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CCTV Systems vs Smart Cameras - What's The Difference?

CCTV Systems vs Smart Cameras - What's The Difference?

In your search for home security systems you will likely have come across smart cameras and CCTV systems.

Both are great options with pros and cons against both, as with most things. But what's the best way to go?

In this blog we've created a Pros & Cons list pitting WiFi smart cameras against "proper" CCTV Systems.

We think both are valid options, but every situation is different, so here we go...


CCTV Camera System

CCTV Systems


  • Reliability - WiFi or internet is not required to record, only for viewing remotely.
  • Flexibility - Many more camera types, designs, styles, lens sizes and options. Can be confusing, but there's a camera for every situation.
  • Always Recording - The recording options are much better for CCTV systems, you can even set to record full time, or during certain hours which means there's less chance of missing things.
  • Fit & Forget - Most decent quality IP or AHD CCTV cameras are maintenance free, require no batteries and are usually "fit and forget".
  • App Viewing - Almost all CCTV systems now have a remote viewing app that allows you to check on your property 24/7 from anywhere in the world. You can even watch back previous recordings.
  • Connect To Your TV or Monitor - You can connect a CCTV system into your TV system or a monitor which makes for much easier and quicker watching back and exporting of footage. Can be easier in the event of an incident than trying to find and export from a smartphone.


  • Requires Wiring - "proper" CCTV systems will require cabling from each camera back to a NVR or DVR recorder unit.
  • No Alarms / 2 Way Speech - This is 100% possible with proper CCTV systems but more often than not the cameras do not have integrated sirens and two way talk is not possible without extra hardware.


Ring Floodlight Camera

Smart Cameras


  • Easy To Install - Smart cameras are generally pretty easy to install, especially the battery ones!
  • Battery Powered Options - With smart cameras you can get some fully wireless battery powered cameras such as the Ring range. These can be installed anywhere without needing any electrical work.
  • App Control - 
  • Cloud Recording - 
  • Two Way Talk - Most smart cameras feature two way talk allowing you to talk to, or warn off an intruder. Personally I often talk to my kids in the garden whilst I'm away at work, so it does have it's benefits.
  • Sirens - An increasing number of smart cameras also feature a built in siren. If you were to spot someone in your garden at night you can simply hit a button and let off a loud siren which will, hopefully, warn off the intruder. I may also be guilty of scaring the kids by setting off the siren randomly.


  • Recording Events - Most smart cameras only record motion events, not full time. This can lead to missing the start of an event, or sometimes missing the entire event all together.
  • Battery Life & Wake Time - Battery smart cameras will obviously need batteries recharging regularly, this means physically removing the battery and re-charging it which can take up to 8 hours. You'll either want a spare battery to replace and keep the camera going otherwise you'll have a downtime where the cameras not recording. We've also noticed that battery cameras need to "wake up" which often results in losing bits of footage.
  • Recording Costs - Most smart cameras will want to record to a cloud service, such as Ring... this is optional, but without the cloud storage you won't be able to look at previous recordings, which is kind of pointless.
  • WiFi Issues - No WiFi, No Worky! Most smart cameras are useless without WiFi and an external internet service, with most systems you can't even 


What's Best For Me?

Firstly let's take a look at what you're trying to achieve.

Smart cameras are best for keeping an eye on your property, getting alerts if someone were to set foot on it and giving you the ability to sound an alarm or warn them off with the built in microphones.

They are useful for retrofitting into homes where you cannot easily get cables around as they connect to your WiFi network so can be used either on battery power or plugged into a local power outlet.

CCTV Systems are best for reliability and ensuring that you capture footage that can be used in the event of an incident at home.

If you're mostly concerned about ensuring good quality, secure recordings and image quality then a CCTV system is the way forward.

CCTV systems do require cabling around your home so generally CCTV systems are best for new builds, rewires or properties where you can easily get cables around the loft space for instance.



As you can see both options have some decent pros and both have a few downsides.

Now that you're armed with the knowedge of the pros and the cons hopefully you can make a more informed choice of which type of home security system to go for.

If in doubt don't forget that you can contact us by email, live chat or phone on 02392 006118 and we'll be happy to help you choose a system.

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