Cabling: Troubleshooting Security Camera Cable Failure

Whether you’re installing a brand new system yourself, troubleshooting or adding cameras onto an existing security system, or, more commonly, having an experienced security camera installer put in a system, it’s important to know about different types of cabling used in various situations of security camera installation.

What kinds of cabling work with which security cameras? What causes video loss or cable failure? It’s better to know the answer to this question before you experience cable failure, which could result in significant downtime.

Types of Cables for Security Cameras

If you’re installing a brand new security camera system, odds are you’re looking at IP security cameras. These modern security systems use cat5e Ethernet cables and can send both power and data to your cameras. While some IP cameras require a power supply, many IP cameras use POE (power over ethernet) to send power to each of your cameras via the cat5e cabling. (*IP cameras use Cat 3, Cat 5, Cat 5e, or Cat 6 cabling. The higher the Cat rating is, the faster the transmission speed and max bandwidth. Cat 5e is currently the most common.)

On the other hand, if you’ve had a system in place for decades and you’re looking to add additional cameras to the existing infrastructure, you may benefit from a hybrid approach that incorporates both analog and digital components. Analog or HD-TVI security cameras use RG-59 Siamese cables to send power to and receive video from your security cameras. To learn more about hybrid security systems, consider reading more about HDCVI, a budget-conscious option for upgrading analog cabling to incorporate IP security cameras.

If you need to buy cabling, it’s usually best to buy in bulk. Although you will have to add your own jacks to both ends of the cable, buying bulk ethernet cables will save money, last longer, and look more professional than stringing pre-made cabling together. Continue reading to find out why it’s best to have an experienced technician install your cameras.

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Common types of cable failure due to improper installation

As mentioned above, cable failure is one of the leading causes of downtime for security cameras. Depending on how much your business depends on these cameras, this could be costly for multiple reasons like wasting time and effort, resources, and potential revenue when if the cameras had been installed properly, this would not be an issue.

In order to choose the right cable, consider how you’re going to be using the cabling. Application requirements may include bend radius, temperature range, oil resistance, jacket material, cable structure, electrical information, and certifications and approvals.

By understanding why typical cable failure occurs, you can prevent buying the wrong cabling a second time. Below are some of the most common types of cable failure to look for.

Loss of continuity

Certain cables are made to flex differently. If you purchased the wrong kind of cabling, and then twist it around too much, copper conductors can sever and break. This causes a loss of continuity when the insulated conductors are twisted the wrong way.

To put it simply, if you know you’re going to be bending and twisting your network cabling a lot, you need to plan for it and buy the proper type of cable.

Insulation damage

If the insulation breaks, the integrity of your conductors can be compromised. This is typically caused by cabling being put under constant stress by bending, abrasion within cable structure, or conductor strand breakage.

Bad Cabling


This type of cable failure is common with premade ethernet cabling that has been strung together, rather than making your own Ethernet cabling with a modular crimping tool and RJ45 connectors.

The corkscrew effect happens when torsion is released due to incorrect cable configuration, length, and/or direction.

Jacket damage

Similar to loss of continuity and insulation damage, but this refers to the outside material. Either PVC (low-end) or linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE, high end) is what houses all of the conductors of your ethernet cable. Jacket abrasion happens when the outer jacket of a cable wears through the underlying layer of conductors or shielding. This type of failure is common when using cables with soft jackets.

Damage can also occur to cabling jackets when a cable swells due to exposure to oils, chemicals, or heat that it wasn’t designed to withstand. The jacket can then crack and deteriorate down to the cable’s shield.

Electromagnetic Interference

Electromagnetic susceptibility can cause interference with both cabling and your physical security camera. Security cameras come equipped with a shield that protects the device’s cable signals from electromagnetic fields. When this shield breaks due to breaks, abrasions, or continuous bending, you may experience video loss.

Other types of damage that can occur to cabling

While selecting the right cabling for your security application is vitally important, there are still other factors that come into play.

From animals to running the wrong electrical inputs, moisture, and mechanical damage — there are plenty of things that can go wrong.


From rats and mice to cats and raccoons, animals have a knack for gnawing on electrical wiring. The best way to avoid this in the first place is to encase your wires and cables to ensure rodents and small animals cannot get to the most important parts of your cabling. Thankfully, usually animal damage is restricted to small spaces on your cabling, so you usually won’t have to replace large portions of your cable run.

Wrong equipment

Ethernet cable and RG-59 cables are designed to withstand a certain range of electrical inputs, so if you connect the wrong type of equipment to a cable that cannot handle the input, damage can be caused. Always make sure you’re using the right type of cabling for each piece of equipment in your office or commercial building.

This is one of the best cases for consulting with an experienced professional who knows what they’re doing when it comes to cabling and security systems.

Water damage, wrong equipment


When the AC goes out and your office is getting hotter and more humid, your electrical equipment is also at risk. Humidity can cause cable damage if you haven’t chosen the right type of cable, or if the area your cable runs through experiences an inordinately high amount of moisture. If you have any external cables that come through the ground, these can be affected by groundwater.

When a cable is exposed to too much water or moisture, it is susceptible to electrical stress in the insulations, causing them to crack. This causes increased stress on the insulation which can cause the cable to fail.

Mechanical damage

If someone inexperienced or not concerned with the integrity of your cabling is tugging, pulling, or even bending your cables in ways they weren’t designed to handle, video loss can occur. Even if it isn’t immediately noticed, this type of damage to cabling can reduce the effectiveness (how well it works) of your cable and shorten its service life.

Acts of God

Sometimes stress occurs on your cabling that can’t be prevented. Whether an earthquake, hurricane, or lightning strike has caused cable damage and video loss — sometimes no amount of preparation or human intervention can prevent cable damage or video loss.

These incidents can all have dramatic effects on cabling systems, sometimes rendering them unusable depending on the severity of the weather event.


Over time, cabling can become old and weathered, which means it may need to be replaced. However, before you start pulling out all of your cabling, consult with a qualified professional as sometimes all of the cabling doesn’t need to be replaced.


Cabling is usually hidden, and often not something we tend to watch on a regular basis. That’s why it’s just as important to select the proper cabling as it is to monitor any damage and failures that may occur.

Keeping your cabling out of the weather, away from pests, and free from moisture and heat can only get you so far — which is why it’s always best to have an experienced professional around to give advice before making any decisions when it comes to running cable for a security system or data center.

Get a cabling consultant

Experienced installers know exactly which type of cable is best for every application. Even if you’ve installed a security system in your home, it’s best to consult with a certified professional before undertaking any large cabling projects.

Camera Security Now has a team of dedicated and highly qualified network technicians who can ensure all of your cabling systems are installed properly, offer you advice on which devices can be used on each type of cable, and consult with you after any issues arise in the future — saving you time, money, and hassle.

Are you looking for cabling advice? Johnny Beagle with Camera Security Now can give you a free cabling consultation for your location. Not sure which security cameras and equipment you need? No problem, the experienced and qualified technicians from Camera Security Now are trained to handle all sizes of security and cabling projects.

Security Consultant Johnny

Are you looking for security camera advice? Johnny and Camera Security Now can give you a free security consultation for your location. Even if you’re not sure what you need, our security technicians will walk you through what it takes to secure your business. No matter what kind of facility in which you’re requesting surveillance support, Johnny can assist you with all of your security needs! If you have any questions about how PTZ dome cameras work, what you need for your facility, or the purchasing and installation process, contact Johnny today at 800-440-1662 or fill out a fast, easy online quote form.

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