In the security camera world, the type of cables used for different applications can get confusing. In this article, we provide details so you can select the proper security camera cables for your project.
RG6, RCA, Cat-5e, Siamese – What Does It All Mean?
Lets start with the most typical type of cables used for analog security cameras, and work our way through the other configurations and cable types.
Siamese Cable (Power + Video)
Siamese cable is one of the most popular cable combinations used in CCTV surveillance installations and combines the power and video cables for analog security camera applications into one “cable”, allowing for easy installation because you run the video and power straight from the camera to the DVR, then split off the power part of the cable and connect it to your power supply, which, ideally, is close.
The siamese cable we use consists of RG59 video cable and 18AWG power cable. We sell pre-cut, pre-terminated 25, 50, 75, 100, and 150 foot cables, and un-terminated 500 and 1000 foot rolls.
RG59 Video Cable
RG59 cable, like in the above siamese cable, is the primary cable solution for analog security camera solutions. This is what you will typically utilize to transfer video between your surveillance camera and the digital video recorder (DVR).
RG6 Video Cable
RG6 cable is used primarily for digital signals that utilize rapid frequencies and can handle more bandwidth than RG59. If you are transferring analog signal, just stick with RG59.
RCA Video & Audio Cable
RCA is the standard type of cable used for composite video and analog audio between devices (typically home audio/video). There can be confusion between an RCA cable and RG59 or RG6 cable because of the connector attached. Just because it has an RCA type connector, doesn’t mean it’s “RCA” cable. It could be an RG59 or RG6 coaxial cable.
For short distances, a plain old “rca cable” will typically produce good enough quality video for an analog CCTV system, but when you need higher quality, stick with RG59 (or RG6 if the signal is digital).
Cat-5e Ethernet Cable
Cat5e cable is used for IP network based surveillance solutions and can transfer high quality video and audio across short distances (or long, with a powered signal extender) very well. As the industry moves towards network-based security systems, more and more Cat-5e (and Cat-6/Cat-6e) will begin to be used.
Ethernet cable can also use power-over-ethernet (POE) injectors to power a security camera over the same cable it sends the video and audio. This eliminates the need to power cameras individually, and cuts down on installation costs. Please note that to use POE you need a POE capable camera and network router/switch.
Standalone Power Cable
If you are looking for standalone power cable for your security camera system, go with 18AWG or 22AWG electrical wire.