Before we get started, we need to define some terms. There are several ways to power a home security camera. They can be hardwired into your home’s power, they can be battery operated, or they can be powered over Ethernet, or PoE for short.
While a lot of DIYers prefer battery-operated systems since they're the easiest to install, they come with a lot of drawbacks. Not only will you need to periodically charge your equipment, if your internet connection is lost or if your provider offers spotty service, you run the risk of your security network’s functionality suffering.
Hardwiring your system can solve the problem of having to charge cameras every now and then, but if you’re still transmitting data over a Wi-Fi network, your reliability is questionable. If you choose to hardwire your data line too, you’re talking about running multiple wires to multiple endpoints. Unless you’re a licensed and bonded handyman, this will likely be outside of the scope of any weekend warrior home improvement project.
That’s where PoE comes in.
The two big benefits are reliability and simplicity. Since your data and your power are both coming through one cable, the install is suddenly a whole lot easier, and since you're not relying on Wi-Fi to transmit data, your system is going to be a whole lot more reliable.
Simply put, with a PoE system, you’re getting the best of both worlds. That’s why businesses and individuals who take their security seriously are both increasingly turning to PoE systems.
So now that you understand what it is we’re talking about, let’s take a look at some of our favorite PoE security cameras.
Lorex cameras truly have something for everyone. If you’re a homeowner looking to keep the neighborhood kids from jumping in your pool or a business owner looking to prevent criminals from breaking into your safe, Lorex has you covered.
Lorex is becoming one of the most respected names in the security camera world for their high-quality equipment, industry-leading technology, and highly customizable approach to security systems.
When we reviewed Lorex, we were immediately impressed with the sheer size of their product line as well as the available features. Some models have 4K resolution and others have listen-in audio or two-way talk functionality. Some have floodlights and others have color night vision. All of Lorex’s cameras, though, are high quality and built to last.
But since you’re specifically interested in PoE offerings, let’s talk about Lorex’s IP camera offerings. These include:
Now there is one thing to note. As we discuss in our guide to Lorex cameras and pricing, this company’s equipment isn’t the cheapest on the market. I’d argue, though, that it shouldn’t be. These are high-quality, technologically advanced cameras, so it’s expected that you’ll pay a premium. For what you’re getting, though, you’ll really see where the money is going.
That said, if you’re looking to build out a PoE camera network on a budget, there are other options available; namely, the next manufacturer on this list.
When some people hear “affordable,” they automatically think “cheap.” Not so with Zmodo. This manufacturer offers quality PoE cameras that won’t break the bank.
When we put Zmodo’s cameras to the test, we really liked their design, ease of setup, and — of course — affordability. Even though it’s not as expensive as some of their competitors, Zmodo’s PoE camera system will get the job done in most use cases.
Like many camera manufacturers, Zmodo offers quite a few options for customers looking to customize their home security network. If you’re looking for PoE, though, Zmodo’s NVR series is for you. But it’s worth noting that this line doesn’t offer a super-high-definition picture — you’re going to be recording in 720p only. While that’s below the industry standard of 1080p, don’t fret; it’s enough to get the job done. You can read more about their offerings in our guide to Zmodo products and costs.
Designed right here in the US of A, Night Owl’s PoE offerings are a hoot. C’mon. You have to give that one to me.
If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road PoE option, Night Owl is a security camera manufacturer to consider. It’s not as budget-friendly as Zmodo, but their cameras do seem to be a bit higher quality. And while they don’t offer all the bells and whistles of Lorex, in our Night Owl review, we found features like facial recognition, human detection, high resolution, and Google Assistant integration.
That said, if you’re looking for features, you’re going to have to pay for them. Most of their higher-tech offerings are available only on their highest-end cameras, which means your PoE network of security cameras might end up costing you north of $1,000. More on that in our roundup of Night Owl.
Another drawback is that if you’re looking for PoE cameras, their selection is pretty limited. You can choose between these two:
With that in mind, I will say that for most home applications, these two pieces of equipment will more than get the job done for basic security needs right out of the box.
Before we wrap up, though, we have two more cameras to consider.
Ring is one of the most respected names in the home security industry, and their PoE camera lives up to that name.
We’ve included Ring as an honorable mention here since they offer only one product that can be powered over Ethernet: the Stick Up Cam Elite.
But only kind of.
For more information, you can read our full Ring review, but for our purposes, I’ll explain the Stick Up Cam Elite as a sort of hybrid piece of technology. By using a PoE adapter that you have to plug into a wall, you can run the camera off of an Ethernet cable.
Technically, it’s not strictly PoE, but it could simplify some installations. And if you’re already using their other equipment, like one of Ring’s doorbells, this solution might be for you.
Known for their high-quality, DIY-friendly wireless cameras, Arlo does bring a PoE item to the table: the Arlo Q.
One of the things that we liked the most when we analyzed Arlo was their focus on elevating wireless cameras. Even though the vast majority of their equipment is battery-operated, their cameras can still go toe-to-toe with many of their hardwired competitors.
That said, very similar to Ring, Arlo does offer one camera that can be powered over Ethernet: the Arlo Q. Note, though, that the Q is only for indoor use.
That said, if you’re into Arlo’s affordable cameras and sleek design but want the added reliability of a hardwired connection, it’s worth noting the Q is an option to consider.
Now for the final consideration. Do you really need a PoE security camera system?
It all comes down to what your needs are. If you’re interested in just keeping an eye on your front door to prevent porch pirates from snatching your latest Amazon delivery, it might be overkill to invest in a full-blown PoE network of cameras.
However, if you’re concerned about covering multiple entry points to your home, protecting valuable lawn care equipment in your garage, and making sure no one’s coming in through the back gate without worrying about any downtime or lag in your overall system, then yes, a PoE network is probably the system for you.
Like I said before, PoE systems offer the best of both worlds. They’re nowhere near as complicated to set up as a hardwired system, which taps into your house’s power, but they’re far more reliable than battery-operated equipment communicating over a Wi-Fi network. If you’re looking to up your security game, a PoE network might be that next step.
Not convinced you need PoE? No worries! Head over to our guide to the best home security cameras of 2022 to get a better idea of what’s available.
What is a PoE security camera?
Powered over Ethernet, or PoE for short, security cameras use a single Ethernet cable to draw power and transmit data.
What are the benefits of PoE security cameras?
PoE security cameras are easier to install than traditional hardwired cameras and offer better reliability than battery-operated equipment transmitting data over a Wi-Fi network.
Are PoE cameras expensive?
It depends on the manufacturer, but generally speaking, PoE cameras are a little bit pricier than their battery-operated counterparts.
Do I need a PoE camera?
It depends on what you need security cameras for. If you value reliability, though, PoE is something to consider.
Who makes the best PoE cameras?
In our opinion, Lorex offers the best PoE cameras in the industry today. They offer a great balance of technological tools, affordability, and ease of use.