features are important to you, and shop accordingly.
Of course, WCCTV cameras aren't cheap (they range anywhere from about $50 to over $600), but considering the money you save on installation and maintenance-not to mention the quality and convenience of long-distance wireless surveillance-a wireless camera is well worth the investment.