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Ask an Expert: Is Wireless CCTV Cross Compatible?

Every now and then we like to take a question from one of our customers and discuss it in detail here on the blog. Today’s query is about the oft-confusing world of Wireless CCTV…

Q: I purchased a wireless CCTV kit a couple of years ago from yourselves I think, and it has been fantastic so far. Unfortunately, during some recent DIY an unfortunate mishap with angle grinder means one of the cameras is now out of commission. I can’t see the same model of camera on your website anymore, is all wireless CCTV cross compatible, or do I have to buy a specific model?

Wireless Colour CCTV Infrared IR Camera with Audio and Receiver 2.4GHz

A: Unfortunately, this is a bit of a tricky area, as there are many different systems available on the market. Because of this, the general rule of thumb would be no, they are not cross compatible. As we’ll see however there are some exceptions to this rule. To simplify things, we’ll split the devices up into two main groups, standard (or analogue) wireless, and digital wireless kits. Please note Wifi cameras use an entirely different system- connecting to wireless internet networks- so are not covered here.

Analogue Wireless

Standard analogue wireless kits work by simply transmitting a signal carrying the video on a set frequency. The receiver is then set to this frequency and picks up the signal. Provided the two devices are set to the same frequency, they should in theory work together. A good example would be our bird box camera kits. These use the exact same frequencies as our wireless pinhole spy cameras and small IR cameras, meaning you can have all three of these models being picked up by the same receiver (as shown below).

Our analogue wireless receiver, as found in our popular bird box kits
Our analogue wireless receiver, as found in our popular bird box camera kits

Each of these cameras can be set to any one of 4 frequencies (or “channels”), which the receiver then picks up when switched to the corresponding channel. It’s worth noting though, that most receivers can only pick up a signal from one camera at a time. In some cases cameras from other manufacturers will use these same frequencies, so if you want to check cross compatibilty you can refer to your devices tech specs to see the exact frequency of each channel. We should mention however, that we cannot guarantee  compatibility with other brands of camera, and differences in transmission methods can mean that features such as audio do not work, even if they use the right frequency.

Digital Wireless

Rather than using one frequency, Digital Wireless devices are paired together, transmitting parts of a signal across a range of different frequencies. This makes them both far less prone to wireless interference, and more secure. However, because the devices are digitally paired, there is essentially no cross compatibility between models and/or systems. One of the very few exceptions to this is with our 7″ LCD Receiver kits.

DVRDIG-cams-example
Our Digital Wireless LCD receiver kits have a choice of 3 compatible cameras

These simple to set up kits have 3 different options for cameras, letting you choose between 5m, 10m or 15m night vision models, all cross compatible with the recorder. This lets you mix and match up to 4 cameras in the same system. Aside from this example however, most digital wireless kits will only work with the model camera that they are supplied with.

If you need any help troubleshooting your wireless kit then we have also produced this handy video, that works through many of the most common questions-

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