CCTV Camera Systems: An Introduction & Guide

CCTV systems are everywhere in commercial security — you’ve probably seen “CCTV Surveillance in Use” signs everywhere, from your bank to the local coffee shop.

But what does CCTV mean, and how does it work? Read on to find out.

CCTV security cameras

What Is CCTV?

CCTV cameras are used for security monitoring and surveillance in any facility. CCTV stands for Closed-Circuit Television because security camera systems transmit video footage over a single channel, creating a closed circuit. This means CCTV footage is displayed on limited personal monitors and screens, not publicly broadcasted.

CCTV cameras are a staple in crime prevention because they help ward off criminals, monitor building premises, and record valuable footage of events.

Whether you’re looking to reduce theft and loitering in your business or provide a haven for your residents, you must know the basics of video surveillance CCTV systems.

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How Does CCTV Work?

CCTV systems use security cameras to capture video footage of a facility in a continuous recording. The explicit footage is sent to a recording device (a DVR or NVR) and stored for future reference.

The footage is then sent from the cameras to a dedicated monitor or even a smartphone or computer, which displays it clearly in real-time.

CCTV security camera systems are connected with a coaxial cable, network cable, or wireless signal, depending on the system type.

How does CCTV work?

CCTV cameras are typically placed at business entrances around the perimeter and strategically inside the building. They monitor and record everyone who comes near to guard merchandise, data, and the safety of employees and visitors.

CCTV surveillance cameras work to prevent crime around the clock, letting property managers and security staff instantly see and respond to security breaches in all areas of a property. Anyone who commits a crime on the property is taped, providing hassle-free identification and legal evidence.

Its Components


Bullet Cameras

Avigilon bullet CCTV camera

Bullet security cameras offer a sleek design and a flexible range of areas where they can be placed, including on walls. The shape of a bullet camera allows it to accommodate a large lens, giving it a more extended range than many other cameras.

Also, an IP security camera makes it ideal for monitoring over long distances. Bullet cameras’ good recording quality, motorized zoom capabilities, facial recognition, and infrared make them ideal for outdoor use and use in manufacturing, property management, and farming industries.

Dome Cameras

Axis dome CCTV camera

Dome security cameras are generally used indoors and mounted on ceilings. This allows them to survey large areas at a wide angle. Dome CCTV cameras are great for retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, and casinos, as they can thoroughly monitor a large room.

IP security is also well-suited to environments that get dirty quickly, such as kitchens and warehouses. Dome cameras offer smaller, more discreet hardware than other camera types.

PTZ Cameras

Axis ptz camera

PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) security cameras are shaped like dome cameras. They allow users to move the camera remotely using an app, joystick, or computer program. This is ideal for panning certain areas and focusing when the camera detects movement.

With the ability to move and “look” around a room, PTZ cameras provide 360-degree coverage and can do the job of several static security cameras. PTZ cameras protect valuable objects, such as in retail settings.

Box Cameras

Bosch box CCTV camera

Box cameras are bulkier than other security cameras, which can deter crime by showing people they are being recorded. Box cameras are a modular option that lets users configure the security camera systems for various uses. This allows box cameras to be equipped explicitly for outdoor use in rough weather.

Thermal Cameras

Thermal imaging surveillance

Thermal imaging cameras use heat mapping technology to detect people and objects. These are ideal for obtaining accurate security footage in environments with challenging lighting.

Thermal CCTV cameras can also detect heat loss, gas leaks, and other repair issues in a facility. Thermal cameras are ideal for industrial buildings, defense, traffic monitoring, research and development facilities, and more.

License Plate Reader Cameras

License plate reader camera

License Plate Reader (LPR) cameras have high-resolution sensors that allow them to capture license plate numbers accurately day and night.

Most security cameras cannot consistently capture license plates in every weather and lighting condition, let alone when vehicles move. LPRs are great for tolling, hotel overstay management, parking lots, and tracking who enters and exits any facility or community.

Monitoring Station

A critical component of a security camera system is the monitor, which allows users to view recorded images and footage. The number of monitors needed depends on the area being monitored and the specific surveillance requirements. 

For smaller-scale operations, three to five screens are usually sufficient. Flexibility is key, as monitors can be added or removed based on changing needs and security camera system compatibility.

CCTV System Storage

CCTV video storage can occur in several different ways. Depending on the number of cameras, a wide range of options exists for CCTV security camera system storage. Footage may be stored in a DVR or an NVR, or it can be stored in the cloud.

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An onsite recording device stores footage captured by the best security cameras in a CCTV security camera system. This is a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) in analog CCTV systems — IP security camera systems use an NVR (Network Video Recorder).

In analog security camera systems, a DVR recorder converts all video footage to digital format, compresses the file, and stores it on a CCTV hard drive. The DVR can be hooked to a monitor to show video footage or connected to a router and wi-fi modem to broadcast the footage using an internal network.

NVR CCTV business security systems connect to IP cameras and use software to automatically record video in digital format. This allows NVRs to transmit data over a computer network instantly.

When using a home security camera, NVRs are recommended to view security footage remotely in real-time on a smartphone or web browser. NVRs are typically newer and more advanced security camera systems that offer higher video quality and more flexible features.

To learn more about NVR vs DVR, click here.

Cloud Storage

DVR cloud compatibility

Modern CCTV cameras allow users to store security footage in the cloud, allowing property owners and managers to access live and recorded footage from a mobile device or web browser.

It is an excellent alternative to memory cards because it offers better storage of large video files and more convenience in today’s internet-based world. 

CCTV cloud storage allows users to get instant security alerts, making it easy to view and respond to security footage in real time, even when users are offsite. Many cloud-based CCTV and HD IP camera systems offer a limited amount of free cloud storage and monthly, annual, or lifetime subscriptions.

IP vs. Analog CCTV Cameras

Analog CCTV Systems

Analog systems are the more traditional form of CCTV. These use coaxial cables to connect the camera and surveillance monitor or recording system. These systems have a more complex installation process since they require more cabling than IP security camera systems.

IP Systems

IP security camera systems, otherwise known as network cameras, are technically not “CCTV” in the same way as hardwired analog systems — but for convenience, they are often referred to as CCTV systems.

IP-based security camera systems run on digital IP and local area networks. They can run on a company’s existing network or be set up independently if data and bandwidth speeds are a concern. Unlike analog systems, HD IP camera systems, such as Cat5E, generally use ethernet cables.

Is an Analog or IP System Better?

Thanks to their coax cables, analog CCTV security cameras offer high reliability. Still, they generally shoot in much lower resolutions than their digital counterparts (though HD-over-Coax is possible).

HD IP camera systems are capable of much higher resolution — up to 4k in many cases — and thus provide better image quality. Analog security camera systems are usually compatible with many more features than analog-based systems, such as video verification, video analytics, and advanced processing for performance in low-light recording situations.

IP security camera systems feature easier CCTV camera installation and less cabling than analog systems. IP cameras can also be scaled almost infinitely, allowing for far more flexibility and more powerful systems than analog cameras have traditionally allowed.

For instance, while the network may be closed, many even allow remote monitoring with a smartphone app.

Choosing between analog CCTV systems and IP camera systems depends on factors like resolution needs, scalability, and ease of installation. While analog systems offer reliability and compatibility, IP systems provide higher resolution, scalability, and easier installation with less cabling.

Remote monitoring on app

Though analog security camera systems lack digital systems’ diverse features and performance capabilities, they offer simplicity and a lower price tag, making them a better choice for some businesses.

However, as most businesses and manufacturers transition to digital security camera systems, IP camera systems are quickly becoming the more dominant form of surveillance.

What Are the Benefits of CCTV Surveillance?

CCTV installation has been shown to effectively deter criminals from targeting your facility and the area around it.

Many burglars know to look around for security camera systems to see if they are being monitored — and seeing a high-quality security camera system in place will convince many criminals to move on. Nobody wants to risk being caught committing a crime on video.

CCTV security camera systems make it easy for property owners and managers to identify anyone who has committed a crime in their facility. IP security cameras also help catch and prevent employee theft, especially in retail and industrial settings.

In extensive facilities such as warehouses, IP security cameras with security camera system let staff view operations in multiple places simultaneously, enforcing safety protocols and keeping track of progress.

CCTV Security System Cost

CCTV monitoring typically costs around $150 per camera per month — about $1,800 annually. A complete CCTV security system installation may cost more than others, depending on several factors:

NDAA-compliant security camera systems with more wires are more expensive since they require expensive trenching, running cables through walls, and post-installation repairs.

Higher-resolution CCTV security camera systems, facial recognition, a larger number of cameras, color night vision, license plate readers, and cameras with great features (such as the ability to capture details) typically cost $50 to $300 more. Cloud-based systems that are NDAA compliant also come with cloud storage fees.

Home security cameras need to make an informed decision about their security investment, especially the number of cameras and the specs (night vision, motion detection) they will install.

Are Security Cameras or Guards More Cost-Effective?

Surveillance cameras work best in combination with guards. Still, if there is a choice between the two, surveillance cameras are more cost-effective, especially if you install several cameras (more cameras are better) with motion detection and night vision.

In 2019, the median annual cost of hiring just one security guard was $29,680. At $1,800 a year, a security camera system costs 94% less than hiring a security guard and provides 24/7 surveillance.

Security Camera Systems Integration

CCTV system integration

Security camera systems are commonly integrated with new and existing security, including access control and alarm systems. When paired with remote door release technology, a security camera system let you see who is at the door before deciding whether to let them in, which can be done with a button.

With intercom and camera technology on the security camera system, security staff can easily talk to intruders, visitors, or employees, enabling convenient facility-wide communication, even at a wide range.

Security camera systems can easily integrate with alarms so security staff can view and respond to intrusions. They also clearly record all security events to keep business owners and staff in the know.

Using the best security camera gives you comprehensive security, protecting your facility, merchandise, and data from all angles while avoiding false alarms.

Using a VMS (Video Management Software) for security camera systems is an excellent way to do this, or convenient platforms such as can streamline your building security.

Additionally, integrating CCTV modulators into security camera systems allows for efficient digital signal distribution across various monitoring devices, enhancing situational awareness and response capabilities.

With the wide variety of CCTV cameras on the market and new technological advances, there is a lot to learn about CCTV security cameras. For more information or a free quote, contact Safe and Sound today.

Security Camera System Legalities

Security camera system raises essential legal and ethical considerations. Privacy concerns are paramount, as constant monitoring infringes on personal privacy. Data protection laws vary by region but generally require strict adherence to safeguard individuals’ data.

Striking the right balance between security and privacy is a complex challenge. While a security camera system can enhance safety, it must be conducted within the bounds of the law and respect individual rights. A comprehensive understanding of the legal and ethical implications of security camera systems is crucial when implementing CCTV security camera systems to preserve security and privacy.


Do CCTV security camera systems record audio as well as video?

Some security camera systems have built-in microphones for audio recording, while others are video-only. The capability to record audio depends on the camera model and setup.

IP cameras that featurefeature facial recognition, color night vision, and motion alerts can also record audio.

Are there legal considerations when installing CCTV systems?

Yes, there are legal considerations regarding privacy and surveillance laws that vary by location. Complying with local laws and regulations when installing CCTV systems, especially in public or shared spaces, is essential.

IP camera systems should not be installed in places with a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Can CCTV security camera systems be integrated with other security systems?

Yes, CCTV security camera systems can be integrated with alarm systems, access control systems, and other security technologies to create a comprehensive security solution.

Key Takeaways

CCTV cameras are essential for enhancing security and surveillance in various environments. By investing in a well-designed system equipped with advanced technology, organizations can ensure the protection of assets, property, and individuals. 

If you’re considering implementing or upgrading your CCTV system, don’t hesitate to contact us for expert advice and assistance. Safeguard your premises with a reliable CCTV solution today.

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