When installing and setting up your security system and CCTV cameras, you may find yourself running lots and lots of cable. Sometimes the cables need to go a few feet, and sometimes they need to run a few hundred feet to reach your camera, but how long can security camera cables be?

This is an important part of getting set up and prepared to install your security system, but its one that many people don’t account for.?

I wanted to find out what cable options were on the market, which ones were the best, and the distance capabilities of those choices.?

Here’s what I turned up.

Security Camera Cables can be various lengths based on cable type. RG59 coax cable can run up to 1500ft. RG6 coax cable can run up to 2000ft. Cat5e cable can run 220ft and Cat6 can run up to 300ft. All of these lengths can be increased by using extenders or baluns. After this max length, the cable will still transmit video, but the signal may be weak and there may be interference.?

Multiple factors go into determining the max distance you can run a given security camera cable, and each setup is going to be a bit different.

On top of transmitting the video from a camera, you also need to consider the transmission of power to the camera, and those power cables have their own requirements for length.?

How Long Can A Security Camera Cable Be

?When discussing Security Camera Cables, there really needs to be a bit more distinction about the specific type.?

There are two main types of Security Camera Cables, and those two types come in a couple of different flavors.?

The first type of cable is the one which transmits a video signal from the Camera to whatever recording device is being used, whether that’s a DVR, an NVR, or a computer.?

These cables are often referred to as BNC cables or coax cables, and are terminated (terminated meaning there is a connector on the end of the cable) with a BNC connector.?

These connectors are commonly known as RG59 or RG6 terminals.

The purpose of a BNC cable is to send only the video signal from the camera to whatever recording device is being used and to keep any external signals or interference from disrupting the footage.?

BNC connectors are found on each end of the cord, and multiple cables can be put together using a Barrel-type BNC connector.

This still leaves the issue of getting power to the camera.?

BNC cables do not transmit power to a security camera, instead, that’s done by…you guessed it…a power cable.?

Now, for the most part, cameras run on the same standard connector type for power, and they run on 12 DC current.?

This means that you can’t just plug them straight into a power source in your home. They need the current from your home (AC) to be converted to DC power, otherwise, they won’t work.?

Worst case, they’ll burn up and become nothing more than expensive paperweights!?

To avoid these kinds of issues, the power supply to a camera usually start with an AC/DC Transformer.

I could put in a joke about Rock and Roll here, but I think I would embarrass myself just trying!?

These transformers are common on all sorts of charging devices in your home.?

Heck, you probably charged the phone or laptop you’re reading this on with an AC/DC Transformer.?

The power then travels through a 2.1mm male connector and then can be extended by connecting more of these power cables together.?

The third option for a security camera cable is a little bit of the best of both worlds.?

Network cable, also called Ethernet, Cat5e or Cat6 cable, is the same cable used to run internet connectivity from your modem to your router.

Ethernet cable consists of multiple pairs of twisted and braided copper wire.?

These wires act like individual cables within a larger one and allow you to run both power and video over the same cord.

When a security camera uses power from a network cable, it’s usually referred to as PoE.

PoE stands for Power Over Ethernet. Pretty simple, right?

Now with all of that said, you’re probably still wondering how far these cables can be before they start to underperform.

Check out the table below for Security Camera Video Cable Distance Ratings.

Now I want to make something clear; these are all approximate maximum lengths that a cable can be before they begin to let in static and interference.

A video signal from a cord that’s longer than this may be just fine, especially if there isn’t much external noise to make things fuzzy.?

The maximum distance does not mean that the camera will simply not work…except when we talk about the power cables.

Here’s what I mean.

Power cables differ from video cables, in that they can only transmit power so far and still meet the minimum requirements of the camera itself.

Over the length of the cable, the current that travels all the way from one end to the other will drop.?

This is caused by the resistance of the cable.

And you’re right, copper is great, but it’s not perfect.

There are two solutions here.?

The first is that you can goose the right-sized power cable for your situation and needs.

The thicker a power cable is, meaning the more copper there is in the center of the cable, the less resistance that cable has.

To tell if the thickness of a cable, you can generally use the gauge. A wire is rated as a certain gauge based on the size.

For example, 18 gauge is much thinner than 14 gauge and can have lower limits for how much power it can transmit, along with how far it can transmit it.

This also means that the cable can transmit the same power for a much further distance than a thinner wire can, and at the destination of the cable there will be less power loss.

For a camera positioned further away, you just need a thicker cable.

Here’s a quick chart I threw together of the different available wire thicknesses and how far they can reliably transmit power.

Now if you can’t find a cable in the thickness you need based on this info, or you need to run a camera even further from your desired power source, you can go to option 2.

Move the power source closer to the camera.

Sometimes this isn’t practical, like if you’re trying to mount a camera out In the woods or way at the back of your property.

In that case, you might want to look into a localized power source like a solar panel/ battery setup.

Otherwise, it often makes sense to run power from one location at your home to the camera, and not from the same location, you have your DVR plugged into.

So once you have your power worked out, and the camera is ready to send a signal, you can refer back to the above chart for which cable to use based on your length requirements.

But what if those cables still aren’t long enough to reach from your security camera to the recording device?

That’s where extenders or baluns come in.?

Baluns and extenders are devices which allow you to repeat or extend a video signal and refocus it to increase the clarity and range it can be sent.

Think of it as a magnifying glass, taking the input and amplifying it so it can go much further while maintaining its integrity.

Baluns attach between two cables, either coax or network or even a combination of both.?

The baluns take in the signal and extend it, passing it on to the next cable.

Baluns come in both Passive and Active form, with the passive requiring no extra power, and the active needing additional power supplied.

The passive balun can offer an extended range on top of a cable without one, but for the maximum range, you should use a powered balun.

Here are the max distances you can expect with active and passive baluns.?

The actual distance will vary slightly based on the actual equipment you buy, but these ranges are pretty typical of what you can expect.

Bottom line, baluns make a HUGE difference!

No matter what your situation, there is likely a combination of cables and extenders that will meet your needs and get your security cameras transmitting reliably!

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