How Are Security Cameras Wired?

Security cameras send recordings to local and cloud storage in one of two ways: wired or wireless transmission.

“How are security cameras wired?” Wired security cameras are wired in one of three ways: Power over Ethernet (POE, RJ45) technology, coaxial cable (RJ59), or a variation of a coaxial cable created by manufactures. These three types of wires send video to digital video (DVR) or network video recorders. POE cables look like bigger telephone cords, that send video recordings to a NVR for storage or transmission. Coaxial cables are like analog cable cords you used to plug into the back of your TV and send to a digital video recorder.

Continue reading to see how these wires are used in the security camera ecosystem.

Power over Ethernet (POE)

POE is the newest technology for providing a hardwired connection between the security camera and a recording device. The POE security system provides a number of advantages over coaxial cable.

First, POE systems use one wire to power the camera and transmit video. This combination of power and internet saves money and eliminates the constraints of needing to have a wall outlet near camera placement. Second, data transmission is faster than traditional coaxial cable. Below is a short configuration example:

  • Security camera is connected to an Ethernet cable to a POE Switch
  • The POE Switch is connected to the router via another Ethernet cord.
  • Finally, the router is connected via an ethernet cord via a network video recorder (NVR).

POE switch

Before we can understand what a POE switch does, we must first understand what an ethernet switch does. An ethernet switch is a device used to connect computers to the internet. The switch is the middleman between a router or modem, and the computer, laptop, or server. Switches maybe used when there aren’t enough connections to the router, or when a physical connection is required.

A POE switch is a switch with the added responsibility of providing power. The POE switch is a “smart” switch because it automatically knows when the connected device needs power.

Network video recorder

A network video recorder is just software that saves audio and video to a drive. These drives can be hard drives, flash drives, memory cards, or possibly cloud storage devices.

Examples of POE systems include:

  • Sannce POE video Security System
  • Amcrest POE Video Security System
  • Zmodo POE Security System

Coaxial cable

Coaxial cable, more specifically RJ59, is a type of cable to transmit video signals. This cable is the industry standard for security cameras. Using this cable allows for the create of Closed Circuit Systems (CCTV).

If you are using this security system, you will also need a way to power the security cameras. Most often these cameras are powered by wall outlets that provide 12 DC or 24 AC voltage.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

CCTV systems are systems that have no direct access to the internet. Unlike POE systems, internet connectivity Is introduced after the digital video recorder, not before. In most cases, CCTV systems are transmitting analog video to DVRs

Here are a few examples of coaxial cable security systems

  • Smonet Security CCTV Surveillance System
  • CamView CCTV
  • Zosi CCTV Camera Security System

Use cases

Coaxial cable

Coaxial cable systems maybe best suited in the following situations:

  • Bank/ gas station – any location handling money will consider not wanting business transactions available over the internet.
  • Picture quality is not a major concern – An analog video is going to look less than high definition our eyes are used to.
  • No/ limited connection to the internet – CCTV systems do not need an internet connection to record and save the recordings.
  • Constant recording – recording is done 24/7 365 days a year, you can also configure the DVR to delete after a period.
  • Security is the primary concern – because there is no internet connection, the only way to hack the system is at the terminal or DVR.

Power of Ethernet

POE systems maybe the best for you if:

  • Information is not as sensitive – video is recording out outside or something less sensitive.
  • Picture quality is important – POE sends digital videos in high definition quality.
  • Solid/ consistent internet connection – an ethernet connection will only drop if the ethernet cord fails, internet fails, or a piece of hardware fails.
  • Wall outlets out of reach – both power and internet connection are both powered through the ethernet port and cord.
  • Storage options needed – recordings to NVRs can be saved locally, to the cloud, or both. Cloud storage may have an additional cost.
  • Access remotely is important – Newer POE systems may include applications to access and view video streams remotely.

Alternatives

As I mentioned earlier, there are only two connection options: wired or wireless. Wireless security cameras present their own strengths and weaknesses. We will explore those strengths and weaknesses now.

Strengths

  • Can be placed anywhere with a data connection. Data connection can be WIFI or cellular connection.
  • Mobile accessibility is standard – download the application and connect to the security camera in minutes.
  • Faster installation – no wires means no drilling, no architecture view and fast 15 minutes installs.
  • Low skill needed – You only need to follow directions provided on a mobile application to get setup.
  • Less power consumption – wireless security cameras are powered by batteries, and solar panels.
  • Records where there is action – no wasted space with recordings where nothing happens. All clips are based by motion.

Weaknesses

  • May cost more in the long run wireless systems may cause more for two reasons: first, you may need to frequently purchase additional batteries. Second, you may have to pay any additional monthly fee to store your recording snippets.
  • No/ limited continuous recording – recordings are limited to a minute or less.
  • Less secure – streams can be interrupted or hacked.
  • Dropped connections – wireless cameras have all the pitfalls that come with wireless technology.
  • May miss the action – the delay between the motion sensor trigger and the camera could result in missing all the action.

My take

I currently own two wireless security cameras. The reason I went with these cameras is because they are too far away from outlets, and the additional features the came with the cameras.

These cameras are connected to two rechargeable batteries and one solar panel. These cameras provide a spotlight when motion is detected, and record to cloud storage. I pay an additional fee for this cloud storage.

If I could do it all over again, I’d purchase a POE system. Below are a few of the reason I’d purchase a POE system instead of wireless IP cameras:

  • Cheaper per camera – the cost per camera is about half of what I paid for my current cameras.
  • Additional add ons can add up – because the batteries needed to be recharged frequently, I purchased two additional batteries, and eventually a solar panel for each camera.
  • Continuous recording – the delay is recordings causes me to miss when cars drive by. It usually catches when people walk by, but if a car drives by it usually doesn’t catch the license plates.

Reasons I decided on a wireless IP camera:

  • No drilling – I did not want to drill into the siding, or drywall. Also, I didn’t want to spend the time to do any wall fishing to connect the NVR and cameras.
  • Fast install – It took less than 15 minutes to install each of the two wireless cameras.
  • Fast setup – The setup took less than 5 minutes to connect my wireless camera to my WIFI.
  • Remote monitoring – The wireless security cameras allow me to view on mobile and desktop applications.

Conclusion

To conclude, there are three ways to connect security cameras wired: power over ethernet, coaxial cable, and coaxial cables created by manufacturers. In this blog post I focused only on the two most popular wires.

Both camera systems have unique qualities that continue to make them market leaders in the industry.

Similar questions:

  • How to hide security camera wires outside? They can be hidden by tucking the wires along the siding. You could also paint the wires the same color as the siding. A better option is to drill into the siding and fish the wires to a basement or crawl space.

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