How to Install A Security Camera

outdoor camera installation

More than just drilling holes and running wires, we’ll talk about the best ways to install a security camera inside or outside of your home.

You’ve ordered fancy new shoes at least three times now, but every time you come home after receiving a “package delivered” alert, you come home to nothing. Your family hasn’t seen anything at the door and your neighbors didn’t accidentally receive the package, so what happened to it?

You may need to get a surveillance camera —or a whole CCTV camera network—to get to the bottom of things.

Here’s a list of home security camera types that we’ve reviewed:

Let’s talk about what you need to know before installing your cameras to make it as easy as possible.

Cost

How much does installing a security camera cost? Well, that depends on whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it.

Self-installation

If you can do it on your own, it’s pretty much free after you pay for the equipment. Most cameras these days are not only easy to install on your own, but also designed to be as pain-free as possible. Some you can set on a table, stick with adhesive on a wall, or attach to a wall with a drill. However, not everyone is comfortable with drilling into their walls, especially if the screws have to come in from the outside.

Professional installation

If you get one of the professionally installed Best Home Security Systems we’ve recommended (namely ADT Pulse or Vivint), you’ll get an installation tech who will install everything for you, including your cameras. That installation fee usually starts at $99. If you want to get a whole network of home security cameras that integrate into your home security system, then this route will be worth the time saved and money spent.

If you’re buying a camera yourself and want to have it professionally installed, then Amazon is a great way to find local professional installation for security cameras. Plus it’s actually a decent bang for your buck compared to higher prices from CCTV companies.

How much you’ll pay depends on your location. When we checked for our estimates for the Seattle area in Washington state, it looked something like this:

Surveillance camera installation
Number of camerasPriceDetails
1$204.79View on Amazon
2$276.29View on Amazon
8$814.49View on Amazon
16$1,590.89View on Amazon
32$2,191.09View on Amazon

Data effective 11/15/2019. Offers subject to change.

Whether you choose do-it-yourself or professional installation, you’ll still need to remember a few things.

Purpose and placement

Not everyone has to deal with thieves and break-ins, fortunately. Some of us just want to check on deliveries or see who visited while we were away. Others want a way to check on family and furry friends. Prioritize what’s important for you to see, then buy your surveillance cameras accordingly.

Indoors or outdoors?

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is their ability to endure the weather. The last thing you want is for your new camera to quit in the first blizzard of the year, especially since you’ve noticed your snow boots have gone missing, too.

Indoors

Installing an indoor camera can be as easy as finding the right spot, plugging it in, turning it on, and syncing it with your mobile or desktop app. While some may require drilling, most indoor cameras we’ve come across won’t require anything more than a screwdriver.

A good indoor camera should have a decent field of view, which you can get with a higher corner or shelf. The best places will have a clear view of the room, a place to hide the camera from thieves, and very little foot traffic (to avoid unplugging the camera or tripping on the cord).

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Looking to keep it simple?

Outdoors

The most popular places for an outdoor camera are above the garage door or looking over a front or back porch. For a garage camera, make sure you have a large field of view. For a porch camera, make sure your camera is mostly looking at a driveway or walkway to capture all the action possible with a smaller field of view. You may want to consider a doorbell camera like Nest, Ring, or Skybell.

Wired, wireless, or wire-free camera?

There are generally three power options for security cameras:

  1. Wired, which means the camera relies on wires to connect to both power and your internet.
  2. Wireless, which means your camera can connect to the internet wirelessly but requires a power cord. Sometimes these cameras are still called “wired” since they require a cord.
  3. Wire-free, where the camera runs off a battery pack and doesn’t need any wires at all. Sometimes these cameras are called wireless since they run without power cords.

With wired installation, you’re a little limited in terms of placement, but your connection will be more reliable and secure. Consider where you have to run the wire and how much length you need. You can always buy extension cables on Amazon.

Steps for installing a wired security camera

  1. Find a stable spot on the wall
  2. Some cameras may require finding a stud, while others will come with drywall screws
  3. Check for existing wiring
  4. Mark and drill the appropriate holes
  5. Thread the wiring back to the monitoring source

Just make sure the hole you drill is big enough to pull the wire through but not so big that you can no longer mount the camera.

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Good to know
Is your camera battery powered or do you need to plug it into an outlet? If you do need to use an outlet, make sure it’s out of the way and not deactivated by a light switch.

A big benefit of wire-free (sometimes still called wireless) cameras is being able to place them nearly anywhere, but you’ll still want to make sure you’re within range of your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other wireless connections. That being said, if your outdoor camera needs a power cord, you should be able to drill easily through denser materials like brick or stucco if needed.

Make sure you place your security camera out of reach so a thief or guilty child can’t just grab it and leave without you ever seeing the footage. Tech installers recommend placing your cameras at least nine feet above ground—but just don’t go so high you can’t see what’s happening on the ground.

Local or cloud storage?

Most cameras today offer cloud storage as a way to prevent thieves from just grabbing the evidence and running, but some people still prefer local storage for its privacy and convenience.

Local storage options vary by camera, but may include these options:

If you’re going with local storage, you’ll have to place your cameras out of harm’s way, but somewhere you can access it when you need it. However, if you get cloud storage, you can view footage through your phone or desktop apps, and you can access footage regardless of the camera’s condition.

Recap

For most cameras we recommend, you can install them yourself. If not, there’s always a professional who can—either through local companies or through Amazon. If you are going for DIY installation and need more specific instructions, some CCTV and surveillance companies have thorough walkthroughs and video tutorials on their websites:

At the end of the day, you may not find out what happened to your missing package of shoes—but when you order some sick new kicks in the future, your new surveillance camera (or two)  can see if you’re the victim of theft or if your package was just misplaced.

For more info on home security, and to compare cameras, check our our  Best Security Cameras and Best Home Security providers reviews.