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Using CAT5 cable to connect CCTV cameras to a DVR.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the advent of video baluns has revolutionized the way we connect our security systems. Today, a CAT5e cable can be used to connect CCTV cameras to a DVR, simplifying the process and eliminating the need for special tools or intricate components. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to connect a CCTV camera using a CAT5 cable, along with important considerations to keep in mind.

Essential Components

Video transmission along the CAT5e cable is facilitated by a pair of video baluns, one at the DVR end and one at the camera end. Two types of video baluns are available: Standard definition and High definition, designed for use with HD 1080P cameras and DVR recorders. Power is transmitted using screw-in DC plugs and sockets, with the plug at the camera end and the socket at the DVR end. It’s advisable to locate the camera power supply close to the DVR.

Choosing the Right CAT5e Cable

It’s crucial to use pure copper CAT5 cable. Some CAT5 cables are not pure copper but CCA (copper coated aluminum). Don’t rely solely on the label or retailer’s word; verify the cable yourself. CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, and CAT6e can all be CCA rather than pure copper. CCA tends to break easily when bent, and the copper can be scraped off to reveal silver-colored metal in the center. Always opt for pure copper external grade cables.

Cable Run Considerations

The maximum distance for video signal transfer with video baluns is approximately 300 meters. If the cable is also used to power a camera, a maximum distance of about 50 meters is recommended to avoid voltage drop. This assumes the use of 3 pairs of wire for 12-volt supply and 1 pair for video signal transfer.

Wiring Conventions

Careful wiring is essential. Choose a color convention and stick to it. For instance, blue can be used for video signal, with solid color for +ve and white plus colored stripe for -ve.

To set up your system, run a single length of CAT5e cable from the DVR recorder to each CCTV camera. One pair of wires within the cable will handle the video signal, while the other three pairs will deliver 12-volt power from the transformer to the camera.

Polarity Identification and Connection

Separate the 4 pairs of wires in the CAT5e cable. Use the blue pair for transferring video signal from the camera to the DVR, keeping this pair twisted to reduce the chance of interference. The green, brown, and orange pairs are used to take 12-volt power from the transformer to the camera. Use the solid color for 12-volt +ve and the white with colored trace for 12-volt -ve.

Ensure to strip back the outer plastic sheath to reveal the copper conductor before pushing into the fittings and tightening the connector with a small screwdriver. Note that the DC power fittings are different for the DVR end of the cable and the camera end of the cable.


Protect the fittings from water damage by using weatherproof junction boxes by each camera. This will ensure the longevity of your CAT5 camera wiring and overall system.

Advanced CCTV Camera Integration with CAT5/CAT6 Cabling

The use of CAT5e and CAT6 cables has opened up new possibilities for the integration of modern IP cameras in CCTV systems. These cables can connect IP cameras to network switches or recorders, leveraging the advanced features and higher resolutions of modern cameras.

One key advantage is the use of Power over Ethernet (PoE), which allows both power and data to be carried over a single Ethernet cable, reducing the need for additional wiring. However, it’s crucial to use solid copper cables for PoE applications to prevent voltage drop and potential fire hazards. Also, observe the maximum recommended cable lengths to avoid signal loss.

The quality of the cables and adherence to industry standards significantly impact the performance of the system. High-quality, pure copper cables ensure compliance with Cat5e/Cat6 specifications and optimal system performance. Always purchase cables from reputable suppliers and verify that the cables are marked as solid copper.

By understanding and applying these principles, you can create a robust and secure CCTV system that fully leverages the capabilities of modern technology.

Can CAT5e or CAT6 cables be used for both power and data transmission in CCTV systems?

Yes, CAT5e and CAT6 cables can be used for Power over Ethernet (PoE), which allows them to carry both power and data, streamlining the installation process and reducing cable clutter.

What is the maximum recommended length for CAT5e/CAT6 cables in CCTV applications?

The maximum recommended length for CAT5e/CAT6 cables is 100 meters or 328 feet for data transmission. For PoE applications, the distance may need to be shorter to prevent voltage drop.

Why is it important to use pure copper cables for PoE CCTV systems?

Pure copper cables have lower resistance than copper-clad aluminum (CCA) cables, which means less voltage drop over distance and a reduced risk of fire hazards, especially in PoE applications.

What are the benefits of using IP cameras with CAT5e/CAT6 cabling over traditional analog cameras?

IP cameras offer higher resolution, better image quality, and advanced features such as remote access and network integration. Using CAT5e/CAT6 cabling allows for a more scalable and flexible system.

How can I ensure my CCTV cabling is up to industry standards?

Always purchase cables from reputable suppliers, check for UL listings, and verify that the cables are marked as solid copper. Avoid CCA cables and ensure that the cabling adheres to TIA/EIA standards.