A security system shares many qualities with other home or business features, like plumbing, air conditioning, and roofing systems.

How do I upgrade my existing security system?

How do I upgrade my existing security system?

A security system shares many qualities with other home or business features, like plumbing, air conditioning, and roofing systems. Each serves more than one distinct purpose through the various parts that make up the greater installation, but at some point must go through an expensive replacement process in order to continue delivering the best possible result. However, thanks to modern innovation, security camera systems rarely require such a costly endeavor.  

There are entirely affordable options that serve to upgrade the security apparatus in one way or another. Unlike the other systems mentioned above, a single upgrade in one spot or another has the capability to improve performance across the board. Examples of this when looking to upgrade a security camera system include:

  • Replacing the digital video recorder
  • Replacing or adding cameras
  • Implementing newer cables
  • Updating or adding software

Rarely, if ever, is it necessary to replace your security system entirely, but instead, it is reasonable and efficient to upgrade or replace one part. With exception to the software, every aspect of a security apparatus like the wiring, cameras, and recorders, are built to last for years. Provided below is a list of the aforementioned features and how they can be upgraded.

What are the different types of recorders?

There are several different types of recorders to choose from when either planning out a security system or replacing the old recording system. Specifically, the most popular recorders on the market presently are:

  • Analog embedded DVR
  • Analog HD DVR
  • Hybrid HD DVR
  • PC based DVR
  • Modern NVR

Each recorder presented above share the same specific function of storing recorded video footage data, but beyond that, they have distinctly different features from each other. Another difference between the five is the prices they come available. A digital video recorder, for example, will typically cost hundreds of dollars cheaper than a network video recorder. So the best way to look at each, for that matter, is to view them in function and price to narrow down exactly what you need.

To start, each DVR or digital video recorder shares the specific functions of:

  • Accepting analog security camera inputs
  • Compressing incoming video footage data
  • Storing such data
  • Providing a user interface to manage the system
What are the different types of recorders?

Embedded DVR: When considering surveillance, the embedded DVR is the most basic for home and business owners. However, these are typically present in older systems and do not necessarily provide compression or resolution considered quality today. For that reason, this option would not be considered for purchase but instead would be the recorder being replaced.  

HD DVR: An affordable upgrade to systems with the embedded DVR can be the HD DVR or high definition digital video recorder. In relation to the prior, this option is an upgrade across the board in storage space, footage quality, extra channels, and network connection. In addition, thanks to the network connection, a home or business owner would enjoy access to remote streaming. Furthermore, the HD DVR provides a cost-effective upgrade option for older security systems thanks to backward compatibility.

Hybrid DVR: An excellent upgrade is the hybrid DVR when considering enhancements to parts of a security system with internet protocol or IP cameras. Unlike basic analog recorders, the hybrid option accepts both analog and digital inputs while still including advancements in storage, network connectivity, extra channels, and quality of the footage. While more expensive than the HD DVR, the hybrid DVR makes up for the price by easily integrating with past and modern systems while presenting excellent quality.

PC-Based DVR: A PC-based DVR is inherently different from the other options in that it modifies a computer to be a central managing system. While it is specifically dependent on the hardware that makes up the computer, this option can be more flexible when compared to the other recorders but also ranges wildly in price due to the conversion process and the addition of specialized hardware for the security cameras.

NVR: The final option on the present market is the modern NVR or network video recorder, which will generally have a higher base price than the other DVR. Whereas the videocassette recorder is the prior generation of the DVR, the NVR is the next generation to the DVR. As an upgrade, it is explicitly meant for internet protocol cameras and ethernet cables. Unlike the hybrid and HD DVR, this option will require specific equipment for backward compatibility. For those reasons, the NVR is typically implemented with a majority digital system or when a system is being upgraded to match it.

How do I choose a better recorder?

When speaking with an A1 Security Cameras professional, you will undergo questions that typically boil down the right recorder based on price range, what will surround the system, and what you want out of it. With the options presented above and the other information on the site, a person can reasonably deduce the perfect solution without much trouble. Here are a few scenarios an HD DVR, Hybrid DVR, and an NVR would be applicable.

How do I choose a better recorder?

The owner of a local establishment wants to enjoy better quality video footage, remote streaming, and intends to use the old equipment already installed throughout, but has a low budget below $1,000. The A1 Security Cameras team would offer the customer the HD DVR, which will seamlessly implement the existing wiring, except the power cable, while providing higher quality and remote streaming.

Another scenario will be a customer who already has a security system in place but wants to add modern additions. This may have a specific price range that combines the cameras and is willing to spend around $2,000, but expects superior performance from the added system, remote streaming, and a camera included in the aforementioned price. A1 Security Cameras would present the Hybrid DVR with an IP camera included.

The final scenario comes in a customer installing a new security system or switching entirely to the most upgraded option. This customer can be much more flexible with their price, expecting all of the benefits except for backward compatibility, and is interested in far more software capability. A1 Security Cameras would present the NVR and several accompanying devices to make a purely modern security apparatus.

Can I add more storage space to my recorder?

With any of the listed recorders, upgrading the storage space of your recorder is an easy matter. Whether by implementation internally or externally, additional hard drives are designed to be plugged in and used seamlessly. More complex methods include lowering the quality of incoming video data or reducing the time it takes for footage to cycle through. Fortunately, A1 Security Cameras provides a storage calculator for how much storage is required for a given security system.

How do I choose better security cameras?

Security cameras can be an equally complex matter due to being either analog or digital and being further diversified to features like:

  • 4K
  • Wired or wireless
  • Facial recognition
  • Night vision
  • License plate tracking
  • On-board storage

Whereas more specialized features or variants are available, it can be said that there is a security camera that fits your specific needs. For that reason, A1 Security Cameras typically handles surveillance the same way we handle recorders, which is to say asking about the surrounding equipment, what is expected, and price. Typically, customers will also be asked about upgrading their resolution, which includes options like:


  • High definition (1280X720)
  • Full high definition (1920X1080)
  • 4K (3840X2160)

Something related to the quality of the footage from your camera also comes in how it’s encoded. Generally, the two standards for encoding include H265 and H264. Whereas you will find H264 in the older cameras present on the market, H265 is newer and provides better quality. While the former is less expensive, the latter is upgraded to send data in smaller packages while appearing crisper.

Should I go wired or wireless?

There is an argument for both a wired security camera system and wireless alternatively. These arguments can be boiled down to a wired system being more reliable with connection and functionality while wireless being cheaper and more flexible as highlighted in our past post reviewing wired versus internet protocol systems. However, it should be noted that a wired security system can be upgraded and use wireless or IP cameras along with wired surveillance. While not in every circumstance, the vice versa can also be made possible. However, in the view of A1 Security Cameras, we will encourage customers to choose a wired security camera system for reliability and security reasons.

Should I go wired or wireless?

What are video analytics, and why are they important?

Regarding security cameras, video analytics is a significant upgrade comparatively to past capabilities because it allows artificial intelligence to detect human movement, draw facial recognition from a connected database, and identify before tracking license plates. Implemented through a combination of software and hardware provide enhanced security or safety protocol adherence to businesses. Furthermore, These additions can help upgrade a facility or establishment’s access control by streamlining the process.

How do I make security video clearer?

The best way to make a video clearer, aside from physically cleaning the camera lens, is to acquire a camera with enhanced resolution or upgrade the current recording device. As mentioned, two of the qualities that make a clear image in a video are the resolution provided by the security camera and the compression done by the system. Both of these can be upgraded by adjusting the wiring to a higher standard, upgrading the camera to a better model, or advancing the recorder’s software if not also replacing it.

What does pre-wired for a security system mean?

Pre-wired, typically for any sort of electrical installation, means the wiring for an installation is already installed throughout the home or business. This does not necessarily mean that the wiring has been pre-installed with the intention of the forthcoming system but can be older equipment from the previous occupant or entity.

When strictly discussing security camera systems, pre-wired typically refers to coaxial and rarely means ethernet. Therefore, the system soon to be installed system, for that matter, can easily be implemented into the wiring, with the maximum amount of work being the addition of adapters like encoders and decoders for data transmission unless there are damages present.

How do I upgrade my pre-wired system?

Whereas the initial instinct when discussing an upgrade to a pre-wired system can be replacing the wiring, there are far more affordable and effective options. Using signal converters on the coaxial cables and adding ethernet cables accompanied by IP cameras, for example, would provide a boost in quality. Updating an old recorder to one of those listed above and doing the same for the security cameras to the present generation is also a feasible solution given the correct converters are implemented.

How do I upgrade my pre-wired system?

Through innovation, security cameras and recorders manufacturers have made ways to keep older technology in place until it is essential to seek out a replacement. For further information on how you can upgrade your security system, contact the A1 Security Cameras team today!

Which coax is better for CCTV?

When specifically discussing the industry standard for CCTV security camera systems, RG59 is the most commonly used cable. For high definition, there are cables known as HD over coax that is much more capable of delivering higher quality. There are also RG6 coaxial cables, which can carry a signal for a longer distance and are much more insulated than the former. However, it is recommended that it is best to get either with a solid core and 95% copper braiding when getting either coaxial cable.

Can I replace coax with ethernet?

Yes, coaxial wiring in a home or business can be replaced with ethernet cabling as an update to a more modern system. Devices like network video recorders, hybrid DVR, and internet protocol cameras will pair well with such a task. Doing so will also benefit electrical devices with functions reliant on a network like gaming consoles, computers, and televisions. However, one of the most significant costs related to implementing security camera systems is the purchasing of ethernet cables and the labor to install them.

When should you upgrade your security system?

When your security camera system fails to provide the appropriate standard you expect, it may be time to seek out an upgrade. We understand that this may include the market providing a superior alternative or a device simply reaching its end of lifespan. For reference, such cycles include:

  • Analog cameras (5-10 Years)
  • DVR (5-7 Years)
  • NVR (5 Years)
  • IP cameras (6-10 Years)

Given that coaxial and ethernet cables are designed to regularly outlast the connected systems, the entire replacement of a security system is typically unnecessary. However, as mentioned at the start, a security system more than likely needs minor upgrades for the recorder or cameras to deliver top-quality performance. For further information on upgrading your system or for an entirely fresh installation, contact the A1 Security Team today!

Jun 2nd 2022 Wayne Hahne

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