Should You Use PoE for Cameras (And Three Best PoE Cameras)

Surveillance cameras are must-have security devices for your smart home. Using Power over Ethernet (PoE) to power your cameras not only simplifies the installation process but makes your cameras more secure and easier to manage. We tested and researched all the main options in the market to give you a recommendation on the best PoE cameras available.

The article also reviews PoE basics to understand main factors you need to consider when selecting best PoE smart IP cameras. Based on that, we provide the best product for each budget category under $70, Mid-range up to $150 and high-end PoE surveillance cameras over $150

In this review we are mainly focusing on bullet cameras as the most relevant option for the wired installation. Dome security cameras might be a better solution in some cases so we also outline our top picks. Note that in our opinion it makes sense to pay extra money for dome or turret surveillance IP cameras only if you have somebody looking at the feed and moving the camera position

What is PoE?

PoE works by combining power supply and network connection into one Cat5/Cat5e/Cat6 cable. PoE can be used to power a number of devices including security IP cameras, access points and even Voice over IP phones. To inject electricity into Ethernet cable you need to use one of the PoE compliant devices either PoE injection that you use on top of your Ethernet cable or have a PoE compliant router that already injects power into the cable.

From a technical perspective, you need to be aware of two main specifications. PoE (or 802.3af) works with a maximum of 15.4 Watt per each port. PoE+ (or 802.3at) on the other hand goes up to 25.5W. The majority of PoE surveillance IP cameras will use well under 15.4 Watt so PoE is enough. The only exception is PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) security IP cameras which require more power to move the lenses around. You can learn more in our guide to PoE Power Supply Devices

PoE Benefits

  • More cost effective for larger networks
  • Simple cabling which reduces the installation cost
  • Easy maintenance (power functions like switch on and off available)

PoE Drawbacks

There are not many. One that comes to mind is if you go PoE route there will be another device to a house somewhere and look after. Also in the unlikely case of the PoE power supply failure, you will lose all your cameras while a separate power supply per camera would potentially be more resilient.

What do you need for PoE

As we mentioned, you can inject the PoE into your cable using three PoE power supply devices

You can get more details in our practical guide on how to choose best PoE Injectors, PoE Switches 

Best PoE Camera under $70: Amcrest HDSeries IPM-743E

Cameras in this category are solid working machines but generally have lower resolution. This will be fine if you are installing to cover smaller indoor areas or do not require to monitor fine details.
Our top pick is Amcrest HDSeries IPM-743E. It is a small-bodied 1.3 Megapixel 960p surveillance camera that works both for indoor and outdoor installation. They are easy to setup, very reliable, and provide good quality of the picture. ONVIF compliance means that you can connect to the devices of other brands such as network recording devices or phone applications with no complications

Vs Competition

  • Amcrest is a solid camera and if you accept the limitation of the resolution and plan to use it for a smaller area to cover, there is no reason to buy any other option. It also has one of the best prices for this segment
  • If you pay just a little bit more, you can also have a look at Reolink RLC-410 which has higher resolution and wider angle

Main Features

  • Definition of 1.3 Megapixel 960P Video at 30fps.
  • Amcrest Cloud Video Recording Service Available.
  • Quick PoE setup using iPhone or Android application
  • Wide 71-degree angle lenses with digital zoom, and IR Night Vision

Reasons to buy

  • Best value for money
  • Great customer support
  • Good iPhone and Android applications
  • ONVIF compliance

Be mindful of

  • Live view only works with the Internet Explorer
  • Instructions might be improved
  • Oversensitive night mode
  • Small viewing angle

Installation and Use

The camera comes with the standard kit and includes a camera itself with the power supply cable for PoE as well as the conventional power supply jack. There are also you have a weather sealed cable and a connection sleeve. It was noted that you won’t be able to thread existing plug through the connector and either cut the plug and install the connector again or buy another connector.

Installation is quick if you already sorted PoE cables. Plug in PoE cable into the camera and use your phone or PC for the initial setup. Amcrest provides a very good “Amcrest IP configure” application which we recommend to use for configuration. Do not forget to immediately change the initial password

Next, you will need to configure camera monitoring parameters. Make sure to set up the motion detection areas, notifications and specify the recording mode. We recommend using SD card slot as the secondary recording option.

Using camera is usually more light touch than configuring it. Depending on the preferred way to access your camera you just need to make sure that you configure your phone, NVR or PC accordingly.

Armrest Cloud is a good option to never lose the video feed, but it will cost you some money. The current price minimal plan for seven days of recording is $6 per month per camera which includes the unlimited streaming.

Best PoE Camera up to $150: Phylink PLC-335PW

Mid-range PoE cameras have a better video resolution so can be installed to cover larger indoor or outdoor areas. They will be able to provide you with fine details and help law enforcement agencies to identify criminals if required.

Our top pick is Phylink PLC-335PW. Phylink is a relatively new hardware brand that is gaining popularity due to the solid quality of the products and great customer service. Phylink PLC-335PW is part of the family of PoE cameras under each price segment with outstanding video quality and well-thought design.

Main Features

  • 1080p high resolution with night vision of 30ft
  • 60 Degree viewing angle
  • Can also connect using wifi
  • IP66 weatherproof rating and comes with a waterproof junction box
  • Comes with microSD slot

Vs Competition

  • The most notable competitor is by another new brand Reolink. RLC-411S has higher resolution but comes without wifi or SD card

Reasons to buy

  • Well build and reliable camera
  • Extremely responsive support team
  • Great for outdoor installation

Be mindful of

  • Stock PC software is slow
  • Setting up the camera requires you to go online
  • Phylnik is mainly hardware company so you will not be able to find cloud or accessories

Installation and Use

Hardware installation is similar to the process we explained above for Amcrest camera. You will need to ensure that Ethernet cable (and PoE power supply) is provided first. Use the junction box to make sure that the connection is weather protected.

Next step is to install the mount for the camera – you need securely attach the mount to a wall or ceiling. The last step is to adjust the positioning and the sunshade as required.

Software installation is also straightforward. You can do it by using applications on iPhone or Android or by using the Phylink camera live PC installation application. Wifi connection can be configured using the same applications, or you can use WPS on your router.

Best PoE Surveillance Camera over $150: Reolink RLC-423 

We struggled to justify the bullet camera with the over $175 price tag taking into consideration two options from mid-range above (Reolink RLC-411S and Phylink PLC-335PW). The only viable options in our opinion that worth extra money is PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras.

PoE PTZ cameras offer much more flexibility in covering larger areas and also offer one of the most useful functions called “cruise path”. Reolink RLC-423 is a high-quality camera with the outstanding build quality and reasonable price for functionality provided. Cruise Path is something everyone should use. It lets you set multiple locations for the camera to look

Main Features

  • 5MP 3072*1728 Super HD resolution with long range IR
  • Pan-tilt-zoom has endless 360˚ pan & 90˚ tilt & 4x optical zoom leaving no blind spots

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