Video loss is the most common issue that CCTV security systems experience. Out of nowhere, your security cameras (IP cameras or analog cameras) suddenly stop working, a video loss message shows on the monitor or TV screen, a signal loss message covers the whole screen or the cameras’ pictures are simply blacked out.
In this guide we will discuss the common reasons for the video loss issue on security cameras or systems (DVR, NVR) and provide useful tips on how to fix the video loss in CCTV security cameras. There are two sections on this article covering the topics listed below.
- What video loss means on a security camera or CCTV security system?
- How to fix the video loss on security cameras or systems?
What video loss means on a security camera or CCTV security system?
Basically video loss means that the receiver (recorder) is not receiving any signal or picture from the camera. Video loss on security cameras or CCTV systems can be exhibited in various forms. For example, a CCTV surveillance system loses video feeds on one camera only or on all of them at the same time (the video loss message is shown on all the channels).
In other cases, the video goes on and off, one moment the video shows fine, another moment you see video loss. Another common video loss issue is a camera that goes black at night only, but works fine during the day time. Or you see a black screen all the time. Either way the end result is the same, your cameras don’t show any picture.
These “no video” or “video loss” issues can happen to an analog DVR, HD DVR (such as a H.264 DVR, HD-TVI, HD-CVI, AHD), a NVR, IP cameras, IP systems, any type of CCTV security system you may have. To conclude, in basic terms video loss means that the camera is not sending out any live feed to the recorder. It’s a big problem and you need to fix it as soon as possible otherwise your security system is compromised.
How to fix the video loss on security cameras or systems?
Zosi cameras, Zmodo cameras, Reolink cameras, Night Owl cameras, Swann cameras, Lorex or Flir cameras, Amcrest cameras, Q-See cameras, Watchdog systems, LTS cameras, Annke cameras, Dahua cameras, Hikvision cameras, or any IP security cameras of other brands, all of them have video loss or no video issues.
Why video loss happens in security cameras or systems? Most of the time, the issue of video loss on CCTV security cameras, DVR or NVR, is caused by several factors: network issues, bad power supply, cabling problems, defective hardware, bugs on the camera’s software, IP address conflicts, bad configurations, etc. Below we will list the most common reasons why your system shows “video loss” and how to fix this issue.
1. Video Loss is caused by: inadequate power supply
Quite often an inadequate power supply is the main cause why you see no video or video loss in your security cameras. Especially, this is the case if your security system shows these symptoms: no video signal on the screen, black screen, camera going on and off, video flickering, video loss at night, the “no video signal” message, the cameras rebooting, the NVR or DVR randomly shutting down. In simple words, the camera is failing to receive the necessary juice from the power supply. There’s just not enough power for the devices to work properly, hence the video loss.
Reasons why the power supply is no providing enough power to your security cameras/system:
- The power supply unit is defective and it’s not providing enough amps. Especially if your security camera system is more than 10 years old.
- The power adapter that supplies your NVR or DVR is defective.
- Loose connectors and cable connections. For example, the cable connection between DVR or NVR and the security cameras, the cable going to the power adapter/supply, the cable between the TV/monitor and the CCTV security cameras or any possible loose connection in the camera itself.
- Defective PoE switch. The IP cameras may not get enough juice from the PoE switch.
- Inadequate PoE switch. You need to use a PoE switch that is able to support all the cameras. For instance, PTZ cameras require a special PoE switch.
- Defective PoE injector. Many items sold online are low in quality.
- The cable run is too long. Read your camera’s specs and make sure the length of the cable is within limits.
- One cable is used to power multiple cameras at the same time. This is the case of CCTV installations done poorly.
- HDMI or VGA cables are damaged or faulty.
- Old power cables, especially you have upgraded the system from an old setup.
How to fix video loss caused by insufficient power supply:
- Carefully check all the power connections, the taping, the power and cable connectors, power splitters. the splicing (if you have done it), the insulating tape.
- Try another port at the PoE switch to make sure there’s enough power coming out of it.
- Try another port at the power box (if you’re using a DVR system)
- Test out the PoE switch to make sure it provides enough power for all the cameras at the same time. If using a NVR with built-in PoE switch, try another port to see if the camera comes up on the screen.
- The PTZ camera draws more power, make sure the system is able to provide the proper power supply for these types of cameras. Use a PoE switch/injector rated to work the PTZ cameras.
- When the IR kicks in during night time the security camera needs more power. So, if certain cameras show video loss at night time only, make sure the power supply is providing enough juice.
- Make sure you choose PoE switches or injectors accordingly. Try another PoE switch if you suspect that your switch is not providing enough juice. Check this article for suggestions.
- Try using shorter coaxial cables or Ethernet cables to power up the CCTV security cameras. Get high quality cabling for your system (Ethernet type or coaxial).
- If the camera runs on batteries, make sure they’re not dead.
2. Video Loss is caused by: Bad cables or wires
The cables are a crucial part of having a reliable CCTV security system. Coaxial cables or Ethernet network cables can affect the functionality of CCTV security cameras. Both HD coaxial CCTV cameras and IP cameras can show video loss if the cabling is done poorly. Hardwired security cameras are more likely to experience cable-related issues such as no video or video loss.
How to fix cable related issues on security cameras:
- Check your cabling to make sure there are no badly bent cables or somehow twisted.
- Make sure the connections are tight and well plugged in.
- Do a general examination of the runs to see if there’s no degradation or damage caused by weather elements or animals (such as squirrels or rats).
- Test out the cameras by using a patch cable, just see if you get a picture on the screen. Maybe the wire is okay, but the camera itself is dead.
- Use cables manufactured by well-known companies.
3. Video Loss is caused by: Low bandwidth or weak internet signal
Unstable network connection may cause video loss of your security cameras. This is the case if you’re using an IP security system or Wi-Fi security cameras. If the setup is done wrong, you may experience low bandwidth issues or weak Wi-Fi signals, which will bring up the video loss message on your TV screen. Another factor to consider is a congested network, you need to make sure the network infrastructure is set up correctly.
Reasons for network related video loss issues:
- Too many IP cameras on the network. You have to group them on a separate network.
- Insufficient bandwidth on PoE switch or NVR. The network may experience bottleneck points.
- Long distances between the security cameras and routers. Especially if you’re using wireless security cameras, even the wired cameras are supposed to run on certain distances.
- The Wi-Fi signal is not covering the areas where your cameras are installed.
- Too many Wi-Fi signals may cause interference or interruption.
- The Wi-Fi signal is not stable (this is the case if the security cameras go off and on randomly).
- The connectors are loose. Check if the connections are made correctly and the plugs are fully inserted in the sockets.
In many cases, the end users or installers connect the security cameras on multiple PoE switches and then go to the NVR. This makes the CCTV system unstable and causes bottlenecks around the network. In such cases, the camera will experience low bandwidth and show video loss (or it goes in and out, blacks out randomly).
If you have installed a wireless security camera and the live view goes black randomly, or in and out, this may be caused by a weak Wi-Fi signal. On your TV screen you’ll see the message signal loss, no video or simply video loss.
How to fix the video loss caused by weak internet signal or low bandwidth:
- Check the specs of your router and settings to make sure the whole area can be covered.
- Place the security cameras close to the Wi-Fi router.
- Make sure the PoE switches are able to support all the traffic coming from the cameras. If using multiple switches, make sure the connections are done via the gigabit ports.
- Reconnect the connectors and unplug the PoE switch or injector. Test them out.
- Make sure you’re not running on bottleneck issues around your network. Design a robust network infrastructure.
- Isolate the IP security cameras using virtual LANs.
4. Video Loss is caused by: Faulty IR Night Vision block
If you security cameras are showing up the black screen, or go black during the night, it’s likely that the security camera has a faulty IR block. A faulty IR block may not turn on at all and the picture at night will be black (since the camera can’t see anything at night). What’s an IR block? It’s the piece of hardware around the camera’s lens where all the IR LED lights are placed.
How to fix a faulty IR block on security cameras:
- To see if the IR LEDs are working, cover the camera’s eye with the palm of your hand and see if the IR LEDs are turning on.
- In a few cases the IR lights are turned off. Access the settings of your camera and set them to turn on automatically.
- Use external IR illuminators or floodlights when necessary. With enough lights, the camera will provide a clear image.
5. Video Loss is caused by: Signal compatibility issues
In a few cases the security camera you’ve purchased supports a different type signal than the DVR you’re trying to hook it up. In this case it will show video loss or no video. If you’re mixing up different brands and manufacturers, make sure they’re compatible with each other. Check the specs and the manuals. For example, a HD-TVI recorder will not show up a HD-CVI camera.
In other cases, security cameras with a higher resolution like 4MP, 5MP or 8MP are incompatible with NVRs or DVRs that are designed to decode 2MP cameras only. If you hook a higher resolution camera to a 1080P DVR or NVR, you’ll see the video loss message on the screen. Research before making a purchase.
How to fix if your system has signal compatibility issues:
- If you’re mixing the cameras up, check with the manufacturer or reseller if the signals are compatible.
- Use the same brand of NVR/DVR and security cameras. Make sure the DVR/NVR is able to decode the video feed coming from the camera.
- Make sure the DVR or NVR supports the camera’s resolution.
6. Video Loss is caused by: IP address conflicts
If two IP cameras are on the same network and have the same IP, then they will kick out each other from the network, causing video loss on your system. This is not related to a power supply issue, it’s a network issue. Each device on the network must have a unique IP address.
How to fix IP address conflicts in security system:
- Scan the IP address of your security cameras to see if there are any conflicts, for example, duplicated IP addresses on the network.
- Ping the IP addresses before assigning it to an IP camera.
- Make sure you’ve assigned the correct gateway to the camera or DVR/NVR. It has been reported that a wrong gateway (or missing) may cause video loss.
7. Video Loss is caused by: Power Surge
Another problem with security cameras is the power surge. This reason is likely to cause sudden video loss on all your security cameras at once, especially if your cameras are using coaxial cable (IP cameras are less susceptible). When there’s a thunderstorm, your DVR/NVR or cameras may be fried if the grounding is not done correctly. In other cases the camera’s board will be damaged and you may see moving horizontal or vertical lines on the TV screen.
Reasons that can cause power surge on security systems:
- Installing the security camera to a metal or any other conductive surface
- Lightning strikes may fry the whole CCTV system.
- Heavy thunderstorms.
- Grounding done improperly or not done at all.
- Electromagnetic interference from other electrical devices or transmitters.
How to fix the power surge issue on security systems:
- Use power surge protectors or lightning surge protectors to protect your CCTV security system from lightning.
- Deploy UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) in your CCTV security system design to ensure that the security cameras will work even if there’s a power outage in the area.
- Don’t mount the camera on a metallic surface, or if you have to do it, put a wooden block in between to make the setup non-conductive.
- Ground all your CCTV equipment according to each device’s manual.
8. Video Loss is caused by: Hardware and firmware issues
If you’ve checked everything and there’s still video loss in your CCTV security system, it may be the case of inferior CCTV products or buggy software. An old hardware or buggy software on the DVR, NVR or security camera may cause video loss issues. In these cases, the solution is to update your equipment, update their firmware, or simply replace the old security system (especially if the CCTV system is no longer supported by its manufacturer).
How to fix a hardware/software related video loss:
- Update your devices: NVR, DVR, or IP cameras to the latest firmware. Contact the manufacturer or the seller to get the latest version.
- When the surveillance security cameras, NVRs, or DVRs go wrong all time, it’s time to purchase a new and reliable security system. Research before purchasing.
9. Video Loss is caused by: A dead camera
You have tried all the suggestions listed above and applied all the troubleshooting tips but there’s still video loss showing up on your screen. If that’s the case, maybe your camera is not working at all, it can be damaged or burned or simply given up. In this situation, you need to purchase another security camera. Make sure it’s the same technology and type as your current camera.
Advice when purchasing a new CCTV security system
To avoid video loss, make sure you’re buying a reliable security system. Research before purchasing and read online reviews to choose the right system for you. Also, make sure the system is installed professionally. A lot of video loss issues are caused by poorly done installations. Cameras with black screen, cameras going on and off, cameras with moving lines on the screen are most of the time related to an unprofessional CCTV infrastructure. So, buying a reliable and good security system is as important as having it installed properly.