How to Connect a Surveillance Camera to TV


Connecting your surveillance camera to a TV is not complicated. The process simply varies depending on the type of television you have. It is done either using an HDMI cable or an RCA cable, depending on whether your TV is digital or analog. 

The multiplicity of cables can however be confusing, which is why it is interesting to see these steps in detail as well as the possible variations.

Indeed, the connection has some differences depending on whether you connect a single camera or more, or a Wi-Fi camera or connected by Ethernet.

The steps for connecting a surveillance camera to a television

These differ depending on your camera as well as your TV. In fact, there are three possible cases: either you use a fully digital system (camera and digital TV), or you use a fully analog system (camera and analog TV), or a mix of both (one is digital and the other analog).

Connecting a digital camera to a television of the same type

It will often be an IP type camera and an LED, OLED, LCD or plasma television. In this case, connecting the two is very simple:

  • First, have an HDMI ( High Definition Multimedia Interface ) cable . The latter will be able to transport both the image and the sound;
  • Then connect the HDMI to the camera. In some cases, this is not possible. You will then need an IP camera to HDMI converter decoder. The latter will be connected to the camera and will be linked to the HDMI cable;
  • Then connect the HDMI to your television;
  • Finally, connect the two devices to the mains (the cameras with a battery do not need power) and turn on your television. Enter the menu and select the HDMI input. You can directly view the images from your surveillance camera on your television.

NB: A standard HDMI cable is a maximum of 15 m in length. This length guarantees the maintenance of a high bandwidth while preserving the quality of images and sound. If the distance between your camera and your television is greater, be sure to connect several cables using an active repeater, a booster or a fiber optic. Thus, the images will not be altered.

Connecting an analog camera to a similar television

These flagship devices just under two decades ago are still widely used today. The connection is a little longer than in the previous case, but nothing too difficult.

  • To get started, connect a coaxial cable to the camera. It consists of two tips, one for power (red) and the other for video (yellow). Generally, a prefabricated Siamese cable is used. However, if you want to have a custom length, turn to a coil of coaxial cable that you will cut according to your needs. The other end of the coaxial cable consists of BNC ( Bayonet Neill-Cancelman Connector ) outputs , convertible to RCA ( Radio Corporation of America ) in three colors: red, yellow and white (for audio).
  • Then connect the red BNC output directly to the box for the transmission of the electric current supplied with the camera. The connection of the yellow BNC male plug is converted into a male RCA plug which can, in doing so, connect directly to the female input of the television;
  • Once everything is installed, turn on your camera and television, choose the RCA input and you will be able to view the analog images live.

PS: If you also want to hear the sounds picked up by your camera, it is possible to install a stand-alone microphone. This time connect the white plug to the audio input of the television (also white).

A connection with a mix of digital and analog devices

Even if your camera and television belong to two different technologies, it will still be possible to view the images directly on your television. To do this, all you need is an HDMI / RCA adapter / converter.

How to see the images of several surveillance cameras on a television?

For effective remote monitoring, some people want to connect multiple surveillance cameras to a single television. This is especially common with professionals (in the surveillance of a supermarket, for example) but it also concerns the choice of certain individuals.

Via a recorder

In practice, this connection is mainly made via digital or digital recorders (NVR or DVR). The cameras are connected to a single recorder, which transmits video streams to the television via an HDMI or RCA cable.

Using a switch or a multiplexer / demultiplexer

The other two options allow you to switch from one camera to another on a single television, but not to view the images simultaneously. For this purpose, you can use either a switch or a multiplexer / demultiplexer.

  • In the case of the switch, connect each of your cameras to it using an HDMI cable or a coaxial cable. It will centralize the images of 4, 8 or 16 cameras. Only one output will be connected to your TV and you can switch from one camera to another by selecting the source with a remote control.
  • As for the multiplexer / demultiplexer, the operation is the same. Connect each camera to a multiplexer (usually 4 or 8 inputs) via a Siamese coaxial cable. If it is a 2 in 1 multiplexer / demultiplexer tool, it should normally have an HDMI output. Connect a cable and connect it directly to your TV. If there are two separate tools, you must first connect the multiplexer to an antenna which acts as a demultiplexer receiver with a first HDMI cable. The latter will be connected to your television using a second HDMI cable.

Using a wireless network

Finally, it is possible to view the image of several surveillance cameras on a single television simultaneously (that is to say by screen sharing) using the wireless network (Wi-Fi). Additional information is given in the corresponding section below.

How to connect a wireless IP camera to a TV?

With technological development, connecting your surveillance camera to a television no longer requires complex cabling that is difficult to install. It is possible to watch on a television the images of a wireless IP ( Internet Protocol ) camera, that is to say a connected camera. For this, the user has the choice between 3 options.

Use a smart TV

In this case, simply download the application that controls the camera to the television. The images will be displayed live, just like on your smartphone. To view the image of several cameras simultaneously, the application in question must have provided this option. In practice, install the appropriate application on your smart TV and follow the instructions.

Use Google Chromecast or Apple TV

It is actually the possibility of connecting your smartphone to your television through multimedia gateways such as chromecast or Apple tv. In short, it is not the television which reads the images of the camera but the application of your smartphone. Google Chromecast or Apple TV act as a relay to transmit live streaming what your phone displays from your camera of course. If you want to use screen sharing, it is at the telephone level that you will have to act, your TV being only its “mirror”.

Using a DLNA server

It is a server establishing a standard communication language between the devices, so that a DLNA compatible device has access to the data on the servers of another DLNA ( Digital Living Network Alliance ) compatible device . Rarely installed directly on a camera, it is often necessary that the DLNA server is installed on a computer. Thus, the camera is first linked to the computer (with cables or via a wireless network) and the computer transmits the images directly to a television compatible with DLNA.

How to see on a television and record images from a surveillance camera at the same time?

For security reasons and / or to serve as legal proof, you may have chosen to keep the images of your surveillance cameras on a storage medium.

Is this option possible even if you watch the videos on a television?

Obviously, the answer is yes. In fact, there are 3 ways to record the images and view the images simultaneously at the same time – by means of this storage device. There are two others that allow you to save images; options that are independent of whether or not you are viewing live images on a TV.

DVR recorder

The first solution is to use a digital recorder, better known by the acronym DVR ( Digital Video Recorder ). It is a device that stores images from one or more cameras. DVRs are compatible with CCTV ( Closed Circuit TV ) type cameras , i.e. those that operate in a closed network and do not have access to wifi. The flow of images passes through the cables and these are only encoded at the level of the storage device (integrated hard disk). The images thus recorded are not accessible remotely, even if there are today some models of DVR connected.

The connection is the same as that explained in the first section, except that this time, the camera is connected by a coaxial cable to the DVR first. It is the latter which will be connected to television. The diagram is therefore as follows: red and yellow camera wire> coaxial cable> the yellow connected to the DVR, the red to a voltage divider> the DVR connected by HDMI or VGA to the television.

NVR recorder

The second option is to use an NVR ( Network Video Recorder ). It is a recorder which is therefore based on the network, compatible with IP type cameras. The images recorded on this type of device can be viewed everywhere, thanks to the internet. They are also coded from the camera, transmitted to the NVR and then decoded only on this device (as opposed to the DVR).

The connection is the same as that of an NVR, with one difference. If you use an Ethernet cable, it is possible to use PoE ( Power Over Ethernet ) technology, that is to say that the power supply of all your surveillance cameras as well as the internet network will pass through the NVR in a single cable called RJ45 type (instead of connecting each device to a wifi network and a power source). So plug all your cameras into the NVR and it will do the rest. The latter is linked to the television by an HDMI cable (very rarely by a VGA). However, it must be ensured that your NVR and your cameras are ONVIF compatible, that is to say that they can communicate with each other.

NB  : When you use a DVR or NVR, you just have to activate the quad view, quad multiplexer or quad monitor to see the images of 4 surveillance cameras simultaneously on a single television. The same is true for 8 or 16 surveillance cameras.

A recording on the computer

It is also possible, although less advisable, to record your surveillance videos directly on your computer. The operation is, in fact, simple but requires a particularly stable connection for IP cameras (recording via a wireless network). If you have wired cameras, the installation is a little more complex.

In the latter case, you will need to purchase a DVR card for PC (it looks like a graphics card). Often equipped with the quadravision function, it will therefore be able to support 4 cameras. This card is installed alongside other cards on a computer. You will therefore first need to remove the tower case from your PC (unscrewing is sometimes necessary). Install the DVR card on the available slot; it must face outward. Connect the cables of the cameras concerned before closing the case. A DVR card is sold with its own installation software. Proceed with this installation. The software interface will give you access to your camera, its images and its settings.

If you have a computer with a Wi-Fi card, you will be able to directly record the images from your camera on the computer, using the wifi network. To do this, either you will use a standalone software that must be downloaded beforehand, or you will use the camera’s user interface on the PC.

Once on the computer, you can of course watch the videos on your TV by connecting it to the computer with an HDMI cable or by using a wireless network.

Other recording options

This is the case in which the camera has a powerful internal memory or a port for microSD card. In this case, the recording of the images is done automatically even if it is rarely continuous (recording only in the event of movement detection).

Another possible situation is that the images are saved online, in the cloud or locally (for a limited time) before being sent to the user by email. Often, it is more a question of photos of the scene during motion detection than of videos because the files would be too large to be transmitted correctly via wifi.

In either case, recording the images and watching them on a television are two entirely separate things. You can therefore apply the connection steps as developed in the first section.

In conclusion…

In fact, a camera plugged into your television works just like any other camera. The television is only a reflector of what the camera receives. It does not affect its efficiency or its parameters.

It is therefore obvious that all the settings must be made on the camera (using an application or software). This is the case, for example, with triggering: should the camera always film what is happening or be activated only if motion is detected? This is also the case with regard to the quality of the images. They will be that of the camera (its resolution) and not that of television. Choosing your surveillance camera is therefore central to the efficiency of the entire system.

Ultimately, tying your camera to your television is a choice motivated by practical concerns. Do you hear a noise behind your house or someone rings the doorbell while you are watching a film? Don’t waste any more time searching your phone to see what it is or who it may be. Simply take your remote control, enter the menu and select the entry corresponding to that of your camera (HDMI or VGA). You will then see what is happening, with an image the size of your television and not your smartphone.

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Luka Baron

Chief editor of Security Latest with 5 years of real security work experience. I'm also a family man with wife and two sons. When I'm not turning homes into fortresses, the Baron family is usually on the Nintendo or on California's best hiking trails.

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