IP vs Analog Surveillance Cameras

Security is one of the prime concerns of any business or residential property. While physical safety measures, like solid core safety doors with good quality locks are important, it is also worthwhile to consider a surveillance system.

Closed Circuit Television was first used in 1942 in Germany. However, it was not until the mid-1960s that public surveillance cameras became popular. Home surveillance systems came even later, and it was not until 1993 that IP cameras came on the scene.

What is an Analog System?

In a traditional analog CCTV surveillance system, security cameras capture an analog video signal and transfer it over co-axial cable to the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). If storage of surveillance footage is not a concern, some analog cameras can display the feed directly onto a regular television.

Security Cameras

What is an IP camera?

An IP camera encodes the video signals into Internet Protocol (IP) packets and sends it over the Large Area Network (LAN) to the Network Video Recorder (NVR). With this system, a recording device isn’t necessary in order to view the cameras, just a network connection.

Security Camera

Analog or IP?

A successful surveillance system is like a pair of tailored pants. It needs to fit the purpose. Before deciding on a surveillance system, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of these systems.

Installation Cost

Cost is an important factor when it comes to installation of surveillance systems. Analog cameras are significantly cheaper than IP cameras. For large surveillance systems, like those in shopping malls or hospitals, hundreds of cameras may be required. This may increase the installation cost substantially.

One thing that is important to remember, though, is that IP cameras can have higher resolution than analog. One IP camera can provide as much coverage as three or four standard analog cameras potentially. This factor should be considered when comparing costs.


This is not an issue for new installations. However, older surveillance systems are almost exclusively analog. Extending an existing, older surveillance system may exclude IP cameras as an option altogether.


Since analog cameras have been around for a long time, there are many installers and vendors working with analog systems. For that reason, installation is generally easier and sometimes as simple as plug and play. IP cameras, because they communicate across a network, require a secondary skill set to install.

Picture Quality

One of the major drawbacks of analog cameras used to be the quality of the recording. However, now High Definition (HD) analog cameras are easily available, which give better quality pictures. Despite being HD, though, they can still suffer from image degradation over distance, whereas IP cameras do not.

Smart Features

Analog cameras are simple cameras which send their feed via cables to video recorders. IP cameras are small computers that can be programmed to provide all sorts of analytics information. They can also be set up to look for specifics, so they can do things like track certain colors, or detect the presence or absence of things. They can even be set up to count people, detect smoke, or sense motion.

It’s also important to remember that an IP camera surveillance system is much more than just a recording system. It can be set up to perform some pretty complicated tasks. Naturally, there is a learning curve when it comes to understanding and interpreting the data it collects.


Each camera in an analog surveillance system must be directly connected to the DVR. In IP systems, multiple cameras near each other can be connected to a single switch. This switch can then be physically connected to the NVR. This reduces the wiring overhead.


With analog cameras, you’re using a closed circuit, so the only real risk is that the cameras might be physically tampered with. When it comes to IP cameras, you could argue that there is an inherent risk of hacking across the network, which is further proof that your installer needs to be knowledgeable and capable.

Security Camera

Although IP systems are the new technology, it is clear that analog systems continue to offer great value. Analog or IP – it depends on the specific requirements and expectations of a system. Hopefully these considerations will help you decide which type of surveillance system makes the most sense for the residential or commercial space you are trying to protect.

Share This Post

About the Author

Steve Nicola is the founder & President/CEO at Smart Systems. He is responsible for setting goals and defining strategies that help to grow our company. He lives in Chattanooga with his wife of 28 years and their 3 girls.

Related Posts

Maintaining Your Smart Home