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cctv power supply

CCTV Basics: How To Choose The Right Power Supply

UK residents are no strangers to CCTV cameras. Ever since its introduction in the 1990s, surveillance has become an important mainstay. In fact, for every 11 people, there is 1 CCTV camera

When you find yourself living in a shoddy neighbourhood or along the main road, a security camera is an important investment. It can help you keep track of the people who come and go. It is also an excellent investment for most businesses. Security cameras can deter petty crime like theft, vandalism, and break-ins. 

Whether you are looking into CCTV cameras for your home or business, it is important to know the basics. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about your CCTV’s power supply. 

What Power Supply Do I Need For A CCTV Camera?

When you are only working a single camera for a storeroom or office, it is fairly straightforward. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect your CCTV camera with the proper power supply. Basic setups rarely need anything beyond a battery or a plug to socket. However, when you are working with multiple cameras, as most homes and businesses do, you need to consider how to make it work as a system. 

Centralised Power Supply

When creating a proper system, there is a bit of math involved, but it’s nothing too complicated. Customers are encouraged to work with professional CCTV installers like Aerialforce when you set up a centralised CCTV power supply. These systems are incredibly customised, especially since there is a wide range of units available from analogue cameras to IP cameras

When you are creating your system, you wouldn’t want to go based on generic answers online. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up your centralised power system that suits your needs: 

Materials

You will need the following materials:

  • CCTV/ IP cameras
  • Power supply box
  • Coaxial cables/ Network cables
  • LED board 

Instructions

  1. Take note of the power (Watts) and voltage (Volts) of your CCTV camera. This information is usually available on the box, manual, or printed on the device. 
  2. Calculate for current (Ampere) by dividing your power with your voltage. Remember that amperes usually have decimal points, so most people convert to milliamperes to get a whole number, but the amount should be the same (e.g. .350 A is the same as 350 mA).
  3. You can double-check whether your wires can handle your current capacity, but it should be fine. Others recommend making sure it can function at 80% and to get that you can divide your current with .80 to get your margins.
  4. Connect the positive and negative terminal of your power supply box with your camera. The number of terminals depends on how many cameras you have. 
  5. If you have a major setup, you can invest in a dedicated fuse box for your CCTV system. Your circuit should be connected to each camera and have an LED indicator to show you whether it is powered or not. You can also have a PTC fuse in your power supply unit to ensure it doesn’t short circuit. This power supply unit makes it easy to maintain your CCTV system in the long-run.

Most systems can work with 12V DC with 10 A, but again, it is all about finding what works for you. Security cameras don’t usually take up a lot of power. 

How Can I Get Power For My CCTV Camera?

There are two ways you can get power to your CCTV camera. It is either a coaxial cable or a network cable that connects to your digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR). The type of cable you need depends on your security camera, though it also depends on the situation. Analogue cameras work better with a coaxial cable like an RG59. The video quality is low enough not to suffer any loss during transmission. Another benefit of coaxial cables is that they are shielded, this offers resistance against signal interference. 

You can learn more about coaxial cables in our blog: “What Is A Coaxial Cable and What Does It Do?”

Digital and IP cameras, on the other hand, tend to have larger data files. A coaxial cable may experience loss during transmission, and it defeats the purpose of getting HD footage. Network cables like a Cat 5 up to a Cat 7 with video baluns can handle these data files better. 

However, there is one thing to note when working with network cables–the higher the category, the shorter the distance. If your CCTV system spans a large area, you may experience a bit of lag when you go beyond 100 meters. In this case, it would be better to settle for a coaxial cable instead. 

When finding the right CCTV power supply cable, there is a bit of guesswork involved since every set up is so different. When in doubt, always consult a professional to ensure you are getting the best security system possible. 

Does CCTV Camera Work Without Electricity?

Like any other device, your CCTV power supply depends on electricity. So what happens when there are power outages? Some CCTV cameras have back up systems integrated like an additional battery that kicks in case of power failure. While it is a nifty feature, it is hard to come by. You would be better off looking into developing a backup system.

You can connect your power supply box to your generator or battery so it can continue to record the activity on site. However, your contingency plan should not just consider the cameras, but the lights as well. In the worst-case scenario where your valuables are missing, you have to depend on your video output for your case. You cannot have your security system out of commission or have dim footage if you want to get to the bottom of the case. So while your CCTV depends on electricity, you can have backup plans in place, so it isn’t dependent on your main power line.

How Much Power Does A Security Camera Use?

The amount of power a security camera uses varies according to the model and your settings. The general rule of thumb is that the better the video quality and the longer the recording means more power in the long-run. Some security models also have extra features like night vision, motion detectors, or additional light which may also affect the power it consumes. When you have an around the clock surveillance system, you are bound to use a lot. 

You can calculate how much power your CCTV system uses by taking a device wattage and multiplying it with the hours used per day then divide it by 1000 to get the kilowatt per hour (kWh). The breakdown of the formula goes: 

Device wattage x hours per day = Watt-hours per day (Wh)

Device usage per day (Wh)/ 1000 = Device Usage in kWh

Device usage per day (kWh) x 30 days = Monthly usage (kWh/month)

* If you have more than one device, simply calculate for each then add them together. Your total should include each CCTV camera, DVR, and any other additional device. 

The cost of electricity may fluctuate, but the average should be around 14.40p per kWh. When you have 5, 7-watt, CCTV cameras and a 40 watt DVR that you use 24/7, it will total to approximately 16 pence per month.

Protip: There are models on the market that try to minimise its power consumption. Some security cameras only activate/ record when motion is detected, and when there is none, it simply stays in ‘sleep’ mode. 

While it is very doable to install your CCTV cameras by yourself, there is a lot of technical know-how involved. Besides being able to find out how to wire centralised power supply, calculate for monthly electric bills, you also need to consider your cameras’ placement and position. 

Instead of leaving gaping blind spots or poorly wiring your system, why don’t you get the help of professional CCTV engineers? Aerialforce offers you our expert services from sourcing CCTV units and elements, creating a surveillance plan, executing it, to providing quick repairs and maintenance. With our same-day service, you can have your home or business outfitted with a customised CCTV system that can leave you feeling safe and secure. You can book us online or call us at 0330 173 5056!

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