Cheap Category Cables Cripple IP Cameras

Dan Dunar by Dan Dunar | 03.01.2012

Even the most advanced CCTV cameras render useless when linked with substandard cables. While IP data networks can recover from occasional packet loss and transmission delays, IP CCTV systems depend on uncompromised data transfer to deliver crisp, smooth video.

Before you opt for a bargain box of Cat 5e or Cat 6, consider the following:

Are the Conductors Bare Copper or an Inferior Substitute? 

Several cheaper, substandard category cables contain copper clad aluminum (CCA) conductors. With significantly higher DC resistance, CCA conductors in category cables contribute to excessive power loss and heat generation for power over Ethernet (PoE) applications. This can cause damage to cameras and other equipment and severely compromise data transfer and ultimately video quality.

CCA conductors also exhibit amplified attenuation, a critical concern for communication cables, which promotes packet loss. The effect of packet loss in video transmission appears as choppy video and audio.  Bare copper conductors ensure efficient power transmission and minimal attenuation to dependably support IP video systems.

Is the Cable UL or ETL Verified?
Verified cables undergo independent testing to validate that they meet all performance requirements. Special holographic labels adorn boxes of UL verified cables for authentication. Both UL and ETL maintain directories of verified cables on their websites.

Of course, proper field testing prevails as the most reliable way to confirm that cables deliver the high performance demanded by the system.

For more information about choosing the right cable for your installations, check out this presentation by the Communication Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA).