Connecting CleverLoop cameras over longer distances

We often come across people who need to install a camera or two a fair distance from the rest of their Cleverloop security system.

While this isn’t a show stopper, the solution that you need depends on what that distance actually is, and what you have at the location where you want the remote security cameras.

The classic sort of situations that we see regularly are:

  • A garage or shed that is a few tens of metres from the house
  • A long driveway on a lifestyle block or farm where the end closest to the road is a hundred or more metres from the house
  • An implement shed, equipment store or milking shed that is a few hundred metres away from the main farmhouse or building.

In each case, the best solution can vary depending on the situation, and how much you want to spend on getting a connection to the camera.

Ethernet cable

The theoretical maximum distance that you can run an ethernet cable from a router to a device is 100m.

If you can run a cable from your internet router to the spot where you want to install the CleverLoop camera without too much trouble, and the total distance is less than 100m, then this can be your best and often cheapest option.

If you have power available at the location for the camera, then you can use that to power the camera and the ethernet cable to just provide the data connection.

In situations where there is no power available, you do have the option to to use power-over-ethernet (POE) to supply both power and data to the camera down the ethernet cable. The power would need to be supplied by a POE switch (48V DC) at the router end of the cable, and stepped down to the correct voltage at the camera end (12VDC for outdoor cameras and 5VDC for indoor cameras).

This solution gives more information on powering an outdoor camera via POE.

The type and quality of cables that you use for this type of solution can make a difference too. Cat6 cable will handle data and power slightly better than Cat5e over longer distances, and unless you are planning on running the cables inside conduit, it makes sense to use higher quality outdoor grade, UV resistant, shielded cables from a reputable manufacturer.

WiFi

When running cables isn’t an option, if you have got a power point at the location where you want to install your cameras, and it is less than 20-30m from where the router is located, then WIFi might be the cheapest and easiest solution.

The WIFi signal from your router tends to drop off quite a bit as it goes through external walls, and cameras are much more susceptible to weak WiFi signal strength, which often means it is difficult to WiFI connect cameras outside a building. There are however a couple of options for getting a stronger signal to outdoor cameras on a garage or shed.

The cheapest and simplest solution is to use a WiFi booster. These just pick up the WiFi signal from your existing router and amplify it. The best bet for getting a usable signal to a garage or shed would be to locate the booster in the window closest to the external building (glass doesn’t have much impact on WiFi).

We sell a good inexpensive WiFi booster on our website here.

The Xiaomi WiFi booster that we sell.

The Xiaomi WiFi booster that we sell.

A much better, but more expensive solution that needs a bit more installation, is an outdoor access point (AP). An AP is a unit that connects back to your router by ethernet cable, and simply generates it’s own WiFi networks.

We have had good experiences using Ubiquiti outdoor AP’s, and MikroTik is another brand that has a very good reputation.

MikroTik wAP ac

MikroTik wAP ac

Ubiquiti UniFi Outdoor AP

Ubiquiti UniFi Outdoor AP

To set up an outdoor AP, you need to be able to get a network cable from your router to where you want to mount the AP. In a house, under the floor, or in the ceiling space is often the easiest places to run a cable.

If you are looking at installing an outdoor AP, you will need to have some experience setting up this sort of equipment (or find some good YouTube videos on how to do it), as they generally aren’t plug-and-play, or you could get someone to install and configure it for you.

The last thing to consider if you are thinking of using a WiFi connection to connect a remote camera is where the camera will be mounted, and what the remote building is made of. If the camera is to be located on the outside of the building, in line-of-sight to the booster or outdoor AP, then WiFi signal strength should be very good. If the camera/s are going inside the remote building (especially if it is made of metal) or on the other side of the building from the booster or outdoor AP, then the WiFi signal will be a lot weaker and may not be good enough to connect to.

Powerline Adapters

Powerline adapters use the electrical wiring in your building to carry a network connection, which means you don’t need to run network cables. These systems normally come as a kit with 2 units, and the option to buy additional units as needed.

You plug the first unit into a power point, and connect it to your router with a short network cable. Then, depending on the kit you have bought, anywhere that you plug in the second unit you have either live network ports, or a WiFi access point, or both. These system require very little setup, and are generally plug and play.

The one thing to keep in mind is that the power supply where your router is located, and where you want to put cameras both need to both be on the same electrical phase, and ideally the same circuit to get the best results. There are ways to improve network performance across different circuits and phases, but you would need consult the documentation of any device you are thinking of buying for more information on doing this.

Powerline adapters are available from manufactures like D-Link and TP-Link and NetComm.

WiFi radios

For connecting cameras at distances from 20-30m up to 10+km, WiFi radios are the solution you need.

While these radios use the same frequencies as normal WiFi (2.4GHz or 5GHz) unlike home WiFi, the transmitter and receiver are very directional, and once a pair are lined up pointing at each other they can send and receive a signal over fairly long distances.

You will need power at the camera location, and have clear line-of-sight between the camera location and the building with the router. You will also need to be able to get a network cable from your router to the outside of the house/building where you want to mount the first radio, and do the same at the other end, getting a cable from the radio to where you want the camera.

As with outdoor AP’s, WiFi radios can take a bit of configuration before you use them. Generally there are good step-by-step tutorials available on YouTube. Some suppliers of this type of hardware will, for a small fee, pre-configure it for you so you just need to plug the radios in and point them at each other.

This kit allows you to set up a long distance WiFi link suitable for running a CleverLoop Camera at a remote location.

This kit allows you to set up a long distance WiFi link suitable for running a CleverLoop Camera at a remote location.

Again, Ubiquit and MicroTik both do reasonably priced WiFi Radios with good reputations.

If you are in a rural area, and the 2.4GHz bands aren’t too congested (use a WiFi analyser app on your mobile phone to check) then WiFi radios in these bands will work well. If you live in a built up area, chances are 5GHz radios will work a lot better.

The bottom line is that having one or more cameras remote from your internet router and main CleverLoop system isn’t a problem, is just a case of picking the best, most cost effective option that will work for you.

 

by CleverLoop Team
July 7, 2017