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If you are reading this you are probably planning on increasing the security of your home or any other property to keep you and your loved ones safe and happy, but you ended up confused with all the technical information surrounding CCTV Security Systems.

Worry not, since in this Instructible I will:

  1. Differentiate the main types of CCTV systems

  2. Additional features in the CCTV systems which will increase security (if such features are supported by your system).

There are three most popular types of CCTV systems which are:

  1. Standalone IP Cameras

  2. Digital Video Recording Systems

  3. Network Video Recording Systems

I will go into detail with each of them in the following steps.

Step 1: Stand-alone IP Cameras

IP camera is a type of digital video camera that receives control data and sends image data via the Internet. Unlike analog CCTV (Close-Circuit Television) cameras, they require no local recording device, but only a local area network.

Some IP cameras require a NVR (Network Video Recorder) to handle the recording, video and alarm management, which we will be talking about later. Right now, we will focus on the IP Cameras which can operate without an NVR, as the camera is able to record directly to a SD Card (if the Camera supports an SD Card).

IP cameras are Digital and connect via Cat5 (Networking) Cable or WiFi. The resolution of IP cameras is measured in Megapixels. It provides Plug & Play Ease of Use.

The traditional and well recognized type of IP Camera is the Pan and Tilt, which requires the user input to move the camera to wherever he wishes to look into. But a new type of IP Camera is steadily emerging called the Fish-Eye IP Camera which has no moving parts.

Step 2: Differences Between DVR and NVR

There are two main types of recording systems in the market. The first being the DVR which is cheaper and easier to setup. The second being the NVR which is more expensive and requires some technical knowledge

DVR (Digital Video Recorder) are mostly wired. You need special equipment to make it wireless.

  • [DVR] uses analogue cameras which need a two-core cable for signal. Usually coax cables are used and u need an additional cable for power.

NVR systems (Network Video Recorder) run either via ethernet cables or wireless. Higher picture quality (720p, 1080p) can be achieved by NVR compared to DVR.

  • [NVR] cables are ethernet if you go with the wired option. Also here are PoE (Power over Ethernet) meaning both power and signal can be sent through one ethernet cable. You could also opt in for wireless at the time of purchase.

  • [NVR] uses IP cameras as those type of cameras works on a network using ethernet cables or WiFi.

The larger the HDD, the further you can playback. The higher the quality of the camera, the lesser you can playback as it takes more space. In my estimate an 8 channel 1080p NVR with a 1TB HDD will give you roughly a week of playback. Probably lesser cos the quality is high.

Recording capacity is a function of *disk space (channels x resolution x frame rate)*. If you get 1 week at 30fps, dropping to 15fps (still quite usable) would give you two weeks of playback.

Extra points to note:

  • Some DVRs also include NVR functionality

  • Avoid NVR packages built around proprietary PoE (e.g. "sPoE", some HikVision products)

  • Also avoid proprietary video encoding. Look for "ONVIF Profile S version 2.x" compliant products

  • With a true IP-based NVR using an external switch, adding wireless capability later is as simple as connecting an access point and buying compatible WiFi cameras.

Step 3: Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

Digital Video Recorders converts the analog signals from a CCTV camera to digital format, store the information into a hard drive and also send live video stream to other devices on the network.

I have embedded a video which shows how to set up a Digital Video Recorder System. Check it out to learn more about it.

Step 4: Network Video Recorder (NVR)

Network video recorders have become dominant in high-quality surveillance. They are to be connected with IP Cameras therefore allowing a much higher picture quality than DVR's.

The distance between an NVR and its IP camera is kind of limited. Going beyond that will result in losing connection with the IP Camera and so the camera feed will stop. But there are methods to increase the signal strength.

The 3 main methods to extend the NVR Signal are by using:

  1. The Built-in Repeater function in the IP Camera, or

  2. A Network Switch, or

  3. A WiFi Router

Step 5: Connect DVR or NVR to the Internet for Live Streaming

There are two methods to connect to your DVR or NVR from your mobile or PC:

  1. The Indirect Route of connection is easier to setup, but it goes through a third party and streams slower.

  2. The Direct Route is a bit more complicated, but it does not go through a third party and therefore streams faster.

Most of the time, CCTV companies go out of business and so their servers shut down, therefore the Indirect Route of connection stops working. This forces the user to switch to the Direct Route of connection.

I have embedded a video on how to connect the DVR or NVR to the internet successfully.

Step 6: Motion Detected Email Notifications

Almost anyone who breaks into any building knows that people have resorted to installing CCTV systems in order to protect their belongings. The CCTV system becomes pointless if the thief steals the Video Storage unit as well (DVR or NVR). So an alternative would be to have a backup of it somewhere else the robber does not know of. We can do this by using the motion detection feature in the DVR or NVR which sends snapshots when there is any motion detected.

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