Are all security cameras compatible with DVRs?

Not all security cameras are compatible with DVRs. If you need a security camera that works with a DVR, you should always check the compatibility of the specific make and model you are interested in. Whether or not your security camera will work with a DVR depends on what type of camera you have.

There are two main types of security cameras:

  1. Analog Cameras: Older, traditional CCTV cameras require a closed-circuit or wired connection. Analog cameras are typically compatible with older DVRs but newer DVRs have different connection ports and you may require additional hardware i.e adapters to use a modern DVR. 
  2. IP Camera: Internet Protocol security cameras are modern and so typically have new features such as being wireless. Wireless cameras require an NVR, a network video recorder. Some IP cameras are compatible with DVRs provided that they have a wired connection option or with a software update.


To understand why not all security cameras work with DVRs you first need to understand the difference between DVRs and NVRs.

  1. DVR: stands for digital video recorder. A DVR uses a video card connector to convert the analog signal from the camera and convert it into a digital format. DVRs use RG59 coaxial cables.
  2. NVR: stands for network video recorder. A NVR differs from a DVR as it does not convert an analog signal into a digital form. Instead the IP camera converts the video itself before sending it to the NVR system. NVRs use ethernet cables or wifi/network to connect to the security cameras.

The important difference between NVR and DVR

  • Because NVRs use the network, this means footage can be lost if your network signal drops. 
  • NVR systems are only compatible with IP cameras, and although these security cameras often come with a lot more features than traditional CCTV, they are a lot more expensive than the average DVR system.
  • The RG59 cable that digital video recorders use has several layers to protect from interference unlike standard CAT5 cables.
  • Some DVRs cannot record audio and the systems that do require an RCA cable. NVRs on the other hand require only a single cable for both video and audio whilst some can even be powered over the ethernet cable (POE).
  • NVRs generally have a better image quality.