How to power an outdoor security camera?

by Brett Decker

When buying security cameras, we often look for the top specs and the most convenient set-up, without realizing that a reliable power source is just as important.

You don't hear buyers asking themselves "how to power outdoor security cameras"?

Whether you're installing wireless security cameras for convenience or wired security cameras for reliability, both these need a constant power supply to make sure your property is guarded 24/7.

Security cameras have various powering methods. For example, battery-powered security cameras and PoE cameras (Power over Ethernet) have special charging methods to power them.

This article will help you understand how to power outdoor security cameras.

How to power a wireless security camera

You might be wondering if "wireless" security cameras can be powered by cables.

Well, it depends. There are three ways to power wireless security cameras:


A wireless camera usually doesn't require cables to operate.

However, since these are battery powered, they might still require a power cable to be plugged in to a power supply for charging.

Before installing outdoor security cameras, it's important to consider the distance of the camera to the electrical outlet, as well as the ease of wiring it.


A security camera that's powered by a battery doesn't need cables to be powered.

Instead, replaceable or rechargeable batteries power outdoor security cameras like this. This allows for an easy installation as you don't have to worry about wiring.

These cameras are very convenient to have as they can still function even during a power outage.

Depending on the camera, battery life can vary. Some have around 3 to 6 months of battery life, while some models last up to 12 months.

Since these battery-powered cameras rely on battery power, some models cut corners by limiting some features to save battery life.

That's why a security camera may only start video surveillance when motion is detected.

Also, keep in mind that you'll have to replace or recharge the batteries every so often, leaving you without a security camera for a couple of hours.

Solar power

Wireless security IP cameras can also be charged with solar power.

Solar powered cameras do not require power cables to charge.

They only need an efficient solar panel that can give non-stop power even with limited sunlight.

These wireless cameras have rechargeable batteries that can store solar energy.

They can even do data transmission without an ethernet cable and with just 3G/4G cellular data.

Since these cameras rely on solar power, they are incredibly convenient for use in remote places.

By opting for a solar panel, you can save money in the long run.

How to power a PoE/wired security camera

Wiring PoE security cameras require a simple cable connection.

A security camera like this only needs one ethernet cable to charge and transmit data, hence the name PoE/Power over Ethernet.

Here are a few tips on how to install a PoE camera:

Planning the wires

Make sure to measure the distance between the power source and the camera. PoE security cameras often use Cat5 or Cat6 power cords.

Installing the wires

Run the wire behind your baseboard or anywhere where it's not seen in plain sight.

Connecting the cables to the camera

Simply connect either end of the power cord to their respective ports.

This setup is suitable in houses that require multiple security cameras since it can accommodate at least 8 cameras.


Do outdoor security cameras need power?

Yes. An outdoor security camera needs a constant power supply.

This can come in the form of batteries or a direct connection to a power source.

Do wired cameras need power?

Yes. A wired IP camera needs a power supply to operate.

Can security cameras run on battery?

Yes. There are battery-powered cameras that run on either rechargeable or replaceable batteries.

Do security cameras have to be wired in?

Not all security cameras have to be wired. A battery-powered camera with rechargeable batteries only needs to be wired in when it runs out of charge. A wired camera has to be wired in for a non-stop power supply.

Can security cameras work when the power is off?

Yes, an outdoor security camera can still work when the power is off. This is the advantage of having a security camera powered by batteries as it has enough charge to last up to 12 months.

You can also use a solar panel to keep your outdoor security camera running even without electricity.

How do security cameras get power?

An outdoor security camera can either be powered by batteries or via wires connected to a power source.

How do you connect security cameras to power?

A security camera uses a power cord to connect to a power source. Some cameras use special cables like a Cat5 or Cat6 cable.

Do security cameras use a lot of electricity?

No, a security camera only needs very little electricity to work.

How much power do security cameras use?

The average Wi-Fi camera only requires 50 to 300mA of between 5 to 12 VDC to operate.

How do I run power to my outdoor camera?

How to power an outdoor security camera will depend on your needs. You can either wire your camera to an outlet if you want a constant power supply, or you can opt for one powered by batteries that only requires a simple installation.

What voltage do security cameras use?

A typical PoE camera uses between 12 volts up to about 50 volts.

How long can security camera wires be?

Security camera wires have a maximum limitation of 300 feet. It's not advised to use an extension cord beyond this limit.

How long do solar-powered security cameras last?

Some models can run for at least 12 hours on solar power even with limited sunlight. Others can operate for up to 3 days.

Do solar-powered security cameras work at night?

Yes, efficient solar panels like the ones from Wasserstein only need a couple of hours of sunlight to power security cameras.

What do you need to hook up security cameras?

You will need the following:

  • a power cable
  • conduits
  • fish tape
  • a drill

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