Date: 19/05/2023

CCTV Systems vs Alarm Systems: A Comparative Guide

An alarm system installed on a yellow wall.

When considering the security of a home or business, the choice between CCTV systems and alarm systems often arises.

Both types of security solutions serve different purposes and have their own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the key differences between CCTV and alarm systems, delving into the facts about CTTV cameras and alarm functionalities to help you decide on the best security option for your needs.

CCTV Systems and Alarm Systems: An Overview

CCTV Systems

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems are an integral part of modern security systems. These systems consist of cameras installed in strategic locations to monitor and record activity within a particular area. The recorded footage can later be reviewed by security personnel or law enforcement, and live feeds can be monitored in real-time.

There are various types of CCTV systems, including:

  • Wired systems: connected via cables, they offer high-quality video and are generally reliable.
  • Wireless systems: transmit signals through radio waves, offering flexibility in installation and lower disruption during setup (source).
  • IP systems: transmit video signals over the internet, allowing for remote monitoring and ease of scalability.

While considering the setup for your CCTV systems, it might also be a good time to ponder on the wireless or wired intercom systems, which can be integrated to enhance the security measures further. Additionally, understanding how to choose the best CCTV system for your specific needs can be a crucial step in ensuring the safety of your premises

Typically, alarm systems comprise:

  • Control panels: central hub for managing the system.
  • Sensors: detect activity or intrusion (e.g., window or door sensors, motion sensors)
  • Sirens: produce loud noises to alert occupants and deter intruders.
  • Monitoring services: provide an ongoing connection to a monitoring centre that can respond to alarms by contacting law enforcement or emergency services.

Both CCTV and alarm system components can be integrated into a comprehensive security system to provide optimal protection for a business or private residence. Depending on individual needs and preferences, the choice of security systems and their combinations may vary.

While CCTV systems offer the invaluable benefit of visual monitoring and recording, understanding the advantageous features of alarm systems, such as immediate intrusion alerts and potential to deter trespassers, can significantly enhance the overall efficacy of your security setup.

It’s prudent to align the deployment of these systems with a comprehensive facility security checklist, ensuring that the strategic placement of cameras and alarms comprehensively addresses all potential vulnerabilities within the premises.

CCTV vs Alarm Systems: Pros and Cons

CCTV Systems Pros and Cons

One of the key advantages of CCTV systems is their ability to provide real-time video footage, which can be valuable for both crime prevention and evidence collection.

Some CCTV systems even offer smart features, like live view and two-way communication, making it convenient for both businesses and homeowners. Additionally, the presence of cameras can act as a deterrent for potential criminals.


  • Real-time video monitoring.
  • Deters potential criminals.
  • Can provide evidence if a crime occurs.
  • Integration with automation systems.

However, CCTV systems can also come with some drawbacks. Wired systems can be challenging to install, and both wired and wireless security cameras can suffer from connectivity or signal issues. Additionally, constant monitoring may raise privacy concerns.


  • Installation challenges for wired systems.
  • Connectivity and signal issues for wireless systems.
  • Privacy concerns.

Alarm Systems Pros and Cons

Alarm systems are designed to detect breaches, motion, or other potential security risks and provide notifications and alerts. Integration with home and business automation systems is common, allowing for remote control and monitoring.


  • Detects security risks and alerts property owners.
  • Remote control and monitoring capabilities.
  • Integration with home and business automation systems.
  • Variety of available sensors (contact, motion, glass-break).

Conversely, alarm systems also have their drawbacks. False alarms can lead to unnecessary panic or calls to emergency services. As with CCTV systems, the installation process for wired systems can be difficult, while wireless security systems may face signal or connectivity issues.


  • Potential for false alarms.
  • Installation challenges for wired systems.
  • Connectivity and signal issues for wireless systems.

Features and Capabilities

Closed-circuit television systems primarily focus on video surveillance, capturing footage of targeted areas for security purposes. They use security cameras that often boast various features, such as:

  • High-resolution imaging for clear and detailed footage.
  • Night vision capabilities for low-light conditions.
  • Motion detection sensors, which trigger recording and alerts when movement is detected.
  • Wide coverage areas for maximum visibility on the property.

CCTV systems are sometimes integrated with smart technology, providing convenient control and remote monitoring from smartphones or tablets. Additional features may include:

  • Two-way audio allowing communication with occupants or intruders through the camera’s built-in speakers and microphone.
  • Video doorbells for enhanced entryway security and visitor identification.
  • Integration with lighting systems to deter intruders and provide better visibility.

While CCTV systems offer visual evidence of events, they usually do not possess built-in alarms or sirens to actively deter intruders.

Alarm systems focus on providing audible and visual alerts in response to intrusion or potential threats. These systems utilise a combination of sensors, detectors, and alarms to create a comprehensive security solution, such as:

  • Door and window sensors that activate when breached.
  • Motion detectors that trigger when movement is detected within the area.
  • Glass break sensors to detect the sound of breaking glass.

Alarm systems often incorporate various sirens, strobes, or lights that activate when the system detects an intrusion. These alerts are designed to scare off intruders, which adds a more proactive element to home or business security.

In addition to intrusion detection, alarm systems may also integrate with heat and smoke detectors or flood sensors to monitor and alert property owners of potential hazards within their property. As a result, alarm systems deter crime and help ensure overall safety.

Both CCTV and alarm systems offer unique strengths, but their combination can provide a more comprehensive security package. By combining video surveillance with sensors and alarms, a hybrid security system offers the ability not only to monitor but actively deter intruders, creating a more robust and secure environment.

Installation and Setup

CCTV systems can be installed using either a DIY approach or by hiring a professional installer. DIY installation of CCTV systems is often more affordable and allows for greater customisation, as you can choose the specific cameras, placement, and features that best suit your needs.

However, setting up a CCTV system on your own can be time-consuming and may require some technical knowledge, particularly when it comes to wiring and connecting the system to a network.

On the other hand, professional installation ensures that the setup is done correctly, allowing your CCTV system to function optimally.

Alarm systems, like CCTV systems, have options for both DIY and professional installation. Many homeowners opt for DIY security systems as they are cost-effective and can be quickly set up using simple tools and instructions.

These systems are often wireless, making installation much easier for the average person. Additionally, DIY alarm systems are usually scalable, allowing for modifications and expansions over time.

Professional installation of alarm systems provides a more thorough and secure setup, with trained technicians handling the wiring, sensors, and control panel configuration.

Moreover, for businesses that handle numerous transactions, particularly in the retail sector, a till fraud detection system becomes an invaluable addition to CCTV systems. This specialized system diligently monitors all transactions at the cash registers, providing an extra layer of security by identifying and alerting to any suspicious activities at the point of sale. Not only does a till fraud detection system safeguard your revenue, but it also ensures the transparency and accountability of each transaction, thereby fortifying the trustworthiness of your operational environment.

Monitoring and Control

Monitoring and control are essential aspects of any security system, whether it’s a CCTV system or an alarm system.

Professional Monitoring

Professional monitoring services offer round-the-clock monitoring of your property, ensuring that your security system is always under watchful eyes. When an issue arises, such as an intrusion, the service contacts the necessary authorities immediately. The benefits of professional monitoring include:

  • Peace of mind from knowing a monitoring centre is constantly monitoring your property.
  • Quick response to potential security threats.
  • Expertise in handling emergencies.

However, professional monitoring services often come with monthly fees and may require long-term contracts.


Self-monitoring is an alternative to professional monitoring, enabling business owners and homeowners to monitor their properties using wireless security systems and wireless security cameras. Through a mobile app or web interface, individuals can receive notifications, view live feeds, and access recorded footage stored in cloud storage. For those curious about how alarm monitoring works in a self-monitoring setup, it essentially allows you to be in direct control, receiving immediate alerts to any issues detected by your system. For more information about this, the following post explains what cloud CCTV is.

Advantages of self-monitoring include:

  • No monthly fees or long-term contracts
  • Direct control over surveillance and monitoring
  • Customisable options for notifications and alerts

While self-monitoring can be a cost-effective choice, bear in mind that it places the responsibility of monitoring and reacting to events on the business or homeowner. This may not be the ideal solution for all properties.

In summary, the appropriate monitoring and control method for your security system depends on your personal preferences and situation. Consider factors such as monthly fees, the level of control you desire, and your confidence in managing your security system when deciding between professional monitoring and self-monitoring options.


When deciding between a CCTV system and an alarm system for your home or business, it’s essential to take into account various factors. Both systems offer advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice ultimately depends on individual needs, preferences, and budgets.