When dealing with older security systems, the initial response may be to completely replace them to keep up with modern trends.
However, there are plenty of things you can do with an existing security camera system that can keep the costs down.
Using the same wiring, you can replace or upgrade specific components of your camera system, including new recorders (NVR, DVR), new security cameras, adding IP cameras by keeping the same wires, and hooking everything up in easy-to-use software management.
Basically, whether you have an existing security system or have been using one for several years, it is entirely feasible and affordable to upgrade it with modern features.
Unlike many devices on the market today, security camera systems are known for their longevity and reliability.
With proper installation, these systems can outlast their suggested operational lifespan by a significant margin. You can get HD or even Ultra HD picture quality by using the same old wires.
What to do with an old camera system? (Tips and Suggestions)
How long before replacing the security camera system?
The answer to this question varies widely because replacing the entire system can be a significant undertaking. However, it’s important to note that individual components of the security camera system can be upgraded without the need for a complete replacement.
The most expensive aspect of replacement is often the purchase and installation of wiring throughout the premises.
Basically, the wiring is labor-intensive and the costs can increase exponentially depending on the size of the building. On the other hand, the recorder, security cameras, and software are more affordable to replace.
Properly installed wiring can have a working lifespan of 50 to 100 years or more. On the other hand, security cameras, digital video recorders, and software have different lifespans.
As you know, technology advances quickly and devices can become outdated pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean you need to replace them, especially if your old system is HD. Obviously, the new camera offers great image quality that can increase the security of the area under surveillance.
Manufacturers suggest that security cameras, especially outdoor models, typically last around five to seven years. However, with proper care, they can function effectively for up to 10 to 15 years.
Similarly, security DVRs last between five to seven years and can last even longer when well-maintained. The main consideration for DVRs is the lifespan of the hard drive, which may need replacement after a certain period. Normally, surveillance-rated hard drives have a lifespan between 5 to 8 years.
The software that programs and runs the entire system remains functional as long as the hardware is operational. However, it can become outdated relative to the security hardware.
Manufacturers may offer free (or, sometimes paid) updates depending on the specific software. Before considering a complete replacement, it is important to find out if the system can be upgraded by keeping as much hardware as possible.
Each part of the security camera system has a significant lifespan, and upgrading specific components, such as the DVR, can greatly improve overall performance.
How To update an old security camera system?
Revitalizing an aging security camera system shouldn’t be just easy, but also affordable and worth doing from a financial standpoint.
The key component to upgrade is typically the digital video recorder (DVR or NVR). Modern recorders offer a range of features such as:
- More channels
- Backward compatibility with certain hardware and wiring
- Remote streaming
- Super clear image quality
- Increased storage capacity
- Smart functions
- AI supported features
For instance, replacing an old embedded DVR with a newer HD or Hybrid DVR can cost around $800 to $2,500, or even less for an eight-channel system with ample storage.
HD and hybrid options are designed for easy installation. You can even do it yourself, or get an installer for an affordable price.
By upgrading the DVR, you can connect your security camera system to network access, unlocking additional functionality and remote streaming.
You don’t need to replace your existing cameras if they still work since the new DVRs are backward compatible. The hybrid option also enables integration with modern surveillance technologies such as IP and wireless cameras (although this function depends on the DVR/NVR model).
How to replace the DVR in a security system?
Choosing to purchase an upgraded DVR and install it can be a relatively simple process even for an older system. Typically, the replacement process begins with removing the old model and implementing the new one with the same wiring and security cover.
Then, the recorder will require a configuration file, which either comes pre-installed or comes included in a small drive that can be connected. After the data is uploaded, the user will run through the configuration process and enjoy their new recorder.
Purchasing and installing a new (and) upgraded DVR into an older system can be a straightforward procedure. Generally, the replacement process involves removing the old model and installing the new one using the existing wiring and camera connectors.
Next, the new DVR may require to be configured which is easy to do and consists of following the prompts on the screen. The unit comes with a pre-installed hard drive that is used to store the footage.
If not, you may install one yourself by unscrewing the cover and hooking up the drive to the DVR’s motherboard.
Setting up the unit on the phone can be done by installing the DVR’s native app on the phone, scanning the QR code on the prompts, and punching in the username and password. The new DVRs come with instructions that are super easy to follow.
Can I use the existing security cameras while replacing the DVR?
As previously mentioned, HD and Hybrid DVRs offer backward compatibility with older analog security cameras. So, yes you can use your existing camera with the new DVR.
The new DVR may improve the performance of older cameras by offering better incoming video footage and more efficient data storage.
Furthermore, these recorders also provide support for newer camera technologies, including PTZ, IP, AI-based cameras, and more.
However, the picture quality doesn’t even come close to the new ultra HD cameras. Upgrading the cameras will drastically improve the security performance of the system since having a clear and sharp image is the whole point of having a camera system in the first place.
How to update my old security cameras?
If your CCTV camera is relatively new (and not some sort of 20-year-old dino), it can be easily updated through the user interface of the new DVR.
However, old analog cameras are pretty much limited in their image quality. If the hardware is old and the camera’s image quality is low, there’s nothing else you can do. Well, you can replace the old camera with a new HD one, using the same wiring.
Some of the modern cameras that can be updated include:
- PTZ cameras that can tour and be remotely controlled
- HD IP cameras
- AI-based IP cameras
- 4K, 8K, Ultra HD cameras
- Wireless cameras
These new-tech cameras can improve their functionality based on the software installed internally or on the recorder. For example, PTZ cameras offer options that can be controlled internally or through the overall system.
On the other hand, AI-based cameras require software both in the camera itself and in the managing system. Before updating the cameras, you need to find out what cameras are supported by your new DVR.
Can you see the upgraded cameras or DVR remotely?
In most cases, the ability to remotely view your security camera system depends on the DVR or NVR. While this feature is less common in older camera recorders, it is easily achievable with the new hybrid DVRs. To access this capability, you need to configure the device after completing the physical installation.
You can scan the QR code on the recorder using the DVR’s native app and then you should be able to see all the cameras hooked up on the unit.
This process varies between the recorders, but the logic is the cameras. Additionally, new DVRs allow the user to see the cameras remotely on a laptop or computer, using the web browser or camera management software.
Can I reuse the old wiring when adding new security cameras?
It is possible to use modern security devices with older coaxial wiring. While older wiring may have limitations in producing high-quality output, it can still be utilized by upgrading to the latest security DVR. HD over coaxial cameras provides HD images (even UHD) using the same cabled.
However, there may certain limitations and, in some cases, you may need to use various adapters, such as:
- Wireless transceivers
- HDMI cables
- External/Cloud Storage
Other devices are needed depending on the configuration and the setup of the system. You may need to use additional and specific power adapters, IP camera adapters, and special recorders that support the old analog cameras and the newer HD coaxial or IP cameras.
Why do security cameras sometimes stop working?
Like most electronic devices, security cameras and recorders can experience malfunctions due to various reasons. Some common factors that can contribute to these issues include:
Deteriorated or faulty wiring. Over time, wiring can become worn out or damaged, leading to disruptions in the camera’s functionality.
Aging internal hardware. As the internal components of the cameras age, they may no longer perform optimally, resulting in decreased efficiency or complete failure.
Tampering. Intentional interference or tampering with the camera system can cause it to stop working properly or even render it inoperable.
Weather-related damage. Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as heavy rain, extreme temperatures, or high winds, can damage the camera’s external or internal mechanisms, leading to malfunctions.
Software and IP address conflicts. Compatibility issues between the camera’s software and other devices on the network, as well as conflicts with IP addresses, can disrupt the camera’s operation.