How Much Bandwidth do Home Security Cameras Use?

Confused about the technical side of your home security camera, or options for buying a new one, especially when it comes to bandwidth? Here's the rundown on bandwidth and how much home security systems use so you can be more tech savvy and invest in the best home alarm systems possible for your needs.

1. What is Bandwidth?

In computing, bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer across a given path, or “band,” and can be characterized as network bandwidth, digital bandwidth, or data bandwidth. This involves traveling frequencies and signal transmission. It can be likened to blood traveling through your veins to deliver information to other parts of your body. 

2. How is Bandwidth Measured?

Bandwidth was traditionally expressed as a bitrate and measured in bits per second, or bps. However, recent advances have vastly increased bandwidth capacity, and it is now measured with what are referred to as metric prefixes, such as Mbps, (megabits per second), Gbps (gigabits per second), or Tbps (terabits per second). It is measured through software or firmware and a network database. 

3. What Factors Can Impact Bandwidth?

Several factors can combine to limit bandwidth on a particular device, including security cameras. First, there are two times of bandwidth: upstream and downstream. Because the security camera is delivering information to another device (most likely a computer and/or internet server), it is called upstream bandwidth. If any information is flowing to the camera in the other direction, it would be called downstream bandwidth, and this would impact the speed the information can travel at. 

Other factors include if the camera is running simultaneous tasks like audio recording or motion detection, image quality, video compression, video resolution, visual field complexity, the per-second frame rate, and the number of cameras and viewing clients from various observation hubs. 

4. What's the Bandwidth of a Security Camera?

There is a broad spectrum of bandwidth rates with various security cameras, so defining an average is difficult. Security cameras can consume as little as 5Kbps in what is called “steady-state,” all the way up to 6Mbps and higher for more advanced cameras. The upper limits can extend all the way to 50Kbps for advanced and hybridized cloud cameras. 

5. Should you worry about Bandwidth Bottlenecks?

Putting it simply, no. If the security camera device has been installed and configured properly, there should be no signal or bandwidth issues. While more complex systems require more bandwidth and more expertise to install, relying on professionals and making sure you have some form of service plan in case anything goes wrong is a safe way to keep your system running at its best. 

Investing in a home security system with cameras can be a difficult task with many decisions at hand, depending on your particular concerns, layout of your home and yard, and more. While many of the technical details can be confusing, when broken down one-by-one, the tech behind a security camera becomes more palatable and clear. Bandwidth is an important thing to understand when buying a camera, so be sure to look into the stats before you make a final decision. 

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