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Beginner’s Guide: How to Set Up a Wired IP Security Camera System

IP security cameras are an excellent deterrent to criminals and intruders that provide round-the-clock surveillance of your properties. You can get immediate alerts when any unusual activity is detected, and if a crime does happen, you can also use these security cameras to gather information from property loss to criminal identification. Although you can’t rely solely on cameras for security (according to experts, a full-blown security system is the best defense), the risk of vandalism is drastically reduced with cameras positioned throughout your home and business. It also plays an important role in law enforcement to prevent business-related crimes and avoid legal claims and fraud.

And the importance of security cameras in a business cannot be overestimated. Video surveillance reduces the need for hiring additional security personnel and increases business profits by boosting employee productivity. IP security cameras allow for continuous real-time surveillance to monitor critical business areas from anywhere. If you’ve ever considered installing security cameras to safeguard your commercial and residential properties but assumed that it’d be too expensive and complicated to set them up, you’ll be surprised to find out there are lots of inexpensive options and most security camera systems come with detailed instructions to get your setup properly connected and up and running.

What’s a Wired Security Camera System?

The wired security camera transmits video and audio signals through a cable to the recording device. The footage can either remain in the recorder for later reviewing or be uploaded to the Internet to view remotely. The most advantageous aspect of a wired camera mainly lies in its reliability, for it’s nearly impervious to signal degradation, bandwidth fluctuation or any type of interference. Therefore, it’s a good option if you have an unreliable WiFi signal. Moreover, if privacy and security of your network are big concerns, then a wired security camera is also the way to go. The wired connection is less likely to be hacked or tampered with since it can operate entirely locally, which makes it more secure during the operation.

Why is a Wired Camera Better than a Wireless Camera?

Compared with its wireless counterpart, the wired camera requires more installation time but provides greater reliability in the long run. Although the wireless security camera offers significant benefits in deployment, it’s highly network-dependable: network failure, signal interference, bandwidth fluctuation, etc., can be its possible downsides. Simply put, if the network fails, the entire system will go down as well. Besides, considering the wired camera won’t use as much bandwidth as the wireless camera does. And it can produce a continuous recording without charging you a monthly subscription, and the camera itself is much cheaper than the wireless one. But installing a wired camera generally costs more since professional help is required to fish the wires through the walls and ceilings. But for mission-critical applications where quality and reliability are highly valued, the wired security camera system is obviously the better option to guarantee uninterrupted video streams at maximum fidelity.

DVR and NVR Camera Systems

There are mainly two types of wired security camera systems: the traditional DVR system and the newer NVR system. The former uses coaxial cables to power the analog cameras and process data at the recorder, whereas the latter uses Ethernet cables to transmit data and power to the IP cameras, and encrypt and process the footage at the camera before sending it to the recorder for storage and remote viewing. Moreover, the NVR is more capable of recording higher-quality videos than the DVR, and it also has a wider array of advanced features like two-way talk and person detection. The DVR system is mostly hardwired, while the NVR system can be either wired or wireless. NVRs and DVRs are both great options for a reliable security camera system, but if you want higher resolution, you should always go for the NVR. And since today’s cameras are mostly network-based, an NVR camera system can be more suitable. And considering that the coaxial cables don’t natively transmit audio data as the Ethernet cable does, to reduce the number of cables used, you can take advantage of the NVR to transmit the video and audio streams simultaneously from the sourced camera.

What You Need for the Setup?

1) Router

2) IP Wired Security Cameras

3) Network Video Recorder (NVR)

4) PoE Switch

5) Ethernet Cables

IP Wired Security Cameras

Security cameras are beneficial when monitoring your home or business premises remotely. In general, security cameras can be roughly divided into three categories: bullet cameras, dome cameras and Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras.

Bullet Camera: Long and cylindrical, the bullet camera is probably the most traditional monitoring device used in the surveillance system. It has a fixed or variable focal lens that is designed to target one specific location with a substantial viewing angle. Compared with other cameras, it has a larger lens, which makes it ideal for surveillance in large areas, i.e. parking lots, and airports, to provide higher levels of details. Additionally, its distinguishable appearance also serves as an effective visual deterrent to burglars and thieves.

Dome camera: Dome-shaped camera is more low-profile and encapsulated in an inverted dome casing. Due to its simple design, It can be attached to the ceiling or wall to offer a more discreet way of surveillance. Some dome cameras, albeit stationary, have a tinted encasing to prevent the intruders from knowing in which direction the cameras are pointing. Its construction allows for the camera to work even in low-light or no-light settings thanks to the built-in infrared LEDs.

PTZ Camera: The PTZ camera is built with mechanical parts that allow it to pan left and right, tilt up and down and zoom in and out of a scene. Panning means the horizontal movement of the camera lens while tilting describes the vertical movement. Zooming is referred to the adjustment of the focal length of the lens to bring the subject close-up to the monitor. The PTZ camera is typically used to provide surveillance for wider areas that require a 180°-360° view and 24/7 continuous monitoring. Compared with the traditional IP cameras that have a stationary lens, the PTZ camera has a highly movable lens and can capture footage at multiple angles.

How Many Security Cameras Do You Need?

The number of cameras you need depends on the size of your property and which areas you would like to cover. The bigger your property, the more cameras you will need. But today’s IP cameras are equipped with a wide-angle lens to provide a larger field of view to allow you to use fewer cameras to cover more places. Since it would be expensive and unnecessary to monitor every spot, you should prioritize which areas you want to monitor the most and make a diagram of your surveillance needs first. Draw a rough diagram of your house with the entry points marked, and mark out places where you want to place the cameras and make sure you have every essential spot covered.

Network Video Recorder

As previously mentioned, the NVR is a crucial component in the IP security camera system to provide 24/7 continuous recording and central management of multiple video streams. It integrates video storage, data transmission and front-end management all into one system.

Video Recorder Features to Look for:

1. Channels and Resolution

Similar to a digital video recorder (DVR), NVR can be classified by the number of channels (16/32/64) it supports. You’ll have to determine how many IP devices you plan to install and make sure the NVR has more than the required number of channels. For example, if you plan to connect 4 IP cameras to the recording device, it’s suggested to choose an 8-channel NVR for future expansion. Moreover, recording resolution is an important factor. Higher resolution means greater amounts of detail to be expressed in the image, but normally larger file sizes will be generated to take up more storage space.

2. Interoperability

Unlike the DVR system which boasts of high interoperability when it comes to mixing and matching cameras from different manufacturers, some NVRs only supports IP cameras from the same brand. So it is essential that the NVR is onvif-compliant or supports PSIA protocol, another standard universally adopted by IP surveillance products to allow the NVR to work with different-branded cameras. Most IP cameras are now onvif-compatible, but if you want to keep using your existing cameras, choose an NVR with high interoperability to reduce network incompatibility to the minimum.

3. Storage Capacity and Video Compression

Since IP cameras often generate larger files to produce higher-quality images, the recorder must have a large capacity. Apart from local storage with built-in HDDs, the NVR should support cloud storage for video archiving and other external storage options (USB/eSATA interfaces). To attain high-quality compressed files, you should choose an NVR that supports the latest video compression standard of H.265 (HEVC) to deliver the highest-quality images at lower bit rates (50% reduced).

PoE Switch

A PoE switch is a network switch that has PoE features built into it and is able to transmit both power and data through the same network cable to the powered devices within a maximum distance of 100 meters. The PoE switch offers great flexibility for installation in places where no power/network is present, which greatly improves the scalability of network architecture and reduces the installation cost. The PoE switch is very easy to manage and troubleshoot, making it ultra user-friendly for both residential and commercial applications.

How Managed PoE Switch Benefits IP Surveillance?

The managed PoE switch opens up great opportunities for authorized users to prioritize and monitor the traffic to achieve the optimization of network performance. You can regulate the traffic coming in and out of each PoE port, configure spare network ports to low priority and allocate more power to high-power devices like PTZ cameras. Moreover, advanced security settings are available and can be configured to your specifications. Generally speaking, the managed PoE switch is more suitable for applications that require high security and reliability (enterprise-level businesses).

Which is Better: PoE Switch or PoE NVR?

PoE NVR is a network video recorder with built-in PoE that can deliver power and data to the IP cameras while allowing you to store and process the captured footage at the same time. It’s relatively cheaper than the PoE switch, but its application is highly limited to small networks where only two or three cameras need to connect since most PoE NVRs are only built with 4-8 interfaces. And considering all the IP cameras have to be hardwired to the PoE NVR, you cannot change a camera’s position once it’s connected for the first time. However, the PoE switch offers more placement and deployment options in complex environments. And it provides a rich selection of power budgets up to 15/30/60/90W while the PoE NVR can only offer a maximum power of 30W per port. Therefore, the PoE switch is obviously the preferred option in the security camera system but the PoE NVR is also a good option to ease the pressure on your network and avoid broadcast storms.

How-to Guide: Installing IP Security Cameras

A properly installed security camera is crucial to deliver better surveillance. Now, follow the instructions below to complete the setup.

1. Where to Place the Cameras

Well-placed cameras can ward off potential intruders and keep given areas secure. Where you place your cameras largely determines how effective they are in protecting your home or business. Before starting installing, you should evaluate your property and security concerns. It’s a good idea to place the cameras in the most bustling areas, and essential spots like gates, driveways, garages, points of entry like the front door, backdoor and ground-level windows, places where the valuables and cash are held, etc. deserve the most attention and protection. You should cover all important locations with no overlap to avoid any blind spots. But beware that while you have the right to monitor your property (home or business), employees, customers, guests, and passers-by also have a reasonable right to privacy since any form of infringement on others’ privacy will get seriously punished. Therefore, you shouldn’t place your security cameras in places where someone’s personal privacy might be invaded, such as bathrooms or changing rooms. And nor can you angle your cameras in a way that might peek into your neighbor’s backyards since it might be illegal to include others’ properties in the scope of your cameras’ surveillance.

2. How to Set up the Wired Security Camera

If you have a wired security camera, the installation process is more complicated. You have to drill holes in the walls and pull data and power cables all the way from the camera to wherever your recorder is, which is not only expensive and labor-intensive but time-consuming. But PoE cameras that rely on Ethernet cables for both data and power transmission can make installation and configuration much easier. Now, read our step-by-step guide to setting up a wired security camera on your own.

1) Find the right spot for your camera

The first and foremost thing is to find a place where your camera can live. If your camera is not PoE-enabled, you should install the camera within the reachable range of a power outlet. And the place where you install the PoE switch also determines the route of cabling. So placing your switch smartly can help you reduce the volume of cabling and get rid of messy wires. What’s more, make sure the location where you place the camera can clearly see all entries to provide greater coverage. In general, the best angle of a room is usually a downward view from the corner where the ceiling meets the wall. And it’s important to place the camera at least 3 meters high so it will not be easily knocked down by burglars while giving you the most visibility for your entire room.

2) Mount Your Camera to the Wall

Some security cameras come with adhesive pads that allow you to stick the cameras directly to the wall, but in such a way, the cameras can easily fall off over time, so screwing is the safest way to mount your cameras in the long run. Place the mount at the desired location, and use a pencil to mark where the screws should go and also the center of where your camera will be mounted. Some cameras will come with a drill template to help you mark the parameters of your camera. Then, drill a hole for each screw with an electrical drill. If possible, use a spade bit to create a larger hole that you can feed the Ethernet cable through. Attach the wire to the fish tape to feed your Ethernet cable through the wall and thread it to the PoE switch or NVR. And you can use a conduit to protect the cable as it passes through the wall or ceiling. Once you’re done with the wiring, screw the camera on the wall.

3) Adjust the Angle of the Camera

When the camera is mounted in the correct position and the lens is angled accurately, it can provide you with the best surveillance over your property. Security cameras usually should be installed pointing slightly downward unless it’s a dome-shaped camera, but according to your security needs, you can angle the camera lens for the best line of sight. Normally, the bullet camera would have a ring around its collar which can be loosened and tightened to adjust the angle. The camera can be moved in either direction to provide a great deal of flexibility, and once the angle is set, you can tighten the screws and set them in place. And finally, you should test the live views on the monitor or mobile app to deliver the optimal perspective.

4) Hide the Security Camera Wires

Exposed camera cables not only jeopardize your decor but also pose a serious security threat. Chances are higher that thieves would cut off the hanging wires to disconnect your cameras and leave your property unguarded. So it’s important to hide the security camera wires inside and outside to protect your camera systems from vandalism. And the simplest way is to paint your cables the same color as the background to make them blend conspicuously into their surroundings. Another way is to lay them in a conduit or plastic tube to protect the cables from damage, but drilling through studs and threading the tube could be very complicated and professional installation is highly required.

3. How to Connect the IP Camera System

In the section below, we’ve offered different ways to connect each part of the security camera system together. Please read on and find the best solution for your camera system.

Solution one: PoE switch with one uplink port

Since the PoE switch doesn’t have any recording feature, apart from the router, it also has to be connected to the NVR for video storage. But for PoE switches that only come with one uplink port, you won’t necessarily hardwire these two units physically. Just simply connect them on the same network, and they’ll be able to communicate with the cameras through the router. Follow the steps below to complete the connection:

1) Use one Ethernet cable (short patch cord) to connect the uplink port of the PoE switch to one of the LAN ports on the router;

2) Connect the LAN port of the NVR to another LAN port on the router;

3) Plug both the PoE switch and the NVR into the power outlets;

4) Connect the security cameras to the PoE ports on the PoE switch.

Solution two: PoE switch with two uplink ports

In this scenario, you can connect the PoE switch to the NVR directly or you can also choose to connect one of the LAN ports to the LAN port on a backup NVR.

1) Use a short patch cord to connect the PoE switch’s uplink port to the router;

2) Connect the NVR’s LAN port to the second uplink port on the PoE switch;

3) Connect a second NVR to the same router the switch is connected to (optional);

4) Power up the PoE switch and NVR(s) with AC power;

5) Connect the security cameras to the PoE switch with the Ethernet cables.

Solution three: Add More Cameras with Another PoE Switch

When creating or extending a home or small-business network, there will always be a time when you will run out of network ports. The simplest way is to get yourself another PoE switch to add more ports to your network so you can install more IP security cameras at a time, by daisy-chaining two PoE switches using their uplink ports. But the switches you use must have two uplink ports, one for network connection, and another for connecting to each other.

1) Connect both PoE switches to the router using one of the uplink ports;

2) Use the Ethernet cable to connect the switches with the second uplink ports;

3) Connect the NVR to the router to make sure all units stay on the same network;

4) Connect the security cameras to the PoE switches.

Solution Four: Network Segmentation with a Managed PoE Switch

To separate your camera network from your local network, normally two PoE switches need to be installed for different network purposes. By using a managed PoE switch, you can mix the camera network and the local network on the same switch. You just need to create a VLAN ID on the switching tab, assign it to the ports you select, and then create a PVID to isolate it from other VLANs. And you can also configure the features of QoS by setting the desired CoS, Queue scheduling, bandwidth control, etc., to prioritize critical traffic for your camera network.

1) Log in to the switching tab and create the VLANs on the managed PoE switch, and name the camera network ‘VLAN 1’ and the local network ‘VLAN 2’;

2) Connect the PoE switch with the router and the NVR separately;

3) Connect the IP security cameras to ‘VLAN 1’ and other devices to ‘‘VLAN 2’.

Tips For Using Security Cameras

1. Consider Your Lighting

Not all IP security cameras have low-light capabilities. For cameras that don’t work at night, you should make sure the area under surveillance has consistent and sufficient lighting for the camera to pick up crucial information. And even if you’re using an infrared/night-vision camera, the final image would be better if there’s adequate lighting. Also, avoid placing the cameras where they face direct sunlight, as too much light also reduces visibility.

2. Install Only Outdoor Security Cameras Outdoors

Don’t place indoor cameras outdoors. Rain can be extremely harmful to your security camera system when moisture gets into the connection between the camera body and Ethernet cable, causing reduced image quality. To survive the inclement weather in an outdoor environment, your camera must at least have an IP rating of IP65 to withstand harsh conditions such as dirt, wind, rain, lightning strikes and extreme temperatures.

3. Protect Your Camera Cables

Don’t leave your security camera cables exposed as they can be easily severed. If the cables are broken, the connections will be also cut down. So they must be protected against all forces (water, heat, corrosion, etc.) that can cause cables to deteriorate or be damaged. You can put them into a conduit and staple them on the wall or run the cables inside walls, ceilings and even baseboards to ensure the cables are properly protected.

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