Plug & Play vs. RG-59 Cable

There is no doubt that plug & play cable is the quickest and easiest cable solution in the inventory. But easiest does not always mean best. While there is nothing wrong with the plug and play option, it is not designed for cameras with higher power needs such as long range infrared cameras or PTZ cameras. The requirements of the higher power cameras exceed the thinner gauge power cables ability to provide it. This forces the camera to work harder and can cause malfunctions and/or poor performance such as lower than spec infrared distances or PTZ boot and motor errors. Over time it may even cause permanent damage to the camera power supply.

Beyond power, the cable is not a shielded cable. In some cases this may cause interference on the cable when placed in close proximity of higher voltage cable or devices such as 120v power outlets, air conditioning units, and especially florescent lighting. It usually shows up in the form of wavy lines in the image.

As long as you avoid these potential pitfalls, the plug and play cable is a perfectly viable option. However, not all situations can be solved with low voltage, fixed cameras. In many cases the long range or PTZ camera is needed. When it does it is time to move to RG-59 cable. This is a professional grade cable that can be installed to the desired location at the desired length and terminated with the proper connector after its in place. This cable is shielded, thus eliminating a significant amount of interference. The Siamese version is also paired up with a CCTV appropriate 18 gauge pair of conductors providing enough copper for both long range and PTZ cameras.

Plug and play cable will always serve its intended purpose well.  When it does, don’t underestimate its ability to transmit a good signal with minimal labor. But for situation where you think there may be issues with plug and play cable, always default to RG-59 coaxial cable. It will in every case be a neater, more reliable cable solution.

Posted in CCTV FAQs.


  1. The MR540D is a camera that requires less than 1 amp. If you are using Siamese cable, the recommended maximum is 1000 feet. I have seen it run further and I have seen the rare problem under 1000 feet. If the cable is run properly, I have never encountered a problem under 800 feet. I hope this answer is helpful.

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