How Are Outdoor Security Cameras Powered?

Another concern I had for my security camera was the location of my cameras in relation to wall outlets.

“How are outdoor security cameras powered?” Outdoor security cameras are powered in at least one of four ways: electricity, solar, battery, and power over Ethernet (POE). The way outdoor security cameras are powered depends on technology, age, and features included in the security camera. It is also possible for outdoor security cameras to be powered by both solar power and battery.

Continue reading to see which types of outdoor security cameras are powered (with examples) by electricity, solar power, battery, or POE. Also, get help in deciding which outdoor security camera is for you based on power source.


Electricity, the old standard, an outdoor security camera is plugged into a wall outlet. The security camera will only work if it remains plugged in. The cameras can run on 12 DC or 24 AC volts depending on the recommended specifications. The distance of the power cord can vary between 21 and 3,508 feet depending on AC or DC.

Electric outdoor security cameras are usually associated with bullet and domes cameras but can also be used by internet protocol (IP) and wireless internet protocol (WIP) cameras.

Benefits of electricity

Benefits of using an outdoor security camera powered by electricity are:

  • Constant access to the security camera – you can view and review the camera without a “reconnecting” message.
  • Not needing to charge or change batteries – the camera never goes down unless the electricity does.
  • Consecutive cloudy days don’t get your camera down – solar powered cameras may stop working if there are a few days of no direct sunlight.
  • The camera is always awake, so it’s always recording – other power types may sleep until it is turned on with motion sensors.

Here are a few examples of outdoor security cameras powered by electricity: 

  • Swann Surveillance System
  • Lorex Surveillance System
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired

Solar power

Security cameras powered by solar power use direct sunlight to provide energy to the camera via a batter. The battery is either pre-installed or purchased as an additional accessory. The key component of solar power technology is that it must receive direct sunlight. Because the energy is stored in a battery, sunlight must reach the solar panel every few days.

Benefits of solar power

Benefits of using solar power include:

  • No electricity, almost no problem – The security camera will work if there is no electricity to the outlet, the camera will be useless if the router outlet also doesn’t have power.
  • Can go anywhere, within range – Solar powered outdoor cameras are not constrained by distance from wall outlets can be placed anywhere with a wireless signal.
  • No need to recharge – if the sun is out at least once every few weeks, the solar powered camera should work.
  • No additional components to install
  • Cheaper than the rest (in the long run) – the cost of a solar powered camera will pay for its self within 3 years.

Here are a few examples of outdoor security cameras powered by solar power: 

  • Reolink Solar Panel
  • Ring Solar panel
  • Wanscam Solar Power IP Camera


Security cameras powered by batteries will use consumer batteries (AA, AAA, C, D), or rechargeable battery packs. Cameras powered by batteries sit in idle until it is activated by motion sensor. Battery length depends on the camera and the motion sensor settings configured by the user.

Benefits of battery

Benefits of using Batteries include:

  • Weather doesn’t matter – the battery powered camera will work rain or shine if the battery has energy.
  • Any location – like the solar panel, the battery powered camera will work if there is a wireless connection.
  • Cheapest short-term option – a pack of batteries is cheaper than purchasing a solar panel or electricity in the first few months.

Here are a few examples of outdoor security cameras powered by battery: 

  • Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
  • Reolink Argus Battery Powered Security Camera
  • Arlo Pro

Power over Ethernet (POE)

Security cameras utilizing POE use the Ethernet port for both connecting to the internet and powering the camera. Ethernet is used to connect a piece of hardware to the internet. Similar to electrically powered security cameras, POE cameras will work as long as the Ethernet cord is connected.

Benefits of POE

Benefits of using POE cameras include:

  • One cord – POE cameras combine the befits of IP cameras and electricity into one cord.
  • Continuous recording – POE cameras can record all day and night without falling asleep.
  • More secure – an Ethernet connection is more secure than a wireless or wifi connection.
  • Weather is no issue – There will be no downtime for consecutive rainy or snowy days.
  • Cheaper than batteries in the long run.

Here are a few examples of outdoor security cameras powered by POE: 

  • Reolink POE Home Security Camera
  • A-zone POE Security Camera
  • Zosi POE Security Camera

Which outdoor security camera power should you choose?

The type of security camera you need based on power type depends on a few factors. These factors include camera type, location, wireless signal, and continuous recording.

Camera type

Dome and bullet cameras usually require an electrical outlet or POE. While IP and WIP cameras are usually powered with battery or solar power. However, there are a few WIP product lines that require a wall outlet.


If you are planning on placing a camera far from an outlet, then battery or solar panel may be the best solution. If you are considering on placing the camera higher up or a difficult location to reach, consider a solar power.

Wireless signal

if the wireless signal is strong, you can choose any of the power types. However, if there is a weak or no signal, consider a wall outlet or POE.

Continuous recording

If continuous recording is a requirement, then you will need to use either a wall outlet or POE. Most solar and battery powered cameras are unable to provide continuous recording.

Security is the main concern

If having a secure connection is the primary concern for your security, I recommend a wall outlet connection with Closed Circuit first, then POE CCTV is designed to be isolated from the world and provides maximum security. The only way to hack into a CCTV is at the digital video recording box. POE is the second best because a Ethernet connection is more secure than a wireless security connection.


To conclude, there are a number of power types to meet various user needs. You should be able to find your preferred power source with any number of additional features.

Additional questions

  • Do all security cameras need power? Yes, all security cameras need some type of power. The most commonly used power types are battery, power over Ethernet, solar power, and electricity.
  • Wireless camera power supply? Wireless cameras primarily use batteries and solar power. These power types allow flexibility to place cameras anywhere they is a wireless signal.
  • How long do batteries last in wireless security cameras? It depends on a few factors including battery type, camera capabilities, and motion sensor sensitively. On average, you can expect a camera to last between 2 weeks and 6 months.

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