Choosing an Infrared Wireless Security Camera

I see many people asking about an infrared wireless security camera, which may sound like a very specific device, but that broad term could be any one of a number of different products designed for very different uses.

It's obviously describing a security camera with wireless network connectivity, that uses infrared light to see in complete darkness, but there's a bit more to it than just that.

Both of the cameras in the photo to the right could be described as infrared wireless security cameras, and they're both made by Reolink, but beyond that they are completely different animals.

Keep reading to see what else you should be considering when looking for one of these.

Reolink Argus Review Front
Reolink RLC-411WS

Two very different wireless infrared cameras.

What different types are there?​

  • Indoor only, or indoor / outdoor?
  • Battery power and wire-free, or requires a power cord of some sort?
  • ​Portable and can be moved around, or only designed for permanent installation?
  • Plastic consumer device, or do you want a rugged metal housing?
  • Of course there are many other specifications like resolution, lens type, etc. to be considered when choosing a security camera, but these are the first questions that come to mind when someone tells me that they want a wireless security camera that can see in the dark.

I'll use these Reolink products as examples because I am familiar with their product line.  There are many other brands of products like these, especially when looking at the inexpensive, plastic, indoor-only consumer products.

Click an image below to see details and pricing on each one at Amazon.


Indoor only

Battery Power
100% no wires

Portable or mounted​

Plastic housing​


Indoor or outdoor

Battery power
100% no wires

Portable or mounted

Plastic housing



Indoor only

Requires external
12 Volts DC

Portable or mounted

Plastic housing



Indoor or outdoor

Requires external
12 Volts DC

Permanently mounted

Metal housing

Indoor or Outdoor?

This is pretty self explanatory. Do you need one that's designed to handle being exposed to moisture and varying weather conditions? Many people do not need that and just want an indoor model to keep an eye on things inside their house.

Power cable or none at all?

A camera powered by batteries is the only way to have absolutely no wires at all.  These types of devices need to prioritize battery life to make them last as long as possible, so they're best suited for areas with little activity.  They are also best for capturing images or short video clips and not for continuous recording or extended live video sessions.  That's just how it is with batteries until we develop more advanced technologies someday.

If you're able to use a power adapter plugged into a nearby outlet or a cable from a 12 Volt DC power source you open up the possibility of ​24/7 video recording, extended live viewing, more powerful built-in infrared illumination, and many other things that cameras powered by batteries can't easily do.

Do you want to be able to move it around on occasion?​

Many people want a security camera in their home that they can move from room to room and use for a variety of different uses over time.  You can keep an eye on your pets while you're at work, check on your baby during the night, watch a different area of the house while you're on vacation, etc.  The list of possibilities is endless, just move the camera where you need it.

Other people need a more robust solution, such as a perma​nently mounted camera to constantly cover the same area day and night, which leads us to my last point.

Plastic consumer device or a more rugged metal case?​

​There are many inexpensive cameras designed for home use and they are very popular because they're so easy to setup and use.  As I mentioned above, they have almost unlimited possible uses.  One of the reasons that they are so inexpensive is because they have inexpensive plastic cases.  There's nothing really wrong with this as long as you're aware that it's not a rugged security camera and there's no real protection against theft or damage by an intruder.

On the other hand, there are more robust options if you need that, and these pretty much all have a more rugged metal housing and can be mounted out of reach in a permanent position.  They may be a little more difficult to install but many people want this upgrade over the more inexpensive options.

There are almost too many choices facing people when they go looking for a security camera to use at home.  Hopefully I've helped a little with that, because if you decide what you need or don't need in these different areas it can really narrow down the list of possible options.

​I actually own a couple of the cameras in this article.

Leave a Comment:

Don H says 2018-11-13

Can a 12v battery from a riding mower or motorcycle power a RLC type camera instead of the supplied 120ac/12dc transformer? Or maybe even just plugged into your car’s cig lighter outlet. Then it could be used in your parking lot.

    Steve says 2018-11-16

    Hi Don,

    The Reolink RLC-411WS is designed to be powered by a regulated power supply and is rated for 12 VDC ±11%, so the maximum safe input voltage is 13.32 VDC according to Reolink. Many different types of DC power sources can be used but I’d be careful to not exceed that maximum voltage or you might risk damage to the camera.


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