This article provides several possibilities to test when facing a camera that will disconnect for no apparent reason. Not discussed in this article because it does not necessarily cause cameras to disconnect are random flashing patterns of the IR LEDs. A common cause for this is the boot loader failing or the camera being stuck in TFTP mode. To correct this issue, perform TFTP recovery.
Table of Contents
- Faulty Cables
- Inadequate Power Supply
- Unreliable Wireless Connection
- IP Address Conflicts
- Inconsistent Camera Authentication or Configuration
- Installation Environment
- Related Articles
UniFi Protect cameras may disconnect from the Protect Controller for a variety of reasons. Identifying whether the behavior affects specific cameras or all of them, whether the disconnects follow a pattern (such as disconnecting during sunset), or simply remain disconnected, will help identify the root cause of the issue.
Most importantly, consider if the camera disconnections warrant troubleshooting in the first place. Often camera disconnects can be triggered by changes made to the network, such as disconnecting a cable, restarting a switch, changing configurations, or even a power outage. Comparing the timestamp of the disconnect with the events and alerts from your UniFi Network Controller or network hardware may reveal the cause.
For cases where further investigation is required, this article discusses the common causes for camera disconnects.
Faulty Cable Infrastructure
Faulty wired infrastructure may cause unpredictable behavior, including camera disconnects or random reboots. Even though a camera may initially establish a network connection when first installed, a damaged or unreliable signal path can present problems that don’t become apparent until external factors such as interference, vibration, temperature fluctuations or further wear and tear affect the cabling.
The easiest way to quickly rule out wired infrastructure faults is to remove the camera from it’s installed location, and connect it using a short, known-good patch cable to the same switch that the Protect Controller host device (for example, a Cloud Key) is connected to. If the problem is resolved, then the issue is either related to the network hardware between your Protect Controller host and cameras (network switches, wireless links, etc), power related (as discussed below), or network cable related.
Problems caused by faulty network cabling are often seen in conjunction with:
- Long cable runs (exceeding the 100 meter maximum)
- Poor quality or damaged cable
- Faulty or incorrect RJ45 terminations
- Not using outdoor rated STP cable when appropriate
- ESD damage, due to improper grounding / shielding
Inadequate Power Supply
UniFi Cameras require a stable power supply in order to operate reliably. If the camera does not receive enough power, the camera may behave erratically causing disconnects.
A common symptom of a camera that doesn't receive adequate power is when the device disconnects around sunset, as the camera will switch to night mode thus enabling the IR LEDs which more than double the power draw. Additionally, if a single power source is supplying multiple devices simultaneously, one or more devices may not boot properly after a cold start such as a power outage.
The power draw requirement for each camera model is documented in the product Data Sheet, which is downloadable in our Downloads page or at the bottom of each model's page when navigating from our products page. Keep in mind that the cabling and associated infrastructure between the power source and the camera will generate resistance increasing the amount of power used and should be factored into the total wattage required from the power source. The length and quality of cable, quality of terminations, and additional in-line connections such as a patch panel should be considered.
To test if inadequate power is the root cause of camera disconnects, uninstall the camera from its mounting location and connect it to a suitable power supply such as a PoE switch or PoE injector using a short, known-good patch cable. Cover the light sensor typically located on the front of the camera in order to trigger a switch to night mode and turn on the IR LEDs or leave it overnight to go through a full 24 hour cycle.
If powering multiple devices off a PoE-IN switch such as a NanoSwitch, factor in the power draw of all connected devices, the power consumption of the switch itself, and estimate loss from cabling infrastructure. A NanoSwitch will typically require at least a 24V 1A PoE injector in order to power more than one camera or a camera and an airMAX radio.
If powering the cameras using a PoE switch, verify that the connected devices are not exceeding the total power budget available from the switch. A PoE switch should generally not be operated near its maximum power rating, as headroom should be allowed for the increased draw during startup.
If powering a camera using a PoE injector or an Instant 802.3af adapter, verify that the injector and adapter are adequate for the camera, and if necessary test using a different known-good injector or adapter. Instant 802.3af adapters in particular may work best if installed on the camera-side of the network cable, rather than at the switch.
Cabling infrastructure problems may also be a source of power related symptoms, and the troubleshooting steps from the previous section should be followed.
Unreliable Wireless Connection
If the camera is connected to the network via a wireless connection, as would be the case of a G3-Micro, or when using external hardware like an airMAX radio as a client, verify that the wireless connection is stable enough to sustain the connection.
To help determine if the wireless connection is the cause for your disconnects, consider moving the camera or client radio within a few feet of the access point (AP). If the connection stabilizes, then the wireless connection needs to be addressed. Even if the connectivity issue persists, the wireless connection should still be investigated.
Factors that may cause frequent wireless disconnects include:
- Low wireless signal (SNR), as read either by the AP or the client (or camera)
- High interference (noise) caused by external sources, such as non-802.11 networks, machinery or appliances
- High wireless channel saturation, caused by high client density or nearby networks on the same channel
To improve the wireless connection, you can:
- Move the camera or the AP closer to each other, in order to reduce the distance and improve the wireless signal.
- Move the camera or the AP away from sources of interference, such as microwaves or cordless phone bases.
- Change the wireless network channel to one with lower utilization and fewer networks. You can use UBNT's WiFiman mobile application (available for iOS and Android) to identify channels with less networks, or UniFi's built-in RF Environment scan.
- Install an additional AP closer to the camera on a separate channel, in order to reduce the wireless network load and improve the connection quality.
IP Address Conflicts
If the camera and another device on the network have the same IP address configured, it may cause the camera to frequently connect and disconnect. This will occur as the Protect Controller will receive conflicting information as to what MAC address is associated with a specific IP address and as a result, Protect Controller and camera traffic will be incorrectly routed to the wrong device.
- If the camera IP address has been manually configured, verify that the IP chosen is outside of the DHCP scope configured for the subnet on your router.
- Make sure that no other device on the network has been configured with the same IP address, either manually in the device configuration, or via a DHCP reservation (Static IP assignment) in the UniFi Controller or third-party router.
Inconsistent Camera Authentication or Configuration
Incorrect credentials, bad certificates, or other configuration related issues may cause connection failures and repeat disconnects from a camera. This is typically easily resolved by resetting and re-managing the camera:
- In UniFi Protect webUI, navigate to the Cameras section, and click on the corresponding camera to open the configuration pane.
- Select the Manage tab and click Unmanage to expand the section. Click the Unmanage button and confirm.
User Tip: In some browsers if there is another subsection expanded in the Manage tab, when you click on Unmanage it seems like nothing is happening. Collapse all other sections by clicking on them and try again.
- In a new browser tab, open the camera’s web interface by browsing to the camera's IP address as seen in the camera's configuration pane.
- Log into the camera interface using
ubntas the username. Depending on whether the camera was able to reconnect after it was unmanaged, the password may have been reset to
ubnt, or you may need to use the Camera Password as configured in UniFi Protect's Settings page.
- Take note of the network configuration settings if necessary, then proceed to factory reset the camera.
- Once the reset is complete, re-manage the camera and verify configuration and connectivity.
In rare circumstances, cameras that are installed in extreme conditions may experience overheating and become disconnected from the controller. Refer to the maximum environmental temperature rating for your camera model if the camera is installed in a high temperature location and relocate if necessary.