WiFi-powered gadgets around the home and office are becoming increasingly popular these days. Front door security cameras are more common than ever, but there are some people—maybe you included—who are skeptical about these ever-watchful gizmos. After all, anything that runs on WiFi is using data and eating up bandwidth, which could affect all your other devices. That brings up one very important question: how much data does a WiFi security camera use? Is it enough to eat up your data plan?
Generally, a WiFi security camera uses anywhere from 0.5GB to 400GB a month, but there are many variables contributing to that. We’re going to explain all the factors and more, so let’s get started.
Do All WiFi Security Cameras Require Data?
Yes, nearly all available WiFi security cameras need an internet connection to function properly. What do we mean by proper function? WiFi security cameras use data for a few reasons:
- Communicating through the cloud and pinging
- Storing video on a cloud
- Streaming live video
- Downloading firmware updates and installation
Security cameras vary greatly when it comes to features. How footage is recorded, stored, and viewed affects how much data is consumed. Are you watching a lot of live video footage? Is your camera set to continuous video recording (CVR) or only to motion detection? Where are the videos getting stored—cloud or locally? All these things require data, but function and features alter just how much is used.
What Factors Affect WiFi Security Camera Data Consumption?
If you’re concerned about data limits and bandwidth, then you need to know which features and functions use the most data. Let’s take a look:
1. Frame Rate Per Second (FPS)
The FPS defines the speed at which a camera displays a number of frames within 1 second. Most WiFi security cameras come with either 30fps or 60fps. Similar to gaming fps or video fps, the higher the frame rate, the higher the data consumed. If you aren’t overly concerned with receiving high-quality footage, you can lower the fps and useless data.
This can be adjusted in the camera settings.
2. Video Resolution
The better quality the video, the easier it is to see events when they occur. Yet, the higher quality videos tend to use far more data than ones with fewer pixels. Most WiFi security cameras these days have 1080p. This isn’t necessary, however. You could potentially reduce the amount of data used by lowering the setting to either 720p or 480p. You can even switch between standard definition (SD) and high-def (HD).
For ideal performance, you should opt for 720p on SD.
3. Number of Cameras
The reasons for higher data consumption are pretty obvious with this one. The more data-consuming devices you have, the faster your bandwidth and data disappear. While a single unit is negligible when set to lower settings, multiple units will increase the data usage.
If you don’t want to go beyond the data limits on your plan, you should limit how many cameras you own.
4. Compression Level
While compression will affect the quality of the video, you could set it to a higher level to reduce the amount of data consumed during the transfer to the cloud.
5. Frequency of Footage Uploads
This one happens to be the primary reason people stress about how much data WiFi security cameras use. On average, a WiFi security camera will eat about 60GB of data per month by transferring data to the cloud. If you have your cameras set to continuous uploading, that data amount could be much higher.
The best way to limit how much data is used is to set the upload intervals to once a day. You can also purchase security cameras with AI. These cameras are programmed to ignore recordings taken of vehicles, pets, and plants, thereby saving you data.
Does a WiFi Security Camera Need a Data Connection?
You might be wondering how to set up security cameras without requiring any data. Understandable. No one wants to go over their data limit when they can avoid it, but you also want to feel secure around the clock. That said, having no internet or data connection for your cameras is a surefire way to make them useless.
You won’t be able to access the camera when you’re not home, and you won’t receive any useful notifications. In other words, the very features you wanted for your home won’t be of much use.
There are a few alternatives, however. You could potentially buy a security camera with local storage, such as an SD card, network video recorder (NVR), or PC. You can also connect your security camera to a 4G-LTE or 5G cellular network, but you will need unlimited data to make this work optimally.
Cameras are great home security devices but they do consume data. So, how much data does a WiFi security camera use? On average, it’s between 0.5-400GB, with frequent data transfer costing upwards of 60GB. Depending on the settings of your security camera, as well as the features, it could be costing you way more than you originally planned. Make sure to fine-tune the settings to make your security cameras more data-friendly.
If you’re worried about the costs of cameras and data then a fake camera could be an option, but how easy is it to tell if they’re real or fake?