DIY vs Pro

Is There a Security Camera That Works Without Wi-Fi?

No Wi-Fi? That’s no problem.

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Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated Mar 28, 2024
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Mar 28, 2024
  • Wi-Fi plays a big role in video monitoring, but there are security cameras that don’t need Wi-Fi.
  • Local storage is the key; store videos into a microSD card or local recorder and play them back on your computer.
  • Want live video streaming without Wi-Fi? Arlo Go is the solution. Read our Arlo review for more.
ReoLink Go
ReoLink Go

Security cameras predate the internet. The patent for the first home-use CCTV system was filed by Marie Van Brittan Brown, an African American inventor from Queens, New York, in 1966.1 So surely, security cameras can function without Wi-Fi, right?

They could, but there’s more to the story. You see, security cameras have evolved over the years. Many of the must-have features now require an internet connection, from streaming live videos to your phone to sending videos to the cloud for safekeeping. Moreover, not all security cameras will let you opt not to use Wi-Fi. For many of them, an internet connection is required.

A better question to ask is, “Which security cameras can work without Wi-Fi?” There are a few, but if you want to use them, you’d have to make compromises. For example, instead of sending footage to a cloud server, where you can access it anytime, they store videos locally. That means you need physical access to the camera or recording device to playback your videos.

With the help of our security camera experts, we made this guide to explain the different types of cameras that can work without Wi-Fi; there are two. We’ll also discuss how effective they are for home security and where they are best used.

Pro Tip: No Wi-Fi? No problem. Lorex security cameras can record every second of every day, online and offline. Read our Lorex review to see how you can turn your Wi-Fi-free space into a secure fortress.

Can Security Cameras Function Normally Without Wi-Fi?

Security cameras can work without Wi-Fi, but whether or not they can function normally depends on what you consider to be normal security camera features. If you mean live streaming, there are cameras that connect to the internet via LTE or 5G and a data plan. If you mean video recording, there are cameras that can record to a DVR or microSD card without Wi-Fi. If you mean sending notifications to your phone when movement is detected, LTE and 5G-connected cameras can do that too. In any case, you can explore your Wi-Fi-less security cameras options from these top-rated brands:

Editor's Rating:
9.6 /10
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8.3 /10
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8.8 /10

Cellular Signal-Ready Security Cameras

The first type of security cameras that don’t need Wi-Fi are those that connect to the internet via 4G/LTE or 5G cellular signals. There are only a few of them in the market and they are more expensive than your typical security cameras. So, if you’re looking for the most affordable security cameras you can buy, you probably won’t find any cellular signal-ready cameras. But since they are internet-connected, they can offer features similar to Wi-Fi cameras. They can stream videos, use cloud storage, and alert you to unauthorized movement.

Cellular-ready cameras still have downsides, but before we discuss those, let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

  • Arlo Go: Arlo was first-to-market with a cellular-ready security camera. Most of the Arlo cameras we test connect to Wi-Fi, but their Arlo Go lineup is fully-cellular. To use it, you’ll need to buy the camera itself and a compatible SIM card with a cellular plan. Arlo partnered with third-party mobile providers for the plan. Feature-wise, it can record to the cloud. It can also send notifications, livestream videos, and connect to the Arlo app for convenient monitoring.
  • Reolink Go: After reviewing Wi-Fi cameras like the Reolink Argus 2, we tested out the Reolink Go, which also requires either a 3G or 4G LTE plan, a micro-SIM card, and a cellular data plan. Footage recorded directly onto a 64 GB micro-SD card, and cloud storage was an option as well. The Reolink Go is wireless and works with Reolink’s mobile application, so you can get notifications from motion detection along with live views.
ReoLink Go Equipment
ReoLink Go equipment

The downside of these cameras that use mobile data is that they tend to be more expensive than normal Wi-Fi cameras. The hardware alone can cost over $200, and then you’ll have the data plan and the cloud recording subscription to consider.

With the Arlo Go 2 on a T-Mobile data plan, for example, you’ll pay $249 for the equipment, about $2 per month for the data plan, and $4.99 for the cheapest cloud storage plan. You can forgo the cloud storage plan and use the camera just for streaming, but the data plan is a must for it to work.

Another thing to consider is the data usage limit. Carriers that offer data plans for the Arlo Go 2 typically provide 1 GB of data per month. The camera records and streams in 1080p. With a 1 GB data plan, you’ll be able to stream for only about two hours straight. Not to mention, if you buy a cloud subscription, the same data plan will be used to send recordings to the cloud.

With limited data, your options are to buy more data (which further increases the usage cost) or limit your live streaming. But if you value video recordings that much and you’re willing to sacrifice the ability to livestream, there might be a more practical solution – the second type of Wi-Fi-less security cameras.

Note: Both the Arlo Go and the Reolink Go require cellular data plans for remote control, remote viewing, and notifications.

Security Cameras With Local Video Storage

As for the second type, you’ll have to make compromises in terms of features to avoid using Wi-Fi. These are cameras that record locally, but since they’re not connected to the internet in any way, shape, or form, you’ll have to rely on stored footage alone. You won’t get alerts when they detect motion and you’ll have to review recordings periodically.

These are the most common types of cameras that record locally.

  • CCTV: CCTV cameras, or closed-circuit television cameras, are used by businesses and police for surveillance; they’re not usually used for home security purposes. Instead of watching the footage on an app, guards watch CCTV footage on several monitors, and storage is on either a DVR or an NVR, a network video recorder for digital systems. CCTV cameras include analog and IP cameras, along with HD-over-coax.2
  • Analog: Analog cameras transmit video from the camera to a DVR, often via coaxial cable.
  • HD-over-coax: In HD-over-coax cameras, uncompressed video travels from cameras to recorders via coaxial cable. The video is high-resolution, but very few cameras work with coaxial cables.
  • IP: An IP camera is usually synonymous with a surveillance camera, as it’s a lot more expensive than regular home security cameras.3

Are Security Cameras Without Wi-Fi Harder To Install?

Although many home security companies might have you thinking otherwise, security cameras that don’t require internet through Wi-Fi aren’t necessarily harder to install than Wi-Fi cameras. As some cameras that don’t need internet are wireless, like the Reolink Go and the Arlo Go, installation can be quite easy. It’s an added bonus that they’re battery-powered, so you can place them literally anywhere, whether there’s a power outlet nearby or not.

As for cameras that record locally to a DVR, you might have to do some wiring. They usually plug into a wall outlet, and to send data to the DVR, they use either an Ethernet cable or a coaxial cable. That might make installation a tad more complex, but in our experience, it’s still very much doable. It took us half a day to install a six-camera Lorex system and a DVR.

On that note, look for PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) cameras if you want to minimize the amount of wires running around your house. PoE cameras use the same Ethernet wire for power and to transmit video and audio to a DVR. That’s one less wire for you to take care of.

Wi-Fi vs. No-Wi-Fi Cameras

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using cameras that do and don’t work with Wi-Fi? We’ve broken it down below.

Wi-Fi Cameras Pros and Cons

  • No data plans required: Since you probably already have Wi-Fi in your home, you won’t have to pay for any additional data plans.
  • Livestreaming: You’ll be able to see what’s going on at home through your mobile app.
  • Remote control: Most cameras also allow for remote control, including arming and disarming, zooming in optically, and speaking through two-way audio.
  • Notifications: Depending on the camera’s level of artificial intelligence, you’ll be notified when it senses movement, a person, a package, a pet, or a vehicle. The more AI capabilities the camera has, the more specific notifications you get.

While some cameras that don’t require Wi-Fi have these features, again, they’ll require data plans for a price.

  • Bandwidth usage: If you’re buying more than just one camera, it could easily crowd your network. We don’t know about you, but as it stands, we have enough devices connected to Wi-Fi already, from phones to laptops and smart TVs. Connecting too many devices can slow down your internet connection, so we recommend creating a local network specifically for your Wi-Fi cameras (e.g. a separate router for cameras).
  • Faulty Wi-Fi: Cameras that are heavily reliant on Wi-Fi can be rendered useless by a simple internet outage. Is your internet provider reliable enough, or does the Wi-Fi go out more often than you’d like? If it’s the latter, then a camera that doesn’t require Wi-Fi might work better for you.
  • Hacking: As we’ve seen with Ring cameras4, Wi-Fi cameras can be hacked, especially if you don’t protect your network and mobile app with a secure password.

Tip: To improve your Wi-Fi connection throughout your home, use a mesh network with multiple access points. One example is the Nest Wi-Fi, which we think is one of the best smart home devices around.

No-Wi-Fi Cameras Pros and Cons

  • They’re not as hackable. Although cellular data is hackable as well, it’s much safer than Wi-Fi, even secure Wi-Fi networks5 If you use an IP, Analog, or HD-over-coax camera system, it will be even harder to hack as an intruder would need physical access to your recorder to affect your cameras.
  • You may still be able to get remote features. If you use a data plan, you don’t have to miss out on remote control, notifications, and livestreaming, which are the main benefits of smart home security. That is, if your security camera supports LTE functions. Otherwise, you will have to make do with local recording.

While some cameras that don’t require Wi-Fi have these features, again, they’ll require data plans for a price.

  • They may require a data plan. Again, if you want the above features, it’ll cost you in the form of a mobile LTE plan.
  • They’re bulky. Many CCTV cameras are bulky, especially if they require large DVRs.
  • They’re expensive. Intended for business or police use, CCTV cameras cost more than regular security cameras that work with Wi-Fi.

No WiFi? No Problem! Home Security Cameras That Work Without WiFi


While most smart security cameras on the market these days require Wi-Fi, it’s not needed for you to get all the advantages of IoT security cameras. A few good options don’t need Wi-Fi and can use data plans. But if you don’t want livestreaming, remote control, or notifications, that makes not using Wi-Fi even easier. Rather, you’ll have a local camera security system only that will record onto local storage, probably a hard drive or micro-SD card.

Whatever your comfort level with technology — be it Wi-Fi, cellular security cameras, or huge hard drives — there’s a security camera that will work for you. However, we recommend cameras that are connected to the internet in some way, whether it’s through Wi-Fi or cellular data, so you can see what’s happening at home from anywhere with internet access.

Frequently Asked Questions

The idea of using smart home security cameras without Wi-Fi isn’t that common, so people have a ton of questions about it. We’re here with answers!

  • Can wireless cameras work without Wi-Fi?

    There are wireless cameras that can work without Wi-Fi. The Arlo Go and the Reolink Go, for example, are both wireless cameras that use cellular data plans instead of Wi-Fi.

  • Do all home security cameras require Wi-Fi?

    Not all home security cameras require Wi-Fi. Some cameras, like the Arlo Go and the Reolink Go, can use LTE plans instead of Wi-Fi. Other home security cameras aren’t connected to the internet at all but rather record onto local storage like hard drives.

  • What is better, wired or wireless security cameras?

    It depends on what you’re looking for. Wire-free security cameras are easier to install than wired cameras, especially outside. However, with wireless cameras, you have to worry about batteries running out, while wired cameras are hardwired or plugged into a home’s electrical system. However, wired cameras’ disadvantage is that they’re dependent on a home’s power. A wireless camera works perfectly even during a power outage, although its internet connection may be affected if it’s connected to Wi-Fi, so you may not be able to access the camera remotely.

  • Can you set up cameras without the internet?

    Yes, you can set up cameras without the internet. Many cameras are local only, recording onto local storage like a micro-SD card or hard drive.

  1. Lemelson MIT. Marie van Brittan Brown.

  2. Paessler. (2021). IT Explained: CCTV.

  3. Eagle Eye Networks. (2021). Pros and Cons of Analog, IP, and HD over Coax Cameras.

  4. ABC News. (2021). Terrifying video of family’s hacked Ring camera system.

  5. WilsonPro. (2020). How Safe is Cellular Data?.