Monday, August 9, 2021

Security Cameras & your WiFi


Good day readers!  I'm writing this article on WiFi cameras, whether security cameras or just plain old WiFi cameras to watch the babysitter sneak stuff out of your liquor cabinet. To help everyone understand exactly how they work, and what they do to your WiFi.

 image courtesy of Wyzecam


Now-a-days, just about everyone can afford the numerous types of Wireless cameras that are available on the market. A lot of us are even getting them for security reasons, be it to watch the back yard, garage, or our front door, I've come across a lot of questions and calls regarding cameras dropping from the network etc. 

OK, before you purchase whichever type of  camera you have your heart set on, do a little research on it. Read up on the specs, and what the camera does, to make sure its the right one for you.  When getting a WiFi camera is, check the required "upload" speed or bandwidth needed! A typical WiFi camera should require about 1-2MB of upload speed.

The resolutions that you want to record in or stream are the biggest factor. Here are some basic recommended requirements:

Video ResolutionRecommended Upload Speed Minimum
1080p2 mbps per camera
720p1.5 mbps per camera
480p0.75 mbps per camera

What this means - a typical or basic user will probably have something like a 50MB download and 5-10MB upload plan from their ISP. Once again, the important area here is the upload speed. If you have say 25 down & 5 up plan, and you are wanting to add 2 cameras onto  your network, if they both require 2MB upload, this will more than likely really affect your network.  Why? Because those cameras are using 4MB upload on your network, causing everything else on your network to slow to a crawl, if not crash entirely.  You will experience a lot of your devices disconnecting, even the cameras disconnecting, and other connection issues.

Every device on your network is using the up & down speeds all the time, with the majority being the download. Although, if you are using a back up service or cameras, they are usually always sending or streaming content, taking up all the upload bandwidth. If you have a lot of "smarthome" devices (ie. light-bulbs, thermostats, etc) on your network, or even a Wireless security system, all these devices will be using upload speeds to "check-in" etc.  Think of it like a road through town, most of the time during the day, traffic flows nicely both ways.  Now come 5 o'clock (most cities rush hour), these roads are getting a lot more traffic, and what happens? It all slows down, and if a lane is blocked, can stop traffic altogether.  So, it retrospect, I like to think of WiFi cameras as the "big trucks" of traffic on your network, they need a lot of room, and have a large impact on the traffic situation! If you have multiple people trying to view your cameras or trying to view them on multiple places at the same time, there will be issues if you don't have the bandwidth!
One more thing to add, is, if you do a lot of "streaming" (ie. Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) this all affects your WiFi network.

A lot of these cameras you see, most don't show the required upload speed needed. So keep in mind, they use at least 1-2MB each!  Especially when you have them set up to record motion, or you are streaming them to an app constantly.

 So, basically, if you are wanting CSI type quality to be able to read a license plate down the street, you will need a lot of bandwidth to accommodate the resolution needed for this! And I really don't think your basic WiFi camera from Walmart™ or Canadian Tire™ will do this anyway. So if you are just wanting the basic blurry "bank camera" image, I'm sure your regular ISP plans can accommodate.

Here are some results from a google search:

Wi-Fi-Based Security Systems & Cameras
Ring recommends 1-2 Mbps per device for both upload and download speeds. Depending on the camera and video quality that you select, the Nest camera requires anywhere from 0.15 to 4 Mbps of bandwidth and Arlo cameras use 0.3 – 1.5 Mbps.
How much upload speed do you need for security cameras?
At least 5Mbps internet upload speed is the bare minimum to watching a security camera system remotely. 5Mbps is sufficient for remote viewing of the lower resolution or sub-stream. For the best remote viewing experience we recommend having an upload speed of at least 10Mbps.

So, once again, a little research into the type of camera you want, and the upload speed it requires, and check with your ISP as to what your package or plan is, can save you a few headaches down the road if you plan on adding a few cameras to your network.
I will add, this also applies to your video doorbells! As most of them have video upload, and audio upload, so will require upload bandwidth as well!
A good place to check your speeds is This will give you a good idea of what your network can handle.

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