This post is part of a series describing the different aspects to consider when choosing a security camera system.
How do the cameras connect to the place where they are recorded?
Wireless cameras do not require you to run an ethernet cable to the camera. They can be Wi-Fi or a proprietary wireless. The Wi-Fi cameras connect to your existing Wi-Fi network, while the proprietary wireless camera systems will include a receiver that will connect to your network. These can record on the cloud or locally, depending on the system.
Wireless cameras are limited by the strength of the wireless signal, walls/trees/etc., and interference. Wi-Fi cameras that record constantly will use wireless bandwidth on your network which cause issues with the other things you use your Wi-Fi for, such as video streaming.
Cellular cameras connect to the Internet over the 4G/5G cellular network. They have the advantage of only needing cellular service, not Wi-Fi. There is an additional monthly cost for the cellular data. Most, if not all, cellular cameras are battery powered, therefore they cannot record 24/7. See my “POE vs. Powered vs. Battery Powered” post.
Typically an SD card will be installed in the camera to record motion events. With some systems you can pay to also have the video stored on the cloud. If you choose cloud storage, there will be a monthly fee, and every time something is recorded it will use cellular data. If you only record to the SD card, data will only be used when you are accessing the live or recorded video.
Wired cameras connect to the Network Video Recorder (NVR) with an ethernet cable (CAT5e or CAT6). [The older systems used coaxial cable to record analog video. I do not recommend installing this type of system.] For some systems, the cameras will be wired directly to the NVR, then the NVR will connect to the Internet. On other systems, the cameras and NVR will each connect to your existing network, this allows for a more flexible installation.