TCO of an IP Surveillance system. The burning question!

Analogue CCTV v IP camera solutions

An acquaintance  of mine is responsible for building very large hotels from the ground up to the handing over the finished building. Nice work if you can get it! Being a very astute kind of fellow he phoned me up for some advice regarding the security aspect of his newest project. The question he asked was one that is being put to many specifiers at the moment and is one that we believe is the burning question about IP surveillance systems today. That is the TCO or total cost of ownership of IP video systems v analogue CCTV.

Why do IP cameras cost more?

What was confusing my friend and quite rightly, was this. Why was his ME contractor charging him £500 per camera for a 68 way IP camera system? He saw this as costly and the first thing he did, as many would, is check this out on the Internet. He quite simply could not justify this cost when he saw that he could buy what seemed like a perfectly adequate analogue CCTV camera for not much more than £100. So armed with some prices he rang me to know what I thought and find out if he was about to get ripped off.


Firstly we explored how far the hotel build had advanced and how the cabling had been structured. It seemed that from day one the designers of the networking infrastructure were always intending to go down the IP camera route. I explained that if we wanted to use analogue cameras there was a little more we needed to cost in before we could make a fair comparison. Firstly there was a possibility that we may be able to use the CAT5 cable and by using an NVT solution we could encode and decode the analogue video at each camera and termination point. This however involved a cost and quite a bit more labour to make each end off. I also explained that cable distances were important to decide whether he would need active or passive transmitters and receivers. In addition I asked him if the analogue cameras he had sourced also came with lenses because other wise we need to add £50 per camera straight away, the answer to this was no.

PoE is so much quicker!

I then explained that each camera would need a power supply as the  IP cameras would be PoE, so perhaps another £30 for each PSU once installed needed to be added. In addition for each power supply we would need a fused spur, that would also need to be certificated, so add another £100 per camera. We were not finished yet as each camera would take longer to install and set up, perhaps another £25 or so per unit.

Is it still cheaper?

My friend could see that now costs were beginning to add up but still the analogue CCTV system still seemed a cheaper solution …just.


I then asked him about what recording solution was going to be put in place. Although he was not exactly sure of the make , what he seemed to describe was Milestone software or something similar together with a server to record all his images, I asked if this needed to be accessed remotely and it seemed it did.

High quality DVR.

I then explained that to get a similar picture quality together with the 28 days recording he was asking for would mean he was going to need some high end spec DVRs and what was worse he was going to need 5 of them. I suggested that he check out the cost of these but said in reality this could potentially add at least another couple of thousand pounds to his cost of going analogue.

Clear crisp images

We then went onto picture quality and features that Megapixel IP cameras would be able to provide over an analogue CCTV solution. PoE , auto-focus and better flexibility with recorded images all added to the benefits of the IP option.

The decision.

In summary he was left to make some difficult decisions but in the end I believe that it was the future proofing that an IP surveillance system could give him,  just about made his mind up!

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