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Which Is Better: WiFi or PoE For IP Cameras?

IP cameras have become extremely popular in recent times. These cameras are known as reasonably priced and viable solutions for home surveillance. Todays IP cameras feature WiFi capabilities. You can connect them to a WiFi network wirelessly, just as how you would connect your smartphone. But is this a much more viable option as opposed to Wired PoE IP cameras? Is there a big difference between WiFi and PoE IP cameras? Which one is the best security IP camera?

Introduction to WiFi IP Cameras

wifi or poe for IP camera
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

IP cameras are cameras that can connect and submit data to a network via an Ethernet cable. One of its main purposes is to serve as a security/surveillance camera. These cameras are small in size and have the ability to record in high definition format. Due to an increase in consumer interest, IP camera prices have become more competitive. As a result, users now prefer to opt for these IP based cameras over the older generation analog surveillance cameras.

WiFi IP Cameras can be accessed within a network or remotely. This is usually done via a companion app or software. The software not only allows you to view the cameras video feed, you also have access to an array of features which will allow you to fine-tune your camera’s settings. It is possible to set your camera to notify you of any movement or sound that takes place within its radius. These notifications are usually delivered to the user via email or to an app on their smartphone. Some devices feature a microphone and speaker which makes 2-way communication possible.

In a case where there is a wireless network available, an IP camera that features WiFi connectivity will be able to transfer its data to the network wirelessly. This wireless connection is similar to a wired connection in many ways, thus allowing you to configure the wireless IP camera in almost the same way as you would configure a wired camera.

The Pros and Cons of a Wireless WiFi IP Camera

Manufacturers have stepped it up a notch recently by including WiFi connectivity on some of their camera models. This opens up a world of possibilities in regards to setting up the device. You will be able to continuously re-arrange and place your camera where ever you choose to leave it. However, most WiFi IP cameras are not fully wireless and require power from a power source. So you will need to install the camera close to a power source. This can be difficult outdoors if there aren’t that many power outlets available.

One of the pitfalls of a wireless connection is that you are limited to the range of the WiFi routers signal. The average signal range for most routers is about 10 meters. This should be ok in a scenario where you choose to use a single WiFi camera in multiple rooms within your house during different times of the day. You can use it as a nanny cam in your lounge in the morning, which you will then move to the bedroom in the afternoon.

You should be ok if you plan to use your camera indoor, but what about outdoors? If you are within range of the router, like at the window of the room in which the router is placed, then you should be ok. But if your router is placed far from the front door, then you will have issues with setting up surveillance at the entrance of your house. Wireless connections are not the most stable and reliable connections to use when working within a network. Wired connections are advisable if its consistency that you seek.

Wired POE IP Camera Systems

PoE, power over Ethernet, is the technology used to transmit both power and data through a single cable. IP cameras that support this technology are able to send the video feed it records to the network while receiving power from that very same network switch. This makes the setup process much easier and more flexible because of the fact of you not having to worry about a secondary cable for power. There shouldn’t be a need to install the camera close to a power source.

Another great feature of a wired IP camera is that they are much more reliable and consistent. They don’t suffer as many issues as wireless networks, such as signal jamming and interference. There are many ways for one to configure a PoE network in order to achieve the maximum uptime. The only real causes of downtime are network or power failure. In the event of a power failure, your cameras will still be able to operate. This is due to the cameras drawing power from a network switch which is usually backed up by a UPS system.

Installation is not as simple as a wireless WiFi IP camera. It requires some IT/computer knowledge, as well as some basic handyman skills. You may need to drill into walls and ceilings and the types of tools you use will be dependent on the strength of the areas you wish to drill into. Once you have installed a camera onto a preferred spot, removing it will leave a hole which will look nasty once covered up.

An advantage of PoE is the available distance in which you can install the camera. WiFi 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. The downside to this type of setup is the cost factor. A decent network switch, PoE supported Ethernet cables, and installation costs are much higher than your standard wireless WiFi routers.


From the above discussions, there are a few things that are plain to see. Wireless WiFi cameras are more suited for indoor use, while PoE IP cameras are better off for outdoor usage. WiFi Cameras are also for more casual users who are currently using the camera as a lifestyle choice. PoE cameras can be considered as the preferred camera for video surveillance. This is due to its consistently stable and reliable features.