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NVR vs DVR: The Differences Between Security Camera Recorders

Posted by Gregory DeRouanna on Jul 6, 2020

With so many security systems out there, it’s easy to get lost in the details of what makes a particular security system the best. Of course, you want the best surveillance capabilities for your property. But have you decided what type of security system you need? You have two popular options - Network Video Recording (NVR) systems and Digital Video Recording (DVR) systems.

So, what’s the difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders? See this comparison of NVR vs DVR security systems.

How Security Camera Recorders Work

NVRs and DVRs by CCTV Security Pros both allow you to manage, view, record, and store live or archived surveillance footage from connected cameras. They’re each compatible with smartphones, tablets, and PCs to view your footage remotely. 

  • DVRs - Connect to their cameras with coaxial cable (RG59) and have a separate cord for power. Many older buildings are pre-wired for these types of systems.
  • NVRs - Connect to their cameras with Ethernet Cable (CAT5/6). They only use one cable for power and video. This is called Power Over Ethernet technology (PoE)

Each of these video recording systems comes with pros and cons - we’ll look at NVR vs DVR pros and cons later on. Now that you know how video surveillance recorders work, how do you choose the right one to fit your monitoring needs?

How to Determine Which System Suits Your Needs

Ask yourself these simple questions:

  • What do I want to protect or monitor?
  • How do I want to install my security cameras or system?
  • What hardware am I dealing with?
  • Who will be maintaining my surveillance network?
  • Who needs to access my security system?
  • How big is my property?
  • How many security cameras do I need?
  • How best can I monitor the security cameras?
  • What is my budget?

The answers to these questions can help you understand what security surveillance features you want, along with the best way to install your security cameras, and how big of a system you need. This is where understanding the difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders comes in.

two outdoor security cameras on a tall pole

Understanding the Difference - NVRs vs. DVRs

Network Video Recorders (NVRs)

NVRs are the heart of today’s advanced IP security camera systems. Surveillance technology has greatly improved in just a few short years, with NVRs now a mainstay in home and business surveillance. These recorders are designed to be used with IP security cameras. They rely on Power-over-Ethernet technology and transmit power and video over CAT5/6 Ethernet cables.

NVRs use PoE technology to encode and process video data in IP security cameras, which then stream the data to the video recorder, which saves the video footage. One major difference between DVRs and NVRs is how the video footage is transmitted. Unlike DVRs, video footage is transmitted to the NVR via the same network infrastructure as your internet access. 

NVRs support extremely high-resolution security cameras - up to 4K Ultra HD. If you’re looking to upgrade from analog systems or want a new security system with IP security cameras, you’ll need a professional-grade NVR so you can enjoy the full functionality and use of a complete surveillance system. These recorders are ideal for use where enhanced security is needed.

As we continue analyzing the difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders and look at NVR vs DVR systems, here are some key features of network video recorders and their cameras: 

  • Crystal clear surveillance video up to 4K Ultra HD quality
  • Remote viewing of live or recorded video via PC, smartphones, and tablets with no monthly fees
  • Easy-to-use and fully-functional web interface
  • Options for recording video footage 24/7, on schedule, or on motion detection
  • Easily view, record, playback, and retrieve time and date-stamped video footage
  • Compatible with different types of security cameras
  • More advanced H.265 video compression technology that reduces the cost of storage and bandwidth
  • Surveillance-grade hard drives for storing recorded video footage
  • Multiple Hard Drive Bays to support your storage needs
  • External POE Switch that supports multiple cameras (Up to 64 security cameras)
  • 200 Mbps Incoming Bandwidth
  • HDMI and VGA Display Output for increased functionality

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)

DVRs record both analog security cameras and HD-over-Coax security cameras. Another key difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders is that with DVRs, each camera requires two cables, one for power and another for transmission of audio and video footage. DVRs support security cameras with a resolution of 1080p and are hardwired. These recorders are tried-and-true security systems and are still widely used by millions of businesses.

DVRs are also cost-effective and simpler than IP systems, but they lack some of the extra features that NVRs offer. They’re perfect for enhancing an analog system to an HD security camera system without necessarily changing the wiring, which can be costly.

To understand the difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders, here are the key features of digital video recorders:

  • HD security camera DVRs deliver up to 1080p video recording, with some models allowing higher resolution recordings
  • Live remote viewing via PC, smartphones, and tablets
  • Multiplex surveillance with live footage viewing, video footage playback, 24/7 recording and storage of surveillance video, simultaneously
  • Reliable surveillance monitoring and motion detection capabilities
  • Easy retrieval of the recorded surveillance footage - date & time stamped
  • Pre-installed surveillance-grade hard drives for reliable video storage
  • User-friendly surveillance monitoring interface for streamlined and simplified setup, installation, and management of your DVR security system

NVR vs DVR Features

outdoor security monitoring with a single camera

Network Video Recorders (NVRs)

Pros of NVRs

  • Higher Quality Videos - When looking at the difference between DVR and NVR, you’ll see that NVRs support security camera resolutions ranging from 2MP to 12MP and higher - that’s 1080p HD, 2K to even 4K Ultra HD. This makes NVRs perfect for use at any property requiring high-end security.
  • More Convenient - NVRs are more convenient compared to the DVRs. The use of IP protocol ensures easy installation. Wi-Fi NVRs connect with security cameras wirelessly.
  • Flexible Placement - NVRs can be placed virtually anywhere with network availability.
  • Easy to Use and Configure - Thanks to PoE technology, NVRs can locate and connect to any connected IP security cameras automatically.

Cons of NVRs

  • Costly - Another difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders is that NVRs are more expensive to install than DVRs, especially for new installations or upgrades from analog systems. The good news is, they’re cost-effective in the long run.
  • Compatibility Issues - Not all IP security cameras are compatible with NVRs from other brands, so choose wisely. Buy your security cameras and video recorder from the same brand to avoid compatibility issues.

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)

Pros of DVRs

  • Cheaper - There’s a major cost difference in NVR vs DVR security camera recorders. DVRs are much cheaper to install than NVRs.
  • Super Compatibility - DVRs are compatible with analog and HD-over-coax cameras as well as other DVRs.

Cons of DVRs

  • Image Quality is Lower, But is Improving - DVRs deliver lower quality images, but with megapixel security cameras and improved video recording capabilities, users can now enjoy 1080p and higher resolutions.
  • Higher Maintenance Cost - DVRs transmit video signals via coaxial cables, which are more vulnerable to various environmental factors. DVR systems have a higher maintenance cost.
  • Surveillance Equipment Must Be Close Enough - With a DVR, the analog or HD-over-coax security cameras have to be within at least 300 ft from the recorder’s location. If not, the signal will be weaker, and the image quality will be lower.

Buy Commercial-Grade NVRs and DVRs at CCTV Security Pros

Understanding the difference between DVR and NVR security camera recorders and the features of NVR vs DVR systems is important when deciding what type of security system you want for your property.

At CCTV Security Pros, we make it easy for you to find and customize the best security system for your needs. See why we’re trusted by over 60,000 customers - Why Buy From CCTV Security Pros.

Call 888.653.2288 to speak with a security expert about the ideal system for your property.

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