WiFi Commercial Video Security Systems - Good Or Bad?


We have been using some cameras which offer for not much a WiFi version (Hint Hk.. :) ) . They work well with a basic home router. Checked the throughput on most scenes, the cameras weren’t streaming at much more than 2 Mb/s. In that view 15~20 cameras on an AP should work. This seems eminently sustainable with many APs both commercial and home based.

Has anyone used Wifi cameras in a commercial set-up? We are interested to do so and would like to know of other integrators previous experiences. There seems to be a serious savings in cabling (Simple 2-wire cables), Re-use of CCTV Camera Power supplies such as Altronix, Smaller PoE count on the switches, Looks like a great solution. What would be the caveats?

Thanks in advance

Good topic.

"Has anyone used Wifi cameras in a commercial set-up?"

It seems rare and we don't have direct experience because it is rare. Moreover, there are some concerns.

I think the biggest concern is the range of WiFi / APs. In your 15-20 camera example, how close are those cameras going to be? Multiple floors? Spread out over a large area? etc.

I am also curious even if you had 15-20 cameras in the same room, if that would not overload an AP, not sure of that though.

Let's see what others have to say.

Are you asking specifically for cameras with built in Wifi, or is it open to cameras connected to access points?


A Cisco WAP561 for example is good for >70 Mb/s of throughput ... Cost less than $300... It will probably work with all cameras streaming to it with not much of a problem.

Depending on the environment ... One AP per floor would work well even for larger deployment. 10~20 cameras per floor ,more cameras per floor , more AP... One could get very fancy and use AP Controller to power and manage the APs ... They have gotten cheaper and most are PoE...

To reply to something that came while I was writing this ... cameras with WiFi. They would be connected via WiFi to an access point and powered via some Cubes (The Hikvision allow that ) or a CCTV 12 VDC Power supply. Models such as Hikvision DS-2CD2532-FIWS or the Cubes DS-2CD2332-W are good example, Axis has also some WiFi cameras .. So far only using 3 with WiFi and Ocularis ..It works

The main problem that I can see is interference and or jamming if someone knows the cameras are wireless. BTW I wonder if IP these cameras can use SSL for RTSP delivery? This would make the streams even more difficult to falsify or intercept

What are you going to do when inevitability some cameras go down, whether for 10 seconds or a minute, or worse, fail to connect for an extended period of time?

When you are dealing with outdoor / long range / urban applications where the cost and complexity for wireline is prohibitive, I understand the value. But for a building and for an application (surveillance) where temporarily being down means lost recording, is this really worth it?

FOr starters One can put together a system in a matter of hours... The cost saving is also non-trivial. When you no longer use patch panels, patch cords and Cat 5 cables. That is a very interesting scenario. Second Wireless connection do not go down that easily if RF is taken care of in my experience and the same can happen for a wired camera, that is, failing to reconnect or go down. It will be dealt the same way.

"Second Wireless connection do not go down that easily if RF is taken care of in my experience and the same can happen for a wired camera, that is, failing to reconnect or go down. It will be dealt the same way."

Don't even try to suggest the two types (wired and wireline) have the same reliability.

And 'if RF is taken care of' is a mighty big, including things that are beyond your control. It's far easier to interfere with unlicensed wireless spectrum than it is with a wired connection.

I think you are looking for us to validate your design. You are probably not going to get it. People are not simply scared or ignorant of this approach. There are real concerns.

Nope John

I am trying it in my lab with 3 cameras and it works. I agree with you that in term of reliability one cannot say that wireless is equal to wired but ... They are not the flaky thing they were in the past.

It is a discussion forum where professionals share their views and experiences or am I mistaken?

I (and other sure) have learned a lot from your site because of the sharing . Would you like that to stop?

"It is a discussion forum where professionals share their views and experiences or am I mistaken?"

Yes, but I cannot let people pass patently false claims without calling them out like your "Wireless connection do not go down that easily if RF is taken care of in my experience and the same can happen for a wired camera, that is, failing to reconnect or go down. It will be dealt the same way."

So you have 3 cameras in your lab for how long? A week? A month?

If you go through with this plan, you are going to have 15 - 20 cameras in the field that you are going to have to service for years.

I am trying to push you to factor that in.


We have successfully implemented an hybrid system. 10 of the aforementioned Hikvision DS-2CD2532-IWS cameras on a Cisco APi. It has been working without a problem for 2 weeks now. I wouldn't go as far as puting the whole system on Wifi but it has worked with the 10 cameras they urgently needed to add to the system. The things that remains constant is the need for wiring/power thus it is in most cases simply wiring with Cat 5 and to home run to the MDF is the best option.

Wireless however , from this experience, it is cear that some situations can be helped by wireless. Thanks all for your input

If you still have to run 12VDC wire (18/2), the labor factor hasn't changed much. You now will likely have a power supply that isn't remotely controlled or monitored, unlike a managed PoE switch. You have barely saved a few dollars on wire (CAT5e vs 18/2), but now have to spend more time, both during install/config and future maintenance, to administer the WiFi network. The switch savings are surely going to be offset by the WiFi hardware. You likely will also see an increase in power usage as well. Let's not even get into the ease of blasting your area with 2.4GHz to disable your feeds.

All of that said, when the cost of running wire, due to distance, burying cable, or other factors, rises above the cost of using a PtP link, we have used dedicated PtP radios for backhaul. We have never relied on built in WiFi radios inside cameras themselves. I cannot imagine that the gain on the antennas built into the WiFi cameras is anywhere near as good as a PtP radio.

I agree mostly with what Jon is saying. The only rule of thumb still runs true: you run wire when you can. You use wireless only when it is cost prohibitive to run wire or not practical.

I agree with Jon too. Power was available from nearby outlets within the ceiling in that case. it wasn't much of a stretch.

As I tried to express it: There are situations that may warrant wireless, that was one of them and it worked. In most cases wireless is not worth the bother ..

Local/decentralized power is a non-starter for me. Almost every power issue I have faced in CCTV has been due to individual wall warts and their placement. They either get plugged into switched outlets, get unplugged in favor of an iPhone charger, or simply fail. Worse yet, in your scenario, I have to hunt above the ceiling to find it to begin with. Simply adds way too much complexity and vulnerability to an otherwise simple install.

The access point wifi w/wireless cam setup is best left in the home.

It would be great if one access point could replace 8 200 ft cable runs going thru floors and walls etc.

But how is that likely? Since your consumer grade radio, despite their abundant software capabilities, and purported blazing speeds, are still intentionally limited in power to avoid interference in close quarters. So the AP or APs are going to need to be fairly close to the cameras, and not so close to the server room.

I would rather replace the access point with an extension POE pass-thru switch.