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How are Hidden Cameras Powered?

Like any surveillance device, hidden or mini cameras get their power from a number of different sources, including USB cables and hardwiring. 

Read on and find out the different ways hidden cameras are powered.

Types of Power Source

1. USB

Much like regular-sized security cameras, a common way of powering a hidden camera is through a USB cable.

These are convenient since USB’s are found here, there, and everywhere, and it usually means that a device can be bought from any region in the world without the buyer having to worry about incompatible plug types.


  • Universal
  • Easily replaced 


  • 24/7 surveillance may require it being left plugged in constantly
  • Not especially covert, unless the hidden camera is disguised as a USB stick

2. Hardwiring

A hidden camera that has been constructed from scratch (i.e. isn’t available commercially) to hide in a specific object may be hardwired to take advantage of existing electrical wiring.


  • Constant power source
  • Can be extremely discreet


  • Complex process
  • Bugging is illegal, so if it is totally concealed, laws may be compromised

3. Cigarette Lighter Socket


  • Easy way to power dash cams
  • Constant source of power when car is on


  • Vehicle-only solution
  • If the device doesn’t retain a long charge, may require the car being on to work

Disposable battery hidden cameras?

While it’s possible to find ‘spy cameras’ with disposable batteries on Amazon and elsewhere, disposable batteries can be considered a clear sign that a product is designed as a toy or gimmick as opposed to a meaningful security solution. 

It’s advisable to avoid such products if wanting, for instance, subtle security for the inside of a car. 


Do hidden cameras need power?

Yes, hidden cameras need a power source. Hidden cameras are usually powered by a USB charging cable or disposable batteries.

How long do batteries last in hidden cameras?

Hidden cameras are small in size, meaning the batteries powering them are also small. Most will need to be charging constantly to record for extended periods. 

Can hidden cameras work without WiFi?

Some hidden cameras can work without Wi-Fi. Often, they will have a microSD card slot to allow for saving footage to local storage.

Do wireless security cameras need to be plugged in?

‘Wireless’ security cameras refers to devices with wireless technologies, like Wi-Fi or 4G data. It isn’t the same as being totally ‘wire-free’. Hence, wireless security cameras may need to be plugged in to record or at least be plugged in for a few hours to charge.


USB’s are the most common and most reliable way that hidden cameras are powered, while devices powered by disposable batteries should probably be avoided if looking for a legitimate surveillance solution.