How to Install A Security Camera
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:
- Best Outdoor Security Cameras
- Best Indoor Security Cameras
- Best Wireless Security Cameras
- Best Cheap Security Cameras
- Best CCTV Systems
Let’s talk about what you need to know before installing your cameras to make it as easy as possible.
How much does installing a security camera cost? Well, that depends on whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it.
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.
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:
|Number of cameras||Price||Details|
|1||$204.79||View on Amazon|
|2||$276.29||View on Amazon|
|8||$814.49||View on Amazon|
|16||$1,590.89||View on Amazon|
|32||$2,191.09||View 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.
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).
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:
- Wired, which means the camera relies on wires to connect to both power and your internet.
- 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.
- 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
- Find a stable spot on the wall
- Some cameras may require finding a stud, while others will come with drywall screws
- Check for existing wiring
- Mark and drill the appropriate holes
- 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.
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.
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.
Pseudo Home Security in America
Security systems and cameras are awesome if you’ve ever been unsettled by a prowler in your neighborhood or suspicious noises at night. But that stuff is expensive, and it seems like a hassle to set up something new. So what about fake security cameras? If they look just as real, they must be just as good, right? Or are they?
We took a survey of 500 Americans to see how people feel about real and fake home security measures, and if they think both are equally effective. Here are some of the most interesting things we found.
- 15% have used a fake security camera.
- 25% have used a fake or outdated security monitoring sign in their yard.
- 24% have used a fake or outdated security monitoring sticker in the window of their home.
- 24% have hidden a key in a fake rock.
- 28% have hidden a key under their doormat.
- 17% have placed a trick delivery package outside their house.
We asked America: How effective is fake home security?
- 1 in 5 believe that fake home security systems are just as effective as an authentic system.
- 1 in 4 believe that a fake security camera is just as effective as an authentic security camera.
- 17% believe that a fake security alarm (audible) is more effective than an authentic alarm.
- 17% believe that a fake security monitoring sticker is more effective than an authentic one.
Plenty of people are using tactics like fake security cameras and outdated yard signs to protect their homes, and many think these measures are just as effective as the real thing.
But most people agree that the genuine article is better than any fake. When it comes to defending your property, the majority opinion is that real security systems and real cameras offer better protection. And we agree. A real security camera, with a livestream you can view through a mobile app and two-way audio you can use to yell at intruders, is always going to top some plastic replica.
We conducted an anonymous survey of 500 Americans over the age of 18 regarding sentiments about their usage and perceived effectiveness of both pseudo and authentic home security measures. Using the responses from our survey, we have highlighted the most common answers in this report.