Tips on designing a CCTV system using
IP cameras placed large distances apart
With many CCTV systems now working over IP or Ethernet connections rather than analogue connections, it can be a challenge to know how to solve the problem of placing cameras great distances apart without the need for extensive cabling of risking a loss of quality from the system. If you are installing a system in a large complex or warehouse and need to achieve long distances between each camera and between the camera and the hub, then you may need to think creatively to solve your problem.
The issue of power supply
One of the main issues is getting power to the cameras themselves. Whilst the Ethernet cabling is fairly cheap to extend and install in order to achieve a greater range, running a separate power feed to each camera can be costly and can slow the project down greatly, as you will need a qualified electrician to check and sign off each connection. Thankfully an innovation in cabling technology does allow for Power over Ethernet (PoE), which simply means the cameras take enough power to operate from the Ethernet cable without the need for additional power supply.
The easiest way to achieve greater distances between IP cameras in a network is to build your network with switches, thereby increasing the bandwidth available to each camera for data transfer. The Ethernet cabling can be installed with extenders, which are available for both Cat5 and coaxial cable. These allow for distances of up to 1200m, more in some cases, and are by far the easiest measure to install.
Or fibreoptic cabling
The other option is to consider going fibreoptic. Fibreoptic cabling is still a more expensive method than Ethernet, but he cost has come down a great deal in the past few years. What will make it cost prohibitive is the need for a professional to install it for you. If you have someone in house who can install fibreoptic cabling then this will be a much more viable solution and will allow you the freedom to extend your network even further in the future should the need arise. If you decide to go with fibreoptic you will need to use media converters at the camera end to send the signal down the cable, and then use patch cables to connect into your switches.
When fiberoptic looks more viable
Although Ethernet extenders are by far the cheapest and easiest solution to install, there are some situations where you will be better off with fibre. In any situation, coaxial Ethernet cabling needs to have outstanding surge and lightning protection, but if you know the cameras are to be mounted outdoors and in an elevated or exposed position, it may be better not to risk it and to go with fibreoptic cabling from the start.
Lightning travels incredibly quickly down the copper cabling inside Ethernet, and can cause an immense amount of damage and a huge fire risk if it makes its way back to your switches or hub. It doesn’t travel in the same way down fibreoptic cabling, so in some situations it will be better to choose this option from a health and safety point of view as much as anything else.
When building a digital surveillance system, the setup of the cameras, the digital video recorders (DVR’s) and any hubs and switches will all affect the overall performance of the system, so its important to consider each component of the system individually and make sure it is suitable for your needs. If you are in any doubt then contact a professional systems designer for advice.
Want to understand the complexity of CCTV systems? Get qualified with us
Learn how you can become a pro CCTV installer. Check our CCTV Installation and Maintenance Courses here.