Analogue vs Digital Wireless CCTV, which is better?
Wireless CCTV is a tricky beast, one that can seem simple but have a lot of potential hidden pitfalls when planning and setting up your system. There are a lot of things to consider about the installation itself- such as transmission distances and line of sight- before you can even start navigating the variety of different equipment specifications available. Increasingly, many of these systems on the market are switching advanced Digital Wireless transmission. Whilst this seems quite similar to traditional systems on the face of it, the two types of equipment actually work in a very different way “under the hood”, that has some fairly major knock-on effects on their features…
This is the “traditional” type of wireless CCTV, used wireless equipment for years. The transmitter sends the audio and video signals on a single frequency, and any receiving device tuned to that frequency can pick it up. It’s essentially similar to how an FM radio works.
- Transmitters and receivers have fairly wide compatibility, so as long as the frequencies match up you don’t necessarily need to use equipment from one kit, there is some freedom to mix and match
- Devices have a quick initial set up, as the transmitter and receiver do not need to be paired together, just turned on and switched to the right channel
- Analogue systems are made with widely established technology, so are comparatively cheap
- As analogue devices just broadcast on one single frequency, the risk of interference from other devices- such as wireless routers and cordless phones- is fairly high. This can cause quite significant signal loss and image breakdown.
- To prevent them from interfering with other devices, analogue transmitters have a limited power, and so have a shorter transmission range.
- As any receiver tuned to the correct frequency can pick up the signal, they are inherently insecure. This means that if you have sensitive areas being monitored, outside users can potentially pick up the video feed- unlikely, but a possibility nonetheless.
With this more advanced method, the audio and video signal is broken down into digital information (1s and 0s), and is then broadcast by “hopping” between a wide range of different frequencies. The receiver must then be paired with the transmitter, so it can automatically match up with these frequencies.
- As Digital Wireless kits work across a wide range of different frequencies, they can essentially work around signals from other devices. This means they are far less prone to interference, and therefore give a much more reliable image
- Because they have less risk of interference, they can be more powerful, and provide a much longer transmission range– up to twice that of comparable analogue kits
- The transmitter and receiver have to be paired together in order to work (usually with a button on each device). This means outside devices cannot pick up the signal, and your system is therefore more secure
- Digital Wireless also allows two way transmission. this means you can send information out to the transmitter, such as with our IR remote repeater kits. These devices let you use a remote control to adjust settings on your recorder from a completely different building!
- The newer technology in Digital Wireless kits does make them slightly more expensive
- As the devices must be paired together, you cannot mix and match cameras and receivers from different kits or manufacturers.
- The digital data has to be processed by the receiver, so there is a slight delay in the audio and video feed
So whilst the digital systems are a bit more expensive and have some minor drawbacks, the benefits for range and image quality offer a significant improvement over analogue systems.