If you are serious about security, you will likely need a recorder to store security camera footage. In this NVR vs DVR guide, we will differentiate these two systems and look at their benefits, drawbacks and answer some common questions.
Let us start with the basics, shall we? There are four primary methods to store data and footage from your security camera system. These methods are DVR, NVR, SD Card, or Cloud. Currently, most security systems try to pack a number of storage options into each system they manufacture, but you don’t need all of them.
Outside of off-site backups, why spend more money on multiple storage options when you are better off with the one you can rely on? This blog has limited its discussion to only NVRs and DVRs, and for obvious reasons, these two are the most popular and reliable systems out there.
What is an NVR and how does it work?
NVR is an abbreviation for Network Video Recorder. In comparison to DVRs, NVRs process and encode data and footage within the security cameras. After that, they transfer or stream it to the NVR Recorder, where they store it and when requested, play the footage.
Now due to how NVRs work, they are most suited for certain types of security cameras, which are IPs. IPs or Internet Protocol cameras are different from traditional CCTV cameras. They do not require any local storage, their only connection being to a local network.
There are two types of NVRs – PoE NVR and WiFi NVR. The PoE NVR cameras use ethernet cables, whereas Wi-Fi NVRs don’t need any wire. They work wirelessly.
What is a DVR and how does it work?
On the other hand, the DVRs or Digital Video Recorders process and encode video data after they reach the DVR. Most of the time, DVR security systems are cheaper than their NVR counterparts. The primary reason behind their low price is the cameras they work with.
Now you might be wondering, what cameras are best fit for DVRs. Well, DVRs work best with analog or traditional CCTV cameras. Another important feature of DVRs is that they are always hard-wired. They do not work wirelessly like their NVR counterparts.
NVR Benefits & Drawbacks
Let’s look at the benefits of NVR systems first. Think of NVRs as an upgrade to DVRs. NVRs incorporate all the latest cutting-edge innovations in home security. For instance, users of NVR security systems can benefit from IoT technology and any other smart device at their home/office i.e. Google Home or Amazon Echo.
Power over Ethernet
NVR systems rely on Cat cables (PoE) for data and power transmission. If you are hearing these terms for the first time, don’t worry, we’ll explain! Cat cables are typically used to connect desktop / laptops computers to your broadband router. They are the backbone of networking in all IT infrastructures.
These cables inherently support high performance and fast data transmission. Power can also be transmitted over these cables, which is known as Power over Ethernet (PoE). In summary, Cat / ethernet cables can transmit video, audio, and power to connected security cameras.
Direct Connection Not Needed
A big difference between DVRs and NVRs is that the former one requires each of the security cameras to be connected separately to the device. Whereas, with NVRs, cameras only need to stay connected to the network, not to the NVR directly.
Greater Cable Flexibility
If you have a big area to cover, NVRs will offer greater flexibility in setting up your security system. Thanks to their thinner cables, you can reach far and cover your entire real estate. Most ethernet cables have the highest range of 328 Feet or 100 meters. That might be enough for the average user. However, if you are in charge of security of a large premises, you need to make sure you have no blind spots. Don’t worry, you can easily use network switches to extend the reach of your security system.
Unlike DVRs, which rely on Coaxial cables for video transmission, the NVRs receive pure digital video signals from their connected security cameras. This ensures the highest quality of videos.
Advanced Motion Detection
Now let us look at some of the competitive advantages of NVRs. These advanced security cameras can be accessed from anywhere, ensuring you have a third eye, all day every day. Moreover, these cameras can detect movement and instantly trigger video recordings. Some newer models also come with heat detection technology. Even if expert burglars break into your porch, they can’t go unnoticed for very long.
Thanks to their powerful video processing specs, they can support other advanced technologies such as facial recognition. Users also receive a push notification about alerts. All of these advanced features combined make NVRs a more reliable security system than DVRs.
The most obvious drawback of NVRs is that they are more complex. If you are not a tech-savvy individual, you might face serious problems setting up these systems all by yourself. For instance, to power cameras, users first need to electrify the ethernet cables.
The only way to do that is via using PoE Injectors or Switches. This brings us to the second drawback, which is the price. Most NVRs are priced higher than DVRs. To some, this high price might be justified because they offer advanced features.
The next drawback of NVRs is their shorter wires. When compared to Coaxial wires that feed DVRs, most PoE wires have a shorter maximum length.
Ethernet cables can reach up to 300 feet, whereas Coaxial cables can reach up to 1,600 feet, albeit with some degradation.
DVR Benefits & Drawbacks
You might think the reason why DVRs are cheaper than NVRs is that they compromise video quality when it comes to resolution. However, that is not true. DVRs can support cameras that record at an HD resolution.
Separate Power and Data
Usually, DVRs rely on Coaxial BNC cables. These cables have separate connections for power and video transmission, which is convenient for some users. If you already have a Coaxial wire system that was used with your old security camera, you can hold on to it if you decide to get a DVR.
If you have a security system that uses analog cameras already at your home or office, and you want to upgrade it with only a new storage option, DVRs solve this problem. After you get a DVR, you can keep on using the analog cameras.
Now let's talk about reliability. You don't want to be stuck with a blank screen the very moment burglars break into your home or business. Moreover, you also don't want your videos to stop streaming during storms. If you live in a cold atmosphere, where it snows in winter or it rains all summer, DVRs will outperform NVRs in this area. This is because they use Coaxial cables instead of relying on wireless data transmission, which is vulnerable to interference from other electronic devices as well as adverse climate.
The drawback of coaxial cables is that while the video quality is good, it’s not as good as on NVRs. Moreover, the video quality degrades beyond 300 feet / 90 meters. So, if you are thinking about covering a large area, do expect the video quality to degrade.
No Audio with Coaxial Cable
Moreover, Coaxial cables do not come with an audio transmitting signal. The audio ports are very limited on DVRs. This means you won't be able to listen to audio from your security camera. These cables are built with hard material to withstand adverse climate and external forces. Due to this, they are naturally inflexible and rigid so harder to install.
Direct Connection to DVR
While using a DVR, you need to have a connection for both power and data. That doubles the wiring requirement. However, you can easily provide power to all your separate cameras by using a separate splitter. Yes, each camera requires a separate splitter. So, if you wish to connect 10 cameras to your DVR, you will need 10 splitters. Most people find this very annoying and require expert help to set up their DVR.
Unlike NVR security systems that can support both wired and wireless cameras, the DVR is strictly limited to hard-wired connections. Most NVRs also support both wired and wireless cameras at the same time. If you think about it, you might have to give up on many advanced and modern security cameras just because most of them are wireless.
Does Not Support Wireless
If the appearance of your home is of utmost importance, you might want to reconsider getting a DVR. As mentioned before, DVRs need to be hard-wired. This means that if you have a long porch and you want to set up a camera right at the front gate, you will need to figure out a way to form that hard-wired connection. You might feel like hanging them from trees or light poles, but that might destroy the elegance of your home and could be an easy target for burglars to cut the lines. Less flexibility in mounting cameras means you are limited to how you can position the DVR and all the other cameras.
As mentioned earlier, the DVR needs to be connected to all the security cameras in the system. It poses a great challenge in terms of data processing. With all connected cameras sending video footage at the same time, the DVR can be overworked, resulting in delays as well as unwanted system crashes.
Things to consider when selecting a DVR vs NVR
Cabling & Installation
DIY has become a trend, and for good reasons. In present times, anyone can access any information with a simple smartphone and internet connection. However, when wiring a security system, you might fail to accomplish the task if you have no prior knowledge about it.
Depending on what security system you are using, the difficulty of wiring it varies. You may face higher difficulty wiring the DVR, as it needs a lot of hardwiring. On the flip side, an NVR requires less cable work. It needs other configuration steps such as connecting the security system to the app.
Number of Channels / Cameras
Channels refer to the number of security cameras a security system can handle. For instance, an NVR vs DVR system with 20 channels can connect to 20 separate security cameras.
If you have a big area to cover, you are better off with a multi-channel security system. On the other hand, if you only want to buy a security camera for your two-bedroom apartment, you might be better off with only a single-channel security system.
Video Quality & Resolution
Most security cameras on the market have an HD 1080p resolution. That has become a standard. You will also find security cameras with 4MP, 5MP, or even higher resolutions.
However, the question you should be asking yourself is if your security system can handle the resolution. For instance, as DVRs are connected to all the cameras via a separate cable, proper encoding and storage depend on its processing power. Along with that, the video quality and resolution also depend on the cable. Coaxial cables do a below-average job, whereas PoE cables are masters of ensuring no degradation of video quality during transmission.
Storage is a big concern. If you want to set up multiple security cameras at your home/office, this should be your first worry. You might know people who missed out on footage from the very moment burglars made entry into their homes. This usually happens if your security camera runs out of storage, if you forget to delete older footage to make space for newer ones, or if you forget to upgrade your storage capacity.
Whatever the reason, storage is a big issue. As a standard, most NVRs and DVRs come with 1TB or 2TB Hard Drives. That is enough for the average user.
Remote Access Needed
Smartphones have made our lives easier. On top of that, different apps have enabled us to accomplish tasks in less time. To ensure users have this convenience while using security systems as well, many leading brands have introduced dedicated apps for their security cameras.
These apps are usually free. Using them, people can see how many cameras are connected to their system, receive alert notifications, review captured footage, control pan/tilt of their cameras, and many other things, not to mention they can do it from a remote location.
Facial Recognition has been the buzzword in the technology arena for the last few years. Many flagship smartphones use facial recognition. Some have even completely replaced pin/pattern locks with facial recognition. Along with fingerprints, facial recognition is a highly effective biometric security measure.
Many security cameras on the market have facial recognition too. This is how it works. The camera can self-teach itself who are your family members, and who are the regular visitors to your home. This way, they will only give you alerts only when an unknown face is detected.
Motion Detection is the latest innovation in the security sector. It usually works as a trigger. The underlying motive for motion detection is two-fold.
First, a motion trigger ensures your video camera starts recording only when it detects motion. This way, you are saving a lot of hard drive storage.
The second advantage of motion detection is tighter security. Even if you are not at home, your security camera can detect the slightest movement in your bedroom or out in the driveway. Moreover, nowadays motion detection is paired with heat detection. So instead of just focusing on motion, now cameras look for warm moving objects.
Everything has a budget. When we go to buy a new smartphone, we look for phones that are priced in the ballpark of our budget margin. We might increase or decrease our budget depending on the situation, but we tend to anchor toward it.
This is true when you go shopping for a security system as well. As a rule of thumb, NVRs are priced higher than DVRs. How high you might ask? Well, it depends on which model you are considering buying. Depending on the model, the price difference can be anywhere between $50-$100.
Common NVR vs DVR questions
NVRs are usually used with IP (Internet Protocol) security cameras however not all are compatible.
In case you are concerned if a certain IP model will work with an NVR, make sure you check the product description before placing an order. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
There are two types of NVRs – PoE NVRs, and Wireless NVRs. If you’re concerned about whether or not your Wi-Fi NVR will be stable, here is the answer.
If you have multiple devices connected to the Wi-Fi network, you are susceptible to poor performance. You can easily solve this problem by upgrading to higher latency and bandwidth or by switching to a wired NVR with ethernet cables.
Yes, they do. DVRs and NVRs can work even when the internet is down. You can set up your DVR or NVR to work without an internet connection, but for instance, you can set up your NVR or DVR with a separate hard drive. That way, you don't need the internet to access your file, you can do it locally, from the hard drive.
In this NVR vs DVR article, we looked at what is an NVR, and what is a DVR. After defining what they are, we analyzed how they are different from one another. We also looked at the benefits and drawbacks of both NVRs and DVRs.
And lastly, we concluded the entire article by discussing some for the common factors to go over before making a purchase. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, and we will get back to you.