Connecting CleverLoop cameras at a distance

Quite frequently we talk to people who want to install one or more cameras at a distance from the rest of their Cleverloop based camera security system.

Although very doable, it’s what that distance is, and what you have in the spots where you want the cameras that determines the best solution.

Situations that we hear about quite commonly are:

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

In each case, the best solution will vary based on the situation, and the acceptable cost of getting a connection to the camera.

Ethernet cable

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

If it is possible to run a cable from your modem/router to the location where you want the CleverLoop camera relatively easily, and the total distance is under 100m, then this will be your simplest and often cheapest option.

If there is power available in the spot where you want the camera, then the ethernet cable can be used purely as a data connection.

Where there is no power available at the camera location, power-over-ethernet (POE) allows you to to supply both power and data to the camera via the ethernet cable. A POE switch (48V DC) would be needed at the router end of the cable to supply the power, and then stepped down to the correct voltage at the camera end (12VDC for outdoor cameras and 5VDC for indoor cameras).

See this solution for more information on powering an outdoor camera via POE.

The type and quality of ethernet cable that you use for this type of solution is also importent. Cat6 cable handles data and power slightly better than Cat5e over longer distances, and unless you going to run the cables inside conduit, using good quality outdoor grade, UV resistant, shielded cables from a reputable manufacturer makes sense.

WiFi

If the option of running cables isn’t available, there is a power point where you want your cameras, and it is less than 20-30m from where the router is located, then WIFi might be the cheapest and easiest solution for you.

Router WIFi signals drop off significantly as they go through external walls, and all cameras struggle more with weak WiFi signal strength than other devices, all of which adds up to WiFi not being a great choice for cameras outside a building. There are however a couple of ways to a stronger signal to outdoor cameras on a shed or garage.

A WiFi booster is the cheapest and simplest solution. These just take your existing WiFi signal and amplify it. The easiest way to get a usable signal to a garage or shed is to position the booster in a window close to the external building (glass doesn’t have much impact on WiFi), and locate the cameras where they have line of sight to the booster.

We have had

The Xiaomi WiFi booster that we sell.

The Xiaomi WiFi booster is a cheap powerful option that we have used extensively.

A more expensive, but technically better solution, requiring a bit more installation, is an outdoor access point (AP). An AP is a unit that plugs into your modem/router by ethernet cable, and then generates it’s own WiFi networks.

Here at CleverLoop have had good experiences using Ubiquiti outdoor AP’s, and MikroTik is another brand with a good reputation.

MikroTik wAP ac

MikroTik wAP ac

Ubiquiti UniFi Outdoor AP

Ubiquiti UniFi Outdoor AP

To set up an outdoor AP, you have to get a ethernet cable from your modem/router to the location for the AP. In a house,in the ceiling space, or under the floor, is often the easiest places to run cables.

As they generally aren’t plug-and-play, if you want to install an AP, it helps to have some experience with this sort of equipment (or find some good YouTube videos on how to do it), or you could pay to get it installed and configured.

The final consideration if you are thinking of WiFi connecting a remote camera, is where the camera will be mounted on the remote building and what that building is made of. If the camera is going on the outside of the building, and has line-of-sight to the booster or outdoor AP, then WiFi connection should be very good and the maximum distance limited only by how well the camera can push the WiFi signal back. 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 piggyback an internet connection on the electrical wiring in your building, meaning you don’t need to run ethernet cables. These adapters generally come as a kit with 2 units, and the option to buy extra units as required.

The first or master unit gets plugged into a power point, and connected to your router with a short network cable. Then, wherever you plug in the second unit you get either live network ports, a WiFi access point, or both. These system take very little setup, and are mostly plug and play.

It is important to note that the power supply where your router is located, and the one where you want cameras both need to both be on the same electrical phase, and preferably the same circuit to give the best results. There are options for improving network performance across circuits and phases, but you need to refer the documentation of any device you are thinking of buying for more details.

Powerline adapters are available from many network product manufactures such as  and TP-Link, NetComm and D-Link.

WiFi radios

If you want to connect cameras at distances from 20-30m up to 10+km, WiFi radios are the way to go.

These radios use the same frequencies as regular WiFi (2.4GHz or 5GHz), but unlike home WiFi, the transmitter and receiver are directional, and once they are set up pointing at each other signals can be sent and received over fairly long distances.

You need power at the camera location, and a clear line-of-sight between the building with the router and the camera location. You also need to be able to run 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, via a power point.

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 don’t have too many networks using them (use a WiFi analysis app on your phone to check) then WiFi radios in these bands will work well. If you live in a built up area, then 5GHz radios are likely to work 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 The CleverLoop Team
August 9, 2017