What is the difference between a CCTV Analog System and an IP Camera?

What is the difference between a CCTV camera and an IP camera?

To set up surveillance cameras in your home, there are two types of systems: CCTV (closed-circuit television) security systems and IP (Internet Protocol) cameras.

CCTV security systems, also known as Analog, are a network of cameras installed to record videos and images that are transferred to a specific audience.

IP cameras, also known as network cameras, are networked over a Fast Ethernet connection and send signals to the main server/computer screen via a network or Internet link.

These systems are viewed by and are beneficial to homeowners and businesses that desire to observe and prevent theft, robberies, suspects and other illegal activity.  They can also be used to check up on children, workers and people ringing the bell when you are not at home – giving you peace of mind.

Due to advances in technology - digital zoom and restricted surveillance features - IP cameras are quickly replacing Analog cameras.

CCTV analog camera
Image captured with a CCTV Analog Camera
IP camera
Image captured with an IP Camera

Advantages of a CCTV Analog System

  • Installation & cost: Easy to install and cost-effective 
  • AHD: Analog cameras have progressed to AHD (Analog High Definition) - where you can acquire a camera between 2 to 4 mega-pixels (before they were only 720 pixels)
  • Features: If you wish to have the alarm input and audio output features, the DVR supports these features. The DVR has an IP address, to view from different devices (smartphones, tablets etc)
  • Cable runs: Analog cable runs are not as limited as IP cameras - they can run up to 300m on a single cable
  • No upgrade of firmware: If new cameras need to be installed over time, this can easily be done as there is no firmware that needs to be upgraded

Disadvantages of a CCTV Analog System

  • Installation time: Installation can be time-consuming (depending on the number of cameras) as they can only be stored over coaxial, using coaxial cables, which need to be connected back to the viewing point (the DVR - Digital Video Recorder).
  • Separate cables: You would need to run a separate cable for power, as they cannot be powered over the coaxial cable
  • Cameras per cable: Only one camera per cable is allowed 

Advantages of an IP Camera

  • Higher quality images: IP cameras are a lot more advanced, capturing higher quality and resolution images of up to 8 to 12 megapixels – providing more detail and clarity
  • Installation time: Installation is less time-consuming than with CCTV systems
  • Cost for cabling: Cabling costs are reduced as only one network cable (that can take 100mb per second) is needed – it is simply plugged into a switch and feeds all of the signals back through one internet cable, and back to the NVR (Network Video Recorder)
  • Many features: IP cameras have a lot more features - alarm inputs and outputs that connect the alarm beams straight into the camera. If the alarm beam picks up any motion, the camera will start recording. One can also connect a speaker (audio output) into the IP camera. Digital zoom is another feature that is not accessible in most CCTV systems - allowing you to “digitally” zoom in to both recorded and live videos to see the image in more detail. This is especially helpful when trying to recognise a person
  • POE: IP cameras can be powered over the Ethernet cable (POE) – this is a huge advantage as you will only need to run one cable instead of two, saving you installation time and cable costs
  • SD cards: IP cameras can take SD cards to record and support video storage on the camera, although this is limited
  • Wireless cameras: Wireless IP cameras can be placed onto the wall - they send data into the cloud (which cannot be destroyed by anyone), allowing you to log into your devices, saving costs hugely. However, batteries will need to be recharged and signal issues can occur if the Internet connection is not strong or interrupted.

Disadvantages of an IP camera

  • Cost: They are relatively expensive, although with mass production of technology, they are becoming more affordable
  • Limited runs: You are limited on your runs - up to 100m. Thereafter, you will need a booster switch (Ethernet booster) to boost the signal to go further, which is an extra cost
  • Firmware upgrades: If five cameras are installed in your home and in a few years you wish to install more, the firmware is going to be different. All of the firmware of the NVR (Network Video Recorder) and the cameras will need to be upgraded in order for the new and old system to cooperate. This can be very time-consuming and costly.

How much can be viewed on a CCTV and IP camera?

In order to view three petrol pumps at a petrol station, with a traditional Analog camera, you will need three separate cameras for each pump. With a High Definition IP camera, you will only need one camera to perfectly view (and zoom into) all three pumps. Only one cable run is needed with an IP camera, as opposed to three cable runs.

In a 3-story home, if you need three cameras on each story, nine cables are needed to run to the DVR (on the ground floor) with an Analog camera.
With an IP camera, a 3-port switch can be placed on each floor which can run one cable from the switch to the NVR at the ground floor. Instead of running nine cables, you will only need to run three.

Recommended CCTV and IP cameras

CCTV Analog System
SYNTECH Raysharp CCTV Analog System, DVR 4 Channel Hybrid

IP Camera

Foscam Outdoor IP66 Waterproof Wireless IP Security Camera 

Do you recommend a CCTV Analog System or an IP Camera?

IP is the future of security and home automation. Analog cameras are moving up in the technology world, but perhaps one day they will phase out.

However, it all depends on your budget, available time and preferences. CCTV systems are just as reliable and effective as IP cameras, and have the ability to deliver a good enough image for any situation.


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