How to Use Cat 5 Wire for Power on Security Cameras

By Sarah Celebi

Category 5 cables and category 5 enhanced cables are normal copper 24 AWG, or American wire gauge, wires. They can carry current to devices that require low-voltage electricity. When using CAT-5e to power security cameras, two things must be taken into consideration: voltage drop, which depends on the distance between the power source and the device, and the resistance of the wire. POE, or "Power Over Ethernet," is now used to provide power over CAT-5 cables as well. It can provide up to 15.4 watts of power. Normal security cameras use 9 to 12 volts to operate.

Things You'll Need

  • CAT-5 cables
  • 24-AWG wire stripper
  • Small sized wire nuts
  • UTP baluns
  • Power socket

Step 1

Run CAT-5 cable form the monitoring location to the security camera location. The distance is very important; if more than 500 feet of wire is needed between the camera and the DVR, active UTP (unshielded twisted pair) baluns are needed. For every 100 feet of wire needed, there will be a 0.5 drop in voltage. Calculate the wire length carefully. Most new CAT-5 cables have the length of the wire printed on the outer sheath. CAT-5 cables used with cameras and baluns can go up to 3,000 feet without problems.

Step 2

Strip about 1/2 inch of the sheath from the wire to locate the rip cord, then pull it back 3 to 5 inches along the cable length. Separate the four pairs of wires inside the cable, then cut the plastic separator in the middle. Cut off the outer protection as well and the rip cord.

Step 3

Choose the wire color that will be used for the video. Separate the wire pair in two. The first wire will be a solid color, and the second wire will be of the same color with white stripes. Strip 1/4 inch of insulation off the wire, insert the wire to the positive terminal screw on the UTP baluns, then tighten the screw. Repeat these steps with the other wire. Now the video connection is complete. Each CAT-5 cable can support up to four cameras on a single wire, if power is supplied locally.

Step 4

Separate the the remaining three pairs of wires. Combine the solid wires together, and combine the striped wires together. These wires will be used for the power. The reason the pairs are combined is to reduce voltage drop for long runs. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation off each wire and use pliers to twist them together. Repeat these steps for the solid wires.

Step 5

Connect the power socket to the power socket on the camera. The striped wires are used for the positive terminal screw. Insert them in the hole under the screw, then tighten it until snug. Insert the solid-colored wires into the hole under the negative terminal screw and tighten the screw.

Step 6

Repeat the steps on the other end of the wire. Use the same wires that were used for power to connect to the power socket at the camera's power source. The wires that were used for video signals are connected to another UTP balun, then inserted into a video channel on the DVR.