CCTV Cable Troubleshooting Tips

When using a wired surveillance system, you’ll be running both power and video cabling to your security cameras and to your DVR. Throughout these cables there lies the possibility of a malfunction or glitch that may need to be solved. We will go over a few tips that can help in the pre-planning and troubleshooting of your surveillance system cables.

Power & Distance

The longer the cable runs you have, then the more susceptible you are to voltage drops and a degradation in your signal. When this happens you will notice either a complete failure of your camera or a weak and spotty signal and intermittent functionality. When using a 12V security camera and power supply, you can get a couple hundred feet without too much of a problem; however if you go beyond that distance you’re not going to be able to maintain your signal.

One way to compensate for this is to use a 24V power supply with a 12V converter by your camera. This will give your signal the extra power it will need to maintain a strong and stable connection. Additionally as your distances increase even further you will want to upgrade to 24V power supplies with higher VA (volt-amp) ratings. A high VA rating has more power and strength to its signal.

Fuzzy/Distorted Picture

Depending on your surveillance system setup you may end up with a fuzzy or distorted picture after everything is completely together. This can be caused by any number of things; including coiled wiring causing a ground loop effect. The simple thing to note is that this is very hard to predict and not all possibilities can be accounted for. The good news however is that by using a ground loop isolator such as the 15-GL01 from COP-USA, and installing it between the camera producing the fuzzy signal and your DVR, it will usually eliminate the problem.

Aluminum Wire Hassle

In many households nowadays there is a strong preference to use aluminum braid coax cable for high end television and media systems. While this is a great thing for those applications, it can cause all kinds of headaches for CCTV equipment.

Basically the thing to note is that if you plan on using existing cabling in your home for your surveillance system instead of new wire runs; you may end up with a fuzzy picture or loss of signal on occasion. The reason for this is that aluminum cabling is unable to as easily sustain the constant CCTV video signal that copper wire can.

The way you can fix this problem however is by using a video distribution device that allows you to adjust your video signals luminance, gain, and other video levels. If you do that you can set your cables video levels to absolute perfect conditions where it can handle the signal on a regular basis. The only problem is that to know your perfect levels, you are either going to have to play with them for hours on end; or you will have to hire someone who has a video signal test meter and can check the levels for you.

Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 7 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at

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