Security Camera Systems: IP Cameras vs. Analog Cameras
Smart Security Camera receives calls from many customers interested in having security camera systems installed for their home or business. One of the main questions we have for them is, “do you need IP security cameras or analog security cameras?” 9 times out of 10, the answer is, “I’m not sure, what is the difference of IP camera vs. analog cameras?” It can tend to be a long conversation where we go over the basics of each type of security camera and their pros and cons. Sometimes, a quick visit onsite can tell us what will work best for their situation once budget is taken into consideration. If you are thinking about having security cameras installed, then it’s worth the time to learn a bit about your different options to make an informed and thorough decision.
IP Security Cameras
There are many factors to consider when trying to decide on a security camera system for your home or business. If you are looking to IP cameras as an option, then that means you are starting to think about a more technologically advanced option. IP cameras are considered a breakthrough technology in the world of security camera systems, and offers a lot of benefits. IP cameras are connected to a network and uses internet protocol to transmit compressed video frames. That might not make sense to many people, so in basic terms, it means that all of the video footage that an IP camera receives uses the internet to go directly to a protected network where your footage is stored.
The camera is turning your video into digital frames and making it easily accessible through the internet.This process allows for the option to remotely access everything the camera sees. In order to obtain remote access of your analog footage, there is an extra process that requires more equipment to turn the analog video into digital video. Only then can you have the ability to connect to a network for internet and remote access. IP cameras vs. analog cameras give you the freedom to access your footage without the extra equipment and process. That is part of the draw of this technology. You are basically skipping the middle man and directly turning your footage into digital video frames.
IP cameras can tend to be more expensive to purchase than analog cameras, but the installation is much simpler in terms of cabling and wiring. There is something called a PoE Switch, which stands for Power over Ethernet. Essentially, if you connect your Ethernet wire from the switch to the camera, you are not only accessing the footage, but also providing power. The switch provides the power to the camera, and the wiring is much smaller and easier to run than a Siamese cable that is necessary to provide power and video connection in analog cameras.
Because a power supply is easier to have in IP cameras, that means that technicians don’t have as hard of a time installing the cameras and their connections. This also allows for the ability to install security camera systems in harder to reach areas. When your footage is turned into digital frames, this gives you the option to access your footage on a computer, which in turn translates to the ability to have internet access to everything that your camera sees. With internet capabilities, you can remotely access your cameras and everything that is recorded on the network server through a mobile device. This can include your smartphone, tablet, laptop or any computer as long as that device has access to the internet. This is a huge draw because you can also control commands on your IP cameras if it is a PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera. With your mobile device, you have the chance to access your security camera system, and zoom in on live or recorded footage to get a better look at an individual or license plate with clear recognition.
There are many reasons to choose IP cameras vs. analog cameras, but sometimes, analog can be the answer for your situation if budget is a factor, or if you don’t require all of the upgrades that IP cameras can offer. Analog cameras are limited on the quality of images they can obtain, but in certain low light or smoky environments, they can capture better footage than IP cameras. It depends on what you are intending to capture with the security camera system, and the field of view you need to cover as well. Once you have obtained that information, you can verify if analog cameras will suit your needs.
The installation of IP cameras vs. analog cameras have certain aspects that are easier and harder. When the cameras themselves are being mounted and wired, it can tend to be a slightly bigger challenge to have them installed in a more remote location. Analog cameras require a coaxial cable to transfer the footage to the DVR as well as a power supply cable. Typically, a Siamese cable is required for these purposes. It is the coaxial and power cable run together in one thick, hard to maneuver cable. Because of the inflexibility and heaviness of the cable, it can be quite hard to do the cabling for the cameras, especially when the camera is set up far away from the DVR. This can add to the labor expenses of technicians, so IP cameras tend to be an easier install.
When it comes to configuring the footage to be seen through the video recorder, analog cameras are much easier to set up and work. It is a simple process once the cables are run to the head end. The main connections that need to be made are to the power supply and the DVR to the monitor. IP cameras vs. analog cameras require a more technical installation and set-up of the video recorder as it must be established with a network and server. You also have to configure the internet connection with the cameras. It is not a cut and dry set up, and can tend to cause a longer installation if the technician is not as experienced in the process.
In many situations, analog cameras don’t match up to the capabilities of IP cameras, but technology has come up with ways for analog cameras to connect to the internet. Using a converter, you can take the analog signal that is transmitted through the coaxial cable, and transfer it into a digital signal that can be read by a computer, and therefore give the ability to translate it to the internet for mobile viewing. This is an upgrade from the former option of only having the ability to view through the monitor from the DVR.Analog cameras have been around for decades, and have proven their worth. IP cameras do have a lot more to offer, but if you are in a simple situation, it is much more practical to choose analog cameras as they tend to cost a lot less. If you need to get your security cameras system up and running, but don’t have the funds to immediately set up a full IP camera security system, then the best option is to start out with analog cameras. When you do this, there is always the option to integrate the analog and IP cameras into one network based system down the line and create your individual hybrid system as you add more IP cameras.
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