In IP surveillance, a PoE switch has always been the standard way to install the cameras. By using a PoE switch, power and data can be delivered simultaneously to the connected devices on the same network cabling, eliminating the need to install new electrical infrastructures. You can also connect multiple IP cameras back to the NVR using only one Ethernet cable. But it has a limited distance capacity, about 100 meters, which highly limits its applications in long-distance deployments. In recent years, optic fiber connectivity has now emerged as a primary media in camera installation. Installing security cameras with fiber cabling is a good way to go beyond the limitations of Ethernet cabling, with which you can easily extend the distance to 40 kilometers over a single cable run. To understand how it’s possible, read the full post below to know how to install the IP security cameras with fiber switches.
Why Use Fiber-Optic Connections?
At long transmission distances, fiber connections are a cost-efficient complement to twisted-pair cabling. The fiber optic link allows for cable runs of over 10 kilometers, which is normally beyond the reach of coax and UTP cabling. The benefits of fiber cabling are making it a common choice for IP surveillance.
1. High-Performance Data Networking
When building a high-speed network that requires long distances and higher bandwidth, there is no question: fiber optic cables are obviously the best solution. Fiber optic connection has a world-renowned reputation for long-distance and high-performance data networking due to its inherent advantages as an uninterruptible information carrier. It can carry information at a higher throughput than copper wires in the same amount of time. And the transmission speed of fiber optics could reach 10 Gbps or more. It only suffers 3% signal loss over a distance beyond 100 meters compared to 94% in PoE cabling. And the fiber optic cable’s smaller size maximizes pathway and space use compared to other types of media, making it a great idea for routing inside and outside buildings into surveillance and monitoring cameras.
2. Long-Range Installation with Low Cost
As we previously mentioned, the fiber network can carry the signals over long distances over a single cable run with only very little signal degradation, while in the twisted-pair cabling, signals need to be amplified several times over the same distance. You have to install multiple PoE extenders or signal boosters on the line, which will generate a higher cost. Although fiber optic cables are more expensive per meter than copper cables, they can better withstand extreme temperatures, water/dust ingress, shocks and vibration, chemical exposure, etc. And the fiber optic network we install today will be able to handle the increased demand for more bandwidth in the future. It’s highly future-proof technology that requires little maintenance, which makes it a worthwhile investment in the long run.
3. Higher Security and Reliability
With the increased attention to cyber security, fiber-optic communication is obviously a more cost-effective way to improve your Internet security. Intercepting data transmissions will be incredibly difficult. Since it is a dielectric medium that is immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), there will be no egress signals that can be tapped, and any physical tapping on the fiber cables will be immediately noticed and reported. Ans it’s also easy to identify compromised cables by light breaches. Moreover, fiber also supports a higher level of reliability since it doesn’t carry an electric current, while old and worn copper cables would present a fire hazard.
Integrate Fiber Cabling Into Security Camera System
A fiber-based security camera system is composed of three parts: the sending side, fiber optic cables and the receiving side.
The Sending Side
On the sending side of the system is the IP camera which constantly sends the video signals and other data in the digital format to the NVR. But since the fiber cable can only accept optical signals, a media converter often needs to be installed to convert the electrical signals utilized in copper cabling to light waves used for fiber optic cabling so as to implement and optimize fiber links in existing cable infrastructure. The media converter normally has one or two SFP ports into which the SFP module can be inserted to allow you to adjust the existing network without having to redesign the entire cable infrastructure.
Fiber Optic Cables
Because of its light-propagating characteristics, the fiber optic cable carries the video signals over long distances to the control center or NVR. Since fiber features high tensile strength and light weight, it’ll be much easier to pull the cables over extended distances. The length of the fiber cable can range from 100 meters to 40 kilometers to satisfy the specific requirement of every kind of network without any severe reduction in signal strength. And based on the operational requirements, the type of fiber cables may differ, from single-mode to multi-mode, from simplex to duplex, and from field-terminated to factory/pre-terminated.
The Receiving Side
On the other side of the camera system is another set of media converter and SFP module that converts the optical signals back to electrical signals that the receiver end can understand and decipher. But if you need to install multiple cameras at a time, you can also deploy a fiber switch or a network switch (the one that comes with one or two SFP ports) on the control center. And it can provide centralized management for your network, which greatly simplifies error identification and troubleshooting. And for video recording, an NVR needs to be set up to store the captured footage.
Components You’ll Need for IP Camera Installation
Here, we’ve listed some essential components you’ll need when installing IP security cameras over fiber optic cabling.
1. Fiber Optic Switch
The fiber optic switch is a telecommunication device that uses fiber optic cables and optical modules to send and receive data between different networked devices. Compared with the traditional network switch, the network speed has been greatly lifted by using fiber Internet. Thanks to the fiber optic switch, network congestion is no longer a problem. All the signals and data can almost be transmitted and received at the same time, featuring a symmetrical upload and download speed. The increased bandwidth capacity and security also enhance the efficiency of data transmission. Moreover, by using the fiber optic switch, you can create a more organized system of signal delivery to manage multiple cameras at a time.
2. Media Converter
The media converter is often utilized to create a connection between dissimilar media types (i.e. fiber optic cables and twisted pairs) by converting optical signals into electrical signals, and vice versa. It offers a cost-effective solution to extend or repurpose the existing network infrastructure. It is used in various scenarios other than the surveillance system, ranging from building access controls to campus LANs and governmental projects. Based on its features and capabilities, the media converter can be divided into different types:
1) Non-PoE and PoE Media Converters
The non-PoE media converter only provides data connections for the connected device, while the PoE media converter can enable distance extension over fiber optic cabling for PoE-powered devices like IP cameras, wireless access points, etc., which are located in inaccessible areas to broadband networks. The PoE media converter helps users create a hassle-free Fiber-Ethernet connection over long cable runs. When connected to a local power source, it’ll simultaneously deliver both power and data to the connected device.
2) Commercial vs Industrial Media Converters
The commercial media converter is designed for use in a climate-controlled environment (0 ~ 40°C) like an office or control center. However, the industrial media converter has good resistance to extreme temperatures (-40 to 85°C), vibrations, electrical noises, chemicals and combustible environments, etc. The industrial media converters are equipped with redundant power supplies and rugged enclosures, supporting both Din-Rail and rack mounting. They are ideal for use in factory automation, oil and mining, public transportation, etc.
3) Standalone vs Chassis-based Media Converters
The stand-alone media converter that comes in a compact size, is easier to deploy and usually used in space-constrained applications like a distribution box, while the chassis-based media converter is designed for high-density network connections used in enterprises, large data centers and campus networks. For better management, a number of standalone media converters are installed in a chassis that comes with its own power supply. And each media converter can be easily removed or disabled.
3. SFP Module
The small form-factor pluggable (SFP) is a compact, hot-swappable transceiver used for data communication applications over either fiber optic or copper to facilitate seamless conversion of Ethernet signals into optical signals. SFP modules are made to support single-mode and multi-mode fibers at network range anywhere from 1 kilometer to 100 km. The SFP modules are mainly classified based on their speed capabilities. Most SFP modules can at least support a transmission speed of 1 Gigabit to facilitate high-speed network communication.
4. Pre-terminated Fiber Optic Cables
The pre-terminated fiber cables are made at a pre-defined length and pre-terminated with connectors. They are undeniable of higher quality, feature minimum insertion loss and provide more reliable performance in mission-critical applications that demand the highest level of accuracy, like the IP security camera system. These cables feature a plug-and-play design and can be easily deployed and disassembled, cutting deployment time by at least 70%-80%, and they also make a great choice for disaster recovery situations. For distances within 2 km, you can choose the multi-mode fibers, but if you want to extend the distance beyond 2 km, then the single-mode fiber optic cables will be a more suitable choice.
5. Fiber Termination Box
As the number of connected devices increases, the distribution and management of fiber cables become more and more difficult. To address this problem, the fiber termination box is developed to manage the incoming and outgoing cables. It offers a cost-effective method to organize multiple strands of fiber cables in a budget-friendly way. Considering fiber optic cables are more susceptible to physical damages caused by bending, folding or pinching than copper cables, extra protection is needed to facilitate better installation and operation.
How to Install IP Cameras with Fiber Switches?
One of the reasons why fiber has become so popular in IP surveillance systems is that the fiber optic cable is hard to tap and jam, which makes it perfect for applications where security is the top priority. Before the installation, you have to choose the best location for your IP cameras from where they can easily cover the whole area you want to monitor.
1. Fiber Optic Cable Preparation
To set up an Ethernet-Fiber link for the IP camera system, the fiber optic cables should be installed in place before the installation. Although fiber is an extremely durable and strong material——most fiber cables can support a pull strength of 45-90 kg thanks to the Kevlar strength member, several practices should be followed to ensure a successful connection.
How to Install the Pre-terminated Fiber Cables?
Most pre-terminated fiber cables come with a pulling eye design that prevents the cable from twisting during cable pulling and speeds up the installation in narrow terrains like conduits, ducts, risers, etc. Then, the next step is to connect the pulling eye to a fastener and add some lubricant to the pulling socket to reduce the pulling load and the chance of breakage, but the lubricant should be compatible with the outer jacket. During cable pulling, remember not to exceed the cable bend radius. Only two 90-degree bends are allowed at a single pull, and the bend radius should be greater than 20 times the cable diameter. But if you want to divide a long pull into several shorter pulls, you should lay the cable in a figure 8 pattern, so the loose end can always be on the top when being pulled to the next section so as to prevent the cable from twisting. And the last step is to connect both ends of the fiber optic cable to the distribution boxes located at the control center and the job site.
How to Install the Field-terminated Fiber Cables?
The main difference when deploying pre-terminated and field-terminated cables is how to apply them in the fiber termination box. The former is a plug-and-play and ready-to-use device that you can connect directly to the optical adapter on the termination box, while the latter needs to be splicing, polishing, etc., which involves a more complicated installation process. Now, follow the tutorial below to complete the termination: a. you need to prepare the cable for placing in the box: strip off the outer jacket, remove the Kevlar fibers and peal off the central tube; b. next, you need to determine the length of the fiber and splice it with LC pigtails, protect the connection with a plastic tube and heat the protection sleeve; c. last, you need to terminate the cable on the reserve loop on the box and connect the fiber pigtails to the optical adapters on the box.
2. Media Conversion between Ethernet and Fiber
Once the fiber optic cable is in place, the next step is to complete the conversion between the legacy copper system and the fiber optic infrastructure. Based on your applications, you can choose different types of devices to customize your camera system.
Point-to-Point Fiber Links
Point-to-point (P2P) is a dedicated fiber link that connects two physical locations to each other on a private, high-speed fiber connection. In the point-to-point topology, the devices are directly connected via only one cable to realize a fast-speed network connection between two endpoints, and since only two nodes are using the data link, more bandwidth is reserved for point-to-point communication. One of the biggest advantages of using this topology is that it’s simple to implement and easier to maintain. And this type of fiber link is the simplest and most common transmission method used in IP security camera systems, which makes it easier to troubleshoot faulty cameras without taking the entire system offline.
Solution 1: Fiber Optic Switch plus Chassis-based Media Converters
For applications that require a medium to large-scale deployment of IP security cameras, such as enterprise and campus environments where multiple points of copper-to-fiber conversion are required, a chassis-based media converter system can provide a centralized platform to manage your IP cameras and simplify network administration and monitoring in long-range applications. For high-density network deployments, you can insert up to 19 media converters into a single 2U chassis. Moreover, all media converters can share a common power source, which highly reduces the cost of installing new electrical infrastructures. Once inserted, the media converter will be automatically powered up and can be easily removed or re-inserted in another slot as your deployment changes. And, the dual power supply designs also enable you to optimize power supply and resource allocation. You can provide more than enough power for a fully loaded system and ensure continuous operation even if one power source fails.
The devices required for the installation are a fiber switch, chassis-based media converters, multiple BiDi SFP modules, IP cameras, fiber optic cables and Ethernet cables.
a. Insert one BiDi SFP module into the SFP port of one media converter and another SFP module into the SFP port of the fiber optic switch.
b. Connect the two SFP modules with a fiber optic cable.
c. Plug an Ethernet cable into the RJ45 port of the media converter and connect the other end of the cable to the IP camera.
d. Power the IP camera with a nearby AC or DC power source.
How to Power the IP Cameras?
The biggest challenge when deploying a fiber optic link is to power the edge devices since fiber optic cables don’t carry electricity during the transmission. The most direct and easiest way to power your cameras is using power adapters. But you need to pay close attention to the maximum power your IP cameras can receive and choose the compatible power adapter accordingly since the voltage tolerance of every network device varies. But you can also run a power cable in parallel with the fiber optic link to transmit power and data simultaneously to the edge devices when the distance is less than 2 km. But you need to lay them in different conduits since high-voltage electrical cables can and will induce currents on conventional fiber cable sheaths and cause them to break down prematurely.
Solution 2: Fiber Optic Switch plus Stand-alone PoE Media Converters
In carrying out a point-to-point fiber optic link, one of the biggest challenges is the power supply. Since the fiber optic cable does not deliver electrical signals over the data cable, you have to power the cameras with an additional power source. But the PoE media converter provides an effective way to extend the transmission distance up to 10 kilometers with high-performance data networking via the fiber optic cable. Moreover, it is also an ideal solution to power network devices directly via the UTP cabling. And the maximum distance between it and the cameras can reach 100 meters, which helps you eliminate the need of installing extra power outlets and electrical cabling on the job site. By using the PoE media converter, you can seamlessly integrate the cameras into the single-mode fiber network. And this device can also be deployed in a network star topology to create a point-to-point connection between the server and client. In this application, the IP cameras can be deployed throughout a large area.
Before the installation, you should prepare the following devices: a fiber switch, a PoE media converter, two BiDi SFP modules, an IP camera, a fiber optic cable and an Ethernet cable.
a. Insert one BiDi SFP module into the SFP port of the PoE media converter and another SFP module into the SFP port of the fiber optic switch.
b. Connect one end of the pre-installed fiber optic cable to the SFP module on the PoE media converter and the other end to the switch.
c. Plug an Ethernet cable into the RJ45 port of the PoE media converter and connect the other end of the cable to the IP camera.
Solution 3: Fiber Optic Switch plus PoE Switch with one SFP Port
By deploying a PoE switch, you can connect multiple IP cameras to one switch and use only a fiber optic cable to transmit the video data back to the central hub, which is ideal for large-scale camera installation. But you have to make sure each PoE switch has at least one SFP port to which it can connect to the upstream fiber switch. In this way, you can deliver both power and data to the IP cameras and other devices that accept PoE power. Moreover, by using a managed PoE switch, you can also control and monitor the traffic coming out of each PoE port and configures certain PoE ports to low priority during low activity periods. But you have to make sure the PoE switch can provide the required power for each PoE port and that its total power budget can support all the cameras you plan to plug in.
For the installation, you’ll need a fiber switch, a PoE switch with one SFP port, two BiDi SFP modules, multiple IP cameras, a fiber optic cable and some Ethernet cables.
a. Insert one BiDi SFP module into one of the SFP ports of the fiber optic switch and another SFP module into the SFP port of the PoE switch.
b. Use the fiber optic cable to connect the fiber optic switch and the PoE switch.
c. Plug an Ethernet cable into the RJ45 port of the PoE switch and connect the other end of the cable to the IP camera, and repeat this step to set up the other cameras.
Daisy-Chain and Ring Topologies
PoE media converters or PoE switches that support multiple-port configurations can be daisy-chained to set up a hop-to-hop fiber link along parking lots, rail lines, pipelines or highways. In this way, the cables used for camera installation can be highly reduced. Also, you can create a redundant fiber link by linking the last media converters back to the central fiber switch in a Token Ring configuration. The PoE media converters can be connected to each other in a circular format where data is transmitted in sequence, which greatly reduces packet collision and minimizes data loss over long distances. Even if a fiber link is shut down, the IP camera will continue to send the video data over the failover fiber link, which is ideal for mission-critical applications that require extra attention.
To set up a redundant fiber link over long distances, you’ll need a fiber switch, PoE media converters (with at least two SFP ports), BiDi SFP modules, multiple IP cameras, fiber optic cables and Ethernet cables.
a. Insert one BiDi SFP module into one of the SFP ports of the fiber optic switch and another two SFP modules into the SFP ports of each PoE media converter.
b. Use the fiber cable to connect the fiber optic switch and the first PoE media converter.
c. Use another fiber optic cable to connect the first PoE media converter to the next PoE media converter. Repeat this step until all the media converters are daisy-chained.
d. Connect the last PoE media converter to the fiber switch.
e. Plug an Ethernet cable into the RJ45 port of the PoE media converter and connect the other end of the cable to the IP camera, and repeat this step to set up the other cameras.
3. Fiber Switch to NVR Connection
The NVR is used to record and store the video data and interconnect all the IP cameras under the same network video system. After the installation, you’ll need to connect the fiber optic switch to an NVR using the UTP cabling. But if you need to monitor the cameras from a remote location or if the upload speed is critical for you, then you’re required to connect these two devices with the fiber optic link. Moreover, you can store your footage via a cloud-based storage service to access your camera streams and videos anywhere, anytime.