Designing a Camera (CCTV) System

“Too many people want to have mountain-top experiences at rock-bottom prices and that just doesn’t work. Greatness doesn’t come at a discount. If you want true greatness, you have to pay the full price for it.”

Damilola Oluwatoyinbo

If you’re looking to design your own system, do not always pick the cheapest option as you will pay for it later with difficulty and trouble.  Design a system that works for you with quality parts.

Wire Type Ethernet or Wireless (Wifi) Ethernet or Coaxial
Power Supply POE Injector/Switch Power Supply at the DVR or Power at the Camera
Recorder Type Network Video Recorder (NVR) Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Pros – Tends to have Higher Quality Images
– Intelligence and analytics
– Easy to Set-up
– Cheaper
– Data Travels Further on Wires
Cons – More Expensive
– Need a Booster on Wire Lengths over 100 Meters
-Requires More Storage
– Not as Good Image Quality

Wire Types:


  • Standard Network Cables
  • Power-Over-Ethernet (POE) allows just one cable to be run to the camera
  • If used with an Analog system requires a Balun
  • CAT 5 cable is typically 30 percent cheaper than Coaxial
  • When used with IP need Boosters for Longer Runs (more than 328 Ft – 100 Meters)


  • Still Requires a Power Wire to be run
  • Takes up a lot of wireless network Bandwidth (Recommend a separate dedicated high quality wireless router)
  • Can lose footage if wireless network goes down
  • Cameras Cost More


  • used for up to 1000 feet
  • need to run a power wire with the coaxial

Power Supply:

We recommend all devices be plugged into a good quality UPS (Uninterruptable Powers Supply) this keeps your cameras running if your power goes out, and protects your equipment from power fluctuations, which will extend the life of your camera system.

Choosing the right power supply:

  • For an Analog System they are usually 12VDC or 24VAC and come as a single channel, or multi-channel unit.  Make sure camera has enough current available on each channel to power the camera in it’s worse case current, some draw a significant amount of current if they have built in heaters.

Recorder Type:

When choosing a Video Recorder we recommend having more channels then you need.  If you are planning for 2 cameras, a 4 channel unit is probably fine, but if you plan 3 or 4 cameras you probably want to upgrade to the 8 channel and so on as most people want to add cameras at a later date even if they don’t think they will on the original install.

The length of your storage time depends a lot on the Resolution of the Camera, and how busy the area your recording in is.  For a 1080p Analog Camera or a 2MP IP Camera we found 1 TB per camera lasts about a month. With Analog lasting longer and IP being shorter but that it our typical starting point to calculate how much storage you will need.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR) – all our DVRs are Hybrid

  • Used for analog Cameras, usually comes in 4, 8, or 16 channels
  • Storage usually ranges from 1TB to 16TB
  • Hybrid – Can use IP Cameras (but doesn’t provide POE)
  • Uses 5MP (HD)/up to 4MP (IP)/ 1080p/720p/960H/4CIF/2CIF/CIF/QCIF Formats
  • Not all HD Analog Camera Formats are compatible with other Brands

Network Video Recorder (NVR)

  • Used for IP Cameras, usually comes in 4, 8, or 16 Channel
  • Storage usually ranges from 1TB to 48TB
  • POE is provided from NVR
  • VGA through to 4K cameras
  • Most IP Cameras Speak ONVIF Format

Choosing your Cameras:

Dome cameras provide a vandal/weather resistant cover.  These are good for outdoor use or indoor use.


Turret Cameras are good for indoor locations where protection isn’t required.


Bullet Camera
Bullet Cameras are good for outdoor locations, bullet cameras often come a further zoom than domes or turrets

Wedge Cameras are good Indoor/Outdoor Cameras and tend to have the smallest profile for ceiling and overhangs.


360° Cameras come as IP only, and are designed to be mounted on a ceiling; they can give multiple views, or a fish-eye 360° View.  Often it is cheaper to put several regular cameras than 1 360° Camera, but it is an option.


The Pan, Tilt, Zoom Cameras can be adjusted from the viewers end to move and see more than a typical camera might.  These are ideal at a security station where someone is watching it, but the down side is it may not be watching where you want to see when something happens.  These cameras are quite expensive and are often used for better detail on areas already covered using multiple regular cameras.

Box Camera

Box cameras are specialty cameras.  You order the lens and the camera separately.  These are typically used for very long range zoom.




Resolution varies a lot between cameras; old cameras were 700 Lines, Current cameras fall between 720p and 4k.  More resolution means more storage.  Most people find 1080p or 2-4MP IP cameras have more than enough detail.


Vari-focal vs. Fixed

A Fixed Lens means it’s not adjustable; you set the view and you’re done.  They tend to be 2.8mm, which gives you 89.9° view.  These are ideal for cameras put in a corner to see wall to wall, or outside where to want to see a generic wide view but not anything specific. A 4mm lens gives about a 80° view, a 6.0mm gives about 50.5° view. 

Vari-focal Lens means it can be adjusted; you can zoom in on a particular object or location (the cash register at the store for example) Standard cameras are usually 2.8mm to 12mm which means you have a range of 89.9° to having the same resolution in an area down to 26.2°  but vari-focals are available with up to 50mm which can give a much larger zoom.  Vari-focal lenses can be manual or motorized.  Manual lenses mean you need to zoom and focus manually at the camera while you are aiming the camera.  Motorized means it can be adjusted at the DVR and will auto-focus.

Other Options:


Infra-Red (IR) is available on cameras; this allows them to see in the dark.  They are usually rated in Meters.  A 30M IR can see 30 meters in total darkness.  One thing to note is that when cameras are in IR mode they record in black and white.


Some cameras include a heater, this allows them to be rated for much lower temperatures. 

Designing Your System:

To start your design you need to ask yourself some questions

What is my budget?

What am I going to cover with my cameras?

Do I have a blind spot that would be better covered from another direction?

Can you run a wire to where you want the camera?

Will I have network Issues if I go wireless?

Am I going to have environmental issues where I want to put cameras? (Will the sun blind it in the morning/evening? Will it get rained/snowed on? Is it high enough people won’t touch it?)

How will I mount the cameras? (Do I need a swan neck? Or a post?  Or can I just put it on the wall?)

Some tips to remember are:

It’s typically better to have a higher view from the camera, as it protects the camera, but placing a camera too high can cause issues with identification, as a hat can easily block a face from a high camera, a low camera gives a better image of the face.

Consider your night time view with the camera, will you see everything you want covered either with the IR available or will more light sources be needed.

A narrow zoomed in view will give you a clearer image for a specific area, or a zoomed out view will give you more area but less clear.  The amount of pixels stays the same; the area it covers is what changes. You must understand what trade-off you’re making when aiming and focusing your cameras.

A common mistake is to include interesting areas instead of areas of interest.  Looking at a sidewalk, or busy street while may be interesting may not have anything to do with the area your trying to protect. 

Looking at sky with a security camera isn’t useful – it can cause glare.  When looking to watch people coming over a fence you don’t need much higher than the top of the fence.

System Layout

IP System:

Hardwired over Ethernet Cameras

IP Connections over Ethernet
  • IP Cameras
  • CAT5E CAble or Better (Pre-made or a Crimp tool and Connectors will be needed)
  • IP Camera Data Extender for runs over 100 Meters (328 ft)
  • NVR
  • Recommend always using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
  • Optional Monitor or TV

Wi-Fi Cameras

IP Connections over Wifi
  • Wifi IP Cameras
  • Power for the Camera (12VDC Wall Transformer)
  • Optional 18/2 Power Wire if the Wall Transformer wire doesn’t Reach
  • Good Quality Wifi Router (Not your regular wifi router)
  • NVR
  • Recommend always using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
  • Optional Monitor or TV

Analog System:

Cameras Over Coax

Analog Connections Over Coaxial Cable
  • Analog Cameras
  • Coaxial Wire (Premade or Tools and Connectors will be needed
  • 18/2 Power Wire
  • DVR
  • 12VDC Power Supply
  • Recommend always using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
  • Optional Monitor or TV

Cameras Over Ethernet

Analog Connections Over Ethernet
  • Analog Cameras
  • Cat5E Cable or Better (Pre-Made or a crimp tool and connectors will be needed)
  • Baluns (1 Pair for Each Camera)
  • DVR
  • 18/2 Power Wire
  • 12vDC Power Supply
  • Recommend always using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
  • Optional Monitor or TV