What Is a Network Video Recorder (NVR)?

A Network Video Recorder (NVR) is a complete IP video surveillance system that uses dedicated hardware for video capture. It records video, audio, and saves it to the recording medium such as a hard drive. You can playback footage on the NVR later. You also can access live video and images from the NVR.

NVRs are seen as the successor to digital video capture cards. As NVRs offer more flexibility, such as remote management over the Internet. They come with other benefits, including better viewing and recognition of faces and license plates.

How NVR Camera Systems Work?

There are three components in an NVR camera system: a network, cameras, and NVRs. All of these parts work together to function as one system.

Network video recorder systems are newer than the traditional security camera system. The benefits of recording and storing digital data which is more convenient than an analog Digital Video Recorder system (DVR), is what makes these systems so popular.

An NVR system consists of IP cameras that encode and transfer video footage over a WiFi or wired connection to the recorder. In a wireless network, the camera still needs to be connected to a power source, and video is transferred over WiFi. The wireless camera is NOT a wired-free camera. In a wired camera system, the power and video can be transmitted over one single cable by using the PoE (Power Over Ethernet) technology.

Let’s take a look at how three components of an NVR camera system work together

NVRs: Video is received over the network in the form of data, and is stored for later review. The NVR comprises corresponding Ethernet ports which can connect to multiple IP cameras on one side.

Cameras: The camera captures the image and digitalized it before it sends it to an NVR. In general, an IP camera must connect to the NVR via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, although wired connections give a more reliable video feed than wireless.

Network connection: If you have a wired Ethernet connection, use an Ethernet cable to connect it to the NVR. For a wireless connection, you will need to configure your settings on the IP camera. As there is no screen to input the WiFi password like on your mobile phone, the connection could become a mess, especially if you are working with a WiFi mesh network.

What Are the Types of NVRs?

Network video recorders can be generally classified by whether they have PoE ports or not.

PoE NVR: This type of NVR has a PoE switch integrated into the box. All the cameras will be attached to the PoE ports at the rear of the NVR, and the NVR can provide both power and data exchange with all the cameras at the edge. The camera needs to be PoE compatible, there is no need for a power source present at each of the IP cameras.

Non-PoE NVR: A non-PoE NVR does not have any ports for cameras to plug into on the back panel and instead requires a separate power adapter for cameras to function. However, this can be solved with an independent PoE switch to supply the power and data exchange to each of the cameras.

According to the number of channels:

The number of channels of NVRs can be divided into 4, 8, 16, or 32, 64. These channels refer to the number of supported cameras. If you are just building a basic video surveillance system, 4 or 8 channels will be enough. They are the best option for homes, retail stores, or small office applications. 16 channels are better for large buildings and factories. If you need more devices, but also need to consider budget constraints, 32 channels are recommended.

Features of NVR Systems

There are many features of NVR systems, Some of them are listed below.

  • NVR systems can record both video and audio.
  • This leads to improved image quality over CCTV cameras.
  • NVR systems provide higher image quality than traditional DVRs
  • multiple lenses IP camera lets you cover more areas with a panoramic view.
  • NVR can be wired or wireless.
  • You just need only one cable for the video, audio, and power.
  • NVR systems have the ability to identify faces, license plates, etc. due to high image quality.

Let’s answer some of the command questions below.

Will there be a video lag on an NVR camera system?

No lag should not be experienced on an IP camera system if the installation is correct. You will need to make sure that your NVR supports the cameras you want to connect, and it can handle the bandwidth and video quality. That being said, there may be some small lag in a properly designed network, but it should be minimal (0.5s or 1s). If you notice any lag after that, inspect your network for any bandwidth bottlenecks.

Does an NVR system consume more bandwidth than a DVR system?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter much, as long as the system is aware of all the recordings and saves. An NVR with a built-in PoE will have each camera connected to the back of the NVR, so the network stays unaffected. External PoE switches that are placed on a separate network will not affect the network at all.

Moreover, remember that NVR systems do not need to use the internet to save and store footage. You’ll only consume bandwidth when you connect to these systems remotely using your phone or computer——which really doesn’t matter since both systems use similar amounts of bandwidth. Additionally, these systems will only use substream mode when being accessed remotely, which has a lower bandwidth than mainstream mode.

What Cable Do I Need for a Network Video Recorder?

When it comes to wiring a PoE camera to the back of an NVR or PoE switch, Ethernet cabling is a good option. It provides power, audio, and video over one cable. Ethernet cabling comes in different standards. We recommend using CAT5e or CAT6. If you are getting the long run, it is important to choose the 100% pure copper-made cable. The CCA-type Ethernet cable causes serious power loss. The distance between the camera and PoE NVR is limited to 100 328ft (100 meters). You will need a PoE extender to extend the distance beyond 100 meters.

Can NVR Work Without Internet?

An NVR can be used without connecting it to an internet connection. However, NVRs offer features like remote viewing, and not being connected to the internet can make these features unavailable.

The recorder will still store video content, but you’ll have to watch at the site of the NVR which may defeat the point of having installed an NVR.

NVR vs DVR: What Are the Differences?

Surveillance systems have become an important requisite for commercial and residential areas. They play a vital role in numerous applications, including crime prevention, personal privacy, and more. A video surveillance system is needed to keep your business safe and secure. With different security systems out there with different types of cameras and equipment, it’s hard to choose the right surveillance system.

When choosing between a network video recorder (NVR) and a digital video recorder (DVR), think about what you need the system for and which type of camera will work best. Keep in mind that both types of devices are becoming increasingly popular. This article discusses NVRs and DVRs in detail.

What’s the Main Difference Between NVR vs DVR Systems?

Apart from the storage differences, the main difference between an NVR and DVR is in their processing of raw video data. DVRs process data at the recorder, while NVRs encode and process data at the camera before transmitting it to the recorder for storage and remote viewing. Unless they’ve been reconfigured, DVR systems connect to an analog CCTV system through coaxial cables, while NVRs communicate with IP cameras over Ethernet or WiFi.

NVR Systems——The Basics & Components

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder. It’s a computer system that includes a software program for recording video in a digital format to storage devices such as disks, USB flash drives, SD memory cards, and more. It’s more flexible than DVR systems. Here are the components required to set up an NVR system:

IP Cameras-NVRs work with IP cameras, including PoE (Power over Ethernet) cameras and WiFi cameras. Both types of cameras can process their raw video data to digital signals and transmit it to the NVR to be saved. PoE cameras are convenient because you only need to run one cable between the camera and the NVR.

WiFi IP cameras-The second type is a wireless camera that can be connected to the NVR through a WiFi router or network. They are not difficult to set up, which is an advantage because they don‘t require wiring. On the other hand, their reliability is reduced by the reliance on a stable connection. Just remember the WiFi IP camera still needs a power source. It is not a wire-free camera with a battery built-in.

Each type offers different pros and cons, which will be explained in a bit. Regardless of the type you choose, it is important to make sure the recorder supports the manufacturer of the camera you’re buying.

Ethernet Cables-Ethernet cables are what are used to connect a PoE camera to the back of an NVR. They provide video, audio, and power. Cat5e or Cat6 cables are recommended, and they typically shouldn’t be run more than 328 feet (100 meters). But if you need to extend the distance, the PoE extender is a handy tool to go for, You can extend PoE up to 1500ft (500 meters).

NVR recorder-Video is encoded before it reaches the recorder, which means that the NVR recorder only really does recording and storage.

NVR Camera Systems——Pros & Cons

NVR Pros:

  • The PoE camera system allow single Ethernet cable to send power both and data to the IP camera. No need for power source present at the edge.
  • Wireless installation is almost always possible with minimal wiring.
  • The NVR system can work with WiFi and PoE wired IP cameras, which allows for greater camera placement freedom.
  • The system is capable of working with cameras that provide better resolutions or other features such as human shape detection.
  • The hybrid NVR system can also use analog video from a camera and turn it into digital data, which gives the system more efficient.
  • The data can also be given extra protection by encrypting it.

NVR Cons:

  • Overall, an NVR video surveillance system is more expensive.
  • Learning the software for NVR video surveillance systems can take some time for beginners.
  • Slow internet speed can make the technology difficult to use.

DVR Systems——The Basics & Components

DVR systems are designed to record videos in digital format. They are cheaper than NVR security systems, and this is one of the advantages of DVR systems, especially for small or domestic applications. A DVR system can’t store as much data as an NVR system, so it’s not the first option for large and industrial applications.

Analog Cameras-Analog security cameras are typically used in DVR systems. NVR systems are generally more expensive due to the camera, which typically transmits video data. While DVR security systems are less expensive and complicated.

Coaxial Cables-Data transmission is mostly done over coaxial cables. But due to their limitations, coaxial cable is not the best form of transmission when it comes to power supply devices on the same line. A separate cable needs to be used to carry electrical signals. Coaxial cables are sturdier and thicker than Ethernet cables, making installation a bit of a challenge. Audio is another limitation, as the standard coaxial cable may not support audio transmission.

Coaxial cables don’t provide power, so you need to install the analog camera near an outlet. If your property has a coaxial connection from a previous system, that cable can be re-used.

Standard coax cables won’t carry audio. A variant with an added RCA connection is needed, but even those have a limited number of audio input ports, and only a few cameras will be able to record audio.

The image quality on standard coax cables starts to degrade at around 300ft/90m, which might be enough for some applications, but not others.

DVR Camera Systems——Pros & Cons

DVR Pros:

  • Low cost, easy to use option for businesses with low bandwidth internet connection.
  • Great for small businesses in need of security surveillance.
  • Easy to operate, requires no special expertise.

DVR Cons:

  • The biggest disadvantage of the DVR is lower image quality. As the video is being encoded after it reaches the DVR. There is signal loss during the transmission of the analog video.
  • It requires more cables and wires because there is a need for a separate power source, which means if any of the cable disconnects, you lose your streaming.
  • DVR systems typically cover less area than IP cameras in the exact location.
  • The number of features and flexibility is lesser than that of an NVR system.
  • Audio recording on the NVR is limited to a specific channel.

DVR vs NVR——Which One to Choose?

When it comes to choosing between a DVR system and an NVR system, there are many factors at play. DVR systems are typically cheaper, which is why they’re more popular with smaller companies. They also take less bandwidth and have better signal stability, which makes them more reliable than an NVR solution. However, they don’t offer as good sound quality or image quality as a standalone NVR system.

NVR systems offer better image quality and system flexibility, which can be hard to come by when using a DVR system. While these systems cost more in the long run, you’ll at least have an excellent resolution of what you’re looking at. Plus, you can put IP cameras anywhere without having to worry about the cable running too far up into the walls or ceiling.

Ultimately, there is no “best” system for everyone. If you don’t need top-of-the-line image quality and have low bandwidth usage, you might want to consider a DVR unit. But if you have higher bandwidth usage and want more features than a simple DVR recorder then an NVR option might be better for you.

Build POE IP Security Cameras System with POE Switch

Many people may require a POE IP camera system in their houses for property protection and safety, deploying IP cameras may be the best choice. Cameras linked with POE switches are convenient for users to install and eliminate unnecessary cables. With the development of IP camera systems, more intelligent IP cameras will be used in home IP security systems.

Undoubtedly, security is imperative for any business in modern society. IP camera security system offers an optimal solution to protect most businesses. Both a middle-sized company and a large-scale company need more than one IP camera for their IP camera security system. In this condition, the port number of POE switches is a good solution. a 24-port POE switch may be suitable for middle-sized networks, 48-port POE managed switches can meet requirements of large businesses like international hotels or enterprises.

How to Install A POE Camera?

If you are using a POE switch, regardless if it is a managed POE switch or an unmanaged POE switch, the easiest way to set up the POE camera is to simply connect it to the POE switch which will then provide the camera with data and power.

Why Use PoE Switch for IP Camera Systems?

When it comes to adopting PoE technology, some users may think it’s unnecessary to buy a PoE switch with a relatively high price. Compared with traditional solutions, adopting POE switches in IP camera systems have countless advantages.

  • Longer Runs

Connected with a POE switch, IP cameras can be installed anywhere, even to reach remote locations. With a single Cat5e cable, the distance of running POE IP camera can be up to 100m. If longer runs are required, POE repeaters may be needed.

  • More Connected Devices

A POE injector can also power IP cameras and save more space. However, what if there are many devices, say ten IP cameras, needing to be connected together? Under this condition, a POE switch that has more ports will provide the optimal choice.

  • Higher Power Output

POE switches can power devices in camera surveillance systems. Furthermore, the advanced POE+ switch that delivers more power can transmit up to 30W over Cat5 cables, compared with the average 15.4W offered by standard POE switches. As a result, the POE series switches can meet the demands for some power-hungry IP camera systems.

  • Easier to Manage With Troubleshooting Availability

Advanced POE switches allow each camera to be controlled remotely from any point in the IP camera systems. A managed POE switch can use a GUI interface to provide a topology view of the network and the devices connected to it, which functions in troubleshooting when a system goes down. Specifically speaking, each port on the POE switch can be programmed to send an automatic alert to the authorized users when a camera breaks down. After logging in, the user will identify which camera is broken and reboot it with the aid of the topology view. If the reboot doesn’t work, the user can send a technician to repair it immediately. POE switches can help to speed up the troubleshooting and repair process and minimize the overall downtime.

  • Lower Expense & Less Time

Since administrators can monitor and manage the switches remotely, in most of the cases, they can reboot any non-responding POE IP camera without going to the camera’s location, which saves both cost and effort.

How to use POE switch to build IP camera system

Step 1: Get a POE Switch

Step 2: Connect your IP Cameras to the POE Switch

Step 3: Plug Your POE Switch into the Router

Step 4: Power on the POE Switch

Step 5: Add the Cameras to Your NVR

How to Select, Choose or Buy a POE Switch for IP cameras?

To choose a suitable, reliable and best POE switch for your IP security cameras, there are few factors you need to consider: POE standard, POE IP cameras’ power consumption, POE switch maximal power supply, POE switch port number, cable length and etc.

  • Factor 1. POE IP Camera Power Consumption

A POE switch not only carries network connection but also supply power to Power over Ethernet (POE) IP cameras. However, IP cameras power consumption varies; some could draw up to 20 Watt such as PTZ IP cameras RLC-423 while others could consume as little as 3 or 4 Watt.

Therefore, a POE switch should be able to provide enough power for different types of IP camera via Cat 5 or Cat 6 cables.

There are mainly two types of power over Ethernet (POE) standards, theoretically, the POE standard (IEEE802.3af) could provide up to 15.4W of DC power on each port. In practice, only 12.95 W will be supplied to the IP cameras or other POE devices given the power loss that dissipates in the network cables.

Similarly, the POE+ standard (IEEE802.3at) can pump out up to 30 W per port while only 25.5W could transmit to Network-enabled devices in real time.

Choose a POE Switch that suits your surveillance needs and makes sure to double check your POE IP camera power consumption ether in the user manual or technical specification spreadsheet.

  • Factor 2. POE Switch Maximal Power Supply

Meanwhile, the maximal power supplies of your POE switch matters as well. If the maximal power supply of the all your cameras exceeds your POE switch power cap, then the POE switch won’t provide enough power for all your POE IP cameras, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) IP cameras in particular.

Insufficient power supply to the IP cameras are the common culprits for video loss and IP camera poor performance.

That being said, when buying a POE switch for IP cameras, it’s important to go for a POE switch with more power juice or reducing the number of PTZ IP cameras plugged into the POE switch as PTZ cameras draw more power than other IP cameras.

  • Factor 3. POE Switch Power Supply Voltage

Many security cameras run either 12V or 24V power, if not supplied with the proper power voltage, the IP camera either won’t work or even be overloaded.

For example, 12V IP security camera is powered by a 24V power source or vice versa, the IP cameras would likely to be burnt out or fried. To provide the proper amount of power for the POE IP cameras, one of an important feature to look for in a POE switch for IP cameras is its abilities to automatically adjust voltage accordingly.

For example, a POE switch with 802.3af compatibility is able to accommodate the power input of your IP security cameras, for example, GS308P POE Switch comes with IEEE 802.3af compliant.

  • Factor4. POE Switch Port Number

If you are looking for POE switch for more than 4 cameras, it’s important to check the port number, such as a POE switch with 8 ports, POE switch with 16 ports, POE switch with 24 ports, or POE switch with 48 ports.

While the port number largely depends on your actual need as well as the overall power consumption of your IP cameras.

For example, a 24-port POE switch with 370W power supply could power 24 IP cameras with IEEE802.3af standard (15.4W per port) while it could only power 12 IP cameras with IEEE802.3at standard (30W per port).

  • Factor 5. Gigabit POE Switch or Not

As mentioned before, a POE switch not only supply power to the IP cameras but also carries network connection.

A gigabit switch is getting an upper hand in comparison with a 10/100 Mbps switch because you do not want the switch to become the data bottleneck when you are powering 4 POE IP cameras in addition to other devices on the switch. (Learn whether IP security cameras slow down your home network)

  • Factor 6. Unmanaged or Managed POE Switch

The main differences between an unmanaged and managed POE switch lie in functionality, configurability, and of course, the price tag.

Unmanaged POE switch (cheaper) is a plug-and-play with no setup required while managed POE switch allows you to configure networking protocols, as features such as VLANs, IGMP Snooping or more.

For most homeowners, an unmanaged POE switch fits the budget and works to meet the needs for powering POE IP cameras.

What’s the Difference Between PoE NVR and PoE Switch?

“I’m going to install two IP cameras in my house. If the NVR already has PoE switch built in, just use that? Actually, I have no idea whether to use a PoE NVR or a PoE switch matching with them. So, what’s the difference between them? Can some one help me?” This article intends to explore the differences between PoE NVR and PoE switch. Let’s break down the differences and the pros and cons of each in details so that you can make an informed decision.

What is PoE? 


Power over Ethernet (POE) is a technology that lets network cables carry DC power. PoE connections offer greater flexibility in terms of where you can locate a device, because with a PoE connection, there is no need for the additional power cable. This reduces the complexity of installing in awkward locations.

You can find two kinds of PoE capable devices today: power sourcing equipment (PSE) and powered devices (PD). Sometimes a device functions as both a PSE and PD. Power over Ethernet (POE) technology sends 10/100/1000 Mbps of data and 15W, 30W, 60W, and up to 90W of power budget to devices over Cat5e and Cat6 Ethernet cables for a maximum distance of 100m.

PoE benefits organizations in 5 five primary ways — 1. reduced installation costs, 2. increased installation safety, 3. responsive deployments, 4.high performance data-gathering capabilities, and 5. productivity enhancements. POE has many applications, but the three key areas are: VoIP phones, IP cameras, Wireless access point.

What is PoE switch?

A switch is a device that allows devices on a network to communicate. A PoE switch has the Power over Ethernet functionality built into it, delivering power and data over the same cable for easy installation. It is a dedicated device that contains multiple Ethernet ports to provide power and network communications to IP devices. This allows a PoE switch to expand the reach of an NVR system because you can connect IP cameras to the PoE switch rather than the NVR. A PoE switch expands a network created by a router. Therefore, it must be connected directly to a router on the same network as your NVR. Most PoE switches have limited power, so you can only power smaller devices.

What is PoE NVR?

PoE NVR is a network video recorder with built-in PoE switch meant for use with PoE based IP cameras. Equipped with a PoE switch, the PoE NVR provides both power and network to the cameras via a single Ethernet cable. There is no need for an additional PoE switch, which will reduce the cost of equipment in theory. Simply run one CAT5e/6 cable from the camera to the NVR, and it will provide power to the camera while streaming video/audio/data all over one single cable.

The Difference between PoE NVR and PoE switch

From the above, you will see that both PoE NVR and PoE switch can provide power and data transmission. However, the former is limited in minimal network administration experience while the latter can expend the network freely. With PoE NVR, all the cameras have directly wire back to the NVR as the PoE switch is integrated to recorder box which is good and not good. If the system is small such as 4-channel IP camera system, PoE NVR makes the setup quickly. However the flexibility gets worse while the cameras are increasing. With PoE switch, multiple cameras can connect to different switch before it return to the NVR. Thinking that a PoE switch needs to be placed anywhere near your NVR or router would be a mistake when there are many camera in the system. It makes the most sense to place your switch as close to the biggest cluster of cameras as possible. This can make for a lot of short cable runs from IP cameras to switch. From there, it’s just a matter of running a single cable from that switch back to your router. The end result is that you simultaneously put all of your IP cameras on your network by running that one cable.

There’s no way to conceal the fact that purchasing an NVR with a built in switch is going to be cheaper. A standard NVR purchased together with a dedicated PoE switch will probably cost you about 25% more than the alternative. If you still have a demand for the same type of “camera hardwired to NVR” setup and your NVR is out of warranty, you’ll now find yourself needing to replace the entire NVR instead of the much cheaper network switch. The PoE switch is being integrated into the PoE NVR, if the PoE NVR go defective, the both NVR and the switch has to be replaced.

The PoE NVR is going to require that you run your cable the same way you would with an analog system. In this scenario, you’re going to be running a cable for each camera all the way back to the NVR to create your hardwired connection. Your cable length is limited, in this case, to the standard 328 feet unless the PoE extender is being deployed.

PoE IP Camera VS Analog Camera

To start with the topic, let’s make clear the definition between PoE IP camera and analog camera. PoE IP camera, also called IP camera, is a digital video camera. It receives data over the Internet through Ethernet cable. Every IP camera has its own IP address in order to connect to network to transfer images. Analog camera captures analog video image and transfers it with coax cable. The analog camera needs to convert the video to analog so that video can be received by analog devices.

Actually the comparison of IP camera and analog camera is the comparison of the traditional and new technology.

4 main differences of these two cameras will be discussed in the following.

  • Video Quality.

Undoubtedly, IP camera has higher video quality than analog camera. It offers wide or narrow field of view and better zoom-in capability. Since it uses digital signal to transmit the video, it can recognize the faces and numbers clearly. Compared with IP camera, analog camera has a overall lower video quality. Zoom-in capability doesn’t exist in the camera and the site range is limited. Not to mention the facial and number recognition.

  • Distance

IP camera has 100 meters distance limitation with Ethernet cable. Because the IP camera sends digital image, the clarity of the image will be 100% percent maintained and sent back to NVR. Analog camera can be set up to 300 meters over coax cable. Although analog connection is longer, the clarity will lose as the distance increases.

  • Cost

 Building up IP camera system is expensive. The cost of IP cameras is higher than analog cameras.

  • PoE capability

 IP camera can be powered by twisted Ethernet cable instead of running the electrical wire. But analog camera is not PoE-supported.

Except for the different features below, PoE IP camera and analog camera are powered and connected to different devices. IP camera needs to be linked to Network Video Recorder(NVR) to record videos down. There is a product called PoE NVR which can provide both power and network solutions to cameras. To build the NVR system Cat 5e/Cat 6 Ethernet cable should be applied to transmit data. Besides, IP camera is not necessary to link directly to the NVR. As the camera is on the same network that connects to the NVR, the videos can be recorded down. However, analog camera can only be connected to Digital Video Recorder(DVR). Analog cameras connect to the DVR via the coaxial cable. In the DVR system, power will not be sent directly to cameras. So, if you choose to use the DVR system, you have to solve the problem of power.

Generally speaking, IP camera and analog camera has its own pros and cons. Hope this article would give you some tips on choosing the camera system. Click here to learn more about the differences between DVR and PoE NVR.   Click here to know how to Set up Home IP Camera System with Power over Ethernet.