Wiring and Powering Security Cameras

Wiring up your own security camera system isn't as hard as you may think. Save your hard-earned money by installing your system on your own. We help walk you through important steps such as:

  • Figuring out what kind of cable you need.
  • How far you can run different types of cable.
  • How to power your security cameras.
  • How to make BNC fittings for bulk cable.


Wiring Your Video Security System

Wire and cable might not be the flashiest part of a security system but it is a critical part of the overall solution. There are plenty of things to consider when selecting and installing wire and cable to ensure your security system works optimally. At a minimum, wire will be used to provide power to your cameras and most of the time, wire is also used to transmit the video signal back to the DVR.

To determine the appropriate cable for your installation you must first know whether your system is analog or digital. Next, you need to know if your camera is going to be powered locally (connecting to it's power source within a few feet) or remotely. If you are connecting the camera to a remote power source, you should consider running your video and power cables together. Video security cables are available with the power and video cables run side-by-side (known as Siamese Cables) or all under one jacket. These will make installation much easier than trying to pull two separate wires. 

Before installing your cameras, it is recommended that you test the cable by connecting a camera to the power supply and to the DVR. Test each pre-made cable at the DVR location, or make a short test cable when using bulk wire. This extra step can help prevent headaches by ensuring that your pre-made cables are fully functional before installing.

Wiring Guide for Pre-Made Cables
  1. Both ends of the video cable are male connectors, but the power connections differ on either side; Identify which end of the cable is for the DVR, and which is for the camera. The camera has a male power connector on it, so you must identify the end of the cable that has the female connector.
  2. Connect both video and power to the camera pigtail.
  3. On the other end of the cable, plug the video connector into the DVR on the desired video input.
  4. Plug the power cable directly into the power Supply. Depending upon which cameras came with your kit, you may have either a single power supply with a multi-camera splitter, or several individual camera power supplies.
  5. Setup Complete!

Now that all connections have been made, the camera should display on the live video screen of your DVR. If you have problems or require additional assistance, please contact our technical support.

Video Cable & Maximum Distance

All professional grade systems use video coax cable to transmit the video from the security camera to the recorder. The maximum distance the security cameras can be from the recorder is a function of the cable rather than the camera itself. Using RG59 coax cable you can extend the camera out to 600 feet. Using RG6 coax cable you can run up to 1,000 feet. Cable is available in 500' boxes or pre-made cables in 100', 65', 35' lengths.

Wiring Guide for Bulk Cable and Custom Cable Lengths

  1. Cut the desired length of cable from the box of cable supplied.
  2. Follow the steps outlined below on making a BNC fitting for both ends of your custom length video cable. Once you have completed those steps, plug one end of the newly finished cable into your camera and the other end into your DVR.
  3. At the camera side of the cable, strip away the outer shielding from the power cable so that the red and black wires inside are exposed. Strip off 1/4 inch of the jacket of each wire.
  4. Insert the wires into the terminal block on the end of your female power wire pigtail. The black wire needs to be inserted on the same side as the black wire on the pigtail; the red should be inserted on the same side as the red wire on the pigtail. Once the wires are inserted, use a small screwdriver (Phillips recommended) to tighten down the screws on the terminal block. Lastly, plug the camera into the fitting on the end of the pigtail.
  5. On the DVR side of the cable, strip away the outer shielding from the power cable so that the red and black wires inside are exposed. Strip off 1/4 inch of the jacket of each wire.
  6. If you are connecting the camera to a multi-camera power supply, you can attach the wires directly to the positive (V+) and negative (V-) leads of the power box; The red wire is always Positive and the black is always Negative.
  7. If you are connecting the camera to a single-camera power supply, attach a male power wire pigtail using step 7, then connect the power supply to the end of the pigtail.
  8. Setup Complete!

Now that the camera has been connected to the DVR and has power run to it, the camera should be displayed on the live screen of the DVR. If you have problems or require additional assistance, please contact our technical support.

How to Make a BNC Fitting

    How to Make a BNC Fitting
  1. Strip away all of the cable and shielding so you have 1/2" of the center conductor exposed.
  2. Then strip away the black covering so you have 1/4" of the shielding exposed. Do not allow any of the copper shielding to touch the center conductor.
  3. Insert the cable into the fitting and gently find the hole for the center conductor before you press the fitting on the wire.
  4. Now just twist the fitting on the wire while firmly pressing down until the fitting has been firmly twisted onto the cable.

Connecting Coax Cables

BNC fittings are used to connect the cable to both the camera and the recorder, multiplexer or monitor. You simply push the fitting on the video port on the back of the DVR or camera and turn it, it couldn't be easier.

Types of Video Cables and Example of Connectors

Camera Power

Security cameras can be powered two ways. You can power each security camera with its own plug in power supply, or you can wire multiple security cameras back to a multi-camera power source. Both options plug into a regular 110V electrical outlet and then step the power down to 12V DC or 24V AC to feed to the camera. Make sure you match the cameras voltage to the power supply. In other words power a 12V DC camera with a 12V DC power supply and power a 24V AC camera with a 24V AC power supply. Failure to do so can result in damaged equipment.

Single Camera Power Supply VS Multi Camera Power Supply

We recommend using 12V DC equipment. 12 volt replacement parts are readily available and they filter power spikes from getting to the camera. Plug in power supplies are usually located within 6-10 feet of the security camera. The multi-camera power supplies are installed in a closet or somewhere out of the way and then a two conductor power wire is pulled to each camera. When designing a surveillance system you may want to use a combination of plug in and multi-camera power supplies. This will depend on where your power outlets are located and how easily you can pull a wire from a multi-camera power supply to each camera. Multi-camera power supplies have one fused, dedicated power output for each camera. This design provides excellent protection from power spikes and surges.

Security Camera Power Cable

While almost any wire will work to power a camera the quality of the wire will dictate the maximum distance you can transmit power. We recommend using an 18 gauge, 2 conductor, non-shielded, twisted cable. This cable will allow you to extend the distance from the power supply to the security camera up to 300', and allow you to power two or three cameras with one wire run. This cable is very common and is used in burglar alarm and fire alarm systems as well.

18 gauge, 2 conductor, non-shielded, twisted cable - Outer View 18 gauge, 2 conductor, non-shielded, twisted cable- Inner View

We recommend this wire because:

  1. 18 Gauge: Offers very low resistance to the flow of power and is less likely to break.
  2. 2 Conductor: One lead for (+) power, the other for (-) ground.
  3. Non-Shielded: Shielded wire costs more and does not offer any benefit for transmitting power.
  4. Twisted: The twisting of the wire greatly reduces resistance to the flow of power and extends the maximum distance up to 300 feet.

Caution: Stay clear of systems which transmit the video and security camera power over a single cable. These systems draw power for the security cameras directly from the monitor or multiplexer. It can be extremely difficult to find compatible replacement parts and you may end up replacing the whole system (cameras included) if the power supply goes out. Remember--all professional grade CCTV equipment use BNC or RCA fittings and coax cable.