How to Power Your IP Security Cameras: The Ultimate Guide

As technology has advanced, there are now a lot of options available to power your surveillance system. Whether they are wired or wireless forms of IP cameras, there are many ways to go about finding the right way to power them up and make sure that they will be functional in your IP camera setup. Local Area Network based systems can be powered by conventional AC/ DC adapters or even batteries. There are also a number of environmentally friendly alternatives that you might want to consider when looking for ways to power up your network from your network.

Home or business security cameras may need to be powered by one of a variety of feeds such as audio/video coax, power over Ethernet cables, connect via AC to DC power plug, or standard wire feed with multiple-outlet extension cords. In this article, we’re going to talk about how many different methods exist for supplying power to an IP camera so that you’ll be better equipped with the information needed when designing and installing your IP camera system.

There are two categories for the supply of power as follow:

  1. Power generating equipment
  2. Power over Ethernet

1.    Power Generating Equipment

DC Power Supply

The kinds of power supply options available to you will be dependent on the type of security camera you’re using. For example, outdoor cameras are often mounted far from an electrical outlet and therefore require long cables in order to reach the nearest wall socket. If PoE (Power over Ethernet) isn’t a possibility for your specific hardwired security camera or one with a dedicated DC port, then you may have only one other option at your disposal——direct current power.

This is supplied by DC adapters that come with just about every security camera purchase and gadgets like car chargers work just as well as long as they provide 5V of DC power or 12 V DC power depending on what kind of device you’re plugging in!

Use the Right 12V DC Power Supply

Powering a security camera is very important and will likely determine whether or not you’ll have monitoring capabilities, especially if you are using wireless cameras. Security cameras should be hard-wired due to the stability of power supply since wireless connections tend to be much more susceptible to interference and interruptions. When it comes to figuring out the right kind of power supply: labeling is key when making sure that what type of wire connector each end has. For instance, a 12 Volt DC power supply with center positive connectors would require your camera to have a 12V DC power outlet with center positive connections. Incorrect wire connectors could potentially damage your equipment, so make sure that both ends match!

AC Power Supply

As an application developer who has already gained some experience, you will likely be working with high-capacity cameras that require a power supply other than DC. Typically, these are the larger PTZ models and they tend to require AC power via 24V AC adapters or direct 220V AC.

Fortunately, the adapters distributed by high-end manufacturers tend to include a small step-down transformer so as not to shock the operator by delivering an electric current exceeding what the equipment requires. This is highly advantageous for those working in close proximity to these large cameras because if anyone should accidentally trip over one of the cables then there would likely be a result that is hazardous to both human life and equipment.

One way some cameras with AC power can be connected wirelessly is by the use of Power over Ethernet (PoE), a popularly used method which uses your switch to share an Ethernet connection in order to communicate power demand info back and forth to your camera. Both wired and wireless technologies have their efficiency rates, so ultimately you will have collectively with your team of experts to decide what solution would work best for you.

Battery

One issue that most people run into with them is the fact that they have rechargeable batteries, but as long as you’re aware of that before going in, it shouldn’t be much of an issue later on. The major drawback of these cameras, other than the lack of 24/7 footage, is having to regularly climb a tall ladder to remove the battery, charge it and then reload minutes later. These camera will enter the deep sleep mode while there no objects moving in front of the camera. Basically the camera will go into deep sleep until it detects the movement. Most of these cameras do not require a home server and instead use cloud storage or a local storage drive such as an SD card. The battery life of these devices varies according to the settings and activity levels. However, on average, you will be able to squeeze in more than 30 days of battery life from many well-known wireless cameras.

Before deciding whether the wireless option is best for you, it’s important to take into consideration the motion sensor’s accuracy, image quality of each camera, storage options in terms of where footage will be stored on a remote cloud service or locally on an SD memory card, and necessary accessories such as a built-in solar panel.

Solar Power

Wireless outdoor cameras are especially suited for use in remote areas that are not accessible through the outlets of traditional power sources. The solar PV unit provides solar power generation by converting the energy of the sun, which means that users don’t have to expend money on expensive and bulky batteries or electrical wires.

The camera device connects to a battery but no the solar panel directly. There is always solar charge controller in the solar panel power system. The solar charge controller will control the charge processing as well as the power discharge to the camera. The still can be working when it’s cloudy out, at night if it’s an infrared camera or during the early morning/late evening hours when the sun is low in the sky as long as you have equipped large enough batteries.

2.    Power Over Ethernet (PoE)

The most convenient way to wire up an IP camera is over ethernet in combination with Power over Ethernet (PoE). These systems transmit power and data on one cable, eliminating the need for a separate DC wire/adapter. Ethernet ports are not the same as PoE ports. Plugging a Ethernet cable into any standard Ethernet port won’t make anything happen. A device needs to have a specific type of Ethernet port that can support powering right through it. Most older cameras don’t have these, so check the specs if you’re shopping for devices!

To determine whether your existing camera supports PoE or not, look for a label that reads “PoE In” under the camera’s Ethernet port. If you cannot locate the label, there is another way to tell if your device is compatible——some newer cameras offer both PoE and DC options, while older cameras with Ethernet and DC ports may not offer PoE support.

You can use PoE splitter if your camera doesn’t support PoE to transmit power and data. You will have to use PoE injectors and splitters to combine the power and data signal at the injector and split the power into two powerlines at the camera’s end using a  splitter. This method eliminates the need to carry a secondary power wire to the camera’s location, or it might help you when placed cameras outdoor because there aren’t any nearby electric lines.

If your camera supports PoE, there’s good news. Unfortunately, this is only half of a successful setup. You need to be sure that the NVR can also support PoE ports or else you’ll need an additional piece of equipment called a PSE (Power supply equipment) such as PoE switch in order to pump power over the network cables and into the IP cameras.

Lastly, one last thing to note when setting up PoE is knowing the power budget your PoE cameras need. Some IP cameras may need upwards of 30W. Since more often than not, this requirement won’t be met by a single port of PoE on any given NVR, a much more powerful solution will have to be employed new PoE++ solution for the camera itself.

Does IP Camera Work When Power Is Out?

This is a matter that can easily be decided on. Wireless and wired cameras have this in common: they depend on electricity. If there’s no power, you won’t be able to use them. Battery-powered and solar-powered wire-free cameras are a little different though——but only in certain cases. For example, they might be able to transmit data through the computer cables plugged into the network’s nodes when there’s no electricity available. This type of camera would not require an electric power supply, so it would still work even without current.

Conclusion

When picking out a new IP camera, there are many ways to power up the unit. You can go with the plug-and-play security cameras that have all of the functionality you need built into their plugs. Alternatively, you could go for a DIY-intensive route and install cameras with dedicated wall sockets or power supply units, or maybe go PoE switch for a little less electrical work. The choice to pick which type of solution suits your needs best is going to vary depending on what kind of user you are, so if you’re interested in getting some power for your security camera units, either way may be suitable for you.

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