An internet protocol camera, also known as IP camera is a digital camera used majorly for the purpose of surveillance. The IP camera as the name infers operate on the principles of Internet protocols as opposed to the analog CCTV camera. IP cameras are also known as network cameras because they can send and receive data through computer network and the internet. Although many webcams can perform the function of sending and receiving data over the internet, the ones used for surveillance are commonly referred to as IP camera.
By nature, analogue security cameras are designed to be centralized. What this means is that they need a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) to function. The DVR is the central controlling and data recording device. The DVR records all the video feeds taken from the camera and stores them into a hard drive. This is what makes the system digital. The cameras themselves are not digital.
But IP cameras are designed to operate independently. In fact, many of them have small in-built computers that makes them able to perform this function. Depending on the choice of the consumer, they can be made to function in either centralized or decentralized modes.
For an IP camera to perform in centralized mode, it must be hooked to and connected by a Network Video Recorder (NVR). Since the system is based on networking protocols, they can be synced with other devices on the network. This is why a NVR is most suitable. The IP cameras can be connected to the NVR either directly through Ethernet cables or through Wi-Fi. In the latter case, it will be known as a Wireless IP camera.
The IP camera can also be made to function wirelessly when it is in the decentralized mode. Here, it is not connected and controlled by an NVR. The wireless IP camera has its own IP address and can be accessed by any other devices with wireless capability when connected to a Local Area Network (LAN).
The best wireless IP camera can operate simultaneous in both centralized and decentralized modes. That is the best wireless IP cameras can be accessed by both an NVR and another networking device on the LAN.
Types of Wireless IP cameras
Wireless IP cameras can be classified based on parameters such as form factor, focal length flexibility, and aperture type.
Classification of Wireless IP Camera by form factor
1.Bullet IP cameras
These wireless IP cameras get their name from their cylindrical shape. If you want a cheap wireless home security system, you should go for bullet camera. Although cheap, it is also prone to being vandalized. Nonetheless, it is quite easy to install, not forgetting the ease of adjustment afterwards.
2.Dome IP cameras
You would typically find this in banks and other commercial areas. They are less susceptible to being vandalized and even more weather-proof than bullet IP camera because of their installation position. The installation position is also their downside as it is quite hard to adjust their positions after they have been installed. The way to manage is by using a dome camera with three-axis adjustment.
3.Mini-dome aka turret IP cameras
They are even far less susceptible to being vandalized than the Dome and Bullet cameras. This is the kind that many wireless home security systems are churning out every day.
4.Indoor cube wireless IP Cameras
These ones are designed for installation in a corner of the ceiling or on a flat surface. Most come with in-built microphones and speakers and thus often find a lot of use as baby monitors and for those looking for cheap wireless home security systems.
Classification of wireless IP cameras by focal length flexibility
Focal length flexibility of a wireless IP camera influences a lot of decisions. For instance, the amount of zoom a camera can perform while still retaining clear imagery will depend on its focal length. The field of view of the camera aka FoV is also decided by the focal length of the camera. This means that if you plan to use an IP camera in a long alley, then you would choose one with a lens of focal length 6mm.
If you want to put an IP camera in your backyard, then you would need one with a very wide FOV. Anyway, you should expect that the images near the edge of the camera might be distorted, this is the downside.
Therefore, if we are to classify wireless IP cameras by their focal length flexibility, then we will be having:
1.Fixed focus cameras
As the name implies, the field of view of this camera is fixed because of the fact that it uses a lens that it is set to a single focal length. Doing this reduces the cost for those who are looking for cheap wireless home security systems.
2.Manual variable focus cameras
With this, you have access to a wide range of lenses from 2.8mm to 12mm. if you so desire, you can decide to change the lens of this wireless security camera systems for your home, as long as you can afford it.
3.Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) or motorized camera
They can move in all axes. Some Pan-Tilt cameras also have a fixed focus. As expected, they don’t come cheap, so if you are looking for a cheap wireless home security system, this may not be the best option for you—unless you can afford it.
Classification of wireless IP cameras by lens aperture type
IP cameras can also be classified by the type of lens in them. The aperture of a camera is the size of the opening in the lens that allows light on to the camera’s sensor. The aperture shows how much light is allowed into the sensor. Under this classification, we have the
1.Fixed aperture IP camera
2.Motorized variable aperture
If you are really concerned about your security and have some money to spare, you should go for the variable aperture camera. It is effective in cases where rapid zooming is important, such as when there is a need to get the number plate of a vehicle in the night.
Choosing the Best Wireless IP Camera for You
Before you shell out your hard-earned money on a wireless security camera system for your home or office, it is important that you know exactly what you want. In other words, you must have a plan for how you want to use your IP camera. The best wireless IP camera is one that will suit your personal needs. Some of the questions you might need to answer are
1.Would the wireless IP camera be hidden or open?
Ask yourself if you want to use the camera as a deterrent or you want to monitor activities anonymously. The purpose will determine the location of the IP camera. IP cameras come in different designs as earlier discussed. The box camera is one of the largest IP camera designs and is the most obvious. The camera is useful in reminding people that they are being watched to reduce the chances of the commission of crimes. Some dome cameras are very small and can be easily concealed. If you are looking to cover a large area and want to follow the movement of object, PTZ cameras are what you should go for.
2.Are you installing the camera indoors or outdoors?
Although the best wireless IP camera should be one that can be used indoor and outdoor, but it is important that you also consider other things such as mounting and housing. For instance, if you are going to be using the camera in a cold environment, you want to choose one that is durable and even has inbuilt heater which means it can work despite the harsh environment.
If you are planning to use the camera in a harsh environment such as the transport industry where the camera can be subjected to a very high level of vibration, it is important to consider such things as housing to protect it from dust and other things. If you are using it in a kitchen, you want to protect it from greases, smoke, and even water vapor.
If you are going to be using your cameras outdoors, you should ensure that they at least have the IP66 certification. Besides that, you may want to get sealant around the camera for additional protection.
For outdoor use, the best wireless camera options are
Bullet cameras. They have the advantage of flexibility as they can be easily adjusted to suit your needs. Because of the fact that they have the normal CCTV design, they can be easily identified and therefore serve as deterrents. This is also their disadvantage. Their easy identification makes them susceptible to being vandalized when you install them in exposed areas. This is why it is advised that if you are going to use a bullet camera, then you should try to provide some form of concealment for it.
Dome cameras. They are harder to install than bullet cameras and even more difficult to adjust after installation. Nonetheless, they are less susceptible to being damaged by vandals or weather.
PTZ cameras are the best wireless IP camera of the three for outdoor use, but they come at a higher price. They work best for very large areas and are especially good because they have the ability to zoom. With some manufacturers like Canon, you can get wide angle views as large as 112 degree which can enable you cover large areas with just one camera. With PTZ cameras, you will need a lesser number of cameras compared to other camera types. The best wireless PTZ cameras often have good image quality even at wide viewing angles.
3.What level of image clarity do you want?
First of all, the size of the area you want the wireless IP camera to monitor will determine the level of resolution you will need. For instance, if you are looking to cover a wide retail space, then you will a high resolution camera to ensure that detail is not lost upon zooming. On the other hand, if you need the wireless IP camera to cover smaller areas such as an office, sitting room, or reception, a low resolution camera will be just fine.
Resolution of analogue cameras are determined by the number of TV lines, but with IP cameras, resolution are determined by the number of Pixels. The best wireless IP cameras are those with 4MP resolutions. These ones will give you crystal clear images. Nonetheless, a 3MP camera is not bad. Buy anything below 2MP is typically not recommended.
4.What are the lighting conditions in your area of usage?
It is very important that you know the lighting conditions of the area you intend to use the camera before purchase. You want to consider the amount of sunlight the area receives as well as the conditions in night time. Details such as reflection and glare are also vital. Will you be using it in a club where there are strobe lights? Things like this should be on your mind. The good thing is that the best wireless IP cameras can help you capture good footage over a fairly wide range of lighting conditions. It just depends on how much you are willing to spend. Many high end wireless IP cameras have light filtering technology such as IR filters and artificial illuminators that can improve or reduce the level of light that gets to the sensor ensuring that clear footages are captured under different lighting conditions.
Many IP camera with IR capability come in ring design. But in many entry level models, the LEDs reduced drastically in efficiency after a year or so. EXIR LEDs are much more durable and stronger. If you are considering the IR feature of an entry-level wireless IP camera for outdoor use, keep in mind that you might need external IR illumination because the infra-red produced by this kind of camera will be mostly effective in enclosed spaces. Another issue you might have with an IP camera with IR function is that it tends to attract insect, flies, and spiders, hence, blocking off the camera’s view or even setting off motion detection alarms.
5.Do you want to have audio function?
Cameras with audio function are very useful in commercial space where it is important for personnel to hear and communicate with would-be perpetrators. An audio system can also work as a detection system on its own if the sensor detects a sound level that is higher than the normal threshold.
6.Do you intend to increase the number of cameras in future?
It is important that you have a flexible surveillance system and this is one of the biggest advantage of wireless IP cameras as you can keep adding more cameras to the network.
Adding wireless IP cameras to a network is quite easy and works in much the same way as adding a phone to a VOIP network. It is also very simple too and there is no wiring to change or update.
The best wireless IP security camera system are those that support the ONVIF and RTSP protocols. This will ensure that in the event that you want to add an NVR and home automation system in the future, your camera will be able to support it. Many people only need a LAN network, but for a large network, you will need a WAN network.
7.What about power and storage space?
You want to choose a camera that won’t need a separate power cable besides the Ethernet cable when you are choosing your IP camera. The Power-over-Ethernet cable feature of some IP cameras allow them to receive power over the data cable itself without a need to run an extra cable. When choosing this feature, ensure that the IP camera supports the use of 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet standard and 802.3at standard for PTZ cameras. The second one delivers more power needed for us in motorized cameras.
Some wireless IP camera have on-board storage space that is up to 128 GB. This is a very good alternative to buying an NVR. You can just swap out memory cards when one is full. But there are lots of advantages in using an NVR to record the video streams from your wireless IP camera. First, an NVR is capable of recording continuously video streams from multiple cameras for as long as 30 days. You also have a backup of all footages in case your IP camera gets stolen or destroyed or vandalized. An NVR also makes you able to have a live-view your camera from one interface, this is most important in cases where you have more than about three or four cameras. You can also simultaneously playback video streams from many cameras. If you just want a situation where you can just set the camera and forget about it, you would need an NVR especially one from the same manufacturer with your camera. A good advantage also is the fact that NVRs from popular brands will support any wireless IP camera that supports the ONVIF protocol.
Ten Best Wireless IP Camera Brands
On this list are cameras that have almost everything that might suit you. From infra read to motion detection sensors for windows and doors. These are the best wireless IP cameras on the market. These security systems can even detect a break even if it is not happening on the video feed. Some of the cameras here have good designs that will sit well with your home décor, others might not be so beautiful but they have got pretty good features like facial recognition system that alerts you in case an intruder enters your house. But night vision is very important, so every camera has recommended has good HD resolution to ensure that you get quality footage every time.
The Arlo is made by Netgear and is probably the best wireless camera on the market at the moment. It has a very long battery life; about six months. Depending on your needs and budget, you can buy two or three of this camera. The Netgear Arlo is completely wireless and is managed through a smart home base station that is very easy to install and start up. If you are looking for simplicity, then this is the right choice for you. Netgear also has some smartphone apps that you can use to tap into the video feeds of the Arlo anywhere you are. Netgear has made this waterproof so it is great for outdoor use. The wireless security camera system also has night vision and motion detection features, but it doesn’t come with audio capability. Your free cloud storage space is also limited to 1GB. Because of the fact that it operates on battery, you may want to be checking it occasionally instead of allowing it to stream constantly.
Nest Cam is made by Nest. The Nest Cam is one the most advanced wireless IP camera on the market. It was previously known as Dropcam Pro. The camera records footage in 1080p HD and can be streamed from your PC, phone, or tablet. It is equipped with motion detectors and sound, so if you want a good wireless camera home security system, you won’t go wrong with this. With a 130-degree lens and 8x zooming capability, you can be assured of a very good security coverage. The Nest Cam comes with speakers so you can converse with anyone. It also have 8 infrared sensors for clear night-time footage. The wireless IP camera also connects easily with other product from the manufacturer (as expected) when you use a shared app. For a monthly fee, you can unlock some of its advanced features including cloud storage and facial recognition.
Logi circle is made by Logitech. It come with wireless capability (of course) and a two-hour battery life. It is designed to sit on its magnetic dock while performing its function. Its beautiful design is a plus. It also features HD video streaming as well as smart filtering. Smart filtering means the camera can tell the difference between pets and dogs. A time-lapse function as well as two-way communication and night vision are its big advantages. It is quite simple to use if that is top of your list. The app is also quite effective.
4. Canary Smart Security Camera
The Canary wireless IP camera streams videos in 1080p through its 147-degree lens. Its audio is crisp and night vision is very clear. The Canary camera stands out with its 90+ decibel siren as well as its motion-activated recording, and emergency call function. The camera offers much more than just security surveillance. It can measure air quality as well as temperature and humidity to ensure that you live a pleasant and healthy life.
The Netatmo camera starts recording immediately it senses movement. If the facial recognition software recognizes someone who walks pasts its sensors, you will get a notification about the person, else it will tell you that someone it doesn’t recognize has just entered the space it is manning. Netatmo can record up to 1920 x 1080 Full HD video. It is also crystal clear when streaming on a smartphone. With Netatmo, you can adjust settings for individual users. That is, you can instruct it not to record you. The videos can be stored on either a memory card or DropBox.
6. Panasonic Home Monitoring Twin Camera Kit
The Panasonic kit is more than a single camera. It is more of a complete security surveillance system. The kit contains both indoor and outdoor camera and records at resolution of 640×480 within a range of 300m. The Panasonic home monitoring kit comes with window sensors, motion sensors, handset, hub, as well as 4GB Memory card.
7. Withings Home
Withings home security camera works very well with mobile devices running android and iOS. You can get it running by plugging the unit in, download the app, locate your internet router, and input your Wi-Fi password. The camera has both noise and motion detectors and can stream footage in HD to your devices and even save for cloud storage. It also has a time-lapse function, and a GIF creation tool for saving motions detected as GIF images. Withings home has Infra-red, two-way communication, and can even play a lullaby! Now that’s cool. The camera captures image at 30 frames per second in 1080p resolution through its 135-degree lens which supports zooming, pan, and pinch.
8. Samsung SNH-P6410BN
The Samsung camera records to an SD card, so you don’t have to pay a lot for cloud storage. The camera records in 1080p giving you clear footage with zero latency. It has a two-way microphone support and through the app, you can create motion zones to receive notifications if any action (like someone breaking through the window) happens.
9.MYFOX Security System
This wireless home security system can sense vibration such as drilling and hammering typical of break-ins and then sound an alarm to reach you or your neighbors. Not to mention that it contains a physical door in front of the lens which can be opened or close depending on privacy settings. The alarm can be disarmed through the smartphone app.
10.Piper NV Smart Camera
The Piper NV camera has very fantastic features. Spotting a 1080p sensor as well as 180-degree fisheye lens with a backup battery, the Piper NV is one of the best wireless IP camera on the market. It has also got Infra-red sensor, motion sensors, as well as door sensors too. The downside is that its design is less than stellar and footages can only be viewed through the mobile app.
Using a Wireless IP Security camera to Meet Many Needs
The usefulness of a wireless security camera system is not only limited to monitoring of theft, but can also be used to ensure and increase the safety of persons whether at home or at work. With the knowledge that a camera is watching and recording the events happening around you, you can feel much safer.
Wireless IP cameras are also useful in the confirmation of incident such as property theft, domestic or workplace violence, damage to property, vandalism, murder, robbery, and even grand theft auto. The information captured by the wireless security camera systems for the home or office can be essential in helping law enforcement carry out their duties and even for getting legal damages.
But wireless security camera systems for an office can have use in business operations and analytics. In a retails store for instance, a wireless IP camera can help provide data and valuable insights into customer buying behavior. How do they move around the store? What products gets their attention the most? What are the best ways to arrange products to attract customers? What aisle experience the most traffic? All of these can greatly improve the experience of customers as well as the profitability of the business. For instance, a good wireless IP camera with face detection picture can be useful in identifying the demographics of shoppers which can feedback into the marketing strategy of such a business. The capabilities of these cameras can let business owners understand their shoppers and how best to advertise or display the most relevant products to them. A good wireless security camera system for home can help parents monitor the behavior of their children and the adults who are supervising them.
The best wireless IP cameras on the market also come with some video management software. The software perform certain analytic function such as alerting you to suspicious activities. This is especially important when one takes into account the fact that the average length of time you can focus on a video is around just 20 minutes. Wireless security camera system with in-built motion detection and intelligent algorithm can help provide useful and actionable information such as the total number of people that have walked into a place etc. The choice of a suitable video management system will depend on what you plan to use your wireless security surveillance system for in the first place.
Wireless IP cameras are extremely valuable tools for anyone who values their security (and you should with good reasons). Besides surveillance, many high-end IP cameras in the market have functions which transcends regular surveillance, they can offer much more value for your business or home. It is so nice to know that today, without extensive wire connections, you can monitor what’s happening in your home or work at the single touch of a button on your smartphone. Depending on your needs, it might make a lot of sense to test out some of these cameras yourself or watch video reviews to get an idea of what to expect. You can walk into a security hardware store near you or visit Amazon to see what pricing looks likes.