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Can you upgrade CCTV cameras?

28th May, 2021

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    The simple answer to the question “can you upgrade your existing CCTV cameras” is yes – but this has some catches.  We will try to explain some of the options you can consider if you are thinking about upgrading your CCTV – you can always contact us at ACCL for some advice and a free quote.   

     

    Firstly, you must ask yourself why you are upgrading your CCTV.  This could be for a number of reasons.  Like many electronic systems upgrading or replacing is inevitable – parts start to fail, the system becomes unreliable, passwords get lost, the system cannot be expanded, some cameras have poor images, some images are black and white, some cameras are not in focus – the list goes on.  The latest CCTV systems have superior image quality and a host of features that your old system probably does not have.  Upgrading the system will benefit your organisation and provide better results. 

     

    In its most basic form, a CCTV system consists of a camera connected to a recording device that is connected to a viewing device. 

     

    When thinking about upgrading a CCTV system you need to consider these basic elements.  If cost is not an issue, then this is less of a worry and you can just rip everything existing out and replace it with the latest equipment and cables.  If, however, you are working to a budget then it is worth investigating your existing infrastructure, and look to reuse as much as you can.  This will save large amounts on installation costs and potentially speed the upgrade up. 

     

    Depending on the age of your system you will have either a coax cable (older) or a structured cable (not so old) connecting your cameras to your recorder.  A large part of the cost to install a CCTV system can be taken by the energy required to install cables to each of the cameras.  If you can reuse the existing cables very substantial savings can be made when you upgrade. 

     

    I hear you say – If I don’t upgrade the cable won’t I end up with the same quality video as I already have?  You would think so – especially if you are reusing aging coax cable.  But surprisingly the answer is no – you can get full HD digital quality images over cables that were installed 30 years ago for analogue use.  Manufactures realised that there were a lot of people that had CCTV and were happy with what it was doing for them and the cost to completely upgrade their entire system was not worth it and would just stay with an OK analogue system.  A method of using a standard coax cable originally installed to work with analogue CCTV was developed to carry digital signals over the same cable. 

     

    This opened a whole new opportunity to provide some of the latest HD cameras to people that did not want to spend a lot of money upgrading their CCTV.  These systems are commonly called Turbo HD CCTV. 

    These systems have continued to be developed and are able to carry power and data as well as video over a single coax cable.  Many of the smart features associated with full IP systems are available and the cameras can be accessed via a PC – on the local network or remotely if required.  Also, the system can be viewed via a smartphone.  Two very useful features that your existing system probably cannot do or doesn’t do very well.     

    This means that by only changing the camera and the recording device you can dramatically improve the quality and functionality of your system.  For most requirements, this option has very few drawbacks and is extremely cost-effective.      

     

    While upgrading to HD over coax will bring many improvements to your system to get the latest and greatest technology you would be wise to install CAT6 cable and have a full IP CCTV system installed.  This obviously involves running new cables from the cameras to the recording device.  This can always be achieved but will often require remedial works to be carried out – holes will need to be put in walls!

     

    It is always a good idea to combine other works with an upgrade of a system whenever possible.  If you are carrying out renovations to your building or are installing a new network for other reasons it is worth considering what cables should go where at that stage – this will cost relatively little to do in conjunction with other works but will save a considerable sum if you were to do it at a later date.

     

    What are the advantages to upgrading the cabling to Cat 6 or fibre?  Essentially it comes down to bandwidth.  The more bandwidth you have the more data you can move down a cable more quickly.  Why is this important?  8K is the reason for this – the bandwidth required to give the ultra HD images some cameras are now capable of is huge and the latest Cat 6 cables are required to enable this huge throughput.  If you require ultra HD cameras, then a new cable is a must. 

     

    Having said this 4K images over coax is possible and for most applications, this is more than adequate.

     

    In short, it is ideal to upgrade the entire system but if it is most cost-effective to reuse existing cables then real benefits can still be obtained. 

    We hope that this article helps and if you are interested in finding out more about upgrading your CCTV system please contact us and we will be happy to give you some advice and give a free quotation for your CCTV upgrade.                 

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