Can CCTV Cameras Work Without Internet? (Simple Guide)

CCTV technology has found its way into all aspects of our lives, whether you are at work, at the shops or even at home, you are almost certain to see at least a couple of CCTV cameras in your daily routine.

There are a huge variety of CCTV cameras available on the market, each with their own benefits, features and usages, with this being said there are also cameras that rely on the internet and WiFi, but can they work without the internet or even electricity?

Can CCTV Cameras Work Without Internet

Although CCTV cameras were invented way before the internet, they have evolved with other smart devices to be able to wireless and rely on internet connection as opposed to wiring which the traditional models use.

A CCTV camera that uses the internet is typically referred to as wireless CCTV cameras within the industry and as the name suggests, they do not use the wires to transmit data like a wired CCTV camera.

In this guide, we will be looking at all areas of CCTV cameras and their relationship with the internet, how they can work with or without it, the nuances between the two and more topics surrounding these two areas.

To summarise what we will be covering:

  • CCTV Cameras & The Internet
  • How CCTV Can Work Without an Internet Connection
  • What Can CCTV Cameras Do With an Internet Connection?
  • What Can CCTV Cameras Do Without an Internet Connection?
  • Connecting a CCTV Camera to a Computer Without the Internet
  • Internet CCTV Camera Benefits

Can CCTV Cameras Work Without Internet?

As we alluded to above, there are a lot of types of CCTV cameras and each has their own features, with this being said, the short answer is yes. 

Yes, you can use a CCTV camera without the internet, and in some cases even without a power connection, in case of a power cut or other external factor. 

When it comes to wireless CCTV cameras i.e. the ones that utilise an internet connection, the only thing that internet connection affects is the ability to access the cameras remotely. 

There is no doubt there are a lot of benefits of connecting your CCTV camera to the internet, more on this at the end of the guide, but there can be potential issues that you should be aware of.

CCTV Cameras and the Internet Potential Issues

A camera that is connected to the internet is more vulnerable to hacking, cyber attacks and cyber crime, this is highly uncommon, but is worth knowing the potential risks. 

These kinds of issues are unlikely to happen to a homeowner or a small business and are much more common with larger companies, and even then it is unlikely.

In addition, this should not be a dealbreaker if you are looking into wireless CCTV cameras as there are different security procedures and warning signs to keep an eye out for.

Connecting CCTV cameras to the internet can be challenging, but it does not have to be, in fact, most wireless cameras are significantly easier to install and connect to the internet than a traditional wired CCTV camera.

How Can CCTV Cameras Work Without Internet?

CCTV cameras work without an internet connection because they are able to locally store footage on the hard drive (Network Video Recorder) and the SD cards within the actual cameras.

Other types of CCTV cameras can work without the internet too, one of the most popular types is called an IP Camera which can use the landline, mobile connection and the local area network. 

In short, there are a few ways that CCTV cameras can work without the internet but they are normally at optimal performance when they are connected to the internet. 

Note – If we are being pedantic, wired cameras technically do not require the internet at all, but that is not the type of CCTV cameras we are exploring today, so we will not be covering these.

Are Wireless CCTV Cameras Fully Wireless?

Another important distinction to make, is that not all wireless cameras are fully wireless, the name actually refers to how they connect to the network and does not always mean there are zero wires involved. 

There are some solar powered CCTV cameras, some use batteries and some have a power cable that will plug into the wall, so can be argued not to be ‘fully wireless’. 

If you are interested in learning more about wireless cameras, feel free to check out our guide on ‘how wireless cameras work’.

Are There Any Places Wireless CCTV Does Not Work?

This is a common question, and it has a fairly simple answer. Yes, wireless cameras do not work everywhere.

To follow up the above with a longer answer…It is important to note that not all places can actually support a wireless CCTV camera that relies on the internet, this is typically in heavily rural areas, or even with buildings with thick metal or industrial concrete walls as the signals can be blocked or limited. 

This can make rural security much harder than in more built up areas; Despite this, for the majority of locations there is no problem, but it is useful information to note before looking into installing CCTV cameras. 

CCTV Functions Available with Internet 

If your CCTV camera is connected to the internet you will have full functionality and be able to access many more features than if it is temporarily disconnected. Below are some examples of the functions a CCTV camera can have while connected to the internet.

Instant Notifications – when your cameras are connected to the internet you will be able to get notifications and updates on what is happening around the clock. A lot of modern CCTV cameras have motion detection and can send a push notification when something happens or unusual activity occurs.

Remote Access – having access to your CCTV camera’s footage wherever you are is a huge benefit of being connected to the internet. You will be able to remotely access the camera 24/7 if you need to. This is great for rental properties, homes, business and more.

Backup Storage – one of the best functions available when you are connected to the internet is being able to backup data and store it externally. A huge amount of cameras have the functionality to store video data in the cloud. When the internet is down, this upload will be unavailable. 

2-Way Audio – if you have a clear connection, a large percentage of modern CCTV cameras have the ability to communicate two ways, i.e. hear audio and even reply to the person on the footage. This has become popularised by doorbell cameras, but has been a feature in CCTV alongside intercoms for a long time.

CCTV Functions Available Without Internet

We have already lightly touched on the fact that CCTV cameras can function without the internet, but let’s summarise these below:

Internal Battery – some CCTV cameras will have the ability to utilise a backup battery that is built into the device in case there is a power disruption or cut. If your mains decide to shut off, you will still be able to use your CCTV cameras as usual.

View Via Monitor – even if your internet is down, you will still be able to access your security camera’s footage if it is linked to a monitor. Regardless of what happens, as long as you have electricity, you will be able to view the footage.

Saved Files Anytime – a lot of people are concerned when the internet goes out they will lose videos. Luckily, whether the internet is working or not you will be able to still have your security footage saved on the local SD card or onto the Network Video Recorder. 

Crime Deterrent – it does not matter if you are connected to the internet or not, if you have visible CCTV cameras and warning signs, you are much less likely to be broken into or burgled, they are one of the top deterrents for criminals, alongside barking dogs.

How Do You Connect CCTV to Computer Without Internet?

Contrary to what people might think, you do not always need the internet to connect a CCTV camera to a computer. If you are looking how to connect CCTV to a computer, look no further than our previous guide on the topic.

With this being said, we can briefly cover the topic here. There are a lot of different connection types when it comes to CCTV cameras, some examples could be as follows.

Connect CCTV to the computer via:

  • Bluetooth 
  • Local Area Network
  • A Cable 

To over simplify there are two core methods of connecting CCTV to a computer, and that is wirelessly or with wires. 

Neither of these methods require a live internet connection, but each CCTV camera does have its own installation and preferences. If in doubt, always refer to the manual or guide given with your CCTV cameras.

Benefits of CCTV Connected to the Internet

There are such a wide range of benefits of CCTV cameras that are connected to the internet, so whether you are a business, a homeowner or just curious about the security industry, there is plenty to cover.

For the sake of simplicity, we will be covering fairly broad benefits of internet CCTV cameras, as each camera type will have its own pros and cons.

Be Alerted

It does not matter what time of day or night your camera spots something, if it is connected to the internet it will be able to capture the footage and send you an instant notification or alert.

This helps if you are often away, are a landlord renting out your properties or even in charge of a business remotely or multiple sites.

Pairs Well With Others

An internet CCTV camera can be used in conjunction with other security methods and technology to optimise your full security setup. 

For example, if you install security lights you will be able to illuminate what you are recording and also alert the would-be criminal that they are being watched.

Stop the Crime Before it Happens

As we have briefly looked at earlier in this guide, just the presence of a CCTV camera can be enough to stop criminals in their tracks and stop the crime even occurring in the first place.

CCTV cameras are one of the major deterrents when criminals are looking at a break in, finding the path of least resistance is their main goal, so any additional difficulty will make them look for an easier target.

Access to the Cloud

With a CCTV camera that is connected to the internet, you will always be able to have your files backed up and available if you need them at a later date.

As we looked at, it is fairly standard practice to have between 30 and 90 days’ worth of footage, but this can fill up an NVR or storage drive fast. Having access to the cloud or external storage is a huge benefit, especially when it can be automatically backed up when connected.

Easier to Install 

A huge benefit of looking into buying an internet CCTV camera is that they are much easier to install than a traditional wired CCTV camera due to the obvious lack of cables required (a wired camera requires one or two cables).

There is often a very straightforward process when it comes to installing wireless CCTV cameras and with most models you will probably be able to do it yourself or with another person.

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Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.