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How to Set Up a Wireless Security Camera System

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By : James Morgann    99 or more times read
The use of wireless security cameras has become increasingly popular over recent years. There are a lot of reasons why this is so. Some people use wireless security cameras for their ease of installation. Other people use them because running wires is impossible or not cost effective. It does not matter why but the fact remains that a wireless system is very much preferred by a lot of homeowners.

For the same reason that people love cordless phones nowadays, homeowners now love the idea of putting cameras anywhere -- and you do not have to worry about snaking wires inside the walls. The placement of a wireless security system is very flexible and easy to install, as long as the installer does his or her homework. Wireless security cameras have a very high failure rate on initial install if precautions are not taken.

What sort of failure? Say you install the camera and give it power, but there is no signal picking up on the receiver side. Fortunately, this type of problem can be easily solved. If you are thinking of doing the install on your own or with help from a friend, just remember that there are three frequencies now that you can choose from.

How to Choose the Frequency: 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz

Remember that the lower the frequency, the more walls your system can get through.

  • 900MHz wireless security cameras can be used in installs where the signal has to go through trees or dry wall in order to reach the wireless receiver. At the same time, this bandwidth will have minimal issues with other devices, which means that the signal can be transmitted strongly. The drawback is that right now there are only two channels available on this frequency, making its use very limited.

  • 2.4GHz wireless security cameras are the most common on the market. Unfortunately, there are tons of other devices out there (i.e. phones, computer routers, wireless keyboards) that use the same frequency. Basically, if you see something wireless on the market, there is a good chance it is on a 2.4GHz frequency. As a result, a lot of the wireless 2.4GHz security cameras fail. There are up to 12 channels available on 2.4GHz frequency that you can select for transmission, but the reality is that if you live in a city like New York or Los Angeles you won't find a single channel that is not occupied by a wireless device.

This is where the 5.8GHz transmitters and receivers come in. The 5.8GHz frequency is relatively clean, and subsequently, the successful wireless camera installation rate is higher. The nice thing about this frequency is you can connect more than eight wireless cameras to it. But the 5.8GHz frequency has an issue. It does not go through walls as effectively as the 900MHz or 2.4GHz frequency. This is a huge disadvantage.

So right now, we have 900MHz, where you can only have two cameras on it (not very practical), and 2.4GHz, which has almost every device known to man on it, and 5.8GHz, which is relatively clean, but fails when you try to send the signal through walls. To resolve this issue, some security camera manufacturers have started placing high power 5.8GHz transmitters and better quality antennas in their wireless cameras. That means these 5.8GHz systems can now go through walls as effectively as the lower bandwidth systems, without the device limitations.

Current 5.8GHz cameras and receivers which start at below $200, usually will have a 10 milliwatt transmitter on it. In ideal conditions with line of sight, you can stretch it to 300 feet (in theory). In reality though, that is never the case. This is due to signal interference as it goes through walls. So if your objective is around 500 feet or so, look for a transmitter that is rated 100mw. If your objective is over 1,000 feet, look for a system with a one watt transmitter.

These are very general numbers and can change based on the distance, weather, and availability of a clear line of sight. A good way to increase the odds of success is to put the security camera and receiver antenna as high as possible so that they have a clear line of sight. Before you buy any system however, ensure that you identify your own specific needs for a security system so that you receive the right protection for your home or business. And if you still need a little help selecting the right system, just consult a professional!
James is a bored retiree who used to work in technology at an investment banking firm. In an effort to save his sanity and to avoid turning into a raving alcoholic, while at the same time make some pocket money on the side, he has gotten into IM, setting up an eclectic collection of sites such as providing info on how to set up a wireless security camera system to pushing the rca dlp tv as the best monster gaming screen you can find.

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