CAT5 Cabling & CCTV Baluns

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

CAT5 cable has become increasingly popular for CCTV installations. It’s easy to install and produces excellent results.

As a cable manufacturer, we have developed a CAT-CCTV cable manufacturer to provide superb results in video signal transmission.

Featuring quality copper cores, it can often outperform standard computer CAT5 producing a better quality picture over longer distances.

To make the cable suitable for most installations, it is available with either a black or white outer sheath so it looks right on either white or dark skirting boards or building fascias.

☑️ Using CAT5 cable in CCTV

Most use of CAT5 cable in CCTV installations involves using equipment called baluns, however, it is possible to use CAT5 without a balun on short cable runs although using a balun will always produce superior results.

If you are not using a balun and wish to experiment using CAT5 to send power to a camera and use other cores in the cable to bring a video and audio signal back along the CAT5e cable please study and use the following diagram.

"Please note the above diagram and all these notes are a “courtesy” additional information on baluns and CAT5 cable. Please refrain from contacting our technical staff regarding about “theoretical” matters not covered by our actual balun instructions."

➡️ Video Baluns

Baluns come in two distinct groups. Passive baluns require no power to operate and work up to distances of about 500M although if you are using baluns to send video signals back to multiplexers, quads, and DVR it is recommended not to use passive baluns over 200mtrs.

Active baluns require power for their “active” circuitry and can send video signals over 1Km down low-cost CAT5 cable. Most baluns do not allow you to send power down the CAT5 cable, however our BAL210 sends and receives video and power 100m down 1 CAT5 cable. So you can use these to power the camera locally or run another separate cable for power.

➡️ What is in a Balun?

Baluns contain small signal transformers that are specially tuned to match the impedance of the cable and convert the unbalanced signal to a balanced one. Passive baluns just have the transformers and very little else in them. Active baluns have extra electronic circuits used to amplify the signals helping prevent losses and also filtering out unwanted noise. On some PASSIVE baluns that carry video and data signals, the data “terminals” do not go through a transformer or any other electronics and are a direct electrical connection to the CAT5 cable. These “terminals” can be useful for lots of purposes including sending low voltage (5 or 12V) from one balun to another.

☑️ The Advantage of using CAT 5 cable.

CAT5 cable allows a tremendously flexible way to install and distribute CCTV signals around a building and between locations.

If for example, you have two buildings 200M apart you could use one CAT5 cable to run 4 CCTV images from one building to another by using baluns. This provides savings on both labor and cable costs. Often you can find a spare CAT5 cable that is not being used but was put in originally as a spare data cable.

CAT5 cable is also easy to handle and quite low cost. New commercial buildings are often “flooded” with CAT5 cabling, this allows the tremendous scope to alter where and how CCTV cameras are used without necessarily having to install new and additional cables. With computer installation, engineers use what are called “patch panels” and for CCTV installations they can be also used with great success.

In this structured cabling system, you have to work out where CCTV equipment may be needed and install the appropriate CAT5 outlets nearby. It is also wise to provide some local source (or potential source) of power. By bringing all the CAT5s to one area and installing what is called a “patch panel” you can then re-distribute the signals however you, please.

➡️ Trouble Shooting

Baluns are incredibly reliable. This means if the balun does not work when it is installed you really need to investigate the installation thoroughly. As with all fault finding, you need to be systematic in your approach to finding out what’s wrong. Eliminate item by item to prove what the cause of the problem is.

A few things that you must take into consideration are:

Monitors will display a good picture even with a weak video signal, however the same is not true of quads, multiplexers, and DVRs that require a “strong” “clean” video signal to operate correctly. Therefore although you may test the signal out of a balun with a monitor and everything looks fine you may still run into problems when you add in the rest of your systems such as quads, multiplexers, and DVRs. If this is the case you probably need to look at the suggestions below for “poor picture”.

🔽No Picture

1. The wrong core colors have been used in the wrong order, re-check the connection order.

2. The balun is not powered or underpowered (ACTIVE BALUNS ONLY). (Is the balun LED illuminated?)

3. There is no power to the camera or the camera is not working. The baluns can only send a video signal down the cable if the video signal is actually there. Make sure the camera is producing a picture using a test monitor.

4. The cable is damaged or there is an open circuit or short caused by stretching, clipping or when dragged in. Replace.

5. You are trying to use the balun over too great a distance. You could prove the baluns are OK by using a short length of cable.

🔽Poor Picture

1. The camera is not working properly. The baluns can only send a GOOD signal down the cable if the camera is producing a GOOD picture to start with. Make sure the camera is producing a good picture with a test monitor.

2. A bright/snowy or wavy picture could all be signs that the dipswitches are not set up correctly so please check.

3. Do not use active baluns on cable runs under 100mtrs, as the amplification could be too much resulting in a very bright/tearing picture.

4. Do not use passive baluns to send signals to DVRs, quads, etc on cable runs above 200mtrs.

5. If you have the polarity of the CAT5 the wrong way around or use two cores from two different pairs you will get unpredictable results so please change.

6. No PTZ control - The PTZ signal is simply carried down a pair of cores within the CAT5 cable so provided that the RJ45 plugs are put on correctly the balun will not interfere with the PTZ operation in any way. Therefore please check the PTZ configuration.

7. EMI interference - Check that the cable is not too close to transformers or ballasts (in Florescent lights etc.)

Product Director: Will Yu


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