If you’ve ever researched security cameras, be it for home use, in a business setting, or elsewhere, you’ve probably come across terms like ‘IP camera’ and ‘wireless camera’ to describe almost all of the best-selling cameras available on the market.
While it’s true that most of the bestselling manufacturers, from Arlo to Reolink (and now AlfredCamera) produce wifi-enabled cameras, a wifi connection isn’t necessarily required for them to function.
In fact, there are a number of ways for security cameras to function without wifi, and many security cameras that don’t require an internet connection at all.
Find out all there is to know about the best security cameras without wifi, including 5G and 4G cameras, and even how you can turn your old phone into a security camera without wifi.
If you’re here for our recommendations on best wifi free cameras, feel free to jump to the last section where we share our top 5.
Is There A Security Camera That Works Without WiFi?
The search for a security camera will invariably lead you to options marketed as wifi-enabled. In fact, you might at first be hard-pressed to find ones that aren’t.
That’s because security cameras with built-in wifi make streaming and saving footage super convenient, in addition to providing a reliable way to receive push notifications and alerts should the camera detect motion.
Ultimately, they are one of the more cost-effective means of surveilling your property, and tend to come with other useful features like motion detection and smart device automation.
Arlo Go and the similarly named Reolink Go are examples of internet-enabled cameras that don’t actually require Wi-Fi, since they are compatible with mobile data plans. This allows you to use the camera more or less anywhere with a 4G signal.
Research suggests that almost 1 in 4 households in the US don’t have internet. Even more surprisingly, of the three-quarters that do, well over 250,000 still use dial-up.
For those without an internet connection, it’s good to know that there are in fact many options for security cameras without wifi, including ones marketed as wireless cameras.
Tip: ‘Wireless’ and ‘wire-free’ are not the same thing.
‘Wireless’ simply refers to a camera that features either wifi, Bluetooth, or mobile data connectivity. In other words, it may still require wires to connect it to a power source and function. ‘Wire-free’, on the other hand, suggests that the camera does not need any kind of wires to function (in other words, it probably doesn’t need to be connected to a main power source or USB port to be powered).
Recommended reading: Wired Vs Wireless Security Systems | A Comprehensive Guide
Types Of Cameras That Are WiFi-Free
Since the market is so saturated with wifi cameras, it might be worth taking a little refresher’s course in other types of security cameras, including what security cameras work without wifi.
The OG security camera, these are closed-circuit television cameras that are scarcely ever used for home security. In this context, they would be highly inefficient. Instead, they are favored by businesses and the police, but are still somewhat dated. The footage is usually stored on a digital video recorder (DVR) and viewed on multiple monitors.
How can it work without Wi-Fi?
CCTV cameras are closed-circuit. In other words, they are hardwired. This means that data is transmitted through wires, usually hidden in walls, ceilings, and floors.
Recommended reading: Security Cameras for Business, Big and Small
The term ‘analog’ simply refers to any camera that transmits video to a DVR. These might also be dubbed ‘HD-over-coax’, a term referring to cameras able to transmit totally uncompressed video (i.e. HD footage with a massive file size) through coaxial cables. Naturally, these are few and far between, because HD cameras rarely interface with coaxial cables. They can also be pretty expensive.
How can it work without Wi-Fi?
Like CCTV, analog cameras use wires to transmit data. An analog camera doesn’t possess any of the features associated with IP cameras, like push notifications, therefore not requiring any kind of internet connection to function.
The ‘IP’ in this camera’s name stands for ‘Internet Protocol’. It’s a digital video camera that sends and receives data via an IP network. Unlike traditional CCTV cameras, they don’t require any kind of local storage device. ‘IP cameras’ mostly refers to webcams.
How can it work without Wi-Fi?
Most IP cameras nowadays work solely through Wi-Fi, but some will possess multiple ways of connecting to the internet, including through mobile data (see below). There’s also a chance they can function via ethernet cables: think of these as wired internet connections.
An ethernet connection wouldn’t necessarily require a Wi-Fi hub to work, though this is rare nowadays, as it can connect directly to a broadband line. Ethernet cables make internet connections much speedier and more reliable.
The least inexpensive option of the bunch, you could always opt to turn your old phone into a security camera without wifi. Though it is more common to use wifi with AlfredCamera, so long as you have a mobile data package, you could use 4G or 5G with mobile apps like AlfredCamera in order to save footage to the cloud, send push notifications, and so on.
AlfredCamera is available to download now for iOS and Android devices.
How can it work without Wi-Fi?
You can purchase a mobile data plan from all reputable mobile network providers, which can then be then used to connect your camera to the internet. A mobile data plan has the added advantage of allowing you to move the camera around with you, which is particularly helpful if you travel frequently or need it positioned far from a Wi-Fi hub.
When And Why You Might Want A Security Camera Without WiFi
If wifi cameras are so great, when and why would you ever go without one? If any of the following applies to you, consider the alternative.
Unfortunately, the internet is clearly still a luxury rather than something everyone has access to in equal measure. But security is something that should never be compromised, because everyone deserves to feel safe wherever they are.
Hence, a traditional security camera may be of interest. These can cost a pretty penny, however, and are somewhat impractical. It would be wiser to invest in an IP camera that can save footage to a harddrive, or otherwise purchase a mobile data plan with an affordable provider to use on a device that has a security camera app, like AlfredCamera, installed.
Check out our article for more on how you can use cellular data for security purposes.
One of the major advantages of cameras that don’t function through the internet is that they are significantly less likely to be hacked than their wifi-enabled counterparts.
Cameras that interface with a traditional DVR through cables are virtually impossible to hack, whereas wifi connected devices always run the risk of being intercepted by a hacker in what’s known as a full camera takeover.
The only feasible way of intercepting a traditional security camera is for intruders to cut the wires, which, more often than not, will be hidden high up within or along walls anyway.
Higher Quality Footage
Assuming you have the storage capacity for it, some traditional analog cameras are able to transmit totally uncompressed footage to a DVR.
This results in significantly higher quality footage, since IP cameras and mobile devices will always compress footage in order to reduce the file size and make transmission faster.
Pros and Cons
|Feature rich||Higher quality|
|More easily hacked||Wires can be unaesthetic|
|Prone to signal dropouts||Less choice of cameras|
Our Picks | Top 5 Best Security Cameras Without WiFi
With so many choices, it can be a little difficult to know where to start when you’re in the market for a security camera. Check out our top picks for security cameras that function without wifi, including wireless and wired security cameras.
Available on Reolink. From $179.99
The Reolink Go is a popular wireless IP camera. Yes, it’s a wireless camera, but you don’t need wifi to operate it.
The Reolink Go uses 4G and 3G Mobile LTE networks, meaning you just need a mobile data plan for it to work. Since it’s wireless and rechargeable, it’s a great option for those who might need a camera that will be subject to plenty of travel, particularly in places with limited or no wifi.
You can even connect it to a Reolink solar panel, making it a great outdoor security camera without wifi for more unusual locations, like construction sites and boats.
Available from the App Store and Google Play Store. Free with the option for premium.
By far the most affordable (read: free) option, AlfredCamera transforms old smart devices into de facto security cameras, replete with all the features you would expect of a high-end device. Two way communication, motion detection, and night vision are just some of them.
Since it requires no additional hardware, AlfredCamera can function solely through your mobile data package, allowing you to stream and save footage via 4G and 5G; if a wifi network should become available, you are free to switch as and when you please.
Available on Amazon. From £339.99/€340.89
The identical product name should be something of a hint that the Arlo Go is rather similar to the Reolink Go. The Arlo Go is a cube-shaped IP camera that works solely through a 4G mobile plan, requiring a SIM card to function.
Expect HD footage, a 130 degree viewing angle, and a rechargeable battery among other great features, like cross-functionality with Alexa and Google Assistant. The price tag is likely owed to the fact that it also boasts two-way talk via built in mic and speaker, as well as advanced wide-angle motion detection, built in SD card, and up to 7 days of cloud storage.
ANNKE 5MP Lite Wired Security Camera System
Available on Amazon. From $259.99
ANNKE’s wired security camera system is a great option for those looking for a more traditional approach to security that doesn’t sacrifice too many of the modern features that make IP cameras so great. With a total of 8 cameras, you’ll be able to set up a completely comprehensive security system in your home, office or other space.
The cameras can record up to 1080p and interface with the eight channel DVR, which comes with a 1TB harddrive. 60ft cables are included with each camera, so distance shouldn’t be a problem.
SANSCO 8CH 1080p Security Camera System
Available on Amazon. From $189.99
Much like the ANNKE security camera system, SANSCO also offers an eight camera system complete with eight channel DVR to record up to 1TB of footage. The 2MP cameras support 1080p footage, are weatherproof and also feature up to 65ft ranged night vision.
Even without wifi, you can connect the DVR to SANSCO’s app in order to view the security system on your mobile device or computer. Unlike the ANNKE system, cables are 20 meters, which makes them about 5 foot longer. Perhaps owing to the lesser quality of the cameras, the price is also markedly cheaper.
Do any outdoor security cameras work without wifi?
Most of our top picks, including the Reolink Go and Arlo Go, are weatherproof. The Reolink Go and Arlo Go both function through mobile LTE data.
Can wireless cameras work without the Internet?
While most wireless cameras on the market will require an internet connection, this isn’t always the case. For example, many of Reolink’s cameras, including the Reolink Go, don’t necessarily require the internet to function. IP cameras with SD cards can simply store footage there and then be connected to a computer thereafter to view it.
It’s worth noting also that ‘wireless’ isn’t necessarily the same as ‘wire-free’; a wireless camera that interfaces with a DVR will still have cables connecting it to the DVR, even if it’s rechargeable and portable. However, if there is no internet connection, wifi or otherwise, you will not be able to access features like live streaming to smart devices and push notifications.
Do wired security cameras need wifi?
No. If a wired security camera is connected to a DVR or other storage device, then it does not need a wifi connection to function. Additionally, many cameras support mobile LTE data, so this can be used as an alternative to wifi so long as you have a mobile data plan.
How can I use an IP camera without the internet?
Make sure your camera’s IP address is set to the same one as your computer. Then, plug the camera into your computer via its supplied cable to access the footage it saved. Alternatively, if it supports an SD card, you can simply insert the SD card into the computer and view footage saved directly onto it.
Can I connect my security camera to my phone?
Most modern security cameras support cross-functionality with other smart devices and computers. All of the cameras mentioned in our top 5 picks are able to connect to a phone through their respective apps.
Though the market is saturated with wireless cameras, security cameras without wifi are still very much in existence.
Whether it’s suspicions about hacking, a lack of a wifi connection, or just a preference for the old school ways, there are numerous security camera systems that still support internet-free functionality through a DVR, as well as many options for using mobile LTE data as opposed to wifi.
Recommended reading: Security Cameras… On Your 4G Data Plan? The Complete Guide to Cellular Security Cameras