Recommended Switches for Small IP Surveillance Systems

By Ethan Ace, Published on May 15, 2012

With so many options available, selecting network switches for surveillance can be especially daunting for inexperienced users, with little guidance available from independent sources. To that end, in this note we recommend switch models from the top 3 manufacturers chosen by integrators as their favorites in our international integrator survey.

About These Recommendations

The recommendations below are for applications with 24 cameras or less, using a single switch on a dedicated surveillance only network. Specific model recommendations are based on integrator responses, as well as our experience.

Selecting switches for shared LAN applications is a more nuanced and complicated process, outside the scope of these recommendations.

For more information, users may see our report on powering video surveillance, which covers PoE budget calculations, and our primer on the use of Fast Ethernet vs. Gigabit.

Unmanaged vs. Managed Switches

Whether to use unmanaged or managed switches is a key decision to make when selecting equipment for simple applications. We recommend using managed as it simplifies ongoing service for only a modest increase in price.

  • Unmanaged switches offer no configuration or monitoring capabilities, simply connecting devices on a single physical LAN. These switches are typically the lowest-cost models available, but should be used only in very small systems, typically 8 cameras and under, where monitoring and advanced configuration are not required.
  • Managed switches allow the user to connect, most commonly via web interface, to perform monitoring and setup tasks. These switches also offer features unmanaged switches do not, such as VLANs, SNMP, IGMP snooping, and more. Differing levels of management are available, normally referred to as "smart switches" versus "fully managed", though the features contained by each vary by manufacturer.

In larger systems, managed switches are almost universally used.

Cisco

The Cisco small business line provides the best balance of feature set and price for surveillance systems. Among these, the 300 series of fully managed switches is most often used.

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In the 300 series, the following two models are mostly commonly used:

  • SF302-08P/MP: The SF302-08P and -08MP are eight-port, fully managed switches with PoE on all ports. Two GbE SFP/RJ45 combo uplink ports are provided, as well. The difference between the two models is the total PoE power budget. The P model has a total budget of 62W, allowing for 7.5W (Class 2) on each port, while MP has a total budget of 124W, allowing 15W on each port (Class 3). The SF302-08P/MP can be found online for about $250/$350 USD, respectively.
  • SF300-24P: The SF300-24P is a 24-port fully managed switch, supplying PoE on all ports, with four GbE uplink ports: two RJ45 and two combo SFP ports. Users should be aware the 24P's PoE budget is 180W, sufficient fo 7.5W on all ports, or 15W on 12 ports. The SF300-24P sells online for about $500.

Aside from the 300 series, users may find the 100 series of unmanaged switches useful for very small systems (8 cameras and below), though PoE options are limited to non-rackmount form factors. The 200 series of smart switches may be suitable, as well, but is priced only modestly below the fully-managed 300 series, yet lacks full management functionality.

HP

Like Cisco, HP carries small business, as well as campus/enterprise switches. Among these, the 1905 series [link no longer available] is most commonly deployed:

  • 1905-8-PoE: The 1905-8-PoE is an eight-port 10/100 switch, supplying PoE on all ports, with one dual GbE/SFP combo port. It has a total PoE power budget of 60W, with a maximum of 15W on each port. The 1905-8-PoE can be found online for about $240 USD.
  • 1905-24-PoE: The 1905-24-PoE is a 24-port 10/100 switch with two dual GbE/SFP combo uplink ports. Total power budget is 180W, sufficient for 7.5W on all ports. 15W is the maximum supported on any given port. The 1905-24-PoE sells online for about $450.

HP offers no unmanaged models with PoE.

Netgear

Netgear, like others, offers unmanaged, smart, and fully managed switches. The models most commonly used come from the smart switch line:

  • GS510TP: The GS510TP is an eight-port gigabit PoE switch with two SFP uplinks. This model is capable of supplying up to 30W PoE on each port, with a total power budget of 130W. The GS510TP sells for about $340 USD online.
  • FS728TP: The FS728TP features 24 10/100 PoE ports, two GbE ports, and two SFP/GbE combo ports. The total power budget of 192W allows for 7.5W PoE on all ports, or 15W on 12 ports. The FS728TP sells for approximately $325 online.

Outside of these models, the unmanaged GS108P (about $130 online) sees some use in small systems, with eight GbE ports, four of which supply PoE.

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