Today I want to go over the differences between the two most commonly used cables in the CCTV industry. It’s important to use the right cabling for the right application, because even with the perfect camera setup and perfect DVR – without the right cabling, you’re hosed.
The first type of cable that I’m going to discuss is Cat5 cabling. Cat5 consists of 4 twisted pairs of cable for carrying signals. Two of the twisted pairs can be used for power, and the other two for video. It is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video. Most Category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise rejection. Using a video balun, you can use Cat5 for none IP analog cameras. Naturally Cat5 is used for IP cameras, but as you can see, it is very versatile. Cat5 is great for hybrid IP/non IP systems simply because it gives you the option to convert your non-IP cameras to IP when you choose to do so. However, the one down side to Cat5 is the distance you can run the cable. Cat5 is only allowed to go up to 300ft. Using a POE switch will extend your runs, but without that, you’ll be limited.
The next cabling that I want to discuss is Coax or Siamese Cabling. This is still the most popular type of cabling that is being run, but its usage is slowing down. The Siamese Cable is strictly used for non-IP analog cameras. As you can see on the image below, there are two ends, hence the name Siamese Cable. Another common name in the industry for this cable is RG-59. One side of the cable is used for video that will run back to the DVR. On the other side are the positive and negative ends for power that will go to your power supply. The cable can support runs that can go up to 700ft without any extenders. The ease of use, quality, and flexibility it gives you makes this a very common choice among installers. The Coax cable comes in a spool, or you can get it precut as well. Precut options are better for your average residential DIY project. However, if you’re looking to add multiple cameras with long runs, then a spool is going to be the route you want to go.
All in all, each cable will bring different things to the table. What’s most important is that you do research on your project and find out which cable is for you! Remember, not all cables are created equally!