An outdoor Wi-Fi security camera with a solar panel.
Reolink

Wireless security cameras can save you the hassle of running dedicated wiring, but they require a strong Wi-Fi signal. Here’s how to get a better signal for your cameras.

Reposition the Router or Cameras

It’s tough to pick a specific tip to lead this list, but adjusting the position of the router or the cameras is a good one simply because of how easy and low-tech it is. Do read through the entire article to see which suggestions might be the best for your particular situation, but if you’re only going to try one fix, this should probably be it.

If you’re consistently getting a dropped connection between your Wi-Fi security cameras and your router or serious performance issues, you need a stronger connection between the router and the cameras.

Moving the router to a more central location in your home is often all it takes to ensure devices that previously had a weak connection have a strong one.

It’s also a good time to think about what stands between the router and the cameras because many seen and unseen things in the structure of a home will block Wi-Fi signals. So even if it’s not practical to park your router right in the middle of everything, consider moving the camera to avoid materials that block the signal.

Check for Wi-Fi Channel Congestion

Whether or not fussing with the Wi-Fi channel assignments will yield a better experience with the cameras depends a lot on the kind of cameras you have and the environment you’re in.

If you have newer Wi-Fi cameras that use the 5Ghz band, it’s unlikely your problem is channel congestion. However, it’s worth noting that 5Ghz has a shorter range than 2.4GHz, and if your cameras support both 5Ghz and 2.4GHz, your cameras might fall back on 2.4Ghz if the 5Ghz signal is weak.

Additionally, if your Wi-Fi router and Wi-Fi cameras are hundreds of feet, or more, removed from any other Wi-Fi system, channel congestion or issues are typically non-existent.

If, however, you live in a densely populated neighborhood with homes close together or an apartment building, it’s worth investigating which channels are congested and making appropriate adjustments on your router to use different channels.

Upgrade Your Wi-Fi Hardware

You can move your router, you can make adjustments for channel congestion, and you can still find yourself frustrated with Wi-Fi camera performance.

There are a lot of variables at play when it comes to home network hardware, especially wireless home network hardware, and you may be just due for a router upgrade.

The proliferation of demanding Wi-Fi devices like smartphones, smart TVs, Wi-Fi cameras, and such put a lot of demand on routers, and a router that worked fine for your household in the past might not be powerful enough for your present setup.

While you can deal with the situation by using a Wi-Fi extender to eke out that last bit of coverage, we recommend against bandaging your Wi-Fi setup with extenders. Because, for the most part, they really do deserve their bad reputation.

Given that you want the speediest and most optimized connection to your home security cameras— what good is a security camera that works haphazardly?—it’s well worth considering upgrading to a more traditional powerful router or a mesh network.

The beauty of using a mesh network is that you can easily move the nodes to improve coverage and if you run into a situation where you need an extender, the platform is extensible by default—just by more nodes.

Upgrade the Camera’s Antennas

This particular option is only available to people with cameras that feature detachable antennas, but for those who have such cameras, it’s a pretty neat trick.

Cameras from companies like Nest, Arlo, and so on, have internal antennas hidden inside the camera’s body. But many cameras from vendors like Reolink, Amcrest, Swann, and the innumerable “white box” security camera companies feature adjustable and detachable antennas.

These detachable antennas almost universally use a connection type known as RP-SMA (which stands for Reverse Polarity SubMiniature version A), a type of miniature coaxial that’s the industry standard for antenna connections.

If, your example, you have a perfect spot for a Wi-Fi camera in terms of view angle and access to power, but the Wi-Fi signal is lackluster, you could always replace the detachable antenna with a larger antenna or even use a short extension cable to move the antenna to avoid interference. You can even find two-in-one units that combine the extension cable and the antenna.

Bingfu Magnetic Base RP-SMA Antenna

Antenna kits like this make it easy to add a high-gain antenna to your security camera.

For example, if you need the camera on a corner but the home’s structure is messing with the signal, you could run a short extension down the gutter or tucked into the siding and place the antenna with a line-of-sight shot into the house through a window.

Or, if the camera is inside a structure (like, say, a detached garage or shed), you could even pass the antenna through the wall so the camera remains inside the structure, but the antenna has an unobstructed view of your home and Wi-Fi network.

Finally, a note before we leave the topic of wireless security cameras. If you apply all of the tips and tricks above you will improve the quality of the signal between your cameras and your Wi-Fi router which, in turn, will improve the camera experience.

One thing tinkering with your router position and cameras won’t fix is the upload speed of your internet connection. So if you’re using cloud-based cameras that have to stream to the cloud for you to view them, or you are having trouble streaming your local cameras while away from home, do consider whether your internet connection is capable enough for streaming security cameras to determine if a slow upload speed is the culprit and not cruddy Wi-Fi.

The Best Security Cameras of 2022

Best Security Camera Overall
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera
Best Budget Security Camera
TP-Link Kasa Smart 2K
Best Outdoor Security Camera
Google Nest Cam
Best Wireless Security Camera
Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
Best Security Camera with Built-In Storage
eufy C22 Security Solo Cam
Best Doorbell Camera
Ring Video Doorbell 4

 

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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