How CCTV cameras work

CCTV stands for closed circuit television camera that mainly allows you to monitor or investigate surroundings. The primary use of CCTV was for utilization by military in 1942, however, it was later developed as a commercial product for general public use. From being able to monitor only live viewing to wireless functionalities, CCTV technology has come a long way. It should not be confused with a television monitor as it cannot display content that gets broadcasted for entertainment purposes. The role of the monitor is to display surveillance video.

Though we all know what CCTV stands for and why is it used, let us have a look at how CCTV camera works and what do different components do.

CCTV cable

Cabling is mandatory for every CCTV to function, whether it is a wired security camera, an analog or an IP camera. The purpose of the cable is to connect parts of the device together like modems, recording equipment and wired cameras.


Video recording aspect was integrated into the CCTVs back in the 1970s for the purposed or recording surveillance video. Innovation in around the video cassette recordings lead to this development. It plays an integral role when a footage reference is require for any verification especially during convictions. One should bear in mind that the longer the footage is intended to be recorded, the higher storage space will be required. Having said that, there are certain features that enable recording for specific periods of time or in some instances recording can commence upon motion detection. There are various recording choices, some of them are mentioned below:

DVRs: These are known as digital video recorders and can be regarded as substitutes for video tapes that analog recorders used back in the days. The video is stored in a digital format from the analog cameras in a resolution that needs to be determined earlier. The point to note here is that new footage will get recorded over the old footage as soon as the hard disk gets full.

NVRs: It stands for network video recorders. They work in the same manner as DVRs, the only difference is their compatibility with IP cameras. The connection is established via routers or network switches. When compared to a DVR, NVR makes accessing of the footage easier by means of an app or through a web browser.


Display units are an imperative aspect of cctv installation process. Display monitors are a mandatary part whether you want to steam live footage or view a recorded video from your CCTV. These are essential and need to be connected to video recorder. Depending on the budget, higher definition monitors or basic monochrome monitors can be chosen. It is worth mentioning here that the advantage with IP cameras is that they enable viewing of the footage, both live and recorded, via tablet or laptop or even through a smartphone.

Apart from the above mentioned components, purchasing a hard disk that is specifically manufactured for the storage of CCTV footage is essential as their higher durability offers better functionality.