When you use a NVR with a built-in PoE switch, the IP cameras get plugged in directly to the back of the recorder and in this case it may get complicated to access these cameras directly. This kind of setup is different from the one where the IP cameras are connected to an external PoE switch, you can access each camera via web browser by typing the IP address. But what IP address to type in if the cameras are going straight to the back of the PoE NVR?
Let’s start by explaining why you need to access each IP camera individually. While you can adjust many settings on the camera by using the NVR’s interface, there are certain settings that can be adjusted only by accessing the camera directly. In a few words, when going to the camera directly you have control over all the settings of that camera.
Settings such as Day/Night sensor settings, exposure, backlight and other image quality related settings which may improve the overall performance of your security system are adjustable on the camera itself only (not via the NVR). Also in some systems, the firmware of the IP camera can only be updated directly on the camera (not via the NVR).
One way to access those IP cameras is by unplugging them, connecting the camera to a external switch then modifying the IP address via the laptop and accessing it via the web browser. As you can see, this method takes a lot of work and imagine if you have a lot of cameras that need to have the settings adjusted. It would be a nightmare. There’s a different approach that is more convenient and save a lot of time.
There are two main ways how security systems are set up (for small businesses and home defense). One is the setup where the IP cameras are plugged in to an external switch and the NVR access them via the network. The second one is PoE NVR system where the cameras go straight at the back of the NVR. This guide shows how to access the camera that are connected directly to the PoE NVR (NVR with built-in PoE switch).
The IP cameras are connected to an external switch
As shown in the diagram below, the IP cameras are connected to an external (PoE) switch and the NVR is connected to the same switch (or straight to the router). In this case all the devices are in the same network and the NVR can see the IP cameras via the network.
Let’s say you want to access one of the IP cameras. All you need to do is to find the IP address of this camera, type it on the web browser and type the username/password of the camera (in this example 192.168.1.150). After that you’ll be able to see the internal settings of the camera and adjust them as needed.
If you don’t know the IP address of the camera, use IP finder tools to locate it. Each manufacturer has its own scanning tool, for Hikvision devices you need to use the SADP Tool, for Dahua cameras Config Tool and so on.
The IP cameras are plugged in straight to a PoE NVR
As you can see in the next diagram, in this kind of setup the IP cameras are plugged in directly at the back of the PoE NVR. So, the cameras are connected straight to the PoE NVR and the NVR itself is connected to the router where the laptop/computer is getting the internet from. We can type the IP address of the NVR itself (for example 192.168.1.100) on the web browser and access the settings, live view and playback, etc.
But we can’t type the IP address of the cameras on the web browser because the laptop doesn’t see these cameras via the local network. All these cameras are on a separate network under the NVR (which makes them inaccessible from the outside).
In other words, the laptop/computer can see the NVR since they’re on the same network but can’t see the camera since technically they’re located on a different and separate network. Of course there’s a way to access the camera and that’s by using the Virtual Host feature that most of the NVRs support.
To clarify, not all recorders support this feature but most of them do. We won’t get too technical, in a few words the Virtual Host function on CCTV security systems enables you to access those IP cameras from your laptop. You access the PoE NVR and through automatically assigned ports you can access each camera individually.
This guide will show how to access IP cameras plugged in to a PoE NVR. To demonstrate we will use a Hikvision PoE NVR, however, the instructions and the logic is almost the same across all the recorders that support the Virtual Host feature.
How to access an IP camera connected to Hikvision PoE NVR
Step 1. The first step consists of finding the IP address of your NVR. You can find it via the NVR’s local interface on the Network settings (as shown on the screenshot below) or you install the SADP tool on your laptop and the tool will show the current IP address of the NVR.
Once you know the IP address of your NVR, open up the web browser in your laptop (in our case Internet Explorer) and type the IP address for example: http://192.168.1.100:82 (82 is the http port which in this demonstration is 82). The default http port on Hikvision devices is 80, in that case you should type http://192.168.1.100 (without 80 added at the end). Enter the username and the password of the NVR.
Step 2. In this step you need to enable the Virtual Host feature on the Hikvision NVR. Navigate to Configuration > Network > Advanced Settings and select the Other tab. Here you have to tick the Enable Virtual Host box.
Step 4. Go to Configuration > System > Camera Management and on the right side of the screen you’ll see a clickable link for each IP camera connected to the PoE NVR. Click it and you can directly go to the camera setting page. So, once we enable the Virtual Host each camera is able to be accessed directly via the PoE NVR.
Let’s say we want to access the full settings on the first camera. Simply click the blue link beside it and you’ll get automatically redirected to the login page of the camera. Enter the username and the password for the camera itself. Most of the time the PoE NVR and the IP camera share the same credentials.
After that you should see the individual live picture of the camera.
If you click the Configuration tab on the top you can access the rest of the settings such as: Network, Image Settings, Video/Audio, Storage (if your camera has a microSD card), etc.
The instructions shown here are valid for any Hikvision NVR system, however the idea and the logic is the same across different manufacturers. Simply enable the Virtual Host function and you can access the camera via the NVR. This method saves a lot of time, since the other option is to unplug the camera from the NVR and plug it on an external switch.