Setting up a security camera system is much easier now than it was ten years ago. If you know what type of cables / wirtes you need, along with their color codes, it can be a DIY project. This article will give you all the information you need to set up your security camera system as well as some tips to make it entirely future-proof!
At SmartHomePerfected we always advise readers not to undertake any work they are not competent in performing and if in any doubt, it is best to seek the assistance of a professional.
Security Camera Cable Types
One of the biggest challenges when installing a surveillance system is figuring out what exact cables you need. There are two common cable types – the Siamese coaxial cable for analog cameras and the Ethernet cable for IP cameras. Choosing the right cable type depends on the system you are using, so it is best to check beforehand and determine what you need.
Bundled v Premade
Both Ethernet and Siamese coaxial cables can be purchased as precuts or in bulk. If you need to cover a long distance, it may be more convenient to get bulk bundled cables as it is more affordable. If you go with this option, you need to cut the cable yourself at the desired length and add the connectors at both ends.
On the other hand, pre-made cables come in pre-defined lengths and are ready to use. If length is not a constraint, then this option is just as good. Remember to do the necessary measurements in advance so that the pre-defined lengths match your needs.
Ethernet cables are the most common cables used in networking and this is what you will need when setting up an IP security camera.
An Ethernet cable is made of insulated copper wires, with every two wires being twisted together and forming a pair. These pairs, usually four in number, are then wrapped together in a weather-resistant outer material.
In terms of connectivity, the Ethernet cable has RJ45 connectors at both ends. These connectors usually have eight contacts for each pair of wires. These end connectors can be then inserted into compatible devices, such as your security camera.
The main function of the Ethernet cable is to connect a device to a network. For IP security cameras, in particular, this network connection will allow you to access and control the camera.
The Ethernet cables can also be used to power up your security camera – PoE stands for Power over Ethernet.
There are different categories of Ethernet cables, each of them operating with distinct parameters. The most common categories are Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6. The main difference between all these categories is the speed of data transmission and the maximum bandwidth.
- The Ethernet cables bring many benefits due to their versatility. You can use them for almost any device – your security camera, computers, servers, and many more.
- Being more resistant to interference or interruptions compared to a Wi-Fi network, the Ethernet cables are reliable and also fast with up to 1GB speed of data transmission.
- The Ethernet cables are easy to find at any hardware shop and can be purchased at a low price especially if you buy them in bulk.
Mobility compared with Wi-Fi
One major inconvenience of using an Ethernet cable is the limitation it brings when it comes to mobility. Once you set up your surveillance system and have connected the cables, you will not be able to just move it around freely.
In case you want to move your security camera and place it somewhere else, you will need to move, reinstall, or even splice the cables.
Video Quality compared with Siamese
In terms of video quality, Ethernet cables can produce some video interferences compared to Siamese coaxial cables which can hold video signals slightly better. Overall, the difference in video quality is more or less the same for both types of cables.
Ethernet cables are relatively cheap which makes them an affordable option for everyone. Chances are you already have Ethernet cables laying around your house from your old printer or router.
If you need to purchase some, it may be more convenient to get it in bulk quantities rather than pre-cut as the price is significantly cheaper. Keep in mind that if you get bundled Ethernet cables, you will have to add the connectors by yourself, so remember to buy them as well.
Siamese Coaxial Cables
Siamese coaxial cables consist of two cables put together, each of them having a different function.
These cables are thick in size and both ends are split into two parts – a coax cable having two layers of insulation and another cable made of copper wires.
Two different connectors are required for each cable end: a DC power connector and a BNC connector.
Similar to the Ethernet cable, the Siamese coaxial cable can be purchased in pre-defined lengths or bulk. If you go for bulk quantities, you will need to attach the connectors yourself.
This two-in-one cable serves two different purposes. As we have mentioned, Siamese coaxial cables can be split up.
The Siamese coaxial cable connects your analog camera to the DVR receiver and is responsible for transmitting and receiving video signals. The thickness of the cable ensures minimum video interferences and durability for long distances as well.
The other cable ensures your camera has the power to run and should be connected to a 12V power supply.
3+1 and 4+1 Cables
These types of cables are mostly used for CCTV cameras.
In a 3+1 cable, one wire connects the video signal and the other one connects the power supply while the two remaining wires are used for audio in and audio out.
However, in a 4+1 cable, the fourth wire is often used for controlling a PTZ camera. For example, you can move the PTZ camera through a joystick or by using the on-screen buttons.
Siamese coaxial cables are not as widely used as Ethernet cables yet still bring numerous advantages.
- They are durable and resistant due to their size and thickness.
- Both cables that make up the Siamese coaxial cable are coated with multiple protective layers, which ensures minimum video interference. This means the video signal will not be cut off, so you can rest assured that your security camera is doing its job.
- Another benefit worth mentioning is the Siamese coaxial cables’ capability to transmit both power and video signals in one single cable run. There is no need to set up multiple cables between your camera and your DVR system anymore.
Just like the IP cameras powered by Ethernet cables, Siamese coaxial cables for analog cameras are also allowed limited movement. In case of any failures, the entire cable run has to be replaced and this can cause undesired network interruptions, extra work, and unwanted costs.
Siamese coaxial cables have a higher price than the common Ethernet cables, which are much more affordable. If you need to cover a long distance between your security camera and the DVR receiver, the total investment might end up being costly.
The Siamese coaxial cable comes at a higher price than the Ethernet cable. The best deal is to purchase Siamese coaxial cables in bulk. This way, you will have the freedom to cut it at any length you need and also have some spare cable for future use.
On top of this, you will also need to buy the necessary connectors. In any case, there is convenience in investing in bundled Siamese coaxial cables. You can save money and it is a much more flexible approach. You never know when you will need some extra cables.
Other Security Camera Wire Types
For most mainstream surveillance systems, the HDMI cable is a must if you want to connect your NVR or DVR device to an external display. HDMI can transfer video and audio to the same cable.
It allows you to view live footage directly from your security camera on an external screen by simply connecting the recorder to the external screen.
VGA cables are used for analog security systems and serve the same purpose as HDMI cables. This means you can easily connect your DVR recorder to an external screen through the VGA cable.
The video signal is transmitted through the cable and you will be able to watch recordings or live footage on your monitor.
VGA is an older technology that is still widely used, however, it is slowly being replaced by HDMI and DisplayPort.
If you have an IP security system, optic fiber is a great choice especially when it comes to data transmission speed and quality.
With fewer vulnerabilities than the Ethernet cable, the optic fiber is resistant to any kind of interference and delivers high-quality video signals even over long distances. Optic fiber is mostly used in professional environments, offering a high level of security.
Security Camera Wiring Color Code
Siamese coaxial cables consist of five wires that come in three different colors: red, yellow, and black. These wires have different functions and need to be connected properly.
- The red wires are related to the electrical part and are built for DC 12-volt positive current.
- The black wires are used for transmitting the video signal and ensuring a power supply.
- The yellow wire is responsible for transferring the video data.
The Ethernet cable comes in different colors depending on its usage. The most common colors you will find are grey, green, yellow, and blue.
- The grey Ethernet cable is widely used and can be seen as the standard version of this cable.
- The green one serves best for classified connections, while the yellow is usually known for PoE (Power over Ethernet) connections.
- The blue Ethernet cable is also known as a LAN cable and is used when setting up servers and connecting different network systems.
Splicing Security Camera Wires
If you have to extend a cable when setting up your surveillance system or just need to make length adjustments because you have placed the security camera somewhere else, knowing how to splice the cables can be very beneficial.
If you are using an Ethernet cable, simply remove the outer insulation and separate the copper wires. Based on the wires’ color code, make sure you splice them accordingly. You may also want to wrap them up with duct tape once spliced to avoid any potential risks.
If you are using a 3-wire Siamese cable, you need to separate the coax cable from the power wires. Then, you can start splicing them one at a time. The coax cable has multiple layers of insulation that have to be removed before splicing.
Then, you can connect the inner wires by using a crimp tool. Once merged, wrap the wires with duct tape. Follow the same process for splicing the power wires and connect them by following the color codes.
The Security Camera Wire Types Conclusion
No matter what kind of surveillance system you have, cables play an important role. That is why it is desirable to have a clear understanding of what type of cables you need to run your system efficiently. Feel free to leave us a comment in the section below in case you have any doubts!