Should I replace my analogue CCTV system with an IP digital solution?

Anologue CCTV Vs IP CCTV
December 13, 2023
Should I replace my analogue CCTV system with an IP digital solution?
Ip cable and analogue cable going into a dome camera on a green backgroundIp cable and analogue cable going into a dome camera on a green background

What to think about when considering analogue vs IP digital video surveillance systems.

Many people inside & out of the security solutions industry think that analogue CCTV is dead. But in fact, there’s still plenty of demand for analogue systems, particularly if a customer wants to reuse existing cabling or has a niche scenario. Read on to explore the pros and cons of analogue and IP.

It’s almost 30 years since Axis communication invented the world’s first network video surveillance camera. To many in the security solutions industry, this signalled the beginning of the end for analogue CCTV systems.

Here was a seemingly better way – superior image quality and coverage, coupled with reduced cabling and wireless capability, saw the industry embracing IP digital video surveillance solutions and hanging up on their analogue devices.

But analogue refused to die. In part because of the huge number of business and residential installations who had already invested in analogue equipment that they wanted maintained!

And as it turns out, in certain scenarios analogue CCTV solutions can offer several advantages over digital IP to both the end customer and installer.

Analogue might provide tangible benefits for niche applications not requiring a network or where there is a large existing cabling infrastructure to take into account. Other considerations might include concerns such as asbestos in old buildings and therefore the installer and/or end customer would rather stick with an existing analogue system.

So, answering the question ‘Which security system is a better option?’ doesn’t always have a straightforward answer. Each scenario must be considered individually. Let’s discuss further:

Analogue Security Solutions

Coax cable for CCTVCoax cable for CCTV

Advantages of analogue 

  1. Cost Savings: Analogue cameras and recorders normally cost less than their digital counterparts. Add to this the benefit of re-using existing COAX cabling which can offer significant cost savings for end customers if it’s in good working order, along with reduced manpower and installation time.
  2. Simplicity: Generally, analogue offers a much more straightforward installation than IP.
  3. Lower Bandwidth Requirements: Analogue video recordings are transferred over coax, not a LAN, so require less bandwidth and are only transmitted over networks/4G when someone is viewing a recorded video.
  4. No Latency/Live Video Time Lag: If you are viewing footage locally at the DVR, it will be live, not with the second or more delay you experience over IP
  5. Improved Coverage: Newer megapixel HD analogue cameras can cover large areas with fewer cameras than earlier generations of standard definition.

Disadvantages of analogue

  1. Excess Cabling: Analogue cameras need to be connected to both a power supply and DVRs via cables. And coax cables can be more expensive than the Cat 5 or 6 versions used for digital systems.
  2. Limited Camera Choice/AI features: Analogue camera options are definitely limited compared with the variety available for digital. Plus, the latest AI developments are mainly IP driven.
  3. Positioning Limitations: Analogue cameras must be directly connected to a DVR in order to record, so they need to be within a reasonable range of each other to avoid disrupting the connection. If you want to go to distances of more than 1km, you need to invest in UTP cables.
  4. Port Limitations: A DVR has only one port for remote connections and so you are limited in the number of cameras you can link up. You will have to buy a bigger size of DVR with more channels or additional DVRs if you wish to expand your system.
  5. Poor Wireless: Due to government regulations on frequencies, other devices regularly interfere and distort the analogue video signal.
  6. No Encryption: Analogue signals can’t be encrypted so can be easier to ‘intercept’.

IP Security Solutions

Advantages of IP 

  1. Superior Image Quality: This is significantly higher with digital than for analogue counterparts, particularly when using high-definition video. Zoom functionality is often much better too.
  2. Analytic/Advanced Features: Most of the AI developments that add additional benefits to video surveillance solutions (such as analytical business information or event-based triggers) have been built to support IP/digital functionality.
  3. Fewer Cables: Multiple digital cameras can connect to a switch, and then only one cable is needed to connect to the NVR.
  4. Less Limitations on Positioning: Once you are onto the Local Area Network or Wireless Area Network, there is no limit on the distance between the cameras and the NVR. You also do away with the need for ports because the NVR is software-based, further eliminating restrictions.
  5. Power over Ethernet (PoE) Benefit: The LAN signal cables provide power to the IP cameras, again reducing cabling requirements.
  6. Wireless Capability: It’s much easier to view a live feed from more remote locations with digital IP cameras as long as you have a clear line of sight.
  7. Safer Encryption: This is now commonly built in (currently mandated by Secure by Default guidance) to IP security cameras, so your data is safer.
  8. Greater Recording Choice: in analogue the choice is only to a DVR. With digital IP you have a choice; NVRs, Servers, SD cards, Cloud, or a combination of the above e.g., you might choose an NVR with cloud recording for critical data.

Disadvantages of IP

  1. Complex Set Up: Unless you’re adding to an existing network, you’ll have an increased budget layout to cover equipment, labour, and services to establish a digital solution.
  2. Higher Initial Investment Costs: Digital IP cameras, recorders, etc, tend to cost more compared with analogue devices on an individual comparison basis. That said, you may need fewer of them, negating some of the deficit.
  3. Wireless Limitations: The transmission over wireless from IP cameras is only as good as the placement & reliability of the P2P transmitters. So if you don’t have good line of sight you will have just as many problems as analogue.
  4. High Bandwidth Requirements: An IP solution will normally require much higher bandwidth to operate optimally. This is because of higher resolution images, frame rates and now megapixel camera requirements.
  5. Latency Challenges: You may experience excessive latency when viewing live footage if using CAT5/6, or greater expense if opting to use fibre to negate this challenge.
  6. Ever-Increasing Storage Needs: All of this means you’re likely to output much larger files and therefore require a lot more storage space, either physically or remotely.

All of this can make it difficult for end customers or even security solutions installers to identify which type of solution is the best for their application – analogue or digital IP.

There are a huge number of providers in the marketplace too. This is where a distributor such as Norbain can be of great help. We are structured to meet the needs of customers of all different sizes and application. We make it our priority to listen, understand and adapt to deliver the right solutions for you.

Our customers benefit from dedicated account management, highly trained teams and industry leading stock availability. We know that ‘no one size fits all’, so get in touch with us today to discuss your requirements.

Vista CCTV is one such provider of both analogue CCTV and IP video surveillance solutions. Vista CCTV is available exclusively from Norbain SD, you can find out more about our range of products and accessories.