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 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 Best Home Security Systems we’ve recommended, a brand rep will usually install everything starting around $100, if not for free as part of your plan purchase. If you have a whole network of home security cameras that you want to integrate into your home security system, then this route will be worth the time saved and money spent.
|Number of cameras||Price||Details|
|1||$230+||View on Amazon|
|2||$310+||View on Amazon|
|8||$920+||View on Amazon|
|16||$1,800+||View on Amazon|
|32||$2,480+||View on Amazon|
If you’re buying a camera on your own, professional installation will cost more since it’s not built into the company’s security plan.
However, for some people, the time and cost just aren’t worth it— like with a full 8-camera CCTV security system on top of home automation and security devices, where professional installation can cost up to $4,000 or more. That money could go toward a relaxing vacation in Hawaii instead—or to at least a dozen churros at Disneyland.
Amazon is a great way to find local professional installation for security cameras, and it’s actually a decent bang for your buck compared to the aforementioned prices. When we checked for our estimates, it looked something like this:
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 or hoodlums, 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).
Generally speaking, you’ll install your camera either above your garage door or 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 or wireless camera?
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 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 you need a wired outdoor camera, 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.