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How to install CCTV cameras with Cat5 (UTP)?

Traditional CCTV surveillance systems are still the most installed video surveillance system. For the installation, you can either choose to use the conventional coaxial cable (RG59) or the Cat5 (Unshielded twisted pair). Compared with the coaxial cable, the UTP with advantages of less expensive price, and working with video balun, user can extend video transmission distance. One Cat5 cable contains four pairs UTP, it can not only transmit both video, audio and even RS485 control signal, but also offering power supply to analog cameras over single Cat5 cable. Moreover, the Cat5 is also called Ethernet cable, the Cat5 cable also is used to connect the IP devices. Using the existing Cat5 cables, users can easily upgrade theirs analog system to IP surveillance system.

Not long ago we have noticed that more and more CCTV installers make use of Cat5 cables for analog CCTV system installations. With Passive Video Baluns based on specification you should utilize UTP cable to transmit color video as far as 1300ft. With a active CCTV Balun you can go as far as 5000ft. While it is much more than with RG59 cable there are some issues you might run into while using Cat5 cable on long runs. Firstly it is a power issue. Using Cat5 cable you can utilize remaining 3 pairs intended for electrical power. That is recommended for long runs of 500ft plus more. With those ranges, I would not use 12V DC.

Due to the voltage drop you need to use 24V AC cameras. With more power consuming infrared cameras, you need to actually use AC power supply having a 28V output. Only by doing this you can compensate for a voltage drop at the end of the cable. Long range infrared cameras would want a power supply situated much nearer to the video camera or require an additional cable to supply power at those ranges. 3 Pairs of Cat5 cable will not be adequate to provide sufficient power even with 28V power supply in the event of Long Range Infrared Video cameras. When utilizing an active CCTV Balun, it's important to put power supply much closer to the camera. There is no approach we can transfer the power at a distance of 5000ft using traditional techniques.

UTP connection diagram for CCTV camera system

One more thing concerning UTP installation is a higher resistance to interference of UTP Cable. We have a few observations of our own regarding this challenge. You will find cases exactly where coaxial cable may be useless. Setting up video cameras in close proximity to high powered TV or even Radio antennas and even cellular towers may result in total lack of image on coaxial cable. This might happen even on a short runs of 200ft. Cat5 Cable generally works much better in this kind of conditions. However where there isn't any significant electromagnetic field we notice coaxial cable to actually outperform Cat5 cables on runs of 500ft and much more. Within both cases video has very decent quality, nevertheless Cat5 cable tends to create lines and also sometimes little ghosting effect while RG59 picture is much more stable.Therefore there isn't any one perfect solution.

Selection of the cable should be depending on few other factors other than merely installer’s own preference. We just like utilizing RG59 Siamese cables on most of the installations where video cameras are located not farther than 1000ft and there is no more than 32 cameras. On the other hand Cat5 cable is much simpler to manage and if you utilize Conduit, Cat5 cable will be a great money saver. Cable management at the base is also a problem with a UTP cable. There's just no way to make it look completely clean. Therefore we really do recommend using dedicated cabinet or a server rack when dealing with Cat5 cable. If you put DVR on the desk and also have all those baluns and wires hanging there, you will be back there many times with a service call. Something to keep in mind.

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