When shopping for smart security cameras, there is a good chance that you have focused on the more flashy aspects like camera resolution, app features and cloud features. Here is why you should also consider your internet connection.
Smart security cameras need bandwidth and data
If you are looking for a crash course in choosing surveillance cameras for your home, we have you covered. We also have some favorites to share with you if you just want to dive straight into the best security options on the market.
But before you jump in and buy a set of smart security cameras with all the bells and whistles, it’s important to consider whether your home internet connection can support them properly.
Whether you’re considering a full cloud-based system like the Google Nest cameras or a hybrid system like the Arlo platform that includes cloud and local storage, your internet connection plays a role in how well (if at all) the system will work for you.
How does bandwidth affect camera performance?
Let’s start by looking at the effect of internet speed on the performance of smart security cameras, as this aspect affects the highest number of people – not everyone has a data ceiling, while everyone has a maximum internet speed.
There are two aspects of your internet connection speed that affect the camera’s performance, download and upload speeds. For the vast majority of people, the limiting factor will be the upload speed.
Download speed affects live views
How fast your connection is in terms of download speed primarily affects your experience of watching the live feed or cloud footage from your smart security cameras.
Streaming security camera footage to your computer or phone via your home Internet connection is very similar to streaming video as TV shows, and the download speed requirements are the same.
You need at least 3 Mbps download speed or so to stream a single HD camera feed from the cloud back to your home to view it on your devices.
When cracking the numbers on how much download speed you need, be sure to take into account how actively you use your smart cameras. If you watch the live show all day, you will have enough download speed to do so.
Upload speed affects the overall functionality
While the download speed affects how smooth your viewing and playback experience is, the upload speed affects several aspects of how your smart security cameras work.
Cloud-based systems like the Nest and Ring cameras require high upload speeds to maintain high-resolution feeds. Even the lowest settings on older cameras will use at least 1 Mbps per second. camera while they livestream or record to the cloud. Newer cameras will use 4 Mbps or more per second. camera to upload HD video.
If your internet connection can not support it, you will end up having to downgrade the video quality or suffer under the notch, a disconnected connection or both.
So when calculating how much upload speed you need in order for your household to run smoothly, be sure to take into account how many cameras you have and what their requirements are.
For example, if you had 3 security cameras that required 4 Mbps each to record your property live 24/7, you would need at least 12 Mbps upload bandwidth on top of the rest of your regular household consumption to accommodate peak load.
And do not think that this problem only means something for streaming away from home, like checking your doorbell camera when you are at work. Considering that most large cloud-based systems like Nest and Ring stream to the cloud and then to your home, even when you are at home right there with the cameras, upload speed is important. A slow upload affects your experience no matter where you are.
How does data usage affect the camera’s performance?
If the bandwidth corresponds to how fast a car is driving, the data corresponds to how much gas it uses in the process. Although a small amount of available bandwidth will hamper the real-time operation of your smart surveillance cameras – streaming an ultra HD security camera and a DSL connection in the countryside is not a match made in heaven – overall data consumption can also affect performance.
The problem is that a cloud-based smart security camera system can quickly eat through your data cover. Not only does camera viewing use data, but upload data is also counted in data caps – meaning any live recording system will quickly use a staggering amount of data in the background.
So even though you may only see your cameras through the app every now and then, if they are constantly communicating with the cloud, you can easily upload hundreds of GBs of data a month. For example, a single Nest Cam IQ can use anywhere from 100 to 400 GB of bandwidth per month.
Once you have blown through your data ceiling, you are stuck both by paying excess fees as well as downgrading your video quality to avoid blowing through them again. If you have a household full of people streaming, playing and downloading large files, any kind of smart security camera system that uses a lot of data every month might just not be a good fit for your household.
With that in mind, it pays to consider not only the fun features like great night vision or 4K resolution, but the less glamorous aspects of using smart security cameras like the internet connection requirements and how much data the average consumer will consume.