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New Beginners Guide

Choosing the right system for you

I am sure if you know very little about CCTV then you would call a CCTV supplier and simply say “ I need a CCTV system for my house, what do you recommend”?

If we were to answer that question as its put to us, then the answer would be “the most expensive one we sell”!

so before you ask anyone how much will it cost?, ask yourself these questions-

  • Do you want a particular brand or don’t mind what brand it is?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How many cameras do you need?
  • What’s your budget? New install or an upgrade?

All too often we get customers saying ” oh I don’t know how much they cost so I don’t know how much a need to spend”

Everyone knows what they want to spend, very few customers say” I have a bottomless pocket! “This is proven when we start quoting for 5MP IP cameras with ultra-low light pickup and 30-day of real-time recording at 5MP!! The simple fact is a customer wouldn’t go to a Mercedes car dealer when they have £10,000 to spend. In the same way, don’t expect “the best system ” when you want 8 cameras and £300! yes were are not a car dealer but we do have a wide selection of CCTV systems so your budget is the only limit.

Have a look through the CCTV kits we sell, this will give you an idea of what you will need for a complete cctv system and how much its likely to cost. We can put a system together based on your budget and requirements. If a kit doesn’t have the cameras you need, simply put a kit together by choosing all items separately. The price is not likely to be any different so don’t be put off.

Also, don’t say you can buy it cheaper on Amazon or eBay as we will simply say “you’re in the wrong place”

Once you have established how many cameras you need and how much you are willing to spend, it’s time to move on to what CCTV system suits your needs within the limits of your budget.

Hikvision, HiLook & Qtron brand.

Hikvision & Hikvision HiLook are made by Hikvision and use the same app as well as having the same user interface. The Hiwatch range is aimed at those customers on a budget. We are often asked, ” is the quality the same”? The simple answer is no, HiLook is the BUDGET range.

Another popular question is, “is the Qtron as good as Hikvision?”. Qtron fixed lens IP cameras are about 30% cheaper than Hikvision and Qtron varifocal IP cameras are half the price of Hikvision varifocals. Picture quality is not as good as Hikvision.Qtron IP is plug and play with Hikvision recorders and the user interface is very similar. It also uses the same diagnostic software as Hikvision called SADP tool. All Qtrons sold from June 2018 require no confiragtion changes in order to get a picture on a Hikvision recorder

Qtron IP is cheaper than HiLook IP and picture quality is also better.

Types of CCTV Systems.

1) IP CCTV Systems 

Also sometimes called Network CCTV, .uses CAT5 cable which is the same cable as computer network cable. IP CCTV systems are very neat all in one unit with power and the digital signal being carried on just one cable. The power supply is built into the recorder which is called an NVR (Network Video Recorder). All you need to do is connect the camera with a network cable and that’s it. BUT don’t mix and match manufacturers unless we state that it is compatible with them.

IP doesn’t mean you need the internet.

2) Analogue CCTV Systems .

In 2015 you could be forgiven for saying ” analogue CCTV is dead”, why? Because in 2017, sales shifted back to analogue for the following simple reasons –

a) A 5MP IP camera will cost you twice as much as its analogue version
b) Up to 8MP resolution is now available on analogue
c) Analogue is cross-compatible with other manufacturers
d) 80% of properties already have the old system with coaxial cable and the analogue signal can be carried on these cables.
e) Simpler to find faults.

3) Analogue PoC CCTV Systems

Power Over coaxial ( PoC) is new(ish) which uses an RG59 cable to carry the video signal and power over the same cable, The power for the cameras comes from the recorder thus simplifying cabling. You can use a CAT5 cable with PoC but cable lengths will be limited to 50 meters at most for a small fixed lens cameraPoC stands for Power Over Coaxial. simply put, a single coaxial cable is used for the video signal and power and the power for the cameras is supplied by the recorder called a Digital Video Recorder with PoC ( DVR PoC) . There is no need for separate power supply or power splitter or shotgun ( siemese cable). You can’t use CAT5 cable for PoC. You will Need to buy analogue cameras that are compatiable with PoC as nornal ones will not work without additional cable and power supply.

4) Wireless CCTV?

Wireless CCTV system – Look no wires – with far more disadvantages than advantages! Remember, you still need a power supply to run the cameras.There are numerous wireless cameras on the market today hoping to capitalize on this trend. While a standalone wireless CCTV camera with SD card recording has its uses, generally speaking, a multi-camera system just isn’t viable when reliability is the single most important thing to consider, which most of the time it is. To add to this, there are far more wired options available to the consumer.
Which camera?

Mega Pixels


All too often customer says I want 8 megapixels and then they say “it’s not any good at night!” Currently, 2MP Sony Starvis or the Sony Starlight will outperform any 5MP cameras at night in anologue CCTV systems.

A cameras performances in low light is determined by its sensitivity to light which is measured in LUX. A 0.008 lux camera would provide a better image in low light than a camera that has a LUX figure of 0.01. So don’t just go for the highest Megapixels, you need to take both figures into account.

IP CCTV Systems explained

IP stands for Internet Protocol, IP doesn’t mean you need the internet

Just about every DIYist says ” oh no I don’t want IP because I have to have the internet!” YOU ONLY NEED THE INTERNET TO VIEW THE CCTV WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT THE PROPERTY WHERE THE CCTV IS INSTALLED.

IP CCTV also offers the highest resolution ( image sharpness) which is measured in Mega Pixels ( MP) currently up to 12MP which is 6 times higher than the current TV which is 2MP or 1080P. BUT remember, the higher the resolution, the more space you will need to store your CCTV footage. The storage space is a device called a hard drive which is installed within the recorder ( NVR ). For details on what size hard drive you need, see the hard drive section. Don’t forget that you are limited to the number of hard drives that a recorder can take – A minimum of 1 hard drive and a maximum of 8 if you have the need and budget. If you need more then speak to us at CCTV wholesales or a CCTV installer.

Remote buildings can be linked with just one cable to carry a large number of cameras ( not for the DIY)
Where cable can’t be installed, the signal can be transmitted wirelessly ( not for DIYist )

Existing mains cables can also carry the digital signals but are not as reliable as a wired system.

IP has optional advanced analytics such as face capture, face recognition, Automatic Number Plate Recognition ( ANPR ) , Fire, loitering, object left unattended.

For a full new IP CCTV install, you will need

  • A Network Video Recorder ( NVR)
    IP cameras 
    Hard drive – Only one needed
    Ethernet Cables- one per camera
    Cable clips
    CCTV monitor screen or your own TV to view it on
    HDMI cable to connect your screen

What’s the downside of IP CCTV?
First, the cost – IP CCTV systems will cost about 30% more than their “analogue ” versions. if the cost is the first hurdle, then don’t go for IP.

The second disadvantage – If it doesn’t work when you plugged in the cables you need to determine what the fault may be. Most installers struggle with fault-finding IP CCTV systems as they have just been used to plugging 2 wires in and getting a picture. IP needs basic networking skills for fault finding AND the installer must have a thorough knowledge of the product. Most installers don’t even turn up to a job with the basic tool which is a laptop! If you have called an installer to install your IP CCTV system and they don’t have a laptop, think again before letting them loose on your premises. IPADS and iPhones won’t do!

What do we suggest to ensure your install goes smoothly? Buy a simple CAT5 tester which is about £10, Test the cable with this tool and make sure all connections are secure by moving the cables. If you have made the cables up correctly and plugged one end into the NVR and other ends into a camera without stretching the cable and without going over 100meters, then you either have a faulty camera, faulty NVR or camera may not be compatible or there is a firmware mismatch if you didn’t buy the recorder and camera at the same time.

If any parts of the system are wireless, make you configure the units before you go up the ladder.


Analogue is the opposite of digital, err how does that explain what analogue is you ask? If you old as me then think of it as comparing vinyl records to CDs. On vinyl records you get the clicks and whistles created by dust and static on the record, these are natural additions add by the environment. On a CD, the information is store in 0’s and 1’s which are translated to something you can see or hear without any other “interface”.

Analogue CCTV system also uses a thicker cable to carry the image, this is called a coaxial cable although you can use CAT5 with video baluns with some drawbacks.

For analogue you also need a pair of cable to carry power for the camera which is normally 12 Volt DC unlesss you use a Power Over Coaxial system – see PoC CCTV

Sound also required a separate pair of cable but this has recently changed so that sound can be carried on a coaxial cable.

For a full new Analogue CCTV install, you will need-

  • A Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
    Analogue camera(s)
    Hard drive – Only one needed
    Cables- one per camera
    Cable clips
    Power supply – only one needed for all cameras
    Power splitter – only one needed
    CCTV monitor screen or your own TV to view it on
    HDMI cable to connect your screen

What’s the downside of analogue?

You will get a signal even if poor quality cables are used but you may get interference – wavey lines or spots and so on.

Rolling lines if it’s installed on 3 phase building which most commercial builds have. and large domestic manor houses

Needs a thicker* cable than IP which could be a problem for under carpet wiring.

Need separate cable* for audio microphones

Need separate cables for advanced functions such as PHYSICAL motion detection. ( don’t mention built-in motion detection on recorders which should only be used to save recording space).

Not easy to link  buildings without cables

Needs one cable between recorder and camera which makes it unsuitable for large areas such as shopping malls and separated buildings.


Power Over Coxail is a very similar CCTV system to that of an Analogue CCTV system in that you don’t need a separate power supply or an extra pair of cables to carry the power to the cameras. Power is supplied by the Digital Video Recorder and it’s combined with the video signal over a coaxial cable. This means a net and quick installation. Be sure to select a camera that has  PoC capability if you want to take full advantage of the PoC feature.

PoC system currently can not use cameras with a built-in microphone for sound recording. IF you need sound recording on a PoC system, you will need to wire in TWO  extra pairs of cables to carry the sound and 12volts DC power, a microphone, and a separate 12V DC power supply.

Q & A

Q – Can I use CAT cable for PoC system?
 A -Yes but cable distance will be limited to 50metres and picture quality may be reduced.

Q – Can I use non PoC cameras with a PoC system?
A – Yes, you will need an extra pair of cables and a 12V DC power supply.

Q – Can I get a PoC camera with a built-in microphone? 
A- No



There are numerous wireless cameras on the market today hoping to capitalize on this trend. While a standalone wireless CCTV camera with SD card recording has its uses, generally speaking, a multi-camera system just isn’t viable when reliability is the single most important thing to consider, which most of the time it is. To add to this, there are far more wired options available to the consumer.

Wireless CCTV comes as  –

A single-camera with an SD card slot for recording and  WIFI connection but requires power. Have a look at the Bluram cameras at this link  . they are excellent for domectic use

A single-camera with SD card for recording and WIFI connection with a bult-in rechargeable battery. Sorry don’t sell any yet

A 4 camera system with a base unit containing a hard drive for recording. Not much to choose from but have a look at this link .

An IP camera with a separate WIFI unit and power. This can be used with a main wired system and is normally used for large-scale CCTV systems where it’s difficult to run cables such as Pubic street cameras, farm building, airports, and car parks. These are various systems that need a fair amount of knowledge to set or we can pre-configure them for you at a cost. have a look at this link 


IP cameras are used with IP CCTV Systems using a CAT5/6 Ethernet cable or they can be used with a Wireless Host/Client to send signal where cabling is impractical. They can also be used on Digital Video Recorders that is Hybrid. All of the DVRs we currently sell are Hybrid in that they can take IP cameras as well as analogue cameras that use coaxial cable.

Cameras options are –

Camera Resolution – 4MP , 5MP , 6MP , 8MP and 12MP

Camera shape – Turret, Vandal Dome, Bullet or Pan Tilt/Zoom

Camera Technology – Infra-Red, colourVu, Acusense, Automatic Matic Number Plate Recognition ( ANPR)  Ai artificial intelegance.

Camera Lens – Covered seperatly

Camera IP rating  – which is their resistance to moisture/rain. 99% of the camera we now sell are suitable for indoor or outdoor use unless stated otherwise.

Camera Resolution

The first rule on camera resolution, more megapixels doesn’t always mean a sharper picture. You should take into account – Price, technology, lens F aperture, image sensor type and size, LUX levels ( its sensitivity to low). Digital to noise ratio ( its own contribution to 




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