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How do CCTV Cameras work?

How do CCTV Cameras work?
How do CCTV Cameras work?

Closed-circuit television, CCTV, is a vital part of a modern security surveillance system and something commonly found on public transport, in offices, protecting businesses, and in retail spaces.

However, have you ever wondered how it actually works?

The concept is relatively simple. A camera records activity, streams it to a monitor, and then stores that footage for future review.

Behind the scenes, this technology is far more complicated than it might appear! Adaptations such as facial recognition, infrared cameras, and wireless CCTV continue to evolve as technology adapts and new capabilities are discovered.

Here, the Clearway team explains what components are involved in your CCTV installations and how they work together to provide the ultimate security enhancement.

How Do CCTV Cameras Work?

The answer depends on what sort of CCTV system you have and what cameras are included in your installation. CCTV is vital for high-risk premises, properties exposed to crime, or where public safety is paramount.

Therefore, you’ll find multiple options depending on the type of risks you need to protect against, whether your site is private or public, and the intended use of the surveillance footage.

Examples include:

Hard-Wired CCTV Cameras

Traditional wired security cameras are ideal for permanent installations in a location that can’t be easily accessed or tempered with. They are connected through a series of cables, transmitting the footage to a monitor or digital system.

One of the issues is that proximity can be an issue. Therefore if your transmission range is limited, your CCTV installer may advise you to invest in a signal booster or networking cables to ensure the signal remains reliable.

Hard-wired systems can incorporate multiple cameras, usually streaming to one interconnected monitor system.

Analogue CCTV Cameras

An older CCTV camera model, analogue cameras are still very commonly used. These CCTV cameras have only basic security and typically store video onsite or display footage on a standard TV or monitor.

You can incorporate analogue CCTV cameras with digital video recorders (DVRs).

IP CCTV Cameras

Another option is IP (internet protocol) cameras, with the same functionality as an analogue system but with substantially better capacity. IP cameras have higher resolution footage and are much more flexible and can pan, zoom and reposition.

IP CCTV footage can be viewed remotely or on a web browser, and means you get real-time notifications or oversight of activities at your property.

The camera footage from an IP CCTV system can be viewed live through smartphones, although they are inevitably more expensive than a more basic CCTV installation.

What Types of Video Recorder are Available for a CCTV Surveillance System?

Now we’ve reviewed how the different types of cameras work; it’s also essential to consider the video recorder. This element of your CCTV system stores and archives footage, and there are two main options available:

  • Digital Video Recorders (DVRs): Modern replacement for analogue recorders, which were reliant on out-dated videotapes. DVRs convert the footage from an analogue camera into a digital format at the required resolution and number of frames per second. The digital footage works on a loop, recording over the oldest mages when the hard disk becomes full.
  • Network Video Recorders (NVRs): A more advanced solution, NVRs are compatible with IP CCTV cameras. The NVR can be connected to the security cameras through a network router or switch, with the footage available through an app or online.

It’s essential to use surveillance-quality hard disks for either an NVR or DVR. These are more durable and can therefore cope with working 24/7, or however often your CCTV is in operation.

What Other Components are Required for CCTV Installations?

As well as the cameras and video recorder, your CCTV system will include:

  • A display unit.
  • Surveillance storage.

Display Unit: the monitor, screen or TV connected to your NVR or DVR. You need to have a suitable display unit to review or record the live footage captured by your CCTV cameras.

This display unit can range from a simple TV screen to an HD monitor, a computer, tablet, laptop or smartphone if you’re using an IP CCTV system.

Surveillance Storage: CCTV cameras can record footage for unlimited periods, although you might have motion sensor activation in place to prevent redundant footage.

Storage capacity is a vital component since it can be costly. Therefore, many businesses choose to programme their CCTV cameras to operate during specific times or when their premises are unstaffed.

Modern CCTV systems have a vast range of capabilities, so while the core functionality remains the same, there are many choices regarding what sort of cameras you need, how you access the footage, how it is stored, and for how long.

The key is to assess what sort of budget you have to allocate to security, the core risks you need to protect against, and what capacity you require to ensure your premises or property are kept safe.

Read more about our commercial CCTV options here. 

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