Implementing Battery Backup for a Home Security Camera

Implementing Battery Backup for a Home Security CameraIf the lights go out and nobody’s home, you can still use your home security camera.  I was always surprised that none of the mainstream home security camera manufacturers thought about this.  It’s a real concern when there’s a power outage.  You still want to be able to keep tabs or at least an archive of what’s going on when the power goes out.  That’s where a battery backup comes into play.

Ideally, I want my home security camera to act like my home security alarm system.  When the power is out, my system alerts me and falls back to an internal battery.  That battery has enough power to keep the my home alarm operational for over 24 hours.  The battery recharges itself once the power is restored.  When the battery is low, I get a message that tells me it’s time to replace the battery.  I want my home security camera to work that way too.

Is it possible?  Not without adding some hardware.  Perhaps even selecting a different camera that has on-board storage.

Battery backup is available as part of a UPS system (uninterruptible power supply).  This hardware goes between the plug on the wall and the plug on your device.  Think of it as a power strip with a battery backup.  A UPS system is designed to kick the battery backup in the instant a power outage is detected.

I always recommend a UPS system that has as large of a battery as possible.  The APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector is a good choice for the router and modem.  There’s a good chance those two devices are located near your home computer and there’s enough backup battery to power those devices as well.  Keep in mind that the more devices that you will power, the less time this will last.  However, this UPS has 1500VA which is enough to keep things going for awhile.

To access your home security camera over the internet when there’s a local power outage, connect the camera, wireless router and modem to a UPS system that has a battery backup.  That might require more than one UPS since it’s likely the camera is going to be located far away from the wireless router location.  Assuming the broadband connection is still operational, this will work fine.  I have implemented this in my home.

This configuration is especially important for cameras that solely use the cloud for video storage.  Systems like a Nest Cam that do not use any on-board storage can benefit from this type of battery backup implementation.  Video will continue to stream to the cloud if there’s a battery backup for the Nest Cam as well as the wireless router and modem.

There are home security cameras that also implement on-board storage such as a micro SD card.  The advantage of many of these cameras is they continue to operate even when the internet is unavailable.

Camera models such as the Samsung SmartCam HD Plus provide on-board storage.  If continuous recording is active, when the internet is not available, the camera will continue to operate and write video to the micro SD card.  You can then go back and review the video after the internet comes back.  In this case, you only need to deploy a battery backup for the camera and won’t need one for the wireless router or modem.

Battery backup for just a camera requires a smaller UPS system.  The APC Back-UPS 550VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector is a smaller system that has 550VA.  This is sufficient for a single device and will keep your camera alive for awhile.

Alternatively, you can also use a small portable battery to power your home security camera.  We wrote a detailed article called using an External Battery on a Nest Cam or DropCam Pro Camera that discusses how to do this.  Most of what we wrote applies to other model cameras as well.  This is an alternative power source that you would need to be home to hook up when the power goes out.  This needs to be manually deployed after encountering the power outage (unlike the UPS systems discussed).

Hopefully, future implementations of home security cameras will integrate a battery backup into the design.  Until then the suggestions we discussed will keep you going.

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).