BNC vs. RCA/Composite Security cameras

When it comes to security cameras there are two main types of cable connections that are used composite (also known as RCA) or BNC.  We will also talk a bit about Ethernet and video baluns at the end of this article as well.

One can tell the difference between composite and BNC as composite cables normally have a yellow plastic cable housing around the ends.  BNC cables look somewhat like a coaxial cable TV cable but with parts to allow for the male and female cable ends to lock into each other.

Composite cables have the advantage that they can be easily attached to standard household video recorders like a VCR or a DVD recorder.  The disadvantage with these cables is that they are not designed for long cable runs.  Once you get over 60 feet you run the risk of starting to lose video signal quality.  After 90 to 100 feet the video quality drops down again, normally to a point that it is not usable.

Although BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) connectors have been around since the 1950’s not many people have seen them outside the security camera industry.  They offer a big advantage in that the termination ends can be locked together.  Often cables not connecting together properly can be the cause of video signal problems.  BNC cables have the advantage of using thicker gauge cabling that the signals they transport don’t get interfered with or lost in comparison to RCA.  The disadvantage with BNC is that most home recording hardware doesn’t allow for a connection.  This can be overcome by the use of a BNC to RCA adapter.  If buying these make sure to get the right gender for each end of the adapter.  Another way to overcome this is to use professional grade security camera gear.  Because this gear needs additional reliability the locking termination ends is the choice of security professionals over composite video ends.  Even in moderately priced security camera DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) you will find it hard to get anything other than BNC termination ends.  BNC cables can normally run about 300-500 feet at which time it is recommended that either the cable be switched from BNC to a video balun and Ethernet cable or that a signal amplifier is used.

When it comes to providing security camera footage in agricultural, institutional or industrial situations the large scale of these buildings normally mean that long cable runs are common.  This can lead to signal loss or poor quality video if the wrong cable is used.   Video baluns allow you to switch from BNC cables to Ethernet.  Due to the higher bandwidth Ethernet cables offer they can normally run about 1000 feet for colour security cameras and 2000 for black and white security camera footage.

Since each situation can be different, if you are still not sure of what cabling to use contact our security camera professionals today to get personalized advice on what type of cabling solutions would be right for your security situations.

In need of BNC or composite/RCA cables and connections?  Please see our friends at Forest City Surplus.  They have a large selection of RCA/composite, BNC and video balun equipment.  They also have the expertise to help you solve your security cabling needs.

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