We get asked about wireless cameras a lot. Remember, wireless Cameras still need a power cable. Since you’re already running a cable for power, why not pull the camera wire with it.
There are two types of Cameras. IP and Analog. IP cameras are ‘Network’ cameras. Meaning they plug into the home network. Analog cameras are where we’ve been for the last 20 years.
Prewiring for IP Cameras
Run (1)Cat5e or Cat6 to the Camera location. Most IP camera systems are going to use something called POE (Power over Ethernet). The system sends power out to the camera over the Cat5e, so you don’t need a second cable for power.
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The traditional method for wiring an Analog camera is to run a Siamese Coax, which is a RG59 wire, and an 18/2 wire bundled into one cable. The Coax sends the video, and the 18/2 runs the power to the camera. You can still do this and it’s perfectly acceptable.
You can also run a (1) Cat5e cable, and use a Balun to on both ends of the Cat5e to both power the camera and send the Video Camera. The baluns are a little more money, but comparable when you consider the difference in price between the Cat5e and Siamese Coax.
Some Helpful Notes and FAQ’s
- We recommend placing your cameras at a height and location that is easily accessibly with an average sized ladder. You’re going to need to clean the cameras once in a while, or repoint them. You don’t want to have to rent a 30’ extension ladder. And honestly, the closer the camera is to the ground, the better the image is you’re trying to see. Keep it up high enough it’s out of reach by foot, but close enough for a regular ladder.
- A lot of companies will wire both wires to every location to keep their options open. They’ll run a Cat5e, and Siamese coax.
- To save cost, we almost always run (1) Cat5e. We can use it for IP cameras, which is the majority of the cameras we install these days, but if need be we can use Baluns and convert it for Analog cameras.
*Some companies offer HD over Coax. It’s a little cheaper than IP as an HD camera solution. If you go this approach, you should use Siamese Coax, not Cat5e.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.