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Installing CCTV doesn’t have to break the bank

After being quoted R6,800 for the installation of one security camera, SEAN BACHER decided he could do it himself for a lot less. See what happened.

A while ago I noticed that almost every house on my street had a security camera recording the activity outside its front gate.

This got me thinking that maybe it was time to get one installed. I already have high walls, electric fencing, beams and a motorised gate. But the one problem with the gate is that it is solid, so even if I can hear someone through the intercom, I cannot see the person through the gate.

I called a security company and they quoted me R6,800 for installing a camera including all the components. This included a four channel PVR, one terabyte hard drive and a power supply for four cameras. It also included the cabling, connectors and a camera mounting box – but no display.

After checking the prices online it became evident it was being overcharged. Instead of getting another quote, I decided to do a spot of DIY.

After all, how hard can it be?

All the parts needed are available at hardware suppliers like Leroy Merlin, Builders Warehouse or your local security outlet. I opted for the latter in case I had a few questions.

First thing on the list was a PVR. I selected an eight-channel Dahua as it was only slightly more expensive than a four-channel and would allow me to connect more cameras later on. I also chose an eight-camera power supply for the same reason. And instead of a 1Terabyte hard drive I chose a 2Tb drive.

I went with a Dahua 2MP infrared bullet camera. It was not the most expensive but I was advised that it was adequate for my needs. I also bought 100 metres of cabling, 25 metres of conduit and saddle clamps to anchor it down.

Last items on the list were a camera mounting box and the BNC (bayonet neill–concelman) connectors. Two are needed for each camera – one to connect the camera to the cable and the other to connect the cable to the PVR. The salesman recommended I buy a few extra as they are a little finicky to connect and, if not done correctly, image quality is compromised.


The first thing to do is to find a suitable location for the PVR and power supply. The PVR needs to be as close to a router as possible as it uses Wi-Fi and a LAN cable for remote monitoring. The PVR needs to be powered up with the hard drive plugged in to begin initialisation. Then a computer display or TV needs to be hooked up – any one with an HDMI or VGA input will do.

Now, find a good position to mount the camera mounting box on the wall. The box is necessary as it protects the connections from rain and insects. The location doesn’t have to be precise because the cameras are hinged and can be individually aligned to show the best angle.

The next stage is to run the cabling through the conduit. The power and video come as a single strand making things much easier to thread – especially when you are running long lengths.  One of the main ideas is to avoid any joins in the cable as they will compromise picture quality. 

Once the box is screwed into the wall and the camera is mounted, attach the BNC connectors. The connectors comprise three parts – a pin the size of a a match head, a main part where the coaxial threads are wound around and a metal sleeve that is crimped over the entire connection to ensure it does not come loose. Best to take your time here because a poor connection will result in a poor image. Finally connect the power to the camera.

At the PVR, a setup wizard is displayed which gives basic instructions and runs you through setting up the admin account and adding any users and permissions. After this, if the connections have been done correctly you should be presented with a clear image. 

There is a range of apps for Android and iOS for remote monitoring and configuration. I chose the DMSS app mainly due to its popularity and ease of use. In order for the apps to work one needs to have the PVR plugged into the router via a LAN cable. To connect a phone, scan the PVR’s unique QR code, launch the app and click on the camera to begin streaming, zooming and going back and forth through footage. 


Granted, I didn’t pay for labour. Instead asked a friend to help me with the installation, which took half a day. All the components came to R3,500. The labour cost me lunch and a few beers.

A decent 32” LCD (not included in the original quote) costs around R1,500, bringing the total up to R5,000 – still R1,800 less than the original quote. Having said that, I will admit that R1,800 for half a day’s relatively skilled labour is not excessive, especially considering it took two people. But I got great satisfaction out of saving that money.


  • Use a conduit with a wider radius. It will allow you to run cabling for two cameras through it.
  • Metal arms can be bought to get just the correct angle.
  • Colour night time cameras are available, but they are hugely expensive and are more likely to get stolen. The Dahua infrared one that I have works perfectly.
  • Set the PVR to reboot itself at least twice a month. This clears its memory, helping it to run smoothly.
  • Set the cameras to record only when motion is detected. This saves hard drive space and makes it easier to search through footage.
  • Adjust the sensitivity of the cameras. One would only want to record cars and people which would mean a medium to low sensitivity. A maximum sensitivity will record birds, leaves and insects.
  • The system does not use that much electricity so it can be connected to an inverter.
  • Buy the best quality cable.
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