All of our content is written by humans, not robots. Learn More
DIY vs Pro

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

No Wi-Fi? That’s no problem.

All of our content is written by humans, not robots. Learn More
Gabe Turner
Gabe Turner Chief Editor
Last Updated Jul 15, 2024

Editor’s Note: Not all security systems need Wi-Fi. If you’ve got an unreliable network, we recommend getting a wired security system that comes with all the essentials to keep your home safe.

  • 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

If you Google ‘security cameras’ right now, we guarantee you the top results will be Wi-Fi security cameras. That’s great for homeowners and businesses with Wi-Fi, but not so great for folks trying to add video monitoring to their cabins in the woods, barn houses, farms, yachts, or homes without a working internet connection. So what’s the solution?

Well, there are security cameras that can work without Wi-Fi, but some features are going to be compromised. For example, features that require an internet connection like uploading recordings to the cloud, sending event notifications, and live streaming. A better question to ask is, “Can security cameras work normally without Wi-Fi?”.

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 or sending motion alerts, 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. In any case, you can explore your Wi-Fi-less security cameras options from these top-rated brands:

Editor's Rating:
9.6 /10
Editor's Rating:
8.3 /10
Editor's Rating:
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. That means they can offer most, if not all, security camera features that require an internet connection. However, there are caveats.

For starters, only a few such cameras exist today. We’ve only tested two of them, both of which cost us around $200 a piece. That’s the second downside – the price. If you’re looking for an affordable security camera that offers cellular connectivity, you’re simply not going to find one. Compared to the typical cost of security cameras, those with cellular connectivity are more expensive by about $100. And then there are other costs to consider, which we’ll expand on in a minute.

For now, let’s look at the two options we’ve personally tested:

  • 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

Now, about those extra costs, they are the cloud video storage and data plan fees. With the Arlo Go 2, we had to pay T-Mobile $2 per month for a 1 GB data plan and Arlo $7.99 per month for cloud storage. That’s $10 per month total, and that’s for one camera. If you buy two or more, the cloud storage fee increases to $12.99 per month to accommodate as many cameras as you’d like. You could easily end up paying $20 per month.

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.

You can buy additional data to ensure all recordings will be uploaded, but that further increases your usage cost. If you value video recording but want a more practical option, the second type of Wi-Fi-less cameras might be more suited for you.

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 – security cameras with local video storage.

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

Security cameras with local video storage don’t need Wi-Fi to record, as videos are stored locally to a recording device. That said, since they’re not connected to the internet at all, you’ll lose functions such as remote live streaming and alerts.

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

Lorex has one of the largest lineups of security camera systems with local storage. Its DVR systems typically offer 1 TB of storage space, shared among up to 16 security cameras. In our experience, that much space is enough for 20 days of 1080p videos from one camera. If you have two cameras, each will have about 10 days; if you have four, about five days.

What we like about Lorex – which we also mentioned in our Lorex review – is that you can typically expand the storage space. Our Lorex DVR had three expansion slots for hard disk drives, each able to accommodate a hard drive up to 1 TB.

Any downsides? Well, besides losing access to live streaming and alerts, the hardware cost can also be pretty high. You’ll need more than just cameras; you’ll also buy the local storage device, like the DVR, NVR, or microSD card. While microSD cards are cheap, we don’t recommend them. They easily get corrupted. And if someone steals your camera, you lose your recordings with it. DVRs and NVRs are better, but they cost at least $100.

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?.