Migrating to IP Camera Systems
In the past few years many of my customers have asked me about converting their old analog system to IP cameras. Like your home computer, IP cameras require a “LAN Drop” using Cat5e or Cat6 cable. On the other hand, analog camera systems are frequently installed with RG 59 or RG6. To use terms you might be more familiar with, IP cameras use an ethernet cable, and analog cameras use a coaxial cable.
When IP cameras were first introduced, there was no way to incorporate them into existing camera systems. Ethernet cables aren’t going to fit into an input for coax cable. You simply had to replace the entire system. However, as technology has evolved, it has become easier and easier to migrate from analog cameras to IP cameras. Hybrid Network Video Recorders (HNVR) have really been the most requested item in our industry. Figure 1 shows how an HNVR works. Basically, it uses an analog encoder to serve existing analog cameras while still giving the customer the ability to grow their system to IP cameras.
One option for converting analog systems with coax cable is to simply replace all the coax with ethernet, and all the analog cameras with IP cameras. If you think that sounds expensive, you’d be right. Another option is using ethernet over coax converters (see Figure 2). These devices convert a coax input to an ethernet output. Using these devices allows system owners to re-use existing wire and enable them to view IP cameras on the existing infrastructure.
If you’re thinking about converting your system, here are some things to consider.
- Do you have adequate internet service to support the extra bandwidth of an IP system? If you don’t, your IP system won’t function properly. There’s no sense in upgrading to IP cameras if your internet service won’t support it…
- You will need adequate switches (preferably PoE) for the new cameras. Analog cameras require an external power supply. IP cameras use PoE (Power over Ethernet) switches. This means you don’t plug them in to a wall socket; they are powered by the same ethernet cable they use for transmitting information.
- The new system will require assistance in maintenance/setup with an information technology professional and qualified security contractor. While IP camera systems are not impossible to understand, there may be a bit of a learning curve. If you are used to your analog system, let us warn you: IP systems operate differently. This is why it’s a good idea hire a professional to design and install your IP system.
- Do not buy your system from a big box store. You will not be happy with the quality of the images, recording devices, or installation instructions.
It doesn’t matter if you choose a hybrid system (both analog and IP) or to completely overhaul your existing system — the technology and image quality of IP cameras are excellent. There’s a reason so many system owners are migrating to IP systems… better image quality, higher resolution, lower maintenance, easier access, and so on. And with the way technology has evolved, it’s becoming more and more affordable to incorporate IP cameras into existing systems.
If you have any questions about migrating to an IP camera system, talk to us.