When shopping for a security system, you will most definitely come across these two terms; an NVR system or a DVR system. Both of them function in the same way, but they have differences as well.
In this guide, we shall look at their main differences, and what makes each unique, and in addition, we shall also evaluate their pros and cons.
Before anything else, we must first define what each system is, what the letters stand for and even how they work, then, we can look at how they differ;
In the Post
This stands for – Network Video Recorder. It is a system that does not require any wiring, because, the cameras usually connected using a wireless router. Communication between the cameras and NVR system is therefore done through the routers.
We can in fact call this a Wi-Fi camera system.
The IP cameras do most of the work and this includes digital formatting, compressing the footage, and also sending it to a computer or any other system in use.
This is an efficient and cost-effective system.
This stands for – Digital Video Recorder. It is a recording device that is able to record videos in digital format and then store them in hard drivers instead of videotapes.
It normally requires signals to be digitized and compressed as well, so that it can store many at the same time. – In most cases, a whole day’s worth of videos. This is most ideal for a home security system.
Differences and Similarities:
Cables and type of cameras used
One of the main differences between these two systems is the cameras and cables they use.
NVR uses Ethernet Cables and IP – Internet Protocol Cameras, while DVR uses Coaxial Cables and Analog or Coax based cameras.
|DVR||Analog/coax-based camera||Coaxial cables|
|IP camera – Internet Protocol||Ethernet cables|
Advantages of coaxial cables
Broadband system – They have a sufficient frequency range that is able to support many channels at once, and it is also able to give more throughput.
Greater capacity – Each of the channels supported by the coaxial cable has a lot of capacity to support a wide range of functions.
Greater bandwidth – the cables have a greater bandwidth system and especially for each channel. Now, the greater the bandwidth per channel, the greater the range of services offered.
Low errors rates– These cables have an inner conductor that is in a faraday shield, which improves the noise levels and reduces the errors. It, therefore, performs better compared to other types of cables.
Limitations of coaxial cables
It doesn’t provide any power to the camera. It actually has two cables included in the covering – a video cable and a power cable. These normally separate each end in order to provide different functions. In this way, you will need to install your recorder near the power outlet.
They are large in size and rigid- this makes them difficult to install. They are very wide in diameter compared to the ethernet cables, which makes them challenging when used in tight spaces. In addition, the larger coax cables will require you to drill a large hole.
They do not support audio – It has a limited number of audio input ports, which means that only a small number of cameras can be able to support the audio output.
The image quality on these cables normally degrades after 300ft/90m. This definitely limits your abilities and forces you to extend your security outwards. Low-quality cables will even result in the loss of a signal.
Benefits of ethernet cables
Ethernet cables are able to power the cameras by use of the Power Over Ethernet (PoE). This means that your camera will only need one cable to capture the audio, video, and power which leads to the elimination of the need for splinters, as is the case with DVR systems.
They are easier to route and terminate. This is because they are thinner and have a small connector
They are cheaper when compared to coaxial cables, and they are also readily available. Making a replacement or an expansion is also very easy with ethernet cables. Many houses and businesses today are using ethernet cables for wiring.
Each camera using an ethernet cable is also able to transmit audio easily since the cables can send the audio data natively.
You don’t need to have a cable placed between each recorder and the camera. They simply need to be on the same network and you are set. In addition, the installation is much more straightforward and very clean, as you do not need multiple cables for completion.
They are shorter, and most of the time will average 328 ft or 100m, but they come with an option for network switches which you can use to extend the distance without necessarily impacting the quality of the image.
Limitations of Ethernet
Infrastructure requirements – you must have specific wires and equipment to be able to install the system.
The cables are shorter compared to coaxial, and you may require to use network switches in order to extend the distances.
Installation and resolution
|DVR||Requires a point to point connection||720p, 2MP (1080p)|
|NVR||Wireless – simple to install||2MP, 4MP, 5MP, and 12MP|
DVR – installation, and resolution
If you choose to use the DVR system, you shall require a point to point installation of each camera, which is usually quite taxing and time-consuming. The reason behind this type of connection is that both the recorder and the analog cameras will require different wires for transmission of the data and power.
The installation procedure for a DVR system is also way more intensive compared to the NVR. Most people will opt for NVR due to this reason.
The cameras that use DVR system are also limited because of the coaxial cables, and their maximum distance is about 300 feet.
Quality of video
Even with the advancements in technology, the recording quality of DVR cameras is very low, and the resolution is also low. This cannot be compared with the NVR systems. For DVR, the camera will normally transmit the signal through the coax cables and on to the recorder, where the images will be processed.
With the NVR system, this is completely different. To start with, the images are normally very clear, as they are supported by a high-resolution camera of almost 12MP, and you do need a high resolution because it will give clear images that can identify intruders very quickly.
In terms of Bandwidth, you may be tempted to think that the NVR system uses more bandwidth than the DVR, but that is not the case. This is because the NVR system doesn’t require an internet connection to record and save a video.
In fact, the NVR will only make use of bandwidth if you are going to access it remotely by use of a mobile phone or a PC software.
This, therefore, means there isn’t any difference between the two systems in terms of Bandwidth.
Compatibility, Recorder, Flexibility and Cost
|DVR||Uses an AD encoder||Uses cables to join cameras together||Less flexible||Cheaper|
|NVR||Only requires each camera to connect to the same network||Not all NVR systems are compatible with all IP networks||Highly flexible systems||Costly|
DVR systems – Recorder
A DVR system will heavily rely on a hardware system known as the AD encoder chip, which is directly responsible for the processing and streaming of raw data from the camera into legible recordings. It also has specific and unique requirements when it comes to the recorders.
This simply means that you must connect each camera to their own recorders which can turn out to be quite tiring and time-consuming.
With DVR systems also, the recorder doesn’t provide any power to the cameras whatsoever.
NVR systems – Recorder
With NVR, the only requirement is to ensure that you connect each camera to the recorder. This also provides power to the camera and ensures that nothing is left unrecorded.
DVR systems – these will rarely have compatibility issues as each connection is taken care of by a coax cable. You don’t have to wonder if the cables are compatible with the cameras because this never happens. They will always be compatible.
NVR systems, on the other hand, may have issues of compatibility because not all IP systems will work with the NVR system. This becomes quite a big problem for people who may have bought the cameras first before deciding on which system to use – either DVR or NVR.
To prevent this problem of compatibility, you should first invest in a complete NVR system, then buy the cameras so you can buy the best suited for the system you have chosen.
NVR systems normally use a specific network – IP network to record and save the videos. This is much more flexible and scalable compared to the DVR counterpart.
In this case, you can even place cameras high on trees, or anywhere within the building as long as the network can reach the specified area.
With the DVR system, each camera is connected using a coaxial wire, and this will greatly limit your flexibility in terms of distance and where to locate the camera.
Whereas you can be able to place a camera on a tree or fence or high up on the roof with NVR systems, DVR systems are less flexible, and you cannot be able to place the camera wherever you want as this is always accompanied by a cable.
DVR systems tend to be less costly compared to NVR because of the simplicity of their installation. If you are budget conscious, then a DVR would be most ideal, but bear in mind that if you want a more sophisticated surveillance, it would be much better to spend a little bit more in order to get the best which is NVR system.
Which one should you choose, DVR or NVR?
The main difference between these two systems is the wiring task. With DVR there is plenty of wiring involved. Here are its main limitations;
- The wiring is a difficult task – This is the biggest disadvantage of DVR systems. We mentioned earlier that each camera would require a wired connection in order to be able to record and deliver video surveillance.
This can be a daunting task, and in most cases, you may require to use a professional for this. In addition, if you are a beginner, you may find it too much of a chore to do all of this, and therefore, it would be better to invest in an NVR system for your peace of mind.
- The quality of images is low – This system has very low images, and you may not even be able to make out who is on the screen. You can opt to buy some megapixel cameras, which may cost you more than you had planned.
- The equipment must be very close – In DVR systems, the cameras must not be placed more than 300 feet from the location of the DVR. If you do this, it will contribute to a much worse signal that you even anticipated.
- DVR systems have a very high maintenance cost – This system transmits signals by use of the coaxial cables, and these cables are more vulnerable to environmental changes. When it is raining, or there are strong winds, the signal will definitely be affected.
Now, as a result of the many environmental issues, you may be required to constantly keep replacing them over and over again in order for them to keep working effectively. This is quite costly.
- Technologically backward – The DVR system is really backward in terms of technology. It is not a futuristic system, and with the advancements in technology, this is pretty behind. You cannot compare it with the NVR system.
That being said, here are some benefits of having a DVR system;
- Cost – this system is very cheap compared to an NVR system. You do not need to buy an internet system for the transmission of the signal, and in addition, the coaxial cables are not that costly.
- Flexibility – you will never have flexibility issues as the wires are quite flexible with the cameras and therefore you will always be ready to go.
- Compatibility – This system is super compatible with other systems.
If you choose an NVR system, here are the many advantages you are likely to enjoy from this system;
- Convenience – An NVR system is much more convenient compared to the DVR system. And this has to do with connectivity. You do not need to spend a whole lot of time connecting each and every camera to the system as they are connected using an IP protocol that is very easy to do.
This point also means that this is a simple system to install and does not involve too many steps as compared to the DVR system.
- Quality – The images that are transmitted by the NVR system are of high quality and extremely clear. This we have already mentioned above. The reason behind this is the fact that the cameras have a higher resolution compared to the DVR cameras.
- An NVR system connects the cameras directly to the wireless system, and the signal transmission is not affected by any external factors, neither does it suffer from interference. As a result, the images are transmitted directly and accurately which makes them extremely clear.
- You can set up the cameras anywhere – this makes the NVR system highly flexible. Due to the fact that you do not need to connect many wires together, and especially with every camera, this is a much more flexible system that allows you to place cameras in the most awkward and secret places that can be able to record each and every happening within your building.
- The installation process of the NVR system is also very simple if you are going to compare it to the DVR that takes an awful amount of time in connecting all the cables and cameras.
The limitations of the NVR system are;
- Cost – this system is quite costly compared to the DVR system. Now, that being said, you will need to consider the cost of maintaining the DVR system. With time, you shall need to keep replacing the coaxial cables, and this is more expensive in the long run.
- Signal problems – As much as the NVR does not make use of cables for connecting with the cameras, it may occasionally suffer from signal loss. This will greatly affect the recording and surveillance so, you will need to keep that in mind.
- IP system compatibility – As mentioned earlier, not all IP systems are compatible with the NVR systems, and therefore, you must be extra careful when you decide to use this system. You must ensure that you choose the right IP network for your NVR system; otherwise, they may not be able to work together.
Both of these systems record data, so, they are similar in that aspect, but, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, there are significant differences that may cost you the surveillance if you are not careful.
For instance, DVR system is much cheaper but has poor signal, and it is tedious to install. Besides, it only covers a short distance.
The NVR system may be more expensive, but the signal is very clear, and the images are clear as well. This system is also extremely flexible and allows you to place the cameras wherever you like.
Going by these points alone, we would strongly recommend the NVR system because of the benefits it has to offer, and it is also highly reliable and technologically forward compared to the DVR.
What is the risk of choosing the wrong system?
Now, if you happen to choose the wrong system for your surveillance, here are the risks you shall be exposed to;
Choosing the right surveillance system should not be taken lightly. Take time to choose well and to choose the right one for your location. If you are limited financially and the area you wish to surveil is small then, a DVR system can be ideal, but, if you are surveilling a large area, and you have the financial backing, then an NVR system is most ideal.