The Basic Components of a CCTV System

Video surveillance is complex. A functioning surveillance system, offering full property coverage around the clock, requires a network of compatible cameras, ample storage, proper cabling and even power. Thankfully, surveillance doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep reading to see the equipment and components you’ll need to get your IP surveillance system up and running.

1. Security Cameras

The first (and most obvious, for sure) component of a video surveillance system are the cameras. Which cameras are right for your system depends on your individual needs and budget; are you placing them indoor or outdoor? How large a resolution do you need? Is 1080P enough? Will they be able to see and record video efficiently in low-lighting? Are they placed with adequate field of view, or will PTZ cameras be necessary? These are all important questions to be considered when choosing security cameras for your surveillance system.

security cameras

2. Structured Cabling or Wireless

For most commercial surveillance systems, structure cabling run throughout the walls, connecting your cameras to the server or DVR, will be a vital component. While more and more wireless cameras are becoming popular, especially for home use, wired cameras still reign supreme for more permanent and demanding security use.

When using IP cameras – as most surveillance systems do these days – you will most likely be looking at Cat5E or Cat6 cables, which can transfer the large amount of data required by digital video and high resolutions at very fast speeds, and often over long distances. This is an upgrade from the coax cabling that usually powers analog cameras; coax cables are reliable, but not compatible with IP cameras. In many cases, Cat5e and Cat6 cables will also power the cameras, eliminating the need for further wiring. This is called Power-Over-Ethernet and requires a PoE switch when the cameras are not connected to an NVR. Wireless cameras may need less wiring in the walls but will still require cables to power the camera separately, usually via 110VAC power.

3. The NVR

The Network Video Recorder, also known as the NVR, is another essential element to any IP camera network. Connected to the same IP network, the NVR can be installed virtually anywhere in your building or home and allows you to record and store video on a hard drive, snap images and transmit them to computer or remote device for live and recorded viewing. NVR’s usually have multiple channels for inputting camera feeds, and are an all-in-one place for combining feeds and keeping a comprehensive eye on your surveillance feeds.

NVR’s differ mainly from DVR’s in that they record video from IP cameras, while DVR’s mainly record analog-based video to a digital format.

security camera hard drive

4. Hard Drives for Storage

An NVR makes it easy to record video surveillance footage, but you will need connected hard drives on which to store this footage. Choosing the right amount of storage can seem like a confusing gamble, but it doesn’t have to be; it’s simply a matter of calculating the length of video you need to store, by the bitrate and resolution your camera shoots at. When recording 4k security video, this can end up being a large number requiring terabytes of footage. For lesser archival needs, you can usually get away with much less.

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