Stats: Upgrading Cameras Far More Common Than Replacing Failed Cameras

By: IPVM Team, Published on May 30, 2018

The old saying "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" does not apply here. New IPVM statistics show that 60% of cameras that are replaced still work but are upgraded to newer and better technology.

We asked if cameras were replaced because of planned upgrades, or replaced because of failure. 130+ integrators responded:

Advances in Technology

10 years ago there was no great reason to replace an analog camera with a new one unless it was failing.

However, over the past decade, the IP camera market has significantly increased resolution, improve picture quality with WDR, super low light, integrated IR plus Smart Codecs and H265 have reduced storage and server demands. This delivers real benefits from a 2010 1MP / non-IR / non-WDR camera to today's offerings.

Planned Upgrades to Newer, Increased Feature Cameras

60% of integrators indicated that cameras were replaced because of new features, resolution improvements, low light images, analog camera replacement, etc:

  • "Upgrade due to technology"
  • "98% are upgrades. IP cameras rarely fail indoors, and most cameras we install are indoors. We usually install upgrades to utilize camera-side analytics and increase resolution."
  • "90% Upgrade 10% Replace Cameras seem to last a long time. But recently camera quality has a lot better than 5-10 years ago. And price is the same or lower. Makes it a perfect reason to upgrade."
  • "Most of our replacements are planned upgrades. Customer has an old IP camera that still works but they are waiting for a reason to replace. Sometimes this can be expedited by lack of firmware support because the model has been discontinued or a certain camera feature is not supported. i.e. smart codecs"
  • "Most of our replacements are upgrades. we still have a lot of 1MP and SD IP cameras out there which work fine but the end-user wants better picture quality or better low light performance or both."
  • "We upgrade lower resolution cameras, lower frame rate cameras in critical area. they simply were older and the technology wasn't there. with the price of cameras, it is a no brainer to replace critical surveillance area cameras with modern cameras with better resolution, frame rate, and night vision."
  • "9/10 cases is on sites where we used domes for edge recording capability and had issues with IR halos/dome reflection at night. With the recent prevalence of turrets with on board storage it's often cheaper to upgrade the camera than to add external IR emitters."
  • "Most cameras replaced are upgrades to improve image quality or add analytics"
  • "We run at least 95% upgrades. Most customer's want to get higher resolution video, advanced analytics and better performance (WDR, etc.)."
  • "New features (analytics)"
  • "We probably upgrade cameras to a new model much more often than replace due to failure. Since the failure rate is fairly low, we are more likely to upgrade to add features or resolution"
  • "Well I'd say that most are upgrades for better resolution or analytics."
  • "100% because the camera technology is getting better and better even the costco cameras look pretty good"

Upgrade from Analog to IP

One common theme in the planned upgrade responses indicated the majority of the upgrades were from older analog systems, not necessarily upgrading IP cameras:

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  • "For analog cameras, this is 99% of upgrade cases for reasons of gain in image quality."
  • "75% are upgrades either Analog to IP, ..."
  • "100% upgrades. Analog to IP."
  • "Most (90%) of it is analog to IP upgrades, but a growing percentage are older IP to new IP "
  • "We typically only upgrade once there is a failure. Unless transitioning from analog to IP."
  • "The vast majority are upgrades, predominantly old analogue to IP or HDTVI"
  • "About 25% of our cameras are upgrades to old analog systems."
  • "we only upgrade analog to IP, very few of the cameras we install get replaced"
  • "95% upgrades 5% Failures. the upgrades are due to transition from analog to ip or early ip box body type with huge housing to ip with integrated ir and analytics."
  • "We've been replacing a lot of analog with IP lately. Some of the very old IP has been upgraded, but not a ton have failed. "
  • "75% are upgrades (usually analog to IP)."
  • "We are sill doing much upgrading of Analogs to IP so I would consider that an upgrade"
  • "About 80% are upgrades of old analog CCTV or old PTZ"
  • "Analog to IP conversions still happen all the time. We are constantly removing old gear."

Fewer Cameras Are Replaced Because of Failure

40% of integrators responded that they do not upgrade their customer's cameras until they fail to function:

  • "Almost 100% of camera replacements are from failures for me. End of life, image sensor failure, network port failure. Most upgrades to a system or migrations to a different platform tend to continue to use old existing cameras until they are dead. Upgrades would tend to be a failure on the sales side of not meeting customer expectations."
  • "95% are replaced due to failure. We rarely see an upgrade to an existing camera unless it has failed."
  • "If it is already an IP camera we very rarely if ever upgrade that particular camera so the only time we are replacing one is because of a failure."
  • "Only 10% upgrades - due to customer's requirement for improved systems"
  • "Failures are rare but 90% is failure caused replacement."
  • "The few cameras that we have replaced were due to failure."
  • "Almost every camera replacement is due to the IP66 failing, and fogging of the lens."
  • "70% failures If it isn't broke don't fix it."
  • " None. All replaced cameras are if there is a failure."
  • "99.9% failures. I don't that we have ever "upgraded" an IP camera. Usually the resolution is good enough on existing cameras which is the primary concern most of the time."
  • "We are not replacing the camera until it fails"
  • "Almost all cameras we replaced due to malfunction. "

Customers Don't Want to Pay for Upgrades

There were a few different reasons for not having planned upgrades, the most common specific reason was customers not wanting to spend the money to replace cameras that are still working:

  • "Most of our clients are frugal and don't replace a camera unless it fails. We have replaced a lot of really old Axis cameras that were well past their useful prime. "
  • "We are just starting to urge customers to replace IP cameras that have more than 6 years on the clock. Simply, they have worked great, but the times and demands for clear IP video has changed. In the areas we work (midwest) customers feel that cameras should be a lifetime product and often do not like to hear the "upgrade" term. We are trying to keep expectancy to 5-8 years pending environment."
  • "Most are failures. Getting customers to spend the money to upgrade with an expensive camera can be tough, especially if the upgrade is marginal."
  • "Almost 100% of replacements are due to failure. Clients rarely upgrade and would rather add new locations vs. replace working cameras just to improve picture quality."
  • "95% of camera replacement are upgrades when the customer wants a higher resolution or different camera type installed."

Failures as a Sales Opportunity

There can be an economy-of-scale advantage to replacing many cameras at once versus over the course of many trips. With the price of cameras as low as it is, as much as half of the cost of replacing a camera is in mobilizing the labor. 2 integrators cited a specific example of using the failure of one or a few cameras as a chance to replace similar model or related installed-life cameras:

  • "Most replacements are upgrades caused by a failure. We may change 20 cameras because one failed and it is a good time to upgrade all of them."
  • "I would say 80% failure and 20% upgrade. Failure is obvious but upgrades are typical because a certain model has started failing so they upgrade the same models as well or they need more features or better resolution."
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