How to Upgrade a CCTV System (DIY)

If you have a CCTV system running for some time, chances are you need to upgrade it to have better image quality. The good thing is that you can upgrade it yourself.

Upgrade your CCTV System

Everything depends on your knowledge and skills to work with CCTV systems, but today is not that hard to replace your security cameras without hiring a company to do that. If you want to learn more, just keep reading...

Why you should upgrade your CCTV system

There are several reasons you should upgrade your CCTV system, especially if it is running for some years. If that is your case, chances are you are missing some important benefits of the new technology.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons you should upgrade a CCTV system.

Low-resolution videos

Today resolution is the king. Nobody wants to have a video from a security camera that doesn't show enough details to recognize a person or a car license plate.

It's important to have high-resolution video to be able to check those details and have good evidence, especially if something important was recorded by the system.

It doesn't matter if we are talking about analog or digital (IP) cameras, nowadays there are high-resolution cameras for both technologies.

Blind spots

Depending on the type of camera, lens, and installation, you could end up with some blind spots in the area you want to monitor, so it's important to upgrade your system with cameras that can give you a better coverage.

Lack of storage space

To have all your cameras recorded properly is necessary to have enough storage space in your recorders. If your CCTV system doesn't have much space available to record the footage, certainly you will miss some important event.

Camera analytics

Nowadays you can have your security camera working to automatically identify some important events and act accordingly by tagging the recording or notifying somebody and that also works with recorders or VMS software.

Should I upgrade my analog security cameras?

You can upgrade your security cameras and still keep your analog system running, it's not mandatory to move to an IP system unless you really need to do that.

You can just replace your traditional analog cameras that use low-resolution technology (CVBS) to a new high-resolution analog camera technology such as HD-TVI, HD-CVI or AHD.  (Read the article HD-TVI, HD-CVI and AHD comparison).

No need to replace the cables

Let's say you have 100 traditional low-resolution analog cameras installed in your company. You just need to replace them with new high-resolution cameras without replacing the analog cables ( as long as the coaxial cables are good).

Coaxial cables for CCTV

You also need to replace the digital video recorder (DVR) and use a model that works with the high-resolution analog technology (HD-TVI, HD-CVI or AHD).

How about IP cameras ?

If your CCTV system is using IP cameras, you just need to upgrade them to models with higher resolution and better analytics, as long as you use the same camera brand, chances are they will be compatible with your recorder or VMS software.

You can also use a different IP camera brand as long as you use a universal protocol such as the ONVIF that allows security system to communicate, to learn more about this protocol, read the article: ONVIF protocol, the benefits, and drawbacks.

ONVIF Protocol

IP cameras have some advantages over the analog cameras, but everything depends on what you really need to achieve on your CCTV system, it's not always necessary to move from an analog to an IP system. Sometimes a high-resolution analog system is enough for the job. To learn more read the article: IP Security Camera Advantages Over Analog System.

Practical approach

OK, for a practical approach, you just need to buy new high-resolution cameras, a new recorder, and more storage space and start replacing them...

Let's take a look at some important details you have to take into consideration.

Using cameras with better resolution

The traditional cameras old cameras and system have their resolution described on standard definition (SD) and you can find some information on manual or recorders menus that shows the horizontal and vertical resolution such as CIF (352 x 240), 4CIF (704 x 480), D1 (720 x 480) or 960H (960 x 480). 

Those are old resolution and you just need new camera models with modern resolutions such as HD (1280 x 720), Full HD (1920 x 1080) or 4K (3840 x 2160).

Do you see the difference? Is not that hard, is it ? It's just a question of having more pixels in the screen, modern cameras have more pixels (resolution) available.

So, just check the camera you want to replace and find a similar model with higher resolution, let's say you have a traditional analog dome camera you can replace it by another analog dome camera with higher resolution, just try keeping using the same type of lens (e.g. 3mm, 6mm or varifocal).

Using cameras with a wider field of view

You can also use cameras with a wider field of view to have a better area coverage, and eliminate blind spots as long as you have higher resolution to compensate for that.

If you replace a camera that uses a 6mm lens by one that uses a 3mm lens, your system will end up with a wider image, that means you will be able to see more objects and people in the same area but they will appear smaller.

As I said before, the resolution can compensate for that extra coverage.

Using more storage space

Just buy more Hard Drives for your CCTV recorders or buy a model that brings more space. Chances are you will have more space as soon as you replace the recorder with a new one with new technology (HD-TVI, HD-CVI, AHD or IP).

New cameras and recorders also use a more efficient compressor such as H.264, H,264+, H.265 or H.265+ that will better compress the video to save storage and bandwidth. To learn more read the articles:  CCTV Storage Calculation with Formula and Examples and Bandwidth and storage for CCTV.

Using camera analytics

If you are replacing your IP cameras, you can buy new models with better video analytics, chances are your VMS software or digital recorders will be able to recognize the camera analytics. Anyway, you can consult your dealer before buying.

You can just replace your IP cameras and have the advantage of using a better and newer intelligent algorithm, that helps a lot while monitoring and recording events.

To learn more, read the article: Video analytics for CCTV cameras.

The infrastructure for the new cameras

The infrastructure is fundamental for the CCTV system and you need to make sure everything is going to work properly with the one you have in place.

Let's take a look at some important related questions.

Can I use my existing coaxial cables? 

Yes, you can. As long as the existing coaxial cables are not damaged and have good quality you can use them to run the signal from your new high-resolution cameras.

Usually, coaxial cables such as RG59, RG6 or RG11 are used for an analog camera installation and they can be perfectly used by the new cameras that use the HD-TVI, HD-CVI and AHD technology, so you don't need to replace cables.

Can I use my existing UTP cables? 

That's a yes again. If you are are using UTP cables with baluns for analog system, you can keep your cables as long as you use new baluns designed to work with the new high-resolution analog cameras.

The same is true for IP cameras, you can also use the UTP cables for the new cameras and have everything working fine, as long as the cables are cat5e or cat6.

How about the power supply?

If the new cameras use the same voltage and similar power, you can use the same power supply. Let's say for example that your old cameras use 12VDC and 500mA. As long as the new cameras also use 12VDC and perhaps a little higher amperage, such as 600mA it should be good. Just double check what's the maximum current your power supply can handle before installing the new cameras.

You can mix cameras and recorders

Did you know you can use hybrid cameras and recorders?

Let's say you have HD-TVI and HD-CVI cameras. They can be recorded into the same DVR if you use a hybrid model. You can go even further and install AHD and IP cameras, all depends on the type of DVR you are using.

Some manufacturers such as Hikvision and Dahua have such models.

Before buying just make sure the DVR model is compatible with the cameras.


You can replace your CCTV cameras by yourself without hiring a company to do that, just make sure you have the basic knowledge to purchase the right equipment. 

It shouldn't be that hard as long as you check all the specs before deciding which new camera model you are going to use.

Please share this article with your friends.

Tags: , ,