Are All Security Cameras Compatible with All DVRs? A Virginia Pro Explains

The short answer? No, not all security cameras are compatible with all video recorders.

When choosing a video recorder, you should pay close attention to:

  • The type of security camera you have (IP vs analog)
  • The brand/model of the recorder and cameras

To help you choose compatible equipment, we’ll explain the two points above.


Want a pro to help you choose the right video recorder and set everything up for you? Just contact our team at Richmond Alarm. We offer professional advice and installation for home video surveillance systems as well as business surveillance systems.

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IP cameras require NVRs

NVR Logo

If you have an IP camera, it will require an NVR (network video recorder). NVR systems process the video data at the camera and then stream the video to the recorder. An NVR system can be either a wired or wireless system.

Have an IP camera? Good news—NVR systems are more sophisticated than DVR systems.

The benefits of an NVR system include:

  • High-quality imaging (1080p HD), great for identifying faces, license plates, etc.
  • Better coverage, a single IP camera has multiple lenses
  • Can record video and audio

Analog cameras require DVRs

DVR Logo

If you have an analog camera, you’ll need to get a DVR (digital video recorder). DVR systems process the video data at the recorder because analog cameras can’t process video footage. DVR systems are wired systems as they rely on coaxial cables to stream raw video footage from the camera to the recorder.

Have an analog camera? Keep in mind that DVR systems aren’t as sophisticated as NVR systems.

Limitations of a DVR system can include:

  • DVR systems typically offer “D1” resolution (lower-quality than HD)
  • Can’t record audio, only video
  • System requires multiple cables and wires, which makes installation/setup more complicated

Have more questions on NVR vs DVR systems? Check out our blog, “NVR vs DVR: Pros and Cons”.

How do I know if I have an IP or analog camera?

IP camera (left) vs analog camera (right).

If you can’t determine how many lenses your security cameras have, you can check the device for certain words or acronyms, such as “IP” or “ANA/ANLG”.

If you can’t find any identifying words or acronyms on the camera itself, you can either contact the manufacturer for more information or have a professional inspect and identify the type of camera for you.

Another factor to consider: Compatibility between models/manufacturers

Keep in mind, the type of camera you have isn’t the only distinction that affects compatibility.

In addition to the type of recorder you need for your camera type (NVR vs DVR) you should also ensure that the specific brand and model of the recorder is compatible with the brand/model of your security camera.

If you have compatibility questions, you can contact the camera manufacturer and provide them with the camera model number. From there, they should be able to determine which video recorder brands and models will work with your system.

Have questions or want to upgrade to NVR? Contact Richmond Alarm

When in doubt, always refer to a professional installing and servicing company. Video security systems are complex and you can waste a lot of money buying and installing incompatible equipment.

Richmond Alarm Company has installed countless video surveillance systems throughout Virginia. We’ve helped homeowners and business owners with their video surveillance needs and we can do the same for you.

When you call us, we can help you identify your current cameras and choose a compatible video recorder. We can also help you upgrade from an older analog/DVR system to a newer, more sophisticated IP/NVR system.

Whatever your CCTV needs, we can handle it.

Schedule free quote