Hidden Cameras do need power but that power source can vary from an onboard battery to mains wired electricity. Both power supplies come with their own challenges and this article shows how to find the best for your needs.

Battery Power

The advantage of battery power is that the camera can be placed somewhere that does not have an electric supply.

A perfect example is outdoors.

However……if this is a WIFI camera it still needs to have access to the WIFI.

This is discussed further in the article How Do Wifi Spy Cameras Work?

The flip side to this is that although these cameras can be placed in all sorts of locations, they might need to be retrieved for recharging.

Climbing a ladder to retire your spy camera on a regular basis will get tiring very quickly.

However, there are solutions……..one of them is to optimize the camera so the battery lasts longer.

Battery Powered Camera

Battery Powered Camera

How do I improve Battery Life?

1/ Ensure that your Battery-Powered Security Cameras has PIR Motion Sensors.

PIR means Passive Infrared and they are often referred to as passive Infrared sensor security cameras.

These cameras are essentially motion detection cameras………but with a difference.

Rather than detecting change by monitoring the number of different pixels in its video feed, it relies on measuring the difference in the infrared spectrum.

This is a lot more effective and can eliminate the camera being triggered by non-events such as trees blowing in the wind.

2/ Ensure that your Motion sensor is calibrated correctly.

As per the previous tip, this focusses on ensuring that the camera only records when absolutely needed.

Regardless of if the camera has standard motion detection or PIR, , it will need to be configured.

The ‘out of the box’ settings aren’t right for everybody. If the settings are too sensitive it will kick in repeatedly for non-events.

Likewise, not sensitive enough and you risk missing a significant event.

3/ Move the Camera.

Many people place the camera where it has a wide angle and can catch the most action which makes sense.

However, this will also mean the camera is activated a lot.

Have a think about the key areas that you need to monitor.

Maybe the crucial spot to monitor is the back door and not the whole garden.

Moving the camera will ensure that it is only activated when somebody is at the back door and not for every squirrel that enters the garden.

4/ Schedule when the camera is on.

If you have a regular schedule, it might be advantageous to configure the camera so it only works during hours when you are out of the house.

This would ensure the battery life is saved for those important moments when you are at work or asleep.

6/ Ensure the camera has the latest firmware and software.

All cameras will have glitches and some of these might be related to the battery.

As the manufactures get reports of these glitches they fix them and roll out updates.

This is of no use if you don’t apply them.

Ensure that you are on a relevant mailing list with the manufacturer and they should notify when an update is available.

Solar Power

So as you have read above battery powered spy cams can be a good choice for areas not available on the mains.

However, what about the areas that are completely unreachable…….there is an answer.

Solar power…….and what’s more, some of the solar-powered cameras use 4G/3G cellular data which means they can be completely self-sufficient.

Solar Powered Camera

No power, No WIFI, No problem.

Is there a catch?

It needs to be in direct sunlight and in a climate where you get a lot of sun.

Mains Power

If you have the option then mains power can prove to be the best option.

This is because unlike battery or solar power there is a very low chance of losing the power to the camera. This means you will not lose the key moments.

This is the reason high-security areas use Mains Power cameras.

However, not all mains power cameras are the same.

Most surveillance cameras run on 12 volts direct current (12VDC). However, there are some older cameras use 4 volts alternating current (24VAC).

Once you start to look at Mains Power cameras it won’t be long before you start to see the term POE.

What is POE?

Power-over-Ethernet (PoE, or IEEE 802.11af) allows the camera to be powered over a network cable from a source in the 36-48VDC range (but typically 44VDC).

These are a great option as they have all the reliability of mains power but……..they get all their power from the Ethernet cable.

The best bit is that this cable can also be used to transmit data.

So all the power and data comes from a single cable.

With all the reliability of mains power.

POE camera along with Ethernet Hub

POE camera along with Ethernet Hub

The final massive advantage is that anybody can hook up and run an ethernet cable. It is a simple standard CAT5 or CAT6 cable.

There is no need for a qualified electrician.


So in conclusion, although it might sound like a simple question, there quite a lot of options when considering how to best deliver power to your spy camera.

The key consideration is reliability or convenience.

The ultimate in convenience is a 4G Solar camera. However, a dip in signal or sunlight and you might lose key footage.

The flip side is a wired POE setup hooking into an ethernet hub which although it is more difficult to setup will ensure a high level of reliability.

Whatever you choose…….Happy Spying.